Black Holes, Poop Pills, And More Of The Week's Most Surprising New Studies

For decades, physicists have accepted the conventional wisdom that black holes are "bald." (It's probably genetic.) Now, brand-new research suggests that black holes actually have "hair," which will make it easier for researchers to tell them apart.

Turns out a head of hair for a black hole isn't, for example, like having bangs. For black holes, "hair" is a detailed feature of the hole which reveals what kind of matter has sunk into it — and until now, physicists believed that they were all "bald" and lacked any distinctive features at all. The collaborative study utilized work from six separate international universities, and concludes that, much like Prince William, black holes' baldness had been vastly overstated and there is some hair to be found.

(Image: NASA)

Black Holes Have Hair

For decades, physicists have accepted the conventional wisdom that black holes are "bald." (It's probably genetic.) Now, brand-new research suggests that black holes actually have "hair," which will make it easier for researchers to tell them apart.

Turns out a head of hair for a black hole isn't, for example, like having bangs. For black holes, "hair" is a detailed feature of the hole which reveals what kind of matter has sunk into it — and until now, physicists believed that they were all "bald" and lacked any distinctive features at all. The collaborative study utilized work from six separate international universities, and concludes that, much like Prince William, black holes' baldness had been vastly overstated and there is some hair to be found.

(Image: NASA)

Insects Have Less Sex During Storms

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We're not sure why researchers took it upon themselves to figure out insects' sex lives based on climate. But it paid off, because we now have this fun fact: during storms, insects are keen to have less sex. One researcher said that this was probably because a raindrop, for an insect, is the equivalent of a fridge falling on you. Which we'll admit could be off-putting.

Research from the University of Western Ontario found that insects changed both their input and output of pheromones (sex hormones) according to the weather. Which makes sense, because you don't particularly want to have to worry about giant fridges falling on you mid-coitus. But really, little guys: what happened to keeping things fresh?

Superstitious Behavior Can Work

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We were pretty sure that all that came from superstitious wood-knocking was a sore hand. But the University of Chicago says that we've got it all wrong. Apparently, physically exerting negative energy away from yourself — tossing salt, thumping on wood — puts you in a better position to think positively, and thus garner positive results.

Other superstitions that don't involve thrusting negative energy away from you didn't prove to have any effect reducing bad luck whatsoever, said the study, published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology. Basically, if you're expecting good news, hit or throw something.

Sleeping Too Much Is Bad For You

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Oh, for crying out loud, world. We already knew that not sleeping enough was bad for our brains and health generally, but a new study from the CDC — never the bearers of good news — suggests that sleeping too much is just as bad. The research indicated that whether you typically sleep too little (less than six hours) or too much (more than ten), you're equally likely to develop diabetes, heart disease, or have a stroke.

The study involved 54,000 participants, so it's official: sleeping in just won't be as fun anymore. Of those monitored, two-thirds were "optimal" sleepers, getting a healthy seven to nine hours of shut-eye every night. Two percent slept for too long, and the rest didn't sleep enough.

Bees Can't Smell Flowers Because of Fumes

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Prepare to feel guilty about this one. Research from England's Southampton University has discovered that bees' hunting-and-gathering skills are being seriously impaired by traffic fumes: the fumes change the scent of the flower, meaning bees are having trouble finding their food.

Bees and other wild pollinators have seen serious declines in recent years, and it's all down to us. There's a lack of natural flowers to be found, for a start, and agricultural insecticides have also wreaked havoc on the bee population. In the Southampton study, researchers found that when the oilseed rape flower (apparently a thing in bee world) was mixed with pollutants; bees only recognized its scent a third of the time.

We deserve all the bee stings we've gotten, world.

Fast Food Is Not Getting Healthier

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New research from the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition And Diabetes has proved once and for all that, no, fast food is not on the upswing. Analysis of the menus of more than 200 fast-food chains found that the calorie-count of the average item has remained static for at least two years. The average amount of sodium in each item is roughly 1,500 milligrams, which also happens to be the daily recommended amount of sodium. Mmmm, hypertension.

Cockroaches Are Just Like New Yorkers

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What do New Yorkers and cockroaches have in common — other than, um, living in New York? Well, said a research group, an awful lot, when it comes to living habits. Like New Yorkers, cockroaches are often immigrants, and once they move in, they don't tend to leave.

Rockefeller University is running a National Cockroach Project, which has seen "donations" of cockroaches carcasses shipped to them from across the state. (Ew.) It turns out that Upper West Side cockroaches are genetically different from Staten Island cockroaches, since all the cockroaches in the same area tend to come from the same gene pool. They essentially self-segregate in creepy cockroach pools around the city, which is exactly what human New Yorkers do, in terms of race and income.

Cockroaches, like New Yorkers, also tend to stay forever in the neighborhood they grew up in, and are frequent users of Seamless.

A "Poop Pill" Is Now a Thing

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As medical breakthroughs go, this is both great and gross. An early-trial "poop pill," which contains feces stripped down to their basic elements, has shown serious promise in curing the bacterial infection Clostridium difficile , which kills 14,000 Americans and sickens a half-million more each year. The bacteria can cause life-threatening inflammation of the colon.

This is basically a "fecal transplant," which is gross, but has seen incredible effectiveness. A Canadian team tested the "poop pill" on a bunch of subjects, all of whom saw regular re-occurrences of the infection and had stopped responding to antibiotics. The pill contained the stripped-down feces of one of their relatives (yup) and it actually worked in every single case — aside from one, which researchers are dismissing as an anomaly, and a poop-head.

True Love Isn't Happening, Apparently

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According to research by Siemens Festival Nights, which we're going to point out are definitely not psychological researchers, almost three-quarters of people in relationships said that they were — quote, unquote — "making do" with their current relationship because their true love got away. And 46 percent said that they'd leave their partners if their "true love" came along.

Siemens, which runs a three-day opera festival, interviewed 2,000 people for the study. We're going to put it out there and say that maybe after watching several days of opera people don't have quite as much faith in love.

OMG Bigfoot Is Real. (Not)

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OK, this one definitely isn't an accredited study. A research group entitled the Bigfoot Genome Project took 100 samples from Bigfoot or things they believe Bigfoot has come into contact with, and extracted genomes from them to prove their thesis that, you know, this is a thing. Apparently, Bigfoot is officially a "human hybrid," and isn't a single beast but an entire North American culture of hybrid-human-things. Their results weren't published in a research journal, exactly, but a journal the Project founders had created themselves. Lead researcher Melba Ketchum explained "We want people to understand this is a serious study. They have chosen not to believe it. They can’t find it in their minds to think these things exist.” Yes, this is clearly a pressing matter.