Science update - peas feeling pain, ferrets don't like treadmills.

The NYTimes' "Sunday Review" has always offered a weekly cocktail party primer for time-strapped folks looking to veer in unexpected directions. Very much along those lines this week was the article "If Peas Can Talk, Should We Eat Them?" Where else can you get a "neurobotany" poke in the ol' brainpan? As a result, I've got my next opener for a back-and-forth with chatty vegans. You might also find it fascinating, if you've ever wondered if vegetables might lean toward being a less-than-willing part of our food chain.

I also noticed some popular press repackaging of a scientific paper I never would have expected. Both the NYTimes (in Gretchen Reynolds' "Phys Ed" column in yesterday's "Science Times") and "The Economist" got all clever with a study focused upon running and the evolving human taste for "endocannabinoids" (science speak for that runner's buzz, oddly akin to what you'd get from toking up). Aside from the obvious switch flipped by the running angle ("Hi, my name is Eric, and I'm an addict..."), the choice of research animals for that study caught my eye. Ferrets. They put goshdarn ferrets on a treadmill - unsuccessfully, believe it or not. Aside from the mind's eye comic payoff, it was one of the few recent examples I've seen of weasels being used in research. Both takes are very much worth a looksie, especially if you get out there running and often wonder why.