Some like it hot

American society loves to scrutinize pregnant women and shriek at them if they’re doing anything — puffing a cigarette, sipping some red wine — that might endanger their payload. The presumption, of course, is that women are morally bound to carefully abstain from any activity that might damage even a single fragment of the impending-bundle-of-joy’s DNA. And hey: Fair enough. But what about men? There’s a big double standard here, because as plenty of studies have shown, genetic defects can just as easily be caused by men accidentally cuisinarting their own reproductive materiels with booze, nicotine, goofballs, or what have you. And does anyone yell at men of reproductive age for endangering the nation’s unborn generations by getting sozzled during the Super Bowl?

But anyway. This windy, tendentious prologue is merely a setup to the scientific nugget du jour that has been careening around the blogosphere. Apparently, a new study argues that the heat from laptops can harm male fertility. As The Globe and Mail reports:

Research published today in the journal Human Reproduction has found that laptops, combined with the thighs pressed-together posture needed to balance them, give off enough heat to raise the temperature inside testicles by nearly three degrees Celsius (5.4 F).

This increase, researchers warn, could endanger the production of healthy sperm and lead to infertility.

(Thanks to Gord Fynes for this one!)

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I'm Clive Thompson, the author of Smarter Than You Think: How Technology is Changing Our Minds for the Better (Penguin Press). You can order the book now at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Powells, Indiebound, or through your local bookstore! I'm also a contributing writer for the New York Times Magazine and a columnist for Wired magazine. Email is here or ping me via the antiquated form of AOL IM (pomeranian99).

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