Happy cows make good milk

Wine is constantly being hailed as a superdrink, with its glass-a-day health benefits and whatnot. We’re happy to say that here in Weekender we’re stacked up with health through to about 2052 so far on that basis.

But as well as being a delicious and nutritious drink for humans, the byproducts of winemaking can also make milk taste better.

Scientists – or, as I call them, heroes – in Melbourne decided to feed dairy cows stems, seeds and skins from wine grapes.

This led to an increase in healthy fatty acids in the milk, increased production by 5 per cent and reduced methane emissions by 20 per cent.

Boffin Peter Moate told reporters that said fatty acids were extremely potent in their ability to benefit heart health and were known to help fight cancer, diabetes and arthritis.

So what are you waiting for? If you want to help stop these diseases, drink better tasting milk and fight climate change, reach for the Beaujolais, or something easier to spell.

Too clever

Outstanding work from the British Psychology Journal here, according to BoingBoing. Basically, so the story goes, Stuart Richie was doing a doctorate in psychology and along with two colleagues re-ran a previous experiment that suggested people could predict in advance whether erotic images were going to be shown to them. Which they could not, found Richie and his mates. These intrepid researchers sent it to the BPJ who, as is their wont, fired it out for peer review.

One particular response came back saying that because the reviewers were sceptical of extra-sensory perception, they may have “unconsciously influenced the results using our own psychic powers.” We’re pretty sure Stuart never saw that one coming.

If that’s a case of being too clever for your own good, Current Directions in Psychological Science has published a paper claiming that there’s an upper limit to human intelligence.

It’s all to do with trade-offs, said Thomas Hills of the University of Warwick, who co-wrote the article with Ralph Hertwig of the University of Basel. For example, whilst driving, you need to pay attention to the correct things, which are constantly changing.

“If your attention is focused on a shiny billboard or changing the channel on the radio, you’re going to have problems,” muses Thomas, rather pertinently.

Memory, too, could be a double-edged sword if there’s too much of it – take post-traumatic stress disorder and an inability to forget terrible events.

“If something bad happens, you want to be able to forget it, to move on,” says the researcher.

The researchers conclude that whilst it is possible to enhance certain abilities for short-term specific tasks – and there are drugs that can assist in that respect – then that may be of some benefit. But it’s unlikely that abilities across the board will be improved.

As for the cows, they’re too busy growing too many stomachs to bother about such high-falutin’ nonsense.

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