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Welcome in the New Year With Seven Deadly Sins

• December 28, 2012 • 12:33 PM

(PHOTO: SHUTTERSTOCK)

Put those resolutions down and commence to transgressing. While the “seven deadly sins” may seem a misty morality lesson from the past, the cardinal vices are always with us–even in the strait-laced arena of research. Hold on to your souls for a quick rundown of how findings announced this last week reflect our sinful natures.

Lust

New research reveals damaged coral have a harder time getting it on, even though it can grow back quickly after injury. Because coral’s sexual maturity is determined by size and not age, reproduction rates can be suppressed for up to four years after damage. In the world of coral, size really does matter.

Gluttony

IBM is developing a computer that could become the next Julia Child. Designed to invent recipes otherwise untested, this different type of food processor is also primed to create healthy yet delicious food for school cafeterias—a hopeful step in curbing childhood obesity. Bell peppers and black tea, anyone?

Greed

You may throw a Ben Franklin down for a cashmere sweater, but why is cashmere so costly in the first place? It comes down to a complex production process and the limited supply of goats bred for their ultra-soft undercoat. There are approximately 30,000 pounds of cashmere produced a year, compared with 3 billion pounds of regular sheep wool—is that my wallet saying ‘baaa-humbug’?

Sloth

Increasingly ice-free, the Bering Strait has become a key option for exporters looking to bring Arctic oil and gas to Asia. Forty percent shorter than the Suez Canal, the recently exposed passage is welcoming more and more vessels—which tends to speed its melt. Mother Nature must be rolling her eyes.

Wrath

More bad news for doom forecasters: Astronomers announced that the asteroid 2011 AG5 is no longer a major threat; previously it was thought to have a 1-in-500 chance of hitting Earth. Good news for the planet, though, as an asteroid that size would slam Earth with several thousand times the energy of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic bombs.

Envy

Looks like someone has Toy Story envy. The newest NASA spacesuit prototype looks suspiciously like the threads of a certain Buzz Lightyear, complete with lime-green piping and bubble helmet.

Pride

Those New Year’s resolutions to exercise are paying homage to the evolution that led to our big brains. Anthropologists believe that our intelligence developed because of our ability to outrun other mammals a million years ago, leading the human brain to become three times larger than expected in a mammal of our size. So brawn makes brains!

Sarah Sloat
Sarah Sloat is an editorial fellow with Pacific Standard. She was previously selected as an intern for the Sara Miller McCune Endowed Internship and Public Service Program and has studied abroad in both Argentina and the U.K. Sarah has recently graduated from the University of California-Santa Barbara with a degree in Global and International Studies. Follow her on Twitter @sarahshmee.

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