This is how our favorite foods look in their natural habitats
We know how to harvest potatoes and apples. There are other fruits and vegetables, however, which have natural habitats we can barely imagine. We see these items in the grocery store every day, but often we have no idea how they got there. Bright Side gathered a few photos that will show you how these plants grow.
A Harvard scientist who's studied coffee for 20 years explains why the drink is amazing
Dr. Frank Hu just finished a 20-year study on the effects of coffee on the human body. People who drink more coffee it turns out, live longer. Specifically, Hu’s study found that coffee-drinkers have lower risks of cardiovascular and neurodegenerative diseases, as well as suicide.
The research began in 1976, and involved nearly 210,000 people. With all the follow-ups over the years, the study includes 4.7 million person-years of data. The scale meant it took several generations of scientists to complete the study. Hu, a researcher and professor at Harvard Medical School, himself joined in 1996. The enormous amount of data was useful, because coffee is an extraordinarily complicated drink.
"Coffee is certainly a very complex beverage,” Hu told INSIDER. Besides caffeine, it contains hundreds, perhaps thousands, of bioactive compounds. So it's very difficult, perhaps impossible, to tease out the effects of individual compounds or chemicals."
Coffee’s health benefits derive from not just a few compounds, but more likely the synergistic effects of many different compounds, minerals, and antioxidants. And while most people think of caffeine when they think of coffee, both regular and decaf coffee have the same effects when it comes to blood diseases and diabetes.
Hu noticed that it’s really hard to study coffee because so many coffee-drinkers smoke.
"We found that the health benefits of coffee are more pronounced, or evident, in people who don't smoke,” Hu said. “In other words, smoking actually masks the potential health benefits of drinking coffee, and it's really important to separate the effects of coffee from smoking.”
In addition to Hu’s new study — which had ten co-authors in total — previous research shows that drinking coffee regularly is associated with a decreased risk of diabetes, cardiovascular disease, Parkinson's disease, and liver disease, including liver cancer. It’s also associated with a decreased risk of depression and suicide, helps the body metabolize blood sugar, improves insulin sensitivity, and can even reduce inflammation.
Hu cautions that not everyone's body responds to coffee in the same way — as with anything, drink in moderation according to your health habits.
Peanuts, pistachios and other 'nuts' that aren’t actually nuts
The jig is up! For too long peanuts have masqueraded as America's favorite nut. For too long, almonds have snuck into the mixed nuts bag at your grocery.
Here are the five most common impostors:
Most edible nuts, like pecans or hazelnuts, grow on trees. But peanuts grow in pods that mature underground and are classified as a legume, like lentils and peas.
Technically, nuts are a type of fruit. Fruits develop from a plant's ovary, and as the ovary matures it forms a wall around the fruit. For common fruits like apples and peaches, the ovary wall is the fleshy outer skin while for nuts the ovary wall is the hard, outer shell. Cashews, on the other hand, are a seed of the cashew apple, shown here. The cashew seed is the c-shaped, greyish object at the bottom of the fruit.
Walnuts are another seed masquerading as a nut. Their shells mature and harden inside of a fibrous, green husk, but it's common to extract the walnut prematurely for the English delicacy pickled walnuts.
The desert plant called the pistachio tree is a member of the cashew family, and as we've mentioned before: cashews are not a nut. The food that we think of as a pistachio nut, is actually the seed of the pistachio tree, shown here.
Almonds are the seed of the almond tree, which is native to the Middle East and South Asia and is famous for its gorgeous blossoms. In 1890, post-impressionist painter Vincent van Gogh dedicated an entire painting to the almond tree's beauty.
Makes you think twice about that container of mixed nuts.
The traditional Planters mixed nuts contains the following:
-Brazil nuts (seed)
-Hazelnuts (real nut!)
-Pecans (real nut!)
Just because most commercially marketed 'nuts' are not actually nuts doesn't mean they taste any less delicious!
So, next time you're snacking on some Planters — or your favorite brand — be sure to enjoy the seeds and legumes as well.
15 email etiquette rules every professional should know
The average US employee spends about a quarter of the work week combing through the hundreds of emails we all send and receive every day.
Vivian Giang and Rachel Sugar contributed to earlier versions of this article.
1. Include a clear, direct subject line.
Examples of a good subject line include "Meeting date changed," "Quick question about your presentation," or "Suggestions for the proposal."
"People often decide whether to open an email based on the subject line," Pachter says. "Choose one that lets readers know you are addressing their concerns or business issues."
2. Use a professional email address.
If you work for a company, you should use your company email address. But if you use a personal email account — whether you are self-employed or just like using it occasionally for work-related correspondences — you should be careful when choosing that address, Pachter says.
You should always have an email address that conveys your name so that the recipient knows exactly who is sending the email. Never use email addresses (perhaps remnants of your grade-school days) that are not appropriate for use in the workplace, such as "babygirl@..." or "beerlover@..." — no matter how much you love a cold brew.
