Is Chewing Gum Good For Your Teeth?

Chewing gum has a history of ups and downs. One moment you’re told not to chew it in class, the next you find out that it boosts cognition and alertness while decreasing appetite. One moment you’re told that it rots teeth like candy, the next you’re told that chewing gum is actually good for your teeth. Having had enough of this flip-flopping, some scientists decided to sink their teeth into studying once and for all whether or not chewing gum is good for dental health. It turns out that yes, it is. But only if you do it right. For their study they rounded up a few volunteers and then simply had them chew gum as they normally would. When they were done, they spat the piece into a cup of sterilised water. The researchers then looked at how much bacteria was on the gum afterwards.

"A whole lot of bacteria here... and several small marsupials"

And whether the germs had fresh breath

They generally found around 100,000,000 bacteria on each piece, hopefully not after counting them all by hand. This means about a hundred million fewer bacteria in your mouth after chewing gum than before, which is definitely good news for your teeth. It’s equivalent to brushing your teeth without toothpaste. Basically the germs get stuck in the gum, and being a bit short on upper-body strength, are unable to free themselves. The flip side is that there are a few factors at play. Firstly, it depends on how long you chew for. For sheer bacteria removal power, the optimum chewing time is 30 seconds. After that the gum starts losing its adhesiveness and releasing germs that it caught previously. On the other hand, you catch a much wider variety of bacteria species by chewing for longer. So if you want to start a microbe zoo, chew for as long as possible. If you want cleaner teeth, don’t go past 30 seconds. The other catch is that it has to be sugar free gum. Otherwise you’re just replacing bacteria with sugar which, for obvious reasons, isn’t recommended by 9 out of 10 dentists.


The tenth dentist, about to perform a rhinoplasty

Thirdly, it’s worth noting that this study was conducted on behalf of Wrigley’s, proud makers of sugar-free chewing gum. I’m not saying that means it’s unreliable. After all, if anyone wants to know all the secrets of gum, they do. All I’m saying is that if gum was found to be a health disaster you probably wouldn’t hear about it from them. It definitely has a lot of possibilities though. Like gum that targets specific germs. Before long you might be seeing chewing gum designed to clear out sore throats, clean cavities or even act as a substitute for regular brushing. But that’s not here yet. Today’s gum still needs you to follow the sugar-free and 30-second rules… at which point it’s still isn’t as good as a normal tooth-brushing. If you’re looking for a reason to chew gum, do it because it helps cognition and attention span. And stop sticking it around the place. That’s disgusting. Source:


The Case For Nazi Malaria Super-Mosquitoes

The Nazi Reich is basically the gold standard for evil empires. Yet despite being about as evil as it gets, its still not known whether or not they were taking a crack at biological warfare. Both the Allies and Japan had biological warfare programs, but Hitler loudly proclaimed against them. Recent evidence from Dachau concentration camp, however, suggests that the Nazis were taking an awful lot of interest in malaria-carrying mosquitoes, hereafter referred to as malariasquitoes for the sake of convenience.

More specifically, researchers at Dachau’s entomological department were looking at things like how to drop mosquitoes from a plane, which species was the most durable and how to breed them. It’s worth bearing in mind that mosquito breeding, that most noble of occupations, is significantly easier in warm places. Germany isn’t one of them. Short on warm swamps and long on cold winters, Germany’s unsuitability for the insects might have kept them from ever pursuing their plans fully.

A mosquito wearing a jacket.

A mosquito wearing a jacket.

But despite looking like a smoking gun, or dripping proboscis, if you will, none of it actually proves that the Reich was attempting to breed an army of Nazi malariasquitoes. The problem is that researching how to defend against biological weapons is almost exactly the same as looking into how to use them. You need to know how to both to do either one properly. And the Nazis definitely had an incentive to protect themselves. Both their soldiers and their captives were getting ravaged by all kinds of pests and diseases, including malaria.

In the end, historians just can’t agree on whether or not they were going for bio-weapons. Some insist that Hitler’s orders barred such pursuits. Others point out that any evidence left behind is probably the least-incriminating and that the good stuff was most likely destroyed. One historian even suggests that the Nazis went as far as flooding regions of Italy and introducing malariasquitoes to the newly created swamps.

"Hitler wants us to do what?" *sigh* "I'll get the hose."

“Hitler wants us to do what?” *sigh* “Fine, I’ll get the hose.”

In the end we just don’t know whether the Nazis were into bioweapons. Was it a line that even Hitler didn’t want to cross, or was he just trying to cover his tracks?

3 Bugs That Do Nothing But Decapitate Ants

Having a rough day? No matter how bad it is, there are ants having way worse days. Ants are one of the most widespread creatures on the planet, able to find a niche anywhere they go. That could be why evolution decided to make so many things that kill ants in such horrific ways. Several different flavors of decapitation, for instance.

The rainforests of South America are home to countless ant colonies fighting for territory. This means that there are always injured ants lying around the place. So naturally there is a species of fly, Dohrniphora longirostrata, that literally does nothing but find injured ants and execute them in the most brutal of ways. It’ll just buzz around the place until it finds an injured ant. Then it’ll land nearby and check to see just how injured it it by tugging on limbs, poking it in the face and the like. This is an important step, seeing as each enormous ant is about ten times the size of this type of fly. When it’s sure that the ant is in no position to fight back the fly goes to work. Ordinary houseflies have a sort of tube with a sponge for a face, but D. Longirostrata went in a significantly more lethal direction. Its face is mostly a deadly spike with serrated blades on either side. It climbs onto the ant’s back and stabs the neck with its face-spikes. From there it twists and saws until the head comes off. It’s not quick, it’s not clean and the ant is alive the whole time, helplessly flailing until it can no longer move.

It's not dissimilar to dancing at a club.

It’s not unlike dancing at a club.

With its work done the fly will carry the grisly trophy away from the crime scene and slurp the insides like drinking from a coconut. After that they might lay eggs in the shell, no one’s entirely sure and a lot of people are hesitant about getting a closer look.

But that’s not the only fly with a deadly vendetta against ants. Another South American species has an even more terrifying way of dealing with their pest problem. This species will travel around the forest looking for a likely target. Upon finding one it simply pulls a drive-by, buzzing low and jabbing ants right in the back with a stinger. On doing so, it injects the target with something truly awful. Not venom, but eggs. Over time the eggs will migrate to the ant’s brain. Pretty soon they’ll eat the brain from inside, take control and ride around in their own zombie slave ant. The mind-controlling larvae take the ant away from the colony, to a nice isolated location.

At the right moment, a few weeks after the initial sting, the larvae hatch. Or to put it another way, the ant’s head explodes. Think of Alien chestbursters, but in the face. Needless to say, ants are terrified of these things. Seriously. Entire colonies will avoid the area and stop collecting food for fear of these flies. That’s why they’re being used in Texas to control fire-ants. They don’t kill many, but instead stop the spread of colonies by scaring the bejesus out of them. We’re basically controlling fire ants with terrorist tactics.

Sometimes you have to fight fire with flier.

Sometimes you have to fight fire with flier.

It’s not just flies that literally want a piece of ants. Beetles also get in on the action, but they do so in much more of a creepy serial-killery way. Like all good serial killers, Canthon Virens has a specific target in mind. These beetles will only go for a queen, nothing less. The females fly in a zig-zag pattern low above the ground. When they find what they’re looking for they land on its back and launch right into a life or death struggle. If they win, the beetle beheads the queen and rolls its prize away. That’s when things get creepy. It buries the head, along with itself and a male suitor. After that the beetles live happily together underground, just them, a severed head and countless children eating the queen’s brain from the inside out.


3 Reasons Nationwide’s Awful Superbowl Ad was Awfully Good

Insurance company, Nationwide, pissed off a lot of people by throwing a dead child into the middle of everyone’s Superbowl festivities. Here’s the ad in question.

It might, generously, be described as a bit of a buzzkill. The overall message though, is that kids are fragile and accidents can be avoided with a bit of caution. Judging by the number of vitriolic responses to this ad, that’s a surprisingly controversial stance. Despite the outcry, it’s a highly effective ad for several reasons.

1. Firstly, it set the mood very efficiently. And in order to work, it had to. Insurance is a dry topic. It’s not something a roomful of festive less-than-sober individuals are going to think about, much less talk about, without a serious mood jolt. This ad provided exactly that jolt. It was the televised equivalent of a sobering slap to the face.

Only marginally less effective than a real slap to the face, but much more convenient.

Only slightly less effective than real slaps to the face.

In short, the ad was meant to make you feel bad because happy people are in no condition to contemplate insurance premiums.

2. Secondly, it got people talking, both on social media and in the real world. As soon as it aired, Twitter was all atwitter with talk of it. It was so out of sync with other ads that people simply couldn’t let it pass without comment. And so, lacking anything else to say in 140 characters or less, people started arguing over whether it was a good ad or a terrible ad. Suddenly it turned into a debate centerpiece, and because everyone loves a good bandwagon, people went out of their way to jump aboard, watch the ad and develop an opinion.

"imho they didnt kill enough kids lol"

“imho they shouldve killed more kids”

It’s the kind of exposure and brand engagement that people dream about, and Nationwide only got it because they set out to ruffle a few feathers. Of course, whether all that buzz translates to even a single extra customer is up for debate.

As for real world chatter, it was even more spot-on. Imagine all the awkward silences that filled houses across America right after that ad. Now imagine all the people who felt the need to break that awkward silence by saying something, anything, about Nationwide. That dead child yanked people out of their football comas and suddenly forced them to actually think about accidents and insurance.

3. The third and most obvious reason it was a good ad was because it’s memorable. It stood out in a field typically crowded with glamorous car ads and talking animals shilling beer.

And on occasion, glamorous animals shilling cars.

And glamorous animals shilling cars

Funny ads are more entertaining to watch, but when they’re surrounded on all sides by other equally funny ads, they quickly fade into the background. A memorable ad has to stand out from the pack, even if that means pissing a lot of people off. Whether or not its worth it another question entirely.