Archive for: December, 2008

Friday Weird Science: Sex in an MRI, is that romantic or what!

Dec 19 2008 Published by under Friday Weird Science

So I was GOING to do a post on Fournier's gangrene, but considering the way it completely grossed out everyone I showed it to, perhaps it's not such a good idea. I'd hate for you all to run screaming. So we're not doing it. If you're REALLY curious, you can look it up, but I am not responsible for any emotional scarring you may suffer having seen the pictures.
And anyway, I found something better to appeal to all of your dirty minds. Courtesy of Coturnix, who I think got it from Pharyngula who blogged it back in the day. And I'm sure you've all always wanted to know what sex looks like in an MRI. Schultz et al. "Magnetic resonance imaging of male and female genitals during coitus and female sexual arousal" British Medical Journal, 1999.

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19 responses so far

Einstein was smart, but Could He Play the Violin?

Dec 18 2008 Published by under Uncategorized

I already wrote one entry for PLoS ONE's second birthday, but I'm feeling sparky today, and I think I like this paper better.
I don't know about you guys, but when I was a sprog, my parents dragged me to music lessons. LOTS of music lessons. As of right now, I have been producing music of some type for the past 21 years straight. And I LOVE it.
Of course, I didn't always love it. I remember my mother dragging me and my brother to lessons, making us sit down every day and practice (I was, and still am, no good with the practicing), and the fear and shakiness of recitals (heck, I still get that, and it's been 21 years). In her time, Sci has actually "mastered" (it's a debatable point), three different instruments ('instruments' is a loose term), and still uses one of them professionally on occasