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Talking points: Mothers nesting, food addicts and high-tech webs

Ultra-Orthodox Jewish men check etrogs, or citrus fruits, in preparation for use in rituals during the Jewish holiday of Sukkot, which begins Wednesday at sundown.

AMMAR AWAD/REUTERS

THE MOTHERING URGE

Why do pregnant women often turn into cleaning machines right before the big arrival? It's evolutionary, researchers believe. As reported in the online journal Evolution & Human Behaviour, a team from McMaster University in Hamilton has concluded that the urge to clean and organize their home feverishly is adaptive behaviour derived from ancestors. "Providing a safe environment helps to promote bonding and attachment between both the mother and infants," said lead author Marla Anderson. The same mechanism prompts pregnant women to be selective about the company they keep, causing many to spend time only with people they trust, the study suggested.

HOOKED ON FOOD

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Might as well face it: We're addicted to food. From Canada.com comes the alarming news that one in 20 Canadians is a "food addict," according to a study conducted at Newfoundland's Memorial University. The research focused on 652 adults (415 men, 237 women) from Newfoundland and Labrador who answered such survey questions as: "I eat to the point where I feel physically ill," and "I find myself constantly eating certain foods." The report concluded that 7 per cent of the women and 3 per cent of the men met the diagnostic criteria for food addiction. So who's to blame? The food industry, naturally. "There is a huge industry designed to increase our craving for food that we don't necessarily need," said Dr. Valerie Taylor, chief psychiatrist at Toronto's Women's College Hospital.

SPINNING A WEB

A spider's web may seem like the most delicate substance on the planet, but it's playing a major role in technology development. According to Science World Report, researchers are wrapping spider silk in carbon nanotubes to create environmentally friendly wires. The traditional nanotube is a sheet of carbon one atom thick rolled into a tube with a diameter roughly 10,000 times smaller than a human hair. Scientists used water to stick the carbon nanotubes to spider silk and the result is being regarded as a breakthrough. "This high-grade, remarkable material has many functions," said researcher Eden Steven. "It can be used as a humidity sensor, a strain sensor, an actuator and as an electrical wire."

THOUGHT DU JOUR

The whole conception of 'Sin' is one which I find very puzzling, doubtless owing to my sinful nature.

Bertrand Russell, Social critic (1872-1970)

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