About Poll-Vaulter

Experts say killer whales are teaching each other to attack boats

May 29, 2023

OrcasThey are nothing, if not organized. A sharp uptick in killer whale attacks on boats sailing off Europe’s Iberian Peninsula has led scientists to believe that orcas are actually teaching each other how to sink sailing vessels, Live Science reports.

Per Live Science, reports of increasingly aggressive encounters with orcas started back in 2020. But it wasn’t until this month that any of these increasingly hostile orcas had actually sunken any ocean-faring vessels.

And, while researchers can’t say for certain why the killer whales are suddenly sinking sailboats, according to a report by Futurism, they do have a compelling leading theory: revenge.

In short, as Alfredo López Fernandez, a biologist at the University of Aveiro in Portugal and representative of the Grupo de Trabajo Orca Atlántica (Atlantic Orca Working Group), recently told Live Science, the prevailing theory is that one female orca nicknamed White Gladis—was traumatized by a sailboat. This “critical moment of agony,” as researchers are calling it, caused a behavioral change in White Gladis, who began to attack similar vessels.

“That traumatized orca,” López Fernandez says, “is the one that started this behavior of physical contact with the boat.”

As the theory goes, other adult orcas picked up on this behavior—becoming more aggressive with boats themselves. And now, the kids of those adults have seemingly picked up the behavior, too. At this point, according to López Fernandez, sinking sailboats is really just good ol’ family fun.

“We do not interpret that the orcas are teaching the young,” the researcher says, “although the behavior has spread to the young vertically, simply by imitation, and later horizontally among them, because they consider it something important in their lives.”

Testimony from sailors certainly seem to support this theory.

“There were two smaller and one larger orca,” skipper Werner Schaufelberger, whose boat was sunk by orcas on May 4 in the Strait of Gibraltar, told the German outlet, Yacht. “The little ones shook the rudder at the back while the big one repeatedly backed up and rammed the ship with full force from the side.”

“The two little orcas observed the bigger one’s technique,” Schaufelberger added, “with a slight run-up, they too slammed into the boat.”

The orcas reportedly are attacking a relatively small number of vessels passing through the area. But, if the situation escalates, it could be dangerous for sailors and orcas. Here’s hoping that chaotic legend White Gladis chooses peace soon.

Research contact: @futurism

LNG Electric to bring EV chargers to 13,000 U.S. hotels

May 29, 2023

Electric vehicle charging provider LNG Electric, in partnership with design firm MD7, will deploy Level 2 and Level 3—also known as Direct Current Fast Charging Stations—at more than 13,000 hotels and 40 multifamily communities natonwide, the company announced on Tuesday, May 23, according to a report by Hotel Dive.

Starting this month, the first batch of Level 2 chargers will be deployed to Marriott and Hilton brand hotels in Ohio, Florida, and Illinois. Each hotel will get two to six chargers, depending on the property size, LNG Electric CEO Taylor Weaver told Hotel Dive.

With the rollout, LNG Electric aims to make EV chargers more widely available and decrease traveler stress by deploying thousands of chargers to a stop already on their itineraries: hotels.

LNG Electric’s deployment is intended to mitigate what Weaver calls “range anxiety”—the stress felt by EV drivers who are unsure of where, or if, they will be able to stop to recharge their cars.

This anxiety was reflected in a 2022 McKinsey study that found that, while EV sales in the United States have climbed by more than 40% each year on average since 2016, nearly half of consumers say battery or charging issues are their top concerns about buying EVs.

According to Weaver, this concern comes from a lack of available EV charging stations. In September, NPR reported that there are about 46,000 charging stations  nationwide, compared to around 150,000 gas stations.

This discrepancy is amplified by the fact that EVs, on average, can travel a shorter distance per station stop. An EV can usually travel less than 200 miles on a full charge, while the average gas-powered car is able to travel between 380 and 460 miles per a full tank, Weaver said. 

While LNG Electric’s first hotel deployments are scheduled for Marriott and Hilton properties, Weaver said any hotel built after 1970 could feasibly accommodate the Level 2 EV charging stations; which can be installed in four to six weeks. Once installed, the Level 2 charger can fully charge a car in four to eight hours.

The Level 3 DCFC charger has a significantly shorter charge time of from 30 to 45 minutes, but it has a more costly and complex installation process, taking three to four months. However, LNG Electric is in talks with several potential partners to deploy the DCFC to reduce charge times nationwide.

