Time to take a look at the most popular stories of 2016 – which is a revealing insight into the kinds of topics that our readers enjoy!
Why you shouldn’t store tomatoes in the fridge
Are your tomatoes bland? Take them out of the fridge. A study has shown storing tomatoes in cool air reduces their flavour. The cold case was solved by scientists from the US and China, who found that while the sugar and acidity of the tomatoes don’t change, the genes that control flavour do. Read more
What happens when you go under general anaesthetic?
“Going under” before surgery is something for which we can thank modern medicine. Before anaesthesia entered theatres around the mid 19th century, surgeons would use alcohol, narcotics and the occasional knock to the head to take away some of the pain during surgery. Read more
Epic crash vaporised baby Earth – and so the moon was born
Around 4.5 billion years ago, an object slammed into Earth vaporising most of the planet into a scorching cloud from which the moon was born. Geochemists examined minuscule amounts of potassium in moon and Earth rocks and found minute differences – possible only if their raw materials were thoroughly mixed in a superheated fog before they coalesced. Read more
Why it’s not OK to pee in the pool
Peeing in the pool can be tempting, especially if the air is chilly and the toilet a bit of a trek away. But before you submerge, let loose and avoid eye contact with other swimmers, it’s important to realise that peeing in the pool isn’t harmless. Read more
Vast new reserves of helium discovered
Vast helium reserves have been discovered in Tanzania that scientists say will rescue the world from a critical shortage of the rare gas. A Norway-based exploration company, working with Oxford and Durham universities, discovered as much as 54 billion cubic feet (1.53 billion cubic metres) of the gas in the Rift Valley – enough to fill 600,000 Olympic-size swimming pools. Read more
Scientists unveil structure of human cannabinoid receptor
Humans have been smoking marijuana for thousands of years, but scientists haven’t yet nutted out the molecular nitty-gritty of its effects. Thanks to biologists from the US and China, who determined the clearest picture yet of the human cannabinoid receptor CB1, we’re a step closer to unravelling the effects of natural and synthetic psychoactive compounds. Read more
How to rejuvenate stale bread and crunchless crisps
It can be irritating when bread goes stale and chips lose their crunch if you leave them out too long. But instead of throwing them away, you can revive them to their former freshness in a matter of minutes. Read more
Frankfurter fraud: what animals are in your hot dog?
Hot dogs labelled “beef” sold at a Malaysian market contained buffalo, according to a test that can detect tiny amounts of different species’ DNA. The technique, developed by researchers in Malaysia, could be used to determine animal content in other meat products. Read more
The science of steroids – and how cheaters are caught
Steroids have legitimate medical uses, such as treating growth disorders and cancer, but many people associate them with drug cheats in sport. A type of steroid, called anabolic-androgenic steroids, encourages the body to make more and strengthen muscle. But there are also loads of bad side-effects such as kidney and liver problems and the old “roid rage”. Read more
What long-distance running does to your body
Energy, oxygen and water are all needed to keep slogging through a marathon. But did you know fatigue is caused by your cells struggling to keep up waste disposal? Lactic acid – which builds up when your cells inefficiently break down glucose – doesn’t directly make your muscles sore. But it does increase acidity inside cells and they don’t work as well. Read more