The Checkup: Scientists Name New Ferns After Lady Gaga
• I thought it was a joke yesterday when I got a press release informing me that Duke researchers have dubbed a new fern genus “Gaga”—as in, Lady Gaga. Yes, that Lady Gaga. But, lo, it was no joke. Turns out, scientists have a pretty good sense of humor, and naming things like plants and bugs after celebrities is apparently a pretty common practice (who knew?), with stars like Helen Mirren and Beyonce Knowles already lending their names to a meat-eating jungle plant and Australian horsefly, respectively. In Gaga’s case, the fern genus, which so far includes 19 fern species, seemed a perfect fit for a number of reasons: 1) because the get-up she wore to the 2010 Grammy’s looked suspiciously like one of the ferns (even the color was spot-on), and 2) because the DNA base pairs of the ferns literally spell GAGA. I am not making this up. Two of the ferns in the genus are completely new and have been given appropriately Gaga-esque names: Gaga germanotta, a nod to Gaga’s real last name, and Gaga monstraparva, which translates to “monster-little.” The other 17 ferns with the distinctive DNA are being reclassified in the Gaga genus. Read more here.
• Can you laugh yourself skinny? Well, no, but wouldn’t that be nice? What laughter can do is this: release endorphins, which makes your pain tolerance a little higher—just like when you exercise. So maybe—just maybe—you’ll be able to run a little longer on the treadmill if you watch Dumb and Dumber instead of Law and Order. Worth a try, no? Read more here.
• A fascinating read on the evolution of lactose intolerance, courtesy of Slate. No, seriously—it’s really interesting.