I Biblioteket

Libraries in general are good for browsing and serendipitous discoveries, but some are better than others. I’m always drawn to the ones with shelves arranged in no logical order, where if you don’t constantly consult a cryptic map you’re liable to stumble upon the Journal of Psychoactive Drugs or Memoirs of the Indian Geological Survey. And Danmarks Natur- og Lægevidenskabelige Bibliotek, where I’m sitting now, is particularly excellent in this regard: all the scientific journals are shelved together in alphabetical order, without regard for disciplinary boundaries, so my quest for the Journal of Quaternary Science brought me into range of, well, the Journal of Psychoactive Drugs, among other things.

The best part, though, is the failed xerox recycling bin. On the top was a brilliant piece of science that began: Disasters are often associated with physical destruction and with death. Houses, villages and towns may be damaged or destroyed by fighting and wars, or by earthquakes, hurricanes and floods. People, particularly the poorest, the eldest, and the youngest, may die in disasters. Important information brought to you by the Journal of Disaster Management.

Below, someone had circled a reference to “Liquorice consumption and salivary testosterone concentrations.” If you happen to subscribe to The Lancet, you can read the article here; or if you’re extra bored, register onsite for free access to the abstract. In brief: a previous study found that eating licorice reduced salivary testosterone concentrations as glycyrrhizic acid, the active ingredient in licorice, interferes with some enzyme or biochemical something. The authors of this article failed to replicate the effect, and resort to snootily mocking the statistical methods of the first study.

Science is great.

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