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Duh! 11 Obvious Science Findings of 2011

By Stephanie Pappas and LiveScience | December 31, 2011

In science, it's not enough to think something is so. Researchers must show that what we believe to be true is in fact true, proven through statistically significant and reproducible results. Questioning assumptions is, after all, what science is about.

Nonetheless, some studies really take the cake in the "duh" department, discovering things that were already obvious. Here are findings from this year that should come as little surprise.

1. Unsafe sex is more likely after drinking

Drinking too much alcohol can impair decision-making. And a study out this year drove this point home: Canadian researchers, reporting results that will be published in January in the journal Addiction, said they ran 12 studies looking at the link between blood alcohol and the likelihood of agreeing to use a condom during sexual intercourse. The more alcohol in a person's system (yes, the drunker they were), the more likely they were to throw caution to the wind and ditch safe sex. Specifically, for every 0.1-milligram-per-milliliter increase in study participants' blood alcohol levels, there was a 5 percent increased likelihood of having unprotected sex.

2. Men appear confident by suppressing fear, pain and empathy

When mixed martial arts fighters need to show off masculine strength and confidence, they suppress fear, empathy, pain and shame.



Scientists say this is the funniest joke in the world

Today from the random-stuff file… Discovery News reminds us that in 2002, British social scientists set out to find the funniest joke in the world.

Researchers from the University of Herfordshire started a “LaughLab” program to test jokes in a cross-cultural context across all demographics. They asked people around the world to submit jokes — and to rate how funny they found jokes submitted by peers.

The winner worldwide? This little gem submitted by a psychiatrist in Manchester, England. It involves hunters in New Jersey — maybe British hunters just aren’t as funny.

A couple of New Jersey hunters are out in the woods when one of them falls to the ground. He doesn’t seem to be breathing, his eyes are rolled back in his head. The other guy whips out his cell phone and calls the emergency services. He gasps to the operator: “My friend is dead! What can I do?” The operator, in a calm soothing voice says: “Just take it easy. I can help. First, let’s make sure he’s dead.” There is a silence, then a shot is heard. The guy’s voice comes back on the line. He says: “OK, now what?”



Rare 'faceless and brainless' fish seen off UK coast

By msnbc.com staff and news services
A rare species of fish described as “faceless and brainless” was among the unusual finds made by marine scientists off Britain’s coast, according to a Scottish government report published on Thursday.

The prehistoric amphioxus species, which grows to about two inches long and has no fins, was recorded off Orkney, part of the Northern Isles that lie off the far northern coast of mainland Scotland.

The elusive fish is regarded as a modern representative of the first animals that evolved a backbone, the Scottish government said.


Mars visitors Basiago and Stillings confirm Barack Obama traveled to Mars

By Alfred Lambremont Webre, JD, MEd

Two former participants in the CIA’s Mars visitation program of the early 1980’s have confirmed that U.S. President Barack H. Obama was enrolled in their Mars training class in 1980 and was among the young Americans from the program who they later encountered on the Martian surface after reaching Mars via “jump room.”

Andrew D. Basiago, 50, a lawyer in Washington State who served in DARPA’s time travel program Project Pegasus in the 1970’s, and fellow chrononaut William B. Stillings, 44, who was tapped by the Mars program for his technical genius, have publicly confirmed that Obama was enrolled in their Mars training class in 1980 and that each later encountered Obama during visits to rudimentary U.S. facilities on Mars that took place from 1981 to 1983.

Their astonishing revelations provide a new dimension to the controversy surrounding President Obama’s background and pose the possibility that it is an elaborate ruse to conceal Obama’s participation as a young man in the U.S. secret space program.



Cops: Man tried to use $1M bill at NC Walmart

(12-31) 11:57 PST Lexington, N.C. (AP) --

Do you have change for a million-dollar bill?

Police say a North Carolina man insisted his million-dollar note was real when he was buying $476 worth of items at a Walmart.

Investigators told the Winston-Salem Journal ( http://bit.ly/u7ZrEN) that 53-year-old Michael Fuller tried to buy a vacuum cleaner, a microwave oven and other items. Store employees called police after his insistence that the bill was legit, and Fuller was arrested.

