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For many people, the start of a year is a time for new health resolutions – be it eat more vegetables, consume less sugar or drink more water.

Keeping hydrated is essential for body functions such as temperature regulation, transporting nutrients and removing waste. Water even acts as a lubricant and shock absorber for joints.

But while most people know they should drink more water, it can be a bit boring. So what about sparkling water as an option to liven things up a bit? After all, sparkling water is just as good as normal water, right? Not quite.

Many people are reluctant to use sunscreen, even though it’s an important element in preventing the skin cancers that affect about two in three of us at some time in our lives.

The Cancer Council says myths about sunscreens contribute to this reluctance. Here are 4½ sunscreen myths and what the evidence really says. Confused about the ½? Well, it’s a myth most of the time, but sometimes it’s true.

Eighty-one years ago, a broadcast of Orson Welles’s War of the Worlds supposedly caused mass hysteria in America, as listeners thought Martians had invaded New Jersey.

There are varying accounts of the controversial incident, and it remains a topic of fascination, even today.

Back when Welles’s fictional Martians attacked, broadcast radio was considered a state-of-the-art technology.

And since the first transatlantic radio signal was transmitted in 1901 by Guglielmo Marconi, radio has greatly innovated the way we communicate.

December 25, as we all know, is Jesus Christ’s birthday, a Christian celebration in which the myth of three kings who travelled far and wide to give gifts to the “new born king” inspires the modern Christian tradition of gift giving. Early gifts used to be fruits or nuts, but as this act took on more importance, gifts became larger and less modest, and were placed under a tree.

The idea of hanging up decorations in the middle of winter is older than Christmas itself. Decorations are mentioned in ancient descriptions of the Roman feast of Saturnalia, which is thought to have originated in the 5th century BC.

Some 900 years later, a Christian bishop in Turkey wrote disapprovingly about members of his congregation who were drinking, feasting, dancing and “crowning their doors” with decorations in a pagan fashion at this time of year.

Humans have a “natural” lifespan of around 38 years, according to a new method we have developed for estimating the lifespans of different species by analyzing their DNA.

Extrapolating from genetic studies of species with known lifespans, we found that the extinct woolly mammoth probably lived around 60 years and bowhead whales can expect to enjoy more than two and a half centuries of life.

Our research, in Scientific Reports, looked at how DNA changes as an animal ages – and found that it varies from species to species and is related to how long the animal is likely to live.