Northern Irish singer Ruby Murray (1935 - 1996, left) working out with weights, UK, 12th April 1965....

Inverse Daily

This viral workout hack claims to boost performance — science says otherwise

Plus: What overturning Roe v. Wade could mean for the U.S.’s abysmal maternal health record.

Evening Standard/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Have you ever taken a workout supplement? I have some friends and family who swear that they need their pre-, during-, and post-workout tonics, shakes, and drinks, or else something no doubt terrible will occur and their workout will be deeply pointless. Personally, I’ve tried some protein powders — even went through a peanut butter flavor protein-powder phase that I now can’t stand the smell of, never mind knocking it back. Or indeed, knocking it back dry.

This is an adapted version of the Inverse Daily newsletter for Thursday, May 5, 2022. Subscribe for free and learn something new every day.

Before you choke on your undiluted whey dust, keep scrolling for more stories on the latest feat by RocketLab, a space industry up-start, and a key consequence of the potential overturning of Roe v. Wade for maternal health.

Well caught, Peter.Phil Walter/Getty Images News/Getty Images

Watch: Amazing video shows a helicopter catching a rocket booster mid-air

Rocket Lab successfully snagged its launch vehicle mid-air with a helicopter.

This mission, called “There And Back Again,” began when the company’s Electron rocket lifted off from Pad A at Rocket Lab’s Launch Complex 1 on New Zealand’s Mahia Peninsula at 6:49 p.m. Eastern on Monday.

Following the delivery of several dozen satellites into low-Earth orbit, the first stage descended back down, cascading on a parachute as a helicopter carrying CEO Peter Beck onboard performed an aerial rendezvous at 6,500 feet.

Rocket Lab performed the sky catch with its Sikorsky S-92 helicopter, which released a hook on a long line to snag Electron’s parachute line. The company had previously conducted a demo of this recovery maneuver in March 2020.

See the video.

Shake it till you make it.CasarsaGuru/E+/Getty Images

Can dry scooping boost performance? Experts explain the viral workout hack

Adherents believe dry scooping is an easy gateway to peak performance and gives an instant energy boost. But sports nutritionists, physicians, and athletes caution against the practice.

Here’s how it works: You scoop up your pre-workout supplement powder and then knock all that bone-dry powder back like it's a tequila shot and swallow it. Fast, efficient, effective, right?

“Dry scooping makes no sense,” Jose Antonio, professor of health and human performance at Nova South Western University and co-founder of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, tells Inverse.

At best, dry scooping probably doesn’t taste great and will likely draw scoffing from your fellow gym-goers. At worst, health professionals say dry scooping can cause choking or cause the powder to be inhaled directly into the lungs, spiking the risk of infection, pneumonia, or breathing complications. Some reports have even linked dry-scooping with cardiac problems and heart attacks because pre-workout powder commonly contains stimulants like caffeine.

Get the scoop.

Tired of this.SDI Productions/E+/Getty Images

Overturning Roe v. Wade will make the U.S.’s maternal mortality rates even worse

Justice Alito’s drafted Supreme Court decision would reverse landmark abortion cases, posing real dangers for maternal health. The draft arguments ignore several scientific and legal realities. For one, the shockingly high maternal mortality rates in the United States.

Maternal death is defined by the World Health Organization as a death that occurs during pregnancy, childbirth, or immediately after that can be traced back to that pregnancy or childbirth.

The United States has maternal mortality rates twice that of comparable nations. Data from 2020 shows that in the U.S., there were 23.8 deaths per 100,000 live births. That’s up from 20.1 in 2019 and 17.4 in 2018.

The numbers for non-Hispanic Black women are even worse, at 55.3 deaths per 100,000 births. According to the CDC, an estimated 60 percent of maternal deaths are preventable. Despite that reality, the numbers trend in the opposite direction, we’re seeing more maternal deaths than in previous years.

While Alito may be correct in suggesting that unmarried mothers face less stigma than they did in 1973, pregnancy and childbirth is not necessarily markedly safer in this country now than it was in 1973.

Go deeper.

Beware the black widow pulsar!Shutterstock

Astronomers find a puzzling parasitic object — is it a black widow pulsar or something else entirely?

Black widow binaries are powered by pulsars — rapidly spinning neutron stars, which are the extraordinarily dense cores of dead stars that each pack a mass up to 2.17 times the mass of the Sun into the size of a city. Pulsars can spin at dizzying rates, whirling hundreds of times per second, emitting flashes of gamma rays and X-rays like high-powered lighthouses.

Normally, pulsars spin down and settle into life as ordinary neutron stars as they burn off an enormous amount of energy. However, in a black widow binary, the pulsar's companion gives the dead star new life. The pulsar's gravity — strong enough to crush protons together with electrons to form neutrons — rips material off its companion, a flood of plasma whose force helps spin the pulsar back up. The pulsar subsequently blasts out energy that further strips away its companion, eventually destroying it.

In a new study published Wednesday in the journal Nature, scientists may have found the most tightly coupled black widow binary yet, one whose partners are so close that the duo could fit inside our Sun. Much about it remains a mystery, hinting this discovery may be a case of mistaken identity, and that the researchers might have found something entirely new to science.

Keep reading.

Looking good, Alan!HUM Images/Universal Images Group/Getty Images

About this 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.

  • On this day in history: On May 5, 1961, Alan Shepard made history as the first American to travel to space on a suborbital flight.
  • Song of the day: NASA’s Chandra observatory just released a set of remixes of sounds of the universe — enjoy.
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