The top three news stories of the week, as chosen by our resident students. This week’s top stories include the dangers of cat poop to marine life, the secret to Da Vinci’s artistry and how Burger King is trying to ruin your sleep.
By Claudia Owczarek
Whales at risk due to cat poop
According to recent research, “cat poop” can be added to the list of threats for a whale’s life. In a new study, researchers found that 44% of the beluga whales that were found dead in Canada’s St Lawrence Estuary tested positive for a single-celled parasite called Toxoplasma gondii. This parasite is primarily spread through the faeces of cats who get infected by eating rodents.
Whales living near freshwater outflows face the risk of infection due to flashing of cat litter down the toilet. Although the health effects of this parasite on whales are still poorly understood, it was proved to not only cause neurological and behavioural disorders in marine life but also death in dolphins, sea otters and monk seals.
Click here to read more about this interesting finding!
Da Vinci’s secret to success: strabismus
A new report suggests that being “crossed eyed” might have helped the famous Renaissance artist Leonardo Da Vinci to depict the 3D world while painting. Analysis of his eyes in his self-portraits suggest that Da Vinci might have been affected by strabismus- a condition where the eyes are unable to look in the same direction at the same time.
His 2D monocular vision, resulting from the suppressed vision in his “wandering eye”, could have enabled him to have a direct comparison with the flat image being painted. Research has previously shown that other famous painters such as Rembrandt van Rijn and Pablo Picasso also had strabismus.
Read more about this story here!
One, two… Burger King’s coming for you!
Burger King has commissioned a sleep study to support their claims that their Halloween-themed burger called “Nightmare King” could induce nightmares. According to the study, consumption of the sandwich before bed increased the incidence of nightmares by 3.5 times. Allegedly, the spooky effect is due to the ability of the “unique combination of proteins and cheese” to disrupt a person’s REM sleep.
The perception that certain foods, especially dairy products and spicy foods, disturb dreaming is widely spread, however, there is little scientific evidence addressing this topic. Studies found that unhealthy diets per se do not have a link with bad dreams, however, more general eating patterns, such as binge-eating do. On the other hand, evidence shows that fasting leads to more vivid dreams.
Read more about this study here