Regardless of model, Weaver said, EV charging stations can significantly benefit a hotel owner,—noting they can increase guest satisfaction and potentially revenue as they draw travelers who may not have otherwise stayed but do because they need to charge their car.

Another company bringing EV charging to hotels is EOS Linx. Last year, the company struck a deal with Choice Hotels to install EOS charging stations at the brand’s properties in Atlanta and Chattanooga and Nashville, Tennessee.

“Choice Hotels properties are often located close to highways—making them ideal locations for EV chargers—and this collaboration brings us one step closer to creating a robust EV charging infrastructure that will help support our nation’s EV growth targets,” Blake Snider, president at EOS Linx, said in a company announcement.

Additionally, Georgia-based EV charging network Stay-N-Charge has collaborated with roughly 40 U.S. hotels to install chargers.

Research contact: @HotelDive

Mar-a-Lago workers moved boxes of papers before the FBI arrived

May 29, 2023

Two employees at former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club moved boxes of papers around the property a day before FBI agents and a federal prosecutor arrived at the premises in an effort to recover classified documents, reports HuffPost.

The Washington Post first reported that a maintenance employee at the Florida club told federal prosecutors he saw Trump’s valet, Walt Nauta, moving the boxes on June 2, 2022, into a storage area before he offered to help without knowing what the boxes contained. That same day, a lawyer for Trump contacted the Justice Department and said DOJ officials could come to Mar-a-Lago to pick up classified files, people familiar with the investigation told the newspaper.

Jay Bratt, a top prosecutor for the Justice Department, traveled to Mar-a-Lago on June 3 and was handed a batch of classified files and a signed letter attesting that a search had been carried out for any other such material but that none had been found, The New York Times added.

But two months later, on August 8, the FBI executed a search warrant on the property amid concerns that sensitive documents remained at the Trump estate and seized more than 100 other classified files in a storage area and in Trump’s office.

The revelation adds new context to Trump’s behavior surrounding the classified files and potentially broadens the timeline for any potential criminality and obstruction. The Post added that prosecutors have also gathered evidence that Trump’s team had conducted a “dress rehearsal” for moving files he wanted to keep.

The latest reports come at a pivotal time in the investigation. The Wall Street Journal reported on Tuesday, May 23, that Justice Department Special Counsel Jack Smith is nearly finished collecting testimony and evidence after speaking with top aides to the former president and maids and maintenance staff at the Florida estate, which serves as Trump’s residence and is also a private club.

And the Post reported last month that federal investigators have gathered evidence Trump may have sifted through boxes of documents after receiving a subpoena to return them.

Trump’s lawyers also wrote to Attorney General Merrick Garland this week, requesting a meeting to discuss the probe—claiming it was an “ongoing injustice” centered on baseless claims.

Prosecutors have reportedly homed in on whether Trump attempted to obstruct the government’s efforts to recover the files. The saga went on for months after the National Archives attempted to recover documents missing from his White House tenure, and the Justice Department eventually sent agents to Florida with a subpoena to recover the files. The recovery culminated in the bombastic FBI search on August 8.

Some in Trump’s orbit have reportedly been preparing for an indictment, which could present serious legal peril for the former president. He lambasted the ongoing probe during a CNN town hall-style event earlier this month; but also appeared to claim he was allowed to take anything he wanted when he left the White House in January 2021.

“I took the documents; I’m allowed to,” he said during the live event. He later added that when he left Washington he had “boxes lined up on the sidewalk.”

“Everybody knew we were taking those boxes,” Trump said.

Several other investigations into his behavior after his loss of the 2020 election are ongoing, including his effort to overturn the presidential election results in Georgia.

Research contact: @HuffPost

The outlook is good: By 2033, age 90 will be the new 40

May 26, 2023

The creators of a new program that aims to “reboot” your biological age say that, within a decade, people who live into their 90s could feel as if they are in their 40s, thanks to rapid advances in the longevity field, reports Newsweek.

The program and accompanying app, which launched last September, were developed by Great Age Reboot, led by Dr. Michael Roizen, chief wellness officer emeritus at the Cleveland Clinic, and by Silicon Valley entrepreneur Corey Bridges.

The aim of the program and app is to encourage users to develop healthy habits that will help reduce their physiological age—enabling them to feel younger than their calendar age.

