Chemists show life on Earth was not a fluke

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How life came about from inanimate sets of chemicals is still a mystery. While we may never be certain which chemicals existed on prebiotic Earth, we can study the biomolecules we have today to give us clues about what happened three billion years ago. Now scientists have used a set of these biomolecules to show one… » 10/24/13 8:40am 10/24/13 8:40am

A black widow story that'll make you shake out your sheets tonight

Inspired by Jackson Landers’s recent piece on black widows at The New York Times, It's Okay to be Smart's Joe Hanson decided to relate the story of his own harrowing encounter with the iconic arachnid. "It's all true," he writes. "This happened fifteen years ago, and I remember it like it was yesterday." » 9/19/13 1:20pm 9/19/13 1:20pm

Rat poison strychnine was an early performance-enhancing drug

Today's performance-enhancing drugs take years to severely damage an athlete's health. Back in 1904, they didn't have time for such things. A couple of strychnine injections during the marathon at the 1904 Olympics helped Thomas Hicks nearly kill himself by the end of the race. It also helped him win a gold medal. » 6/11/13 8:00am 6/11/13 8:00am

We've Found the Molecule That Causes Itchiness

Researchers have discovered the molecular link between the cells in skin that sense itching and the nerve cells that relay the perception of that itch to the brain. Take that molecule away, and the itchy sensation vanishes. So far, the molecules, cells and circuitry in question have been identified in mice, but this… » 5/23/13 11:03am 5/23/13 11:03am

Do different kinds of alcohol get you different kinds of drunk?

When your friend gets tipsy and starts rambling about how tequila turns her into a savage party monster, and then your other friend vehemently calls bullshit, calmly put your hands up and say this: "Friends. Please. I got this." And then explain to them what I'm about to explain to you. » 4/26/13 3:20pm 4/26/13 3:20pm