April 7, 2014

Where on the body does it hurt most to get stung by a honeybee? If you guessed somewhere in the nether regions, you'd be wrong — at least according to one graduate student who allowed bees to sting him a handful of times each on 25 different parts of the body.

Michael Smith was studying honeybees at Cornell when one flew up his shorts and stung him in a delicate place, as National Geographic reports. Yet unlike most people, who would have screamed and sworn and maybe put on pants, Smith used the unexpected sting as inspiration to study where a bee could do the most damage in terms of sheer pain.

Turning himself into a lab rat of sorts, Smith pressed bees against various parts of his body — the palm, wrist, neck, and, yes, butt, scrotum, and penis — and recorded the pain on a scale of 1 to 10. The results: Stings to the nostril hurt the most (9 out of 10 on the pain scale) followed by the upper lip (8.7), while those administered to the upper arm, middle toe, and skull hurt the least (2.7)

As for the, uh, private parts: "If you're stung in the nose and penis," he told National Geographic's Ed Yong, "you're going to want more stings to the penis over the nose, if you're forced to choose." Jon Terbush

ancient tombs
7:35 a.m. ET

A resident of the Shangzhuang Village in the northern Chinese province of Shanxi discovered a rare archaeological site while preparing to lay the foundations for his new home. Featuring embedded brick carvings, the turtle-shaped tomb dates back 800 years to the mid- to late-Jin Dynasty (1115-1234 A.D.), Xinhua reports.

The octagonal tomb is four meters tall and consists of five small rooms on the northern, northwestern, southeastern, and southwestern sides; it was constructed to look like a turtle from above. Inside, analysis by the provincial institute of archaeology turned up multiple generations of human remains. Twenty-one embedded carvings on the inside of the chamber depict a folkloric story about sons. The director of the provincial institute of archaeology, Bai Shuzhang, told Xinhua that the unusual discoveries will lend to researcher's understanding of funeral customs in the region during the Jin Dynasty. Jeva Lange

7:32 a.m. ET

On Monday, the Nobel committee awarded the annual prize for medicine to three scientists who came up with treatments for parasitic diseases. William C. Campbell and Satoshi Ōmura were jointly awarded the Nobel for their foundational role in developing Avermectin, a drug that has successfully treated river blindness and elephantiasis, two illnesses caused by parasitic roundworms; Youyou Tu was recognized for developing Artemisinin, a drug that has sharply reduced deaths from malaria. "These two discoveries have provided humankind with powerful new means to combat these debilitating diseases that affect hundreds of millions of people annually," the Nobel committee said. "The consequences in terms of improved human health and reduced suffering are immeasurable."

Ōmura, a Japanese microbiologist, isolated about 50 strains of the bacteria group Streptomyces, which Irish-born parasitic biology expert Campbell narrowed down to one strain especially effective at killing parasites in animals. Parasitic worms sicken about a third of the world's population, especially in sub-Sarahan Africa, Latin America, and South Asia. Tu, from China, researched traditional Chinese medicines to come up with a derivative of wormwood that is now used as a primary treament for malaria, a mosquito-borne disease that kills more than 450,00 people a year. For more information, read the Nobel committee's announcement. Peter Weber

Things that make you go hmmm
5:56 a.m. ET

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) is the frontrunner to take over the House speakership from John Boehner after he steps down in October — or at least he was until he seemed to acknowledge last week that the House special committee investigating the 2012 attacks in Benghazi, Libya, was essentially aimed at keeping Hillary Clinton from becoming president. That widely panned gaffe is the centerpiece of this new ad from the progressive Agenda Project Action Fund.

"Just like Joseph McCarthy before him, Kevin McCarthy and his fellow Republicans are using their constitutionally granted powers not to advance the interests of the America people, but instead to try to destroy their political enemies," AP Action communications director Erik Altieri said in a statement. Trying to tie the two Republicans together by the common Irish last name isn't a new idea — Stephen Colbert made the same point, with a lighter touch, on Friday. But the ad is also an interesting strategic move for AP Action, since Kevin McCarthy's top competitor for the speakerships is currently Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), the chairman of, yes, the House Select Committee on Benghazi. You can watch the ad below. Peter Weber

4:59 a.m. ET
Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

Trade negotiators from the U.S. and 11 Asia-Pacific countries said late Sunday that they are optimistic they'll be able to announce a final Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal on Monday, after almost eight years of negotiations. The trade officials, meeting in Atlanta, had suggested earlier that a deal could be announced on Sunday, but ongoing haggling over drug patents, dairy exports, and other issues held up a final agreement. If finalized and ratified by the signatory countries, the landmark TPP would open up trade and set commerce ground rules for 12 countries representing about 40 percent of the global economy.

Several breakthroughs had spurred hopes that this five-day meeting would seal the TPP deal, including a compromise between the U.S. and Australia over the exclusivity period for brand-name pharmaceutical firms to sell advanced biologic drugs — Peru and Chile are still concerned — but New Zealand is still pressing for greater access to foreign markets for its dairy products. Japan, the U.S., Canada, and Mexico reached tentative agreement on a deal governing the manufacture of automobile and auto parts.

If the deal is finalized, the fight begins to get it ratified in all 12 member nations, with one of the biggest question marks the U.S. Congress. President Obama faces skepticism from Democrats and allied labor and environmental groups, and while Republicans tend to support free trade deals, some have expressed concerns about provisions that help labor unions and shorter exclusivity periods for brand-name drugmakers. The 2016 presidential race is a wild card, and Congress won't vote on the deal until early next year, when the fights for each party's presidential nomination are in full swing. Peter Weber

3:47 a.m. ET

A threat made online against "an unspecified university near Philadelphia" is being monitored by the FBI and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF).

The University of Pennsylvania, Temple University, and Drexel University sent alerts out notifying students and faculty about the threat on Sunday, USA Today reports. On the University of Pennsylvania's Division of Public Safety website, a message said the ATF warned that the threat included a "specific date of Monday, Oct. 5, 2015, 1 p.m. Central time/ 2 p.m. Eastern time." Although the FBI and ATF said they have "no knowledge of any specific threat," the university said, in an "abundance of caution" it is monitoring the situation and has increased police, security officer, and CCTV patrols. Drexel University said on its website that the threat was posted on social media after Thursday's shooting at Umpqua Community College in Oregon, USA Today reports. Catherine Garcia

3:20 a.m. ET

Mental illness is "the thing actors pretend to have in order to win Oscars," John Oliver beings on Sunday's Last Week Tonight, and that darkly comic tone carried through the entire hard-hitting segment on mental health. "We don't like to talk about it much," Oliver said of mental health, and "when we do, we don't talk about it well" — he singled out Dr. Oz and Dr. Phil as prime examples.

One sign of just how much Americans don't like to talk about mental health is that one of the only times it comes up is after mass shootings, "as a means of steering the conversation away from gun control," Oliver said, playing clips of several Republican presidential candidates reacting to the latest mass shooting, in Oregon. "It seems like there is nothing like a mass shooting to suddenly spark political interest in mental health," but that's actually the worst time to talk about it, Oliver said, noting research that shows the large majority of mentally ill people aren't violent and only 5 percent of shooting deaths are committed by mentally ill people.

But if America is going to talk about mental health, Oliver said, it might as well do it right. There are about 10 million people with a serious mental illness in the U.S., almost the population of Greece, he noted, "and most of us know a lot more about Greece than we know about our mental health system." So he gave viewers a brief overview of the system, starting with John F. Kennedy's never-funded attempt to shift the mentally ill from asylums to mental health clinic, touching on a terrible practice called "Greyhound therapy," and including the damning statistic that the most common place for America to house the mentally ill is in jail — 10 times more than in state psychiatric facilities. "Our whole system needs a massive overhaul," and it won't be easy, Oliver said. But "if we're going to constantly use mentally ill people to dodge conversations about gun control, then the very least we owe them is a f--king plan." Watch below. Peter Weber

hollywood 411
3:10 a.m. ET
Stephen Lam/Getty Images

The new $33.5 million film Steve Jobs opens Friday, but the Apple co-founder's widow reportedly tried her best to get the project scrapped, sources tell The Wall Street Journal.

Laurene Powell Jobs reportedly went to Sony Pictures Entertainment, which wound up passing on the movie after developing the script, and Universal Pictures, which is releasing the film, in an attempt to kill it. The film, directed by Danny Boyle with a screenplay by Aaron Sorkin, is based on the biography Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson; before Jobs died in 2011, he cooperated with Isaacson on the book. Michael Fassbender stars as Jobs, and the movie looks at the launch of the Macintosh computer in 1984, the NeXT computer in 1988, and the iMac in 1998, while focusing on Jobs' relationships with several people, including daughter Lisa Brennan-Jobs and Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak. Those real-life people chosen to be characters in the movie were interviewed by Sorkin, who said the final product is different from the book; Wozniak told The Journal it's "about Jobs and his personality. I feel they did a great job."

Others who were close to Jobs say the movie doesn't accurately reflect who he was as a person. Bill Campbell, a friend and Apple board member, told The Wall Street Journal that he hasn't seen the film, but believes "a whole generation is going to think of him in a different way if they see a movie that depicts him in a negative way." Producer Scott Rudin said Laurene Powell Jobs was invited to help develop the film, but declined. "She refused to discuss anything in Aaron's script that bothered her despite my repeated entreaties," Rudin said. She "continued to say how much she disliked the book, and that any movie based on the book could not possibly be accurate." Laurene Powell Jobs declined The Wall Street Journal's request for comment. Catherine Garcia

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