“The goal of the program is to enable you to stay younger and stay on top of discoveries in the longevity field while not being misled,” Roizen, who is a best-selling author, told Newsweek. “The aim is to help you avoid doing things that aren’t healthy and to help you consistently do things that are healthy.

“Sometime in the next ten years, we think you’re going to be able to—because of the exponential advances in 14 areas of aging mechanism research—reboot yourself; so that if 60 is now the new 40, 90 will be the new 40,” he said.

Among the 14 areas of research that Roizen is particularly excited about is a technique called therapeutic plasma exchange, which involves removing blood plasma and exchanging it with donated blood products. In one notable study, this technique was shown to slow down several aspects of cognitive decline in patients with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease. In animal studies, it has been shown to reverse skin, pancreas, muscle, and cardiovascular aging.

In developing the app, the Great Age Reboot team analyzed thousands of scientific papers to help create the content, which includes short videos and articles, brain games, and other activities. Each user’s experience is customized to that person, and the app even includes a feature that enables physicians to monitor the progress of their patients.

“What we’re doing is building on Mike’s life mission,” Bridges told Newsweek. “It’s not about extending your life, so you have 30 more years in the nursing home. It’s about giving you 30 more years in your prime so you can do whatever it is that you love, whatever it is that fuels you.”

He continued: “The app is interactive in the sense that it learns about your progress, learns what your starting point is, listens to you about what you want to focus on in a prioritized way to turn back the clock. It seeks to inform and inspire you.”

The app focuses on improving habits in several major areas of life that research has shown are key to longevity, such as stress management, diet, physical activity, sleep and brain health.

When it comes to stress management, the most important thing, according to Roizen, is having “posse and purpose”—i.e., cultivating friends and having a purpose.

In terms of nutrition, Roizen said, “food is a relationship, so you should only eat food you love but that also loves you back.”

He continued: “And with that, eating in the right time, the right amount and doing five days every quarter of decreased food intake. So, five days of 750-calorie-intake resets your aging markers to a younger self—every one of them that we know of.”

other major component of the app’s focus is physical activity, which has been shown to make a difference in how long and well you live. Key activities include cardiovascular workouts, resistance training, and jumping, as well as walking, according to Roizen.

“There is validation in the 10,000 steps a day [goal],” he said. “It’s the inflection point on chronic disease development. Although it was developed by a Japanese pedometer maker, it actually has valid data.”

When it comes to brain wellness, Roizen said, there are more than 30 things you can do to slow your rate of brain aging, such as playing speed of processing games or consuming a tablespoon and a half of olive oil every day.

“And with that goes the component of sleep—getting rid of brain waste as you sleep longer and better,” Roizen said.

The longevity expert also pointed to several supplements that have been shown in randomized, controlled trials to have a benefit on physiological aging. One example of this is phosphocreatine.

“Phosphocreatine is used by young people to build muscle,” Roizen said. “It’s very rarely used by the elderly. But it’s been shown in randomized, controlled trials to not only build muscle in the elderly and help prevent the decrease in muscle mass as you get older but also to improve brain functioning.”

Subscriptions for the Reboot Your Age app cost $34.95 per month or $299.95 annually. You can try before you buy with a free ten-day trial.

Research contact: @Newsweek

Drivers can change lanes using just their eyes in new BMW 5-series sedan

May 26, 2023

If you are behind the wheel of the new BMW 5-series sedan, you will be able to change lanes just by looking in the outside mirror, the luxury car company announced on Wednesday, May 24, according to a report by USA Today.

The German automaker says that the Active Lane Change Assistant with eye confirmation is a “world first”—and will be available October 2023.

While driving the new BMW, the vehicle will suggest a lane change that can be carried out by the driver looking in the exterior mirror to confirm the change. The car then takes over the steering and changes lanes on its own, BMW said in a news release.  

“This comfort feature now achieves a new level of interaction between the driver and the vehicle,” BMW said.

The new Highway Assistant System, which works at speeds up to 85 miles per hour, allows drivers to travel long distances on the road without having their hands on the steering wheel as long as they maintain a “close eye” on traffic, BMW said.

The sedan also has automated parking, which can be controlled in the vehicle or by smartphone outside the vehicle for up to 220 yards.

The BMW 5-series will be available in electric and gasoline-powered versions. The i5 eDrive40, an electric version, has a suggested retail price of $68,800; while the BMW i5 M60—with all-wheel drive and two motors with a combined output of 590 hp—is listed at $85,750.

Research contact: @USATODAY

Awkward silence: Ron DeSantis’s bold Twitter gambit flopped

May 26, 2023

It was the announcement not heard around the world. Ron DeSantis plotted to open his presidential campaign early on Wednesday evening, May 24, with a pioneering social media gambit—introducing himself during an audio-only Twitter forum with Elon Musk. His 2024 effort began instead with a moment of silence. Then several more, reports The New York Times correspondent Matt Flegenheimer.

A voice cut in, then two—Musk’s?—only to disappear again. “Now it’s quiet,” someone whispered. This was true.

“We got so many people here that we are kind of melting the servers,” said David Sacks, the nominal moderator, “which is a good sign.” This was not true.

Soon, all signs were bad. Hold music played for a spell. Some users were summarily booted from the platform, where hundreds of thousands of accounts had gathered to listen.

“The servers are straining somewhat,” Musk said at one point—perhaps unaware that his mic was hot, at least briefly.

For 25 minutes, the only person unmistakably not talking (at least on a microphone) was DeSantis.

The Florida governor’s chosen rollout venue was always going to be a risk, an aural gamble on Musk, a famously capricious and oxygen-stealing co-star, as well as the persuasive powers of DeSantis’s own disembodied voice. (“Whiny,” Donald Trump has called him.)

But the higher-order downsides proved more relevant. Twitter’s streaming tool, known as Spaces, has been historically glitchy. Executive competence, core to the DeSantis campaign message, was conspicuously absent. And for a politician credibly accused through the years of being incorrigibly online—a former DeSantis aide said he regularly read his Twitter mentions—”the event amounted to hard confirmation, a zeitgeisty exercise devolving instead into a conference call from hell,”  Flegemheimer wrote.

“You can tell from some of the mistakes that it’s real,” Musk said.

At 6:26 p.m., DeSantis finally announced himself—long after his campaign had announced his intentions, reading from a script that often parroted an introduction video and an email sent to reporters more than 20 minutes earlier.

“Well,” he opened, “I am running for president of the United States to lead our great American comeback.”

After ticking through a curated biography that noted his military background and his “energetic” bearing, DeSantis stayed onine. Sacks, a tech entrepreneur who is close with Musk, acknowledged the earlier mess.

“Thank you for putting up with these technical issues,” he said. “What made you want to kind of take the chance of doing it this way?”

DeSantis swerved instantly to his Covid-era stewardship of Florida.

“Do you go with the crowd?” he asked, recalling his expert-flouting decision-making, “or do you look at the data yourself and cut against the grain?”

Rivals agreed: If he hoped to differentiate himself, Mr. DeSantis had succeeded, in his way.

“‘Rob,’ Trump posted on Truth Social, a standard troll-by-misspelling, winding to a confusing (if potentially juvenile) punchline: “My Red Button is bigger, better, stronger, and is working.”

Even Fox News piled on.

“Want to actually see and hear Ron DeSantis?” read a pop-up banner on its website. “Tune into Fox News at 8 p.m. (ET)” (Urging donations once he got on the air, DeSantis wondered if supporters might “break that part of the internet as well.”)

Minor as a tech snag might prove in the long run, it was a dispiriting turn for DeSantis after months of meticulous political choreography.

So much of his strength as a contender over the past year was theoretical, said Flegenheimer: the mystery-box candidate constructing a national profile on his terms: slayer of liberals, smasher of foes, the Trumpy non-Trump.

He would conquer and coast. He would Make America Florida. He would be a sight to behold. Presumably.

The reality of DeSantis’s pre-candidacy has been less imposing, shadowed by uneasy public appearances, skittish donors, and a large polling gap between him and Trump.

With better tech, perhaps, a visual-free campaign debut might have been a clever way to rediscover that past aura, to let listeners fill in the mystery box as they choose, before Trump tries to chuck it offstage.

Or maybe the governor’s ostensible advantages—looking the part, before the full audition—were always doomed to translate poorly on Wednesday, when there was nothing to see. It is difficult to project indomitable swagger and take-on-all-comer-ism at an invisible gathering devoid of non-friendly questioning or workaday voters.

Research contact: @nytimes

‘Good Vibrations’ by The Beach Boys makes people happier than any other song

May 25, 2023

“Good Vibrations” by The Beach Boys tops the charts as the song that makes people happiest, according to a university professor’s scientific formula. The 1966 hit single checks all the boxes for Michael Bonshor, Ph.D., who specializes in Music Psychology at the University of Sheffield in Britain, reports Study Finds.

