No insect is in greater need of a public relations boost than the cockroach, and Dr. Mathieu Lihoreau of Rennes, France, provided it in a recent issue of the journal Insectes Sociaux. Roaches are highly social, suffer when isolated, recognize members of their own families, and appear to make "collective decisions for the greater good" of their community, according to a review of the research in May by BBC Nature. They act in "emergent forms of cooperation" — "swarm intelligence." Functioning mostly through chemical cues, they advise their homeboys where to find food and water, where the good crawl-into cracks are for sleeping, and how to stay attached to their social networks.
Challenging Business Models
-Dr. Jason Burke rolled out his "Hangover Heaven" medical bus fleet in Las Vegas in April, offering revelers a faster, clinically proper recovery from their night of excess drinking for a $90 to $150 fee. After giving their medical history, "patients" receive intravenous saline, with B and C vitamins and whatever prescription or over-the-counter drugsare appropriate, says Burke (a licensed anesthesiologist). No drunks are served; the patient must be in the "hangover" stage. One M.D., who hosts a radio show, told CBS News, "I think many doctors are kicking themselves because they didn't think of this first."
-No Trademark for You: (1) A restaurant set to open in April in West Palm Beach, Fla., named with a Japanese word suggesting "good fortune, wealth and prosperity," was denied a trademark by the Florida Division of Corporations. The name in question: the Fuku. (2) In April, Alabama's alcoholic beverage control agency rejected Founders Brewing Co.'s request to sell its Dirty Bastard beer in the state, even though Founders pointed out that the state already permits another company to sell Fat Bastard wine. The agency acknowledged the similarity, but said Fat Bastard was approved years ago and that no one at the agency now recalls why.
-In April, the Taiwan tabloid Apple Daily profiled a 27-year-old man who said he has tripled his previous salary by becoming a public snitch, turning in videos of litterers and spitters violating Taipei laws that reward informants a fee of one-fourth the amount of any fines. In the last two years, the man ("Chou") said he has had 5,000 cases result in fines, for which he has been paid the equivalent of $50,000. He said he now teaches classes in snitching.
Cutting Edge Science
-Researchers Need to Believe: Surely the world's longest-running science experiment is the 85-year-old continuing project to visually ascertain whether "pitch" (a tar) is liquid. Begun at England's Cambridge University, the project is now housed at the University of Queensland in Australia, where the custodian believes the next drop (the ninth ever) will fall in 2013. The previous teardrop-shaped bead descended in 2000.
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