The largest bill in circulation is $100. The government stopped making bills of up to $10,000 in 1969.

Fuller was charged with attempting to obtain property by false pretense and uttering a forged instrument. He is in jail on a $17,500 bond, and it isn't clear if he has an attorney. He is scheduled to be in court Tuesday.


U.S. exports record amount of refined fuels in 2011

By Ronald D. White, Los Angeles Times
December 30, 2011, 8:24 p.m.
U.S. refineries exported a record amount of refined fuels in 2011 to markets in South America, Central America and Europe. It was one reason why Americans spent a record amount on gasoline this year: Supplies that might have helped lower prices here had been shipped abroad.

In 2007, U.S. exports of all kinds of fuel held steady throughout the year at 1.24 million to 1.25 million barrels a day, according to Energy Department statistics.

But by 2011, exports of diesel, gasoline and other products surged. In November and December, U.S. fuel exports averaged between 2.77 million and 2.89 million barrels a day, the highest ever.

Meanwhile, U.S. drivers paid an average of about $3.50 a gallon for gasoline during the year, also the highest ever.


When will people wake up to the fact that corporations aren't patriotic 'americans'???

Air Force buys an Avenger, its biggest and fastest armed drone

By W.J. Hennigan
December 31, 2011
The Air Force has bought a new hunter-killer aircraft that is the fastest and largest armed drone in its fleet.

The Avenger, which cost the military $15 million, is the latest version of the Predator drones made by General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc., a San Diego-area company that also builds the robotic MQ-9 Reapers for the Air Force and CIA.

The new radar-evading aircraft, also known as the Predator C, is General Atomics' third version of these drones. The Air Force picked up only one of them, strictly for testing purposes.

"There is no intention to deploy the aircraft in the war in Afghanistan at this time," said Pentagon spokeswoman Jennifer Cassidy.


Occupy's Rose Parade float: 70-foot octopus of corporate greed

Occupy protesters are busy finishing their float that will run at the end of the Rose Parade: a 70-by-40-foot octopus made of recycled plastic bags.

The octopus, said activist Mark Lipman of Los Angeles, represents Wall Street's stranglehold on political, cultural and social life, with tentacles "that reach into your pocket to get your money and a tentacle to get your house."

"This is the real Rose Parade, and the other is the Rose Charade," said Pete Thottam, 40, an Occupy activist.

Protesters will march the parade route after the floats and marching bands have passed. The group has been working with Pasadena police and Tournament of Roses officials on how not to disrupt the parade.



Antiabortion ads from outlier presidential candidate raise eyebrows

Antiabortion activist Randall Terry, running for president as a Democrat, is running graphic ads about abortion in early primary states. Free-speech rules allow federal candidates to run uncensored ads.

By Stacy Teicher Khadaroo, Staff writer / December 30, 2011

Amid the otherwise cheerful holiday TV lineup, some graphic antiabortion ads have been causing viewers to do a double take in Iowa, New Hampshire, and several other states.

Randall Terry, long known for opposing abortion and being willing to risk arrest to protest it, is running for president – on the Democratic side. His campaign is focused on opposition to President Obama for what Mr. Terry calls an agenda of “child killing,” according to a press release announcing his candidacy last January.

Terry acknowledges his campaign is designed to take advantage of free-speech regulations allowing federal candidates to run uncensored ads. “We will use FEC and FCC laws for federal candidates to bring America face to face with this massacre of the innocents,” the release says.


Anti-abortion presidential candidate Randall Terry being "glitterbombed" by fellow candidate Vermin Supreme at a debate for lesser-known candidates in New Hampshire earlier this month.

Cheryl Senter/AP

Russell Brand files for divorce from Katy Perry

Katy Perry and Russell Brand's missing wedding rings did mean something: Brand on Friday filed for divorce from Perry.

"Sadly, Katy and I are ending our marriage," Brand said in a statement. "I'll always adore her and I know we'll remain friends."

Brand filed in L.A., TMZ reported, posting documents that reveal the traditional California divorce dilemma, "irreconcilable differences."

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