Knowledge advances, I guess. Here’s a neat little article out of the Tampa Tribune, highlighting the first 15:
1. U.S. life expectancy in 2005 inched up to a record high of 77.9 years.
2. The part of the brain that regulates reasoning, impulse control and judgment is still under construction during puberty and doesn’t shift into autopilot until about age 25.
3. Blue light fends off drowsiness in the middle of the night, which could be useful to people who work at night.
4. The 8-foot-long tooth emerging from the head of the narwhal whale is actually a type of sensor that detects changes in water temperature, pressure and particle gradients.
5. U.S. Protestant “megachurches” – defined as having a weekly attendance of at least 2,000 – doubled in five years to more than 1,200 and are among the nation’s fastest-growing faith groups.
6. Cheese consumption in the United States is expected to grow by 50 percent between now and 2013.
7. At 68.1 percent, the United States ranks eighth among countries that have access to and use the Internet. The largest percentage of online use was in Malta, where 78.1 percent access the Web.
8. The U.S. government has paid about $1.5 billion in benefits to thousands of sick nuclear-weapons workers since 2001.
9. Scientists have discovered that certain brain chemicals in our tears are natural pain relievers.
10. FBI chief J. Edgar Hoover wrote a drooling fan letter to Lucille Ball in 1955 to tell her how much he enjoyed an episode of “I Love Lucy.” “In all the years I have traveled on trains,” he noted, “I have often wondered why someone did not pull the emergency brake, but I have never been aboard a train where it was done. The humor in your program last Monday, I think, exceeded any of your previous programs and they have been really good in themselves.”
11. Wasps spray an insect version of pepper spray from their heads to temporarily incapacitate their rivals.
12. A sex gene responsible for making embryos male and forming the testes is also produced by the brain region targeted by Parkinson’s disease, a discovery that may explain why more men than women develop the degenerative disorder.
13. Ancient humans from Asia may have entered the Americas following an ocean highway made of dense kelp.
14. An impact crater 18 miles in diameter was found 12,500 feet under the Indian Ocean.
15. Americans spent almost $32 billion on toys during 2005. About a third of that was spent on video games.
Happy New Year. I’m interested in what we’ll learn in 2007…