15 posts · 10,555 views
A collaborative, crowd-sourced blog covering a variety of science topics targeted toward a general reader.
We’ll get to the eternal question of whether zebras are black with white stripes or white with black stripes in just a little bit. Let’s focus in on why they have the stripes in the first place! There are five main theories as to why zebras are striped: camouflage, confusion, recognition, cooling, and repellant… 1. [...]... Read more »
Calderone JB, Reese BE, & Jacobs GH. (2003) Topography of photoreceptors and retinal ganglion cells in the spotted hyena (Crocuta crocuta). Brain, behavior and evolution, 62(4), 182-92. PMID: 14573992
Egri A, Blahó M, Kriska G, Farkas R, Gyurkovszky M, Akesson S, & Horváth G. (2012) Polarotactic tabanids find striped patterns with brightness and/or polarization modulation least attractive: an advantage of zebra stripes. The Journal of experimental biology, 215(Pt 5), 736-45. PMID: 22323196
Did the Venezuelan president really die of cancer? Rumours started in July 2011 that the Venezuelan ‘dictator was’ unwell. Officials vociferously denied it. Now it is known that Hugo Chavez had been suffering from cancer, underwent chemotherapy, and initially survived kidney failure. It seems impossible to imagine that some form of cancer hasn’t led to [...]... Read more »
That’s a really great question. Whether we watch, read, or listen to the news, I’m sure we have all had the feeling of being sick about it; be it the story itself or how it is presented. A huge proportion of our news seems to be negatively biased – but why? The answer has, in [...]... Read more »
Johnston WM, & Davey GC. (1997) The psychological impact of negative TV news bulletins: the catastrophizing of personal worries. British journal of psychology (London, England : 1953), 85-91. PMID: 9061893
Marin, M., Morin-Major, J., Schramek, T., Beaupré, A., Perna, A., Juster, R., & Lupien, S. (2012) There Is No News Like Bad News: Women Are More Remembering and Stress Reactive after Reading Real Negative News than Men. PLoS ONE, 7(10). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0047189
If a man has gender reassignment surgery will he suffer ‘phantom limb’ type feelings? Asked by @christomill via twitter Phantom limb syndrome is the sensation of a body part being present even after it has been amputated. A most peculiar condition, for the amputee the absent limb can feel very real and even as that [...]... Read more »
Ramachandran, V., & McGeoch, P. (2007) Occurrence of phantom genitalia after gender reassignment surgery. Medical Hypotheses, 69(5), 1001-1003. DOI: 10.1016/j.mehy.2007.02.024
Asked by Sam Whiley via Facebook Before we even jump to the answer, let’s define what elasticity actually is. It’s not really the “stretchiness” of your skin as many people tend to think it is; that’s only half the definition. If elasticity were to be defined as only how stretchy something can be, then your [...]... Read more »
Ezure, T., Hosoi, J., Amano, S., & Tsuchiya, T. (2009) Sagging of the cheek is related to skin elasticity, fat mass and mimetic muscle function. Skin Research and Technology, 15(3), 299-305. DOI: 10.1111/j.1600-0846.2009.00364.x
Buehler, M. (2011) Atomistic and continuum modeling of mechanical properties of collagen: Elasticity, fracture, and self-assembly. Journal of Materials Research, 21(08), 1947-1961. DOI: 10.1557/jmr.2006.0236
Is there an equivalent in the animal kingdom to the DSM IV that’s used to diagnose mental health problems in humans? Is there animal psychiatry, or is it just classed as behavioural? Asked by Nicky Sewell via Facebook Psychologist, psychiatrist, and “just plain old doctor” – a veterinary behaviorist has to be all three in [...]... Read more »
Sheppard G, & Mills DS. (2003) Construct models in veterinary behavioural medicine: lessons from the human experience. Veterinary research communications, 27(3), 175-91. PMID: 12777092
Overall, K. (2004) BSAVA Manual of Canine and Feline Behavioural Medicine. D. Horwitz, D. Mills, Heath, S. Quedgeley (Eds.) Glos., British Small Animal Veterinary Association, 2002. 288pp. £66 (soft) ISBN 0905214595. The Veterinary Journal, 168(1), 107-108. DOI: 10.1016/S1090-0233(03)00072-8
Q: Do you burn calories by coughing and does it help to build ‘ab’ muscles?! I have to be getting some kind of workout out of this damned cold… Asked by Suzanne Butler via Facebook Your question is surprisingly difficult to answer. Energy expenditure has been measured in a variety of ways, but to do [...]... Read more »
Pontifex E, Williams MT, Lunn R, & Parsons D. (2002) The effect of huffing and directed coughing on energy expenditure in young asymptomatic subjects. The Australian journal of physiotherapy, 48(3), 209-13. PMID: 12217070
New Year’s Resolutions: Just what is the point? I used to hate the idea of resolving to do something good just because it was a new year. And yet there seems to be something magical about the stroke of midnight on December 31st: Many of us pledge to get fit, save money or stop smoking. [...]... Read more »
Norcross, J., Mrykalo, M., & Blagys, M. (2002) Auld lang Syne: Success predictors, change processes, and self-reported outcomes of New Year's resolvers and nonresolvers. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 58(4), 397-405. DOI: 10.1002/jclp.1151
What links mind-altering parasites, rat mazes, and sartorially-challenged cat owners – and what have they all to do with treating diseases of the brain? Guest contributor Kathryn Lougheed discovers the answer. Have you ever had an impromptu Facebook session when you should have been working? Or have you experienced a lapse of concentration and ended [...]... Read more »
Jung BK, Pyo KH, Shin KY, Hwang YS, Lim H, Lee SJ, Moon JH, Lee SH, Suh YH, Chai JY.... (2012) Toxoplasma gondii infection in the brain inhibits neuronal degeneration and learning and memory impairments in a murine model of Alzheimer's disease. PloS one, 7(3). PMID: 22470449
For Brits, this week sees the return of everybody’s favourite team of armed Police/crime scene/forensic scientist hybrids: the night shift of the Las Vegas Crime Scene Investigation dpt. (UK Channel 5, Tuesdays 9PM). Now entering its 12th season – it’s even been around since ‘seasons’ were called ‘series’ – CSI is the most watched TV [...]... Read more »
New Year’s Resolutions: Do they work? What’s so magical about the stroke of midnight on December 31st? Many of us pledge to get fit, save money or stop smoking. Many of us also know how often these attempts end in failure. Perhaps Oscar Wilde had it right: Resolutions are “pure vanity. Their result is absolutely nil”. Oscar [...]... Read more »
Norcross JC, Mrykalo MS, & Blagys MD. (2002) Auld lang syne: success predictors, change processes, and self-reported outcomes of New Year's resolvers and nonresolvers. Journal of clinical psychology, 58(4), 397-405. PMID: 11920693
On the sixth day of Christmas, my Guru gave to me… laughter! We’ve all heard that laughter is good medicine. It’s not a new idea (even the Old Testament Bible prescribes it) but does it really have a tangible benefit? Proving the health benefits of laughter is tricky. Throughout nearly every sphere of medicine, there [...]... Read more »
On the third day of Christmas, my Guru gave to me… The truth about beauty products! With Christmas just around the corner, everyone is making final preparations for the holiday season. The social calendar is full, what with office parties, friend’s get-togethers, families to visit and a lot of shopping to do – unless you [...]... Read more »
Watson, R., Ogden, S., Cotterell, L., Bowden, J., Bastrilles, J., Long, S., & Griffiths, C. (2009) A cosmetic ‘anti-ageing’ product improves photoaged skin: a double-blind, randomized controlled trial. British Journal of Dermatology, 161(2), 419-426. DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-2133.2009.09216.x
Don’t scientists talk a load of old prattle? Put an academic in front of a TV camera, and it’s odd how many of the world’s top brains seem unable to communicate what they mean. Of course there are the exceptions, and often they are scooped up by news agencies and media outlets. I remember being [...]... Read more »
Is the Venezuelan president really ‘cancer free’? Rumours started in July 2011 that the Venezuelan ‘dictator was’ unwell. Officials vociferously denied it. Now it is known that Hugo Chavez has been suffering from cancer, has undergone chemotherapy, and survived kidney failure. But the true nature of his illness remains shrouded in mystery. Enthusiatically claiming he [...]... Read more »
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