3. Think twice before hitting 'reply all.'
No one wants to read emails from 20 people that have nothing to do with them. Ignoring the emails can be difficult, with many people getting notifications of new messages on their smartphones or distracting pop-up messages on their computer screens. Refrain from hitting "reply all" unless you really think everyone on the list needs to receive the email, Pachter says.
4. Include a signature block.
Provide your reader with some information about you, Pachter suggests. "Generally, this would state your full name, title, the company name, and your contact information, including a phone number. You also can add a little publicity for yourself, but don’t go overboard with any sayings or artwork."
Use the same font, type size, and color as the rest of the email, she says.
5. Use professional salutations.
Don't use laid-back, colloquial expressions like, "Hey you guys," "Yo," or "Hi folks."
"The relaxed nature of our writings should not affect the salutation in an email," she says. "Hey is a very informal salutation and generally it should not be used in the workplace. And Yo is not okay either. Use Hi or Hello instead."
She also advises against shortening anyone's name. Say "Hi Michael," unless you're certain he prefers to be called "Mike."
6. Use exclamation points sparingly.
If you choose to use an exclamation point, use only one to convey excitement, Pachter says.
"People sometimes get carried away and put a number of exclamation points at the end of their sentences. The result can appear too emotional or immature," she writes. "Exclamation points should be used sparingly in writing."
7. Be cautious with humor.
Humor can easily get lost in translation without the right tone or facial expressions. In a professional exchange, it's better to leave humor out of emails unless you know the recipient well. Also, something that you think is funny might not be funny to someone else.
Pachter says: "Something perceived as funny when spoken may come across very differently when written. When in doubt, leave it out."
8. Know that people from different cultures speak and write differently.
Miscommunication can easily occur because of cultural differences, especially in the writing form when we can't see one another's body language. Tailor your message to the receiver's cultural background or how well you know them.
A good rule to keep in mind, Pachter says, is that high-context cultures (Japanese, Arab, or Chinese) want to get to know you before doing business with you. Therefore, it may be common for business associates from these countries to be more personal in their writings. On the other hand, people from low-context cultures (German, American, or Scandinavian) prefer to get to the point very quickly.
9. Reply to your emails — even if the email wasn't intended for you.
It's difficult to reply to every email message ever sent to you, but you should try to, Pachter says. This includes when the email was accidentally sent to you, especially if the sender is expecting a reply. A reply isn't necessary but serves as good email etiquette, especially if this person works in the same company or industry as you.
Here's an example reply: "I know you're very busy, but I don't think you meant to send this email to me. And I wanted to let you know so you can send it to the correct person."
10. Proofread every message.
Your mistakes won't go unnoticed by the recipients of your email. "And, depending upon the recipient, you may be judged for making them," Pachter says.
Don't rely on spell-checkers. Read and re-read your email a few times, preferably aloud, before sending it off.
"One supervisor intended to write 'Sorry for the inconvenience,'" Pachter says. "But he relied on his spell-check and ended up writing 'Sorry for the incontinence.'"
11. Add the email address last.
"You don't want to send an email accidentally before you have finished writing and proofing the message," Pachter says. "Even when you are replying to a message, it's a good precaution to delete the recipient's address and insert it only when you are sure the message is ready to be sent."
12. Double-check that you've selected the correct recipient.
Pachter says to pay careful attention when typing a name from your address book on the email's "To" line. "It's easy to select the wrong name, which can be embarrassing to you and to the person who receives the email by mistake."
13. Keep your fonts classic.
Purple Comic Sans has a time and a place (maybe?), but for business correspondence, keep your fonts, colors, and sizes classic.
The cardinal rule: Your emails should be easy for other people to read.
"Generally, it is best to use 10- or 12- point type and an easy-to-read font such as Arial, Calibri, or Times New Roman," Pachter advises. As for color, black is the safest choice.
14. Keep tabs on your tone.
Just as jokes get lost in translation, tone is easy to misconstrue without the context you'd get from vocal cues and facial expressions. Accordingly, it's easy to come off as more abrupt that you might have intended — you meant "straightforward," they read "angry and curt."
To avoid misunderstandings, Pachter recommends you read your message out loud before hitting send. "If it sounds harsh to you, it will sound harsh to the reader," she says.
For best results, avoid using unequivocally negative words ("failure," "wrong," or "neglected"), and always say "please" and "thank you."
15. Nothing is confidential — so write accordingly.
Always remember what former CIA chief General David Petraeus apparently forgot, warns Pachter: Every electronic message leaves a trail.
"A basic guideline is to assume that others will see what you write," she says, "so don't write anything you wouldn't want everyone to see." A more liberal interpretation: Don't write anything that would be ruinous to you or hurtful to others. After all, email is dangerously easy to forward, and it's better to be safe than sorry.
Humans are the only animals with this body part — and no one knows why
“Little pig, little pig, let me come in,” says the big, bad wolf. “No, no, not by the hair on my chinny chin chin,” say the three little pigs. This scene is deeply unrealistic and not just because of the pigs' architectural competence, the wolf's implausible lung capacity, and everyone's ability to talk. The thing is: Pigs don't have chins. Nor do any animals, except for us.
Even Neanderthal jaws ended in a flat vertical plane. Only in modern humans does the lower jaw end in a protruding strut of bone. A sticky-outy bit. A chin.
“It's really strange that only humans have chins,” says James Pampush from Duke University. “When we're looking at things that are uniquely human, we can't look to big brains or bipedalism because our extinct relatives had those. But they didn't have chins.
That makes this immediately relevant to everyone.” Indeed, except in rare cases involving birth defects, everyone has chins. Sure, some people have less pronounced ones than others, perhaps because their lower jaws are small or they have more flesh around the area. But if you peeled back that flesh and exposed their jawbones—and maybe don't do that—you'd still see a chin.
There are no firm answers, which isn't for lack of effort. Evolutionary biologists have been proposing hypotheses for more than a century, and Pampush has recently reviewed all the major ideas, together with David Daegling. “We kept showing, for one reason or another, that these hypotheses are not very good,” he says.
The most heavily promoted explanation is that chins are adaptations for chewing—that they help to reduce the physical stresses acting upon a masticating jaw. But Pampush found that, if anything, the chin makes things worse. The lower jaw consists of two halves that are joined in the middle; when we chew, we compress the bone on the outer face of this join (near the lips) and pull on the bone on the inner face (near the tongue). Since bone is much stronger when compressed than pulled, you'd ideally want to reinforce the inner face of the join and not the outer one. In other words, you'd want the opposite of a chin.
Others have suggested that the chin is an adaptation for chinwags: It resists the forces we create when speaking. After all, speech is certainly a feature that separates us from other living animals. But there's no good evidence that the tongue exerts substantial enough forces to warrant a thick chunk of reinforcing bone. “And any mammal that also communicates vocally or suckles or engages in complex feeding behaviors that involve the tongue are probably experiencing similar stresses and strains, and they're not getting chins,” says Pampush.
In other words, women have chins, too. Chin shape may well be relevant to sex, but that doesn't explain chin presence. “They must have been there for some other reason before we started looking at the shape of them.”
Also, chins are terrible for deflecting blows. They don't disperse the incoming forces very evenly, which results in broken jaws. Even if our ancestors were constantly pummeling each other in the face, they would have fared better by reinforcing their jaws all the way round.
Pampush doubts that chins are adaptations at all. He thinks it's more likely that they are spandrels—incidental features that have no benefits in themselves, but are byproducts of evolution acting upon something else.
For example, during human evolution, our faces shortened and our posture straightened. These changes made our mouths more cramped. To give our tongues and soft tissues more room, and to avoid constricting our airways, the lower jaw developed a forward slope, of which the chin was a side effect. The problem with this idea is that the chin's outer face doesn't follow the contours of its inner face, and has an exceptionally thick knob of bone. None of that screams “space-saving measure.”
Neanderthal Museum (Mettman, Germany)
A different explanation portrays the chin as a bit of the jaw that got left behind while the rest shrunk back. As early humans started cooking and processing our food, we made fewer demands upon our teeth, which started shrinking as a result. They gradually retracted into the face, while the part of the lower jaw that held them did not (or, at least, did so more slowly). Hence: chin.
Stephen Jay Gould and Richard Lewontin, who coined the concept of evolutionary spandrels, liked this hypothesis. So does Nathan Holton from the University of Iowa, who studies facial evolution. “It seems that the appearance of the chin itself is probably related to patterns of facial reduction in humans during the Pleistocene,” he says. “In this sense, understanding why faces became smaller is important to explaining why we have chins.”
“But why did the lower border of the jaw also not shrink?” Pampush asks. “What happened that left that last little bit sticking out?” This is the problem with spandrel hypotheses more generally: They're often very hard to test.
It may seem frustrating to have so many imperfect competing hypotheses, but that's part of the joy of chins: They reveal something about how scientists think about evolution. Some see the sculpting power of natural selection in everything, and view chins as surely some kind of adaptation.
Others see natural selection as just one of many evolutionary forces, and so gravitate towards a spandrel-based explanation. “The chin is one of these rare phenomena in evolutionary biology that really exposes the deep philosophical differences between researchers in the field,” says Pampush.
And, indeed, between people outside the field. “I always get entertaining emails from lay people trying to help me so let me thank you in advance for what I'm about to receive,” he tells me.
Because if there's one trait that more universally human than the chin, it's having opinions.
5 hobbies that can make you smarter
Sure, studying encyclopedias and sitting in lectures all day will probably make you smarter — but those activities aren't all that thrilling to most people.
PROEssayWrtier.net put together the following infographic, which outlines five hobbies that can make you smarter. The good news is you can do a few of these without ever having to leave your couch: