Weird Science: Corn Cannibals, a Tomato Revolution & the Key to Success

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Weird Science: Corn Cannibals, a Tomato Revolution & the Key to Success

This Week in Weird Science: We learn that corn turns French hamsters into demented cannibals which eat their own babies; thus relieving the band Korn. After that, we brace for the impending tomato revolution, which will drive our olfactory system wild. And finally, we learn that, to succeed in life, we should stop talking about the future.


Corn is turning French Hamsters into Baby-Eating cannibals.

Wild hamsters in northeast France have turned into baby-eating cannibals and behave like a crazed dementia patient all thanks to their corn heavy diet.

Hamsters in the region used to enjoy a hearty diet of grains, insects, and roots—pretty much everything Hamsters love not found in a fifteen pound Walmart bag. In recent years, their nutrient-rich habitats have turned into massive, industrial corn fields, forcing these hamsters to quench their hunger pains with the a-maize-ing grain.

“There’s clearly an imbalance,” said Gerard Baumgart, president of the Research Centre for Environmental Protection in Alsace. “Our hamster habitat is collapsing.”

To study the imbalance, scientists examined the impact of the diet on the wild hamsters. What they found was disturbing (like Hitler-level disturbing): Infanticide. These hamsters living off corn have turned into demonic animals that eat their own babies and completely, almost immediately, erase the memory.

“Females stored their pups with their hoards of maize before eating them,” the scientists reported. “Pups were still alive at that time.”

Beyond the devouring of their babies, the cannibal mothers showed other abnormalities like endlessly running in circles and “climbing and pounding their feeders.” They behaved like something out of “Night of the Hell Hamsters; rather than the little rodents on the wheel.

Improperly cooked maize-based diets have long been associated with violent behavior. In humans, it’s been associated with higher rates of homicide, suicide, and even cannibalism as well. The reason for the behavior is due to a Vitamin B3 deficiency. When given a dose of B3, the hamsters calmed their asses down and stopped eating their babies.

Needless to say, for the love of God, don’t try to live off corn.



“Make Tomatoes Great Again.” That’s the campaign led by researchers at the University of Florida who have not only identified the chemical compounds responsible for giving tomatoes it delicious, sweet, earthy, did we mention delicious, flavor, but also determined the genes responsible for such deliciousness. So why does any of this matter? These soon-to-be genetically-bred ‘matoes will drive your olfactory systems wild.

The results, published in Science, could potentially help breeders create tomatoes that can survive the arduous journey—ripe with speed bumps and wild wagon hitches—from farm to store without sacrificing any flavor, meaning farm fresh could forever be the new normal.

Now, modern tomatoes were never supposed to be flavorless. Because of demand, they were bred for longevity, disease resistance, plumpness (because how could you not?!), but such breeding methods cost the fruit its flavor.

To uncover the genome, the researchers analyzed 398 types of tomatoes—everything from modern to heirloom to wild species, even a cherry or two—to determine both the biochemical and genetic makeup of great tomato flavor. Most people would consider this subjective, but, apparently, it’s totally not.

After that, they taste-tested, with 70-100 tasters, and ranked the fruit based on flavor, sweetness, and other attributes—like plump in the trunk. Once rated, the group analyzed the chemicals in each tomato to determine what mix of sugar, acids, and general aroma the tasters enjoyed the most. Finally, they studied the genetic makeup of the favorite tomatoes, and, went out to recreate ‘em.

This process enthralled—literally enthralled—the researchers.

“Tomatoes are used in cuisines around the world, and different cultures have different preferences for flavors they like,” she said. “In Japan they like them super sweet, and in parts of Europe they like them with that green taste. Thanks to this work, the tomato can be made much more versatile.”

Versatile, because being the basis of half the world’s cuisines wasn’t enough for the selfish fruit.

Viva la revolution!


Want to make more money? Stop talking about “the future.”

Apparently your birth language determines a lot more about you than was initially thought because a study out of the Weidenbaum Center at the University of Washington St. Louis suggests that it can control your future.

The researchers noticed that speakers of “futureless languages”—e.g. Estonian and Finnish—are 30 percent more likely to have saved in any given year compared to “futured language”—e.g. English and Arabic—speakers. They’re also more likely to show greater support for future-oriented policies like protecting the environment.

In the study, the researchers interviewed subjects who were bilingually fluent in both Estonian, a futureless language, and Russian, a futured language, about various topics. They found that those interviewed in Estonian were more likely to support future-oriented policies than the subjects interviewed in Russian.

The results may not be surprisingly to anyone who’s ever analyzed Russian and Estonian. For starters, Russian may be the most melancholic language in existence, with words like “Toska,” which captures a sadness indescribable in any English sense. Compare that to Estonian, a language more concerned with how many i’s into include in a word for “man who makes steam in sauna”, and you’ll probably understand why Russians viewed the future more negatively.

Top photo by Hannah Gilbert@N08/9440932057/in/photolist-fogfbD-8qyyyj-4TQnSC-4TL9hD-5deqiA-5Nksac-c4XxHL-5Nkr7a-4JqEPB-as4vwi-z42vxK-GxgrSL-7oJ53n-bJChCD-as793w-4hF8Hj-8zUCv2-5s6Qmy-2VP3fY-89aXDu-4iXS2i-4iXRMF-5MD4CN-b2FM9c-4iXT8r-4GUeYH-6uEUEC-5NkpnB-8qpwYB-8qpx3x-8UMggS-5cVw6A-eSNi7m-4Hmj8E-3R5UCa-4j2WBb-d8a5ty-oERGz5-7GXowU-4j2V2S-boeZif-8LxKwQ-bB9Ti8-4j2W7q-4ANrYP-bB9PUM-cFXnfU-boeZi7-6AXPAS-5J3e3M CC BY 2.0

Tommy Burson is a travel writer, part-time hitchhiker, and he’s currently trying to imitate Where in the World is Carmen San Diego but with more sunscreen and jorts.