News Stories

Perfect Lie Detector: Water

Even Better: Reading Your MIND - New kinds of lie detectors are being developed all the time?the latest one is your hair. And no, we don't mean whether or not you dye or perm, we mean your hair can tell an investigator where you've BEEN. It all has to do with the water you've been drinking. These days, almost everyone seems to be carrying a bottle of water around with them, but it turns out we don't need to drink as much water as they've been TELLING us we do. Recent findings indicate that most people do not need to worry about drinking their recommended 8 glasses of water per day. While it is clear that humans cannot survive for longer than several days without water, very little research has assessed how average individuals' health is affected by drinking extra fluids. Experts have claimed that ingesting water is helpful for everything from clearing toxins and keeping organs healthy to warding off weight gain and improving skin tone.

To investigate the true benefits of drinking water, researchers Dan Negoianu and Stanley Goldfarb reviewed the published clinical studies on the topic. They found solid evidence that individuals in hot, dry climates, as well as athletes, have an increased need for water. In addition, people with certain diseases benefit from increased fluid intake. But no such data exist for average, healthy individuals. Indeed, it is unclear where this recommendation to drink 8 glasses of water daily even came from.

Water retention in the body depends on the speed with which water is ingested?if it is gulped quickly, water is more likely to be excreted, while if it is sipped slowly, it is retained in the body. However, no studies have documented any sort of benefit to organs based on increased water intake, regardless of speed.

Geochemist Thure Cerling says, "You are what you eat and drink?and that is recorded in your hair." But what you may NOT know is that your hair also records where you've been. Where people drink water can help police track past movements of criminal suspects. Ecologist Jim Ehleringer says, "We have found significant variations in hydrogen and oxygen isotopes in hair and water that relate to where a person lives in the United States. Police are already using this to reconstruct the possible origins of unidentified murder victims."

One such officer is Salt Lake County Sheriff's Detective Todd Park, who is using the new type of hair analysis in an effort to identify a murdered woman whose remains were found near the Great Salt Lake in October 2000. "It's a phenomenal method," says Park, a member of his department's cold case homicide unit. "I think it will help the law enforcement community a great deal."

But the REAL lie detector would be if we could read people's thoughts?something we may soon be able to do! In Scientific American, Nikhil Swaminathan reports that a group of scientists say they have developed a method capable of decoding the patterns in the visual areas of the brain to find out what someone has seen.

Art credit: freeimages.co.uk

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