6 Things You Need To Know Today (June 11, 2018)

Written by Krysten Peck

Photo by Manuta

1. Insta-friendly black foods are now banned in New York.

The city has banned the use of activated charcoal in foods, per an FDA law that doesn't allow its use as a colorant. Restaurants like Morgenstern's Fine Ice Creams will have to discontinue the use of the product in foods immediately. (Observer)

2. Suicide rates have increased dramatically.

With the recent deaths of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain, we're all reminded of the mental health struggles faced by so many. According to the CDC, suicide rates have increased in nearly every state in the United States in the past 20 years—with some states seeing rates increase by more than 30 percent. (NPR)

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3. Honeybees understand the concept of nothing, which is something human children don't grasp until they're 4 or 5 years old.

Science showed that honeybees, whose tiny brains contain fewer than a million neurons (for reference, human brains contain 100 billion), may cognitively grasp the concept of zero. Researchers taught them to understand "less than" by rewarding them with sugar water when they chose to fly toward a display with fewer items—even when the reward was removed, the bees flew toward displays that had the least number of items. When a blank display was presented, the bees chose to fly toward it, suggesting that they understood zero items is less than one. Humans don't understand this until age 4 or 5, which means that bee brains are super efficient and may provide insight into real-life applications like computer processing, for example. (Vox)

4. Would you like your meal with a side of microplastics?

Thanks to our increasing use of plastics, microplastics have invaded our oceans and made their way into the fish we eat. However, they've also now been found in ingredients like sea salt, honey, and beer. Yum. (The Conversation)

5. How's this for proof of global warming?

Back in 2000, iceberg "b-15" became the largest one to break off from Antarctica. And now, less than 20 years later, it's almost completely melted thanks to rising ocean temperatures. (Inverse)

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6. This new blood test could help determine if your baby will be born prematurely.

A new blood test, which is still in the preliminary stages of testing, could help not only predict a pregnant woman's due date but also identify which women could be at risk for giving birth prematurely. So how does it work? Researchers were able to study genes linked to the placenta, maternal immune system, and fetal liver. From there, they're able to track pregnancy progress. It's still early days, so tests aren't available just yet—but they likely will be soon. (NYT)

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