Archive for: October, 2008

Remember the Old Days?

Oct 14 2008 Published by under Uncategorized

Along with my passion for science (say it with me, "SCIENCE!" Don't you feel awesome now?), I have a passion for history. I love history books (yes, really) and history podcasts, and nothing is cooler than when Mr. SiT takes me to see historical stuff (well, ok, unless we're going to a Natural History museum, those make me pretty hot, too). So when I talk about the Olden Days, I'm not just talking about the 1920's. Sometimes I'm talking about the 1530's (Tudors ROCK), or 1805 (Napoleon was pretty awesome), or even the era of the Byzantine Empire (why doesn't anyone ever get my references to Justinian?).
The machinations of the governments are not the only thing that is interesting to me. I love hearing about the way that people in history viewed aspects of science. Many of the biological processes and physical processes were always considered part of "science", though sometimes the processes of the human body were lumped under medicine, and classified differently. What I find really interesting is the way the ancients (and not so ancients) thought about what we now call neuroscience. The inner workings of the mind, and how it can change, learn, remember, and screw up. Of course, ancient thinkers then did not think of the mind and brain as working together. Rather, the mind and the soul were lumped together, and didn't reside in the brain. They resided...somewhere else. Sometimes it was the pineal gland, sometimes the passions were in the liver, and of course there's the heart, which has held everything from love, to anger, to jealousy, and everything in between.
Of course many of the things they thought turned out to be incorrect. But you never know, probably a lot of the things we think right now will end up being incorrect. But many of the ideas of the ancients are stunning in their clarity and logic, and most of them still affect us today.
And so, in this post, Scicurious polishes up her rusty little Bachelor's in Philosophy, and has a go at one of the most ancient texts in the history of Psychology, "On Memory and Reminiscence" by Artistotle, circa 350 BCE. (From Classics in the History of Psychology)

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10 responses so far

Show me the DATA!

Oct 13 2008 Published by under Friday Weird Science

I realize it's been a few weeks, but I'm FINALLY getting a look at all the responses that poured in in response to this post. I'm a good little scientist, and we all have to look carefully at our data. Not all the comments were on here, a bunch of them were over on BoingBoing and Stumpleupon, but I gathered together all that I could in the interests of a high n, the opportunity to look at more variables, and a higher probability of significance.
So the big answer to the question is HERE: DOES masturbation work to clear out your nasal congestion?! Does nasal congestion significantly impede your quality of life? Inquiring minds MUST KNOW!

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5 responses so far

You think your phantom limb is bad, check out my phantom erection!

Oct 10 2008 Published by under Friday Weird Science
For Friday Weird Science, there is really nothing better than a good case report. And you guys are getting a GOOD one this week. Partially because it's really good, and partially because I have just returned from the bachelorette party of a dear friend. So you now get to meet FUN Scicurious! And see how devoted Sci is? She's so devoted she's blogging to you in a dubious mental state! It's because I care. And because, though last week I got to say "vagina", this week I get to say "penis". Hehehe.
Namba, et al. "Phantom erectile penis after sex reassignment surgery" Acta Medical Okayama, 62(3), 2008.
Also, I will warn you, I'll describe stuff, but you probably don't want to see the pictures. If you do want to see them, check the paper out for yourself.

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38 responses so far

Morning updates

Oct 09 2008 Published by under Synaptic Misfires

Lots of stuff going on these past few weeks. Do I have time to actually TELL people about them? Of course not. So ya'll get my time between meetings today for me to let you know!
First off, everyone probably already knows, but there's a science blogging conference coming up! It's Science Online '09, and it will be my very first big blogging conference. I'll be there all wide-eyed and naive, if anyone wants to come and make fun of me. And Evil will be there too! If you're very unlucky, you might come across us being very, very drunk. Do join us!
And also it's almost time for this year's Open Lab! You can nominate stuff here:

Personally, I recommend you nominate ME! And all of my glorious older stuff! But of course you can nominate anyone else as well. I won't be hurt. Don't worry about me. I'll just be here in the kitchen with my head in the oven...
And there are some awesome things around today as well...

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2 responses so far

Good Advice, Part 2

Oct 07 2008 Published by under Physiology/Pharmacology

So I've been thinking of ways to make some of my more science-y blogging come across to those with less in the way of science backgroud. There was a suggestion that I try categorizing the posts into easy, intermediate, and difficult, but I wouldn't want people to give up on something they may potentially find really cool just because it's labelled "hard", you know?
One way I thought of to help with this would be a series of really easy background posts on many of the topics that I write about. These would be things like different neurotransmitters and brain areas, as well as a couple of diseases that I happen to think are really cool. Thus, when I write the deeper, more science-y posts that contain these topics, I can link back to them, and you will know what I'm talking about. It's like wikipedia, only better because all of these things relate specifically to ME. And cannot be edited by people who may just want to change things for fun. These will, of course, be interspersed with other posts (I've got something awesome brewing on Aristotle, stay tuned).
So, without further ado, the first one of the things that I happen to like blogging about background posts...DIABETES.

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13 responses so far

Friday Weird Science: Men Watching Women Strut

Oct 03 2008 Published by under Friday Weird Science I actually heard about this paper from the glorious Dr. Isis, who covered it a few weeks ago with her usual panache and sparkles. Since I read her post, I've been itching to get my hands on this paper, but for some reason the journal was denied me, until this very lovely guy named Matt commented on my old blog, complete with the link to the paper. Thanks Matt! So yeah, other people have covered it before (I know I read it somewhere else, but I cannot recall, possibly Coturnix?), but I really really like this paper, and I think it's rather hilarious. And in my brain, I'm still five, so I also am amused that I get to say "orgasm", "clitoris", and "vagina" over and over and over again. Tee hee.
Nicholas et al. "A woman's history of vaginal orgasm is discernibly from her walk" Journal of Sexual Medicine, 5(2), 2008.

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15 responses so far

Good advice

Oct 02 2008 Published by under Synaptic Misfires

So I saw a comment over at Adventures in Ethics and Science (which is, by the way, a killer blog. If you don't read it, you should).

In my experience, it does come down to a choice for parents of which authority to trust. No matter how hard I tried, as a young parent I could not evaluate the medical literature, and I didn't get explanations from doctors. The sources that explained things simply and at my level of understanding came primarily from the CAM camp.
I read several Science blogs daily. I've improved my understanding of the vaccine issue as well as ID/Creationism vs evolution, probability theory, marine biology, the Monty Hall problem, microbiology, academic ethics and many other subjects, but I cannot assess a scientific study for myself. I'm grateful to Orac and Steve Novella, among others, that they often assess studies for me. As thrilled as I am to have had this resource, when I recommend blog posts to friends they don't read them, because the posts are too long and use language the reader is unsure of. I don't think most science bloggers have a clue as to what knowledge and thinking skills the general public have at their command.
Parents, especially poorly educated parents, especially parents who are not scientists or medical professionals, especially average parents, need to know whom they may trust.

It was in reference to Autism's False Prophets, which is a book that I hope to be reading soon, (as soon as I get my hands on it, anyway). But the point is the same no matter what the topic. It makes me very worried that, with all my heavy sci-talk, I'm becoming unintelligible to those with whom I want to communicate. After all, I'm in science all day, every day, and it's hard to remember sometimes that there are people who don't know what a synapse is.
So I wanted to throw a a few questions out there: Is my stuff often difficult to understnad? What can I do to make myself better understood? Fellow bloggers, what have you done? Short of making every single post very long and full of tons of explanations, I am not really sure how to proceed. And I really want to to the word out about all the cool science that is out there. I would love some advice!

2 responses so far

It's not the size that counts, it's how you use it!

Oct 01 2008 Published by under Physiology/Pharmacology

Before I do anything else, I want to let you know that Not Exactly Rocket Science has posted a really cool article on a robotic starfish! It can adapt to injury and self-assess. And it's so cute! Anyone want to get me a robotic starfish? Anyone...?
And on a sad note: Tetrapod Zoology reports on strange giraffe deaths. This makes me so sad! The giraffe, in all it's tall, necky, awkwardly graceful and nervous glory, is my totem! Though Coturnix also identifies with our favorite ungainly giant. Coturnix, watch out for trees.
ACK! Cool stuff keeps happening before I can finish this post! Tangled Bank is up over at Evolved and Rational, and yours truly is featured, tho' we are misspelled are 'Neutropia". It's almost the same, right?
Scienceblogs Book Club is back, with "Autism's False Prophets" as it's current book. I REALLY want this book. I think I might have to make it a special gift to me, since I'm so awesome.
Finally, and in keeping with today's paper: Zooillogix has found fat dolphins. Regardless, I think they're awfully cute. The second pic of the chubby one on the bottom is particularly so. But really, I had something real to write about today (though I think I've spent the entire day writing so far...). As I'm sure most of you are aware, doctors are very worried about an obesity epidemic in the United States and other countries. There are lots of possible causes, lack of activity due to sedentary lifestyles, genetic components, crappy food, etc. It's not that doctors are worried about people being obese per se (though there is probably some societal vanity at work), it's that there are strong correlations between obesity and several tough health problems, such as diabetes, cardiovascular problems, and cancer. A new essay out in PLoS Biology predicts that it may not be your actual size that counts, but what you do with the fat you have.
Virtue, S, Vidal-Puig, A. "It's not how fat you are, it's what you do with it that counts". PLoS Biology, 6(9), Sept. 2008.

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2 responses so far

All work and no play

Oct 01 2008 Published by under Academia

make Evil a dull monkey.

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2 responses so far

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