The Checkup: Scientists Name New Ferns After Lady Gaga

It looks and acts like Gaga—and literally has her DNA.

• 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.