What’s on your calendar for the rest of 2012? Here’s a question that those of use who are able to escape the cold by heading for warm beaches may ponder: How does our the skin know to start tanning after the sun’s rays hit it? Researchers have discovered that our skin can "see" the sun’s ultraviolet rays using the same light-sensing pigment that’s found in our eyes.

Tanning is a protective response. Melanin, the dark pigment responsible for it, protects skin cells from damage caused by ultraviolet radiation in sunlight by absorbing the radiation. When biologist Elena Oancea studied tan skin, she found cells called melanocytes, which produce the protective pigment melanin, and found that the cells also contained rhodopsin, a pigment previously found only in the retina of the eye where it detects light.

In LiveScience.com, Wynne Parry quotes biologist Elena Oancea as saying, "As soon as you step out into the sun, your skin knows that it is exposed to ultraviolet radiation. This is a very fast process, faster than anything that was known before."

Don’t hit the beach (or the ski lodge, if that’s where you’re going) without a good book: Visit the Whitley Strieber Collection today. In fact, if you’re a subscriber, you can get Whitley’s "Hybrids" paperback for under $2.

And if you’re embarrassed by how you look in a bathing suit, make a New Year’s resolution to lose weight. How to start? With Anne Strieber’s famous diet book, "What I Learned from the Fat Years." It worked for her–and it will work for YOU. And you can get a tan in beautiful, SUNNY Nashville as early as May, when we hold the Dreamland Festival. Come join us!

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