To create a happy song, Dr. Bonshor believes in the combination of a major key, 7th chords, 137 BPM, a strong beat, four beats in every bar, and a verse-chorus-verse-chorus structure. The ditty also should have a short intro, repeated riffs, high volume, bright tone, and a mix of predictability and surprise.

The top ten list of happy songs, according to Bonshor’s formula includes the following:

  1. “Good Vibrations” by The Beach Boys
  2. “I Got You” (I Feel Good) by James Brown
  3. “House of Fun” by Madness
  4. “Get the Party Started” by P!nk
  5. “Uptown Girl” by Billy Joel
  6. “Sun Is Shining” by Bob Marley
  7. “I Get Around” by The Beach Boys
  8. “YMCA” by Village People
  9. “Waterloo” by ABBA
  10. “September” by Earth, Wind & Fire

“Previous studies have found that songs are perceived to be happy if they are in a major key, with a sweet spot of approximately 137 beats per minute,” Dr. Bonshor says in a statement. “We like ‘7th chords’ as they add interest; regular chords use three notes, whereas ‘7th chords’ add an extra note which provides a sense of musical ‘tension’ and ‘relief.’”

“Alongside this, cheery songs usually have a strong 1-2-1-2 beat to them, so that you can dance along—and a short introduction means the song kicks off with a bang straight away, and there’s not a long build up,” Dr. Bonshor notes.

“We like high volume when it comes to how our happy songs are made, with notes played in a bright and bouncy way by instruments such as trumpets or electric guitars instead of mellower instruments. Finally, a repetitive rhythm or guitar riff that people can latch onto and becomes memorable is the cherry on the cake.”

But it’s not just Dr. Bonshor who believes in the ability of some music to lift our spirits. In a recent poll conducted by OnePoll, 46% of adults said singing along to their favorite tracks is a great way to boost their mood. Of those who have specific tunes they turn to in order to cheer up, on average, they have eight numbers on rotation which do the trick.

Nearly six in ten (58%) say these songs have an upbeat feel to them, and the same percentage say they remind them of good memories which put a smile on their face. Meanwhile, 38% say most of their happy tracks were released throughout their teenage years.

The poll also finds that it takes an average of just 14 seconds for these songs to start working their magic. Pop, rock, and dance rank as the three happiest genres of music, while 71% feel music is one of the most powerful influences for changing or reinforcing their mood. Half believe the power of music is actually underestimated, and 38% recognize it can deliver amazing highs and lows.

When reflecting on why music is important to them, 48% put it down to the powerful memories it can evoke and 29% like the fact that they can share it with others. Another 36% have even put on uplifting music around loved ones when they are feeling down to try and lift their spirits.

While half of those who tune in regularly do so within the comforts of their home, 25% consume the most while they are driving.

Research contact: @StudyFinds

Threats to employees prompt Target to pull some LGBTQ-themed goods from the shelves

May 25, 2023

Target is removing some LGBTQ-themed merchandise from the shelves after threatening behavior by some customers ahead of Pride Month in June, which honors lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people, reports Bloomberg.

“For more than a decade, Target has offered an assortment of products aimed at celebrating Pride Month,” the company said in a statement released on Wednesday, May 24. “Since introducing this year’s collection, we’ve experienced threats impacting our team members’ sense of safety and well-being while at work.”

The threats and the company’s reaction are thrusting Target into U.S. culture wars around same-sex relationships and transgender people, which have roiled social media websites and corporate boardrooms. Anheuser-Busch InBev NV’s Bud Light brand lost sales after engaging with a transgender influencer to promote the beer.

What’s more, Walt Disney is locked in a feud with Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (R) after opposing legislation barring discussion of sexual identity in the state’s schools.

Target didn’t say which items it will remove. One product that generated criticism on social media was a “tuck-friendly” swimsuit with “extra crotch coverage” that could be used by transgender people, the Associated Press reported. While some posts on social media said the bathing suit was for kids, Target said it’s only available in adult sizes, according to the AP.

Research contact: @Bloomberg

Harlan Crow again refuses to give Senate Dems details of his relationship with Clarence Thomas

May 25, 2023

A lawyer for Republican donor Harlan Crow has told Senate Judiciary Democrats that the billionaire businessman will not provide them with information about his relationship with Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, reports NBC News.

Democrats on the Judiciary Committee have asked Crow to provide a full accounting of the gifts, trips, and travel accommodations given to Thomas, or to any other justices or their family members.

Indeed, a May 8 letter from 11 Democratic members of the Judiciary panel, led by Chairman Dick Durbin (D-Illinois), directs Crow to provide the committee with itemized lists of all gifts worth more than $415, real estate transactions, and transportation or lodging given to Supreme Court justices or their family members; as well as a list of the occasions when Crow provided any of the justices with entrance to any private, members-only clubs.

Michael D. Bopp, Crow’s attorney, told Durbin in a letter on Monday, May 22, that he believes the committee doesn’t have the authority to “investigate Mr. Crow’s personal friendship with Justice Clarence Thomas.”

Congress “does not have the constitutional power to impose ethics rules and standards on the Supreme Court,” Bopp wrote. “Doing so would exceed Congress’s Article I authority and violate basic separation of powers principles. That precludes the Committee from pursuing an investigation in support of such legislation.”

In response, Durbin released a statement saying the letter “did not provide a credible justification for the failure of Crow and three corporate entities to respond to the Committee’s written questions.”

“The Committee will respond more fully to this letter in short order, and will continue to seek a substantive response to our information requests in order to craft and advance the targeted ethics legislation needed to help restore trust in the Supreme Court,” Durbin said in a statement. “As I’ve said many times before: The Chief Justice has the power to establish a credible, enforceable code of conduct for the Court today.  However, if the Court will not act, this Committee will.”

Bopp argued that the committee lacks a legislative purpose in its request for such a list. He said the “Supreme Court has explicitly stated that Congress has no authority to engage in law enforcement investigations or to conduct investigations aimed at exposing citizens’ private affairs for the sake of exposure.”

Thomas has been under fire over allegations reported by ProPublica that he failed to properly disclose trips and gifts paid for by Crow, the sale of Thomas’ and his relatives’ properties to Crow, and tuition that Crow had paid for one of the justice’s relatives.

Thomas said after ProPublic’s reports that he had been advised that the trips and gifts were “personal hospitality from close personal friends” and did not have to be reported in disclosures.

Research contact: @NBCNews

Can you smell when rain is coming? Science says some people can—and some cannnot

May 24, 2023

Are you one of those people who can leave the house on a summer day and swear that you smell rain in the air? The world is firmly divided into two camps—those who can detect when rain is on the way and those who think that capability is utter nonsense.

While not everyone can smell the rain before it begins, there is actually scientific evidence that some people do possess this capability, reports My Modern Met.

Those with good olfactory senses are often able to pick up a scent that has, according to Scientific American, a “sweet, pungent zing” that’s been likened to chlorine bleach. This is owed to ozone, which can be emitted from things like fertilizer and paint, as well as natural sources.

Ozone can be created by an electrical charge that signals an oncoming storm. Downdrafts from a thunderstorm can carry the ozone created at high altitudes down to ground level and into our noses. While humans’ ability to smell ozone differs, there are people who can pick up on even slight traces and know that it’s probably time to grab an umbrella.

Another term associated with the smell of rain is petrichor. This word refers to the potpourri of scents that arrives once rain has arrived. All that falling water kicks up lots of molecules that produce scents.  First coined in 1964 by mineralogists Isabel Joy Bear and Richard Thomas, petrichor happens when airborne molecules from decaying plants or animals settle onto the surface of rocks. When the rain comes and hits the surface, the water droplets burst and release these scents into the air.

Most people also are familiar with the smell of damp earth that occurs once a rainstorm has moved out. That distinct smell is due to a chemical compound called geosmin. Even though it has an earthy smell, geosmin isn’t caused by dirt. It’s actually a byproduct of bacteria from the genus Streptomyces.

Studies have found that these bacteria have spores that contain geosmin, and that it’s used to attract insects and other animals so that these spores will be spread over more soil. So why is the scent so prevalent after the rain? A 2015 study found that water droplets falling onto soil trap air inside. When the air causes the droplet to burst, it creates aerosols that spray out whatever scent was on the ground. These aerosols can travel quite far, so depending on the amount of rainfall, it’s possible to smell quite a lot of geosmin.

So the next time someone tells you that it smells like rain, you’ll now know that they’re probably getting a whiff of ozone. And if someone mentions the way it smells after a rainstorm, you can impress them with your knowledge of what it is they’re actually smelling.

Research contact: @mymodernmet