Sunday, October 13, 2013

It's in his kiss

What is in a kiss? Consciously, it's a method of showing affection or getting a partner sexually aroused. Subconsciously it's a lot more. Sure, kissing helps build a more stable, fulfilling relationship, but before you even commit to the guy it guides you to mates who are genetically compatible. Lots of stuff from a relatively simple, if close, encounter.

Why do I mention this on my writing blog? 'Cause a lot of books have kissing in them. While kissing is often included as a sexy, romantic start of the relationship, how often do characters think about the smell of the man/woman they're kissing? How often does a kiss suddenly confer intimate knowledge of the health of the prospective partner? I submit kissing, as often as it's included in fiction, is underutilized as an information conveying tool.

Speaking of evolutionary(ish) science and mating, it turns out that, at least for a group of hunter-gatherers in Africa (who you can see here), women who have extramarital affairs resulting in children have better reproductive success than similar women who don't. A caveat--the women in question are all in arranged marriages, so the extramarital affairs are likely helping them in substantive ways that wouldn't be the case in a love match. Still, kinda cool that there may be a subconscious reason for women to look around even while in a stable relationship. Usually we assume only men have a reason. Guess again!

Other cool science I've read this week:

Unintended consequences of controlling phosphorus pollution: nitrogen pollution. Okay, totally including this one because it's something I want to work into my own writing. Here's the background--we all know that phosphates are environmentally unfriendly. That's why we're encouraged to be frugal with our soap use and why soaps are being reformulated to not have phosphates in them (much to the chagrin of clean freaks everywhere since phosphate containing soaps are so much more effective than non-phosphate soaps). Anyway, we've done such a good job controlling phosphate pollution that we've also seen a marked decrease in the number of oxygen-stealing, fish-killing algal blooms. Unfortunately, we've also seen more nitrate pollution, which has its own nasty impacts on water quality, apparently because the phosphate-induced algal blooms were cleaning out the nitrates that otherwise accumulate in the water. Yeah.

Any fascinating conflicts jump out of this week's melange for you?

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