Inverse Daily

You should think about your cast iron skillet differently for one very metal reason

Plus: Another private company has sent humans to space.

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It’s Tuesday, which means we’ve got a bumper crop of excellent science and innovation stories to share with you that were published over the last few days.

  • Another private company has sent humans to space.
  • You should think about your cast iron skillet differently for one very metal reason.
  • Read a longform interview with journalist Patrick Radden Keefe.
  • Have you given much thought as to the future effects of intermittent fasting?
  • Dive into scientific analysis on the “benefits” of mushroom powder.

Those stories and more are in this daily dispatch. I’m Nick Lucchesi, an editor at Inverse, and this is Inverse Daily.

Today is the one-year anniversary of the death of George Floyd. While looking through the archives of Inverse stories, I came across this report by erstwhile Inverser Ali Pattillo. It explains that racism is a dangerous public health problem. I wanted to share it again with you all today.

Here’s a quote from Wizdom Powell, Ph.D., who is a psychology professor at the University of Connecticut. Powell has studied population health disparities and put it this way to Pattillo last summer:

“We have always known that racism is a public health problem because it lives in the structures of our society — in the policies and procedures that we've enacted,” Powell told Pattillo during the interview. “It lives in transactions with physicians and patients and it lives in clinical decision-making.

“It is impossible to imagine that we wouldn't declare racism as a public health problem.”

I’m glad you’re with us today. If you have any suggestions for how to improve this newsletter — stories you’d like to see, stuff you don’t find valuable, your vax summer ideas — drop us a line at newsletter@inverse.com.

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This is an adapted version of the Inverse Daily newsletter for May 25, 2021. Subscribe for free and earn rewards for reading every day in your inbox.

Sir Richard Branson gives a thumbs up from a seat during the unveiling of a scale model of Virgin Galactic's SpaceShip Two at a news conference in September 2006 in New York. Last week, part of that goal was achieved.DON EMMERT/AFP/Getty Images

Virgin Galactic moves closer to space tourism Virgin Galactic held the first in a series of suborbital flights, with video footage previewing what it will really be like to be a tourist in space. Mike Brown has the story:

Liftoff! Virgin Galactic has taken perhaps its most important step yet toward making the dream of selling suborbital flights to space tourists a reality.

On May 22 at 10:34 a.m. Eastern, the firm’s VMS Eve aircraft took off from Spaceport America in New Mexico carrying the VSS Unity spaceship. Then, at 11:26 a.m. Eastern time, the aircraft released the spaceship, which fired its engines for around 60 seconds.

The ship reached a speed of Mach 3 after its release. It ultimately reached an altitude of 55.45 miles above ground level before coming back to Earth. It then landed at the same spaceport —  the first-ever human spaceflight to take off from New Mexico.

Read the full story right here.

Related content:

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How quickly we age Your genes may have more influence than anything you put into your body when it comes to how iron relates to longevity. Here's what you need to know, from Sophie Putka:

The secret to a long life isn’t sipped from the fountain of youth or hidden in a mushroom deep in the forest. It’s not even a code to be “hacked” by anxious billionaires in Silicon Valley. Longevity might hinge — at least partially — on a decidedly less fantastical thing: iron.

Before you go buy iron supplements or tuck into a steak, know this: Your genes may have more influence than anything you put into your body when it comes to how iron relates to longevity. But somewhat counterintuitively, the science does seem to lean toward too much iron being a bigger problem for age-related issues than too little.

“Of course, when you eat a lot of red meat, your iron can also be higher. But the question is if that is directly related,” Joris Deelen tells Inverse. Deelen is a research group leader at the Max Planck Institute for Biology of Aging in Germany. “We cannot say that if you have a high iron intake that that is also directly related to your mortality,” he says.

Read the full story here.

Related science stories:

MediaNews Group/Boston Herald via Getty Images/MediaNews Group/Getty Images

Patrick Radden Keefe interview In a new book, Empire of Pain, Patrick Radden Keefe traces the history of the first family of OxyContin. He tells Inverse’s Katie MacBride how he exposed the sins of the Sackler family:

In Keefe’s new book, he tells the story of how the Sacklers came to be so rich, so influential, and, ultimately, so reviled. He does so through scores of unearthed documents and emails made public through the court system, and from interviews with those who lived inside the so-called “Empire of Pain.”

Through the book, out now, it becomes clear that today’s opioid epidemic has its roots in decisions made in the 1950s — some 70 years before Keefe started his investigations into the family.

As Keefe tells Inverse: “One of the biggest choices I made in writing the book was to devote almost a third of the book to the life of the guy who dies before OxyContin.”

Read the full interview here.

Related content:

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Intermittent fasting and future generations Emerging findings suggest it may be best to tread lightly with drastic diet regimens — especially when it comes to prolonged fasting. Sophie Putka has the story:

When ordering that keto meal-prep service, embarking on a day-long fast, or blending up a smoothie to sustain you throughout the day, you are likely thinking about the potential health benefits. You are probably not thinking about your potential unborn grandchildren — but maybe you should be.

It’s possible that playing around with our diet today could influence generations for years to come. Emerging findings suggest it may be best to tread lightly with drastic diet regimens — especially when it comes to prolonged fasting or extreme calorie restriction.

Read more about this story.

More genetics articles:

Mushroom powder benefits Mushroom supplements are taking the wellness industry by storm, but the science behind the supplements is still preliminary, reports Sophie Putka:

Attention microdosing and natural remedy enthusiasts: Psilocybin mushrooms aren’t the only ’shroom in the game. There’s a new(ish) wellness product in town: mushroom powder supplements. Yet the world of remedial fungi, like other holistic cures and supplements, can be a hazy one. Legitimate assertions are mixed in with vague health claims and terms like “superfood,” “adaptogen,” and “nootropic.”

Are mushroom supplements just too magical to be true? Inverse dug into the science of mycology and microbiology to fact check some of the wild wellness claims these functional mushroom powders serve up. The answers we found are... complicated.

Read the full story here.

More fungi facts:

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5-second rule A food scientist and food microbiologist help Inverse explore the myth of the 5-second rule and what it really means for you. Sarah Wells has the story:

It is perhaps the greatest agony: Watching food you paid good money for — or worse, painstakingly cooked — tumble to the floor. Children may be traumatized by their ice cream slipping off the cone to the curb, but food lovers carry this fear with them right into adulthood. There is one known salve: the 5-second rule.

This so-called rule is hard-baked into society. Essentially, it encourages you to tempt your fate and pluck favorite fallen morsels back from beyond the point of no return — all predicated on the notion that bacteria and pathogens lurking on our kitchen floors, city streets, and the backs of cars can’t possibly have infiltrated our food in less than five seconds.

Read the full story here.

Related debunks:

Cillian Murphy attends A Quiet Place Part II world premiere at Rose Theater, Jazz at Lincoln Center on March 8, 2020, in New York City. The actor turns 46 today. The movie, postponed by the Covid-19 pandemic, opens in theaters this weekend.Jason Mendez/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images
  • About the newsletter: Do you think it can be improved? Have a story idea? Want to share a story about the time you met an astronaut? Send those thoughts and more to newsletter@inverse.com.
  • Follow me on Twitter at @nicklucchesi, if for no other reason than to get Inverse headlines in your timeline and a few other Inverse-y things.
  • Before we go, happy birthday (🎂) to these folks: Ian McKellen (82), Paul Weller (63), Octavia Spencer (51), Cillian Murphy (45), Mike Myers (58). (Source: AP.)
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