Dehydrated? Drink Coffee.

coffeeThanks for legitimizing my vices, science! In addition to showing that alcohol consumption can be good for us by boosting the immune system’s response to vaccines, among other things, a new study from England’s University of Birmingham suggests drinking coffee will keep us as hydrated as drinking water. Hang on a second while I get myself a second cup of Joe, and then I’ll tell you the details.

We’ve all heard for so long that there’s no substitute to water when it comes to what our bodies need, and by and large, that seems to be true. Other drinks have been vilified (some probably rightly so), downsized, and generally discouraged. But coffee isn’t a high-fructose-corn-syrup-infused bomb (unless you do really weird things to your java), and we’ve all made it by pouring a bunch of water into a coffee maker — so why wouldn’t it be hydrating?


Sloth Hair: The New Medical Miracle?

Sloths are one of those animals that are so ugly they’re cute, so lazy they’re unstoppable, so slow they’ve sped to the spotlight (those of you who watch Ellen know what I’m talking about). But it turns out that these weird creatures that spend their lives hanging upside down might actually be able to save lives — or, more specifically, their hair might. A new study published in PLOS ONE reveals that the hair of three-toed sloth contains special fungi with incredible immunities to cancer, parasites, and bacteria.

Sloths are pretty hairy beasts, and it turns out that their hair grows in two layers. The outer layer is the one with the medicinal properties, as it’s full of “ubiquitous green alga,” which was previously thought to help the sloth camouflage, but is now thought to promote the growth of helpful bacteria that helps sloths stay healthy, driving down the cost of sloth health insurance. It also provides a home for worms, larvae, and roaches, but hey, those disgusting insects need some tasty bacteria too.


Mystery Rock Appears On Mars

Mars rockMeteorite? Rover antics? Elvis?

All of these theories are on the table when it comes to the mysterious rock that has appeared on Mars. When scientists working with the Mars Opportunity Rover compared two photos — one taken in late December and one on January 8 — they noticed the rock, which apparently appeared right in front of the rover at some point within a 12-day window.

The rover’s lead scientist, Steve Squyres, announced the finding at a 10-year anniversary event hosted by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, celebrating a decade of roving on the red planet: “It’s about the size of a jelly doughnut. It was a total surprise, we were like ‘wait a second, that wasn’t there before, it can’t be right. Oh my god! It wasn’t there before!’ We were absolutely startled.”


Google Unveils Smart Contact Lens

Google contactsWhen Google bought Boston Dynamics (the eighth robotics company acquired by Google in the past six months) a while back, I half-joked about their run for world domination. I’m pretty sure I no longer find that funny. Last week Google jumped into the home appliance market by snatching up Nest Laboratories, a company known for making smart appliances, particularly a smart thermostat. Then Google announced that it’s making a smart contact lens. I guess Google glass is just too bulky, and now Google wants itself right in your eye.

It’s easy to be skeptical, if not downright cynical, about Google’s projects and their seemingly endless reach. But to be fair, it doesn’t seem that their smart contact lens is all about infiltrating consumers’ lives and harvesting information — well, at least, not information to be used for nefarious corporate purposes. Instead, Google’s X lab is trying to find a way to help diabetics measure their glucose levels without having to stick themselves with a needle multiple times a day.


ESA’s Comet-Chasing Spacecraft Rosetta Scheduled To Wake Up Today

Is 31 months enough sleep for a spacecraft? Or might it be too much?

The Chinese Yutu rover recently woke up from a two-week power-conserving sleep, but ESA’s Rosetta has been snoozing for a lot longer. If you’re a big geek like me, you’ll be checking the ESA’s livestream and Twitter feed throughout the course of the day to check on Rosetta’s status. There’s also a live blog on The Guardian’s website. It was supposed to rise and shine at 10:00 a.m. GMT, but we won’t have official word about whether that happened as scheduled until later this afternoon.


Hackers Launch Cyberattack Through Household Appliances

Internet of ThingsMaybe you didn’t shop at Target, and maybe even the NSA shenanigans don’t freak you out all that much. But what if you learned that your refrigerator or television were spying on you — or, at least, facilitating the spying of others? It seems that all those smart gadgets have made some consumers vulnerable to a recent cyberattack.

Security provider Proofpoint, Inc. recently announced evidence of a cyberattack that exploited the ubiquitous “Internet of Things” (which happened to be the theme of this year’s CES) at some point between December 23, 2013 and January 6, 2014. They believe the global attack came from over 100,000 common household objects, such as networking routers, televisions, and at least one smart refrigerator and resulted in at least 750,000 phishing and spam emails. The malicious emails came three times a day in waves of 100,000, and over 25% of those emails were sent by devices other than computers.