Luke Skywalker’s Green Milk: “It’s Not a Breast. It’s an Udder.” And Other Science Facts You Didn’t Ask For

This past weekend, nerds worldwide set down their game controllers and curled up with their plush Chewbaccas to watch the DVD/digital release of the latest installment of everyone’s favorite space opera, Star Wars: The Last Jedi. Since the film was released in theaters, it has generated much discussion, from the multiple U-turns director Rian Johnson pulled with the storylines that the previous episode had set up, to whether Reylo is inevitable or a problematic perpetuation of the romanticization of male toxicity in film. These discussions left little room for the brief, dialogue-free scene in which Luke Skywalker is shown milking a giant semi-aquatic mammal then drinking straight from the tap.

Well, I am here to remedy that situation. And not unlike the scientists at the open-source science journal PLOS, who hilariously peer reviewed The Last Jedi, I’m doing it with SCIENCE.

Rey and her new friend

The scene to which I refer involves Luke milking a creature who lives on the island and procuring a vividly green-colored milk that he messily drinks as Rey looks on. Articles that have covered this scene have consistently called it “weird,” “gross,” and “bizarre,” nevermind the fact that 1.) We are a species that evolved to drink milk from a breast, and yet 2.) we think that is gross and, instead, choose to consume the milk of another species despite the fact that that it is nowhere near anything like our milk in composition, and 65% of us can’t even digest the stuff. But, I digress.

Today we’re gonna talk about straight-up nerd science. What I’m interested in, here, is not just the question of why the milk is green—We will get to that, but there is SO much more, here! In this brief, dialogue-free scene we are given several “clues” about this animal: various characteristics about its milk—not just the color, but also it’s viscosity, and opacity, and some very unique (and quite memorable) mammary anatomy. We also get some clues about it’s environment and behavior. But for the sake of brevity, I will be focusing mostly on the creature’s very memorable mammaries. If we take these clues and apply some of the known mechanisms (rules) of evolution from our own planet, we can make some guesses as to the evolution and social behavior of this creature. Let’s science the bantha fodder out of this!

Continue reading “Luke Skywalker’s Green Milk: “It’s Not a Breast. It’s an Udder.” And Other Science Facts You Didn’t Ask For”

On Melatonin and Kids

On Tuesday, BBC.com reported that three Chicago-area daycare employees were arrested for administering melatonin to twelve toddlers at nap time, without parental consent. (Aside: Curiously, apparently the British spell it “parentel”? The wonders of variations in English word spellings never cease…) Now, if you’re anything like me, you probably stared at this report, mouth agape, wondering how on earth this sort of thing could possibly happen. But then, I realized that if you look at our culture and the way the melatonin is used and regulated in the U.S., this sort of incident becomes inevitable. And it will probably happen again.

(Side note: I include links to further resources in hyperlinks throughout my articles. I also include a bibliography at the bottom, with summaries and further explanations. We’ll see how long I keep that up haha.) Also I’m sooo sorry about the ads! Working on getting rid of them…

This story comes on the heels of interesting cultural and policy changes, as well as an increasing body of research, including this study published by Colorado University Boulder on Tuesday, that indicates that we mess with childrens’ sleep in ways we don’t even realize.

This post is going to have a few tangents, but that is because stuff like this is a symptom of a larger conversation that needs to happen about kids, sleep, and childcare in America. There are several problems that converge, here.

  1. We don’t value childcare in America, and it hurts children.
  2. American parents abuse melatonin.
  3. And it’s just the latest trend in our long, messed-up history of drugging children in order to get them to sleep.

I am going to take each in turn.

Continue reading “On Melatonin and Kids”