6 Things You Need To Know Today (May 2)

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1. California's landscape is incredibly beautiful right now.

The California governor has officially lifted the drought emergency for most of the state, as spring rains continue to give the landscape some much-needed water. After years of dry conditions, wildflowers in the Golden State are celebrating by blooming in an especially dramatic fashion. The bright-yellow hues of California's Central Valley can even be seen from space right now! (Treehugger)

2. This company is helping doctors understand their patients on a whole new level.

Designers at a medical consulting firm (called Klick Labs) developed a new device that allows doctors to experience Parkinson's disease tremors for themselves—in real time. The firm aims to study empathy levels and how they change once doctors and caregivers are able to directly feel the symptoms for themselves. The goal is to improve medical care, as studies have shown that an empathetic doctor means a healthier patient. (Quartz)

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3. Is fasting the best course for weight loss? Maybe not.

A recent study created two groups: one in which participants ate 75 percent of their usual caloric intake, and the other where participants consumed only 25 percent of it on "fasting" days and 125 percent on "feasting" days. Did one group lose more than the other? Yes, but not by much. Those in the fasting group lost 6 percent of their weight whereas the calorie-restricted group lost 5.3 percent. Plus, participants had a harder time sticking to alternating fasting than calorie restriction. (NY Mag)

4. Nearly 1 billion people are vitamin D deficient, and sunscreen might not be helping.

A clinical review published in the Journal of the American Osteopathic Association has found widespread vitamin D deficiency among adults. One researcher on the study explained, "People are spending less time outside and, when they do go out, they're typically wearing sunscreen, which essentially nullifies the body's ability to produce vitamin D." (ScienceDaily)

5. A machine that smells when you're sick? Coming up in the not-so-distant future!

Researchers have been trying to figure out how to build an inexpensive odor sensor for quick, reliable, and noninvasive diagnoses for decades. And now, in a Willy Wonka-esque turn, they finally seem to be on the cusp of succeeding. "You’re seeing a convergence of technology now, so we can actually run large-scale clinical studies to get the data to prove odor analysis has real utility," said Billy Boyle, co-founder and president of operations at Owlstone, a manufacturer of chemical sensors in Cambridge, England. (NYT)

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6. Are you taking too long to poop?

According to a new study, the average mammal takes just 12 seconds to poop. According to the study's authors, taking longer could expose the pooper to dangerous natural elements. While you likely don't have any predators lurking in your bathroom (hopefully!), if pooping is taking you a good while, it might be worth visiting a doctor. (Science of Us)

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