Friday Coffee Break

Maybe if you have that cup of coffee outdoors, you’ll do better next allergy season?

Every Friday at Nothing in Biology Makes Sense! our contributors pass around links to new scientific results, or science-y news, or videos of adorable wildlife, that they’re most likely to bring up while waiting in line for a latte.

From Noah: AntWeb is a comprehensive online resource for ant taxonomy and identification, with an “insanely awesome variety of ant morphologies expertly captured in focus-stacked photos.”
 Our mission is to publish for the scientific community high quality images of all the world’s ant species. As of May of 2012, AntWeb has 77510 ant images, of 18508 specimens representing over 8304 species. AntWeb provides tools for submitting images, specimen records, annotating species pages, and managing regional species lists.
From Sarah: A recent study of Finnish teenagers found that those living in the countryside had more diverse communities of bacteria living on their skin—wich was associated with lower sensitivities to allergens.

One type of gammaproteobacteria , calledAcinetobacter, was singled out as being “strongly linked to the development of anti-inflammatory molecules”.

“Basically, our study showed that the more you had of this particular gammaproteobacteria on your skin then you had a immunological response which is known to suppress inflammatory responses ( to pollen, animals etc).”

And from Jeremy: Your funiture is probably chock full of potentially toxic fire-preventing chemicals that don’t actually prevent fires, thank in large part to unbelievably dishonest lobbying by the companies that make the chemicals.

[Dr. David] Heimbach’s passionate testimony about the baby’s death made the long-term health concerns about flame retardants voiced by doctors, environmentalists and even firefighters sound abstract and petty.

But there was a problem with his testimony: It wasn’t true.

Records show there was no dangerous pillow or candle fire. The baby he described didn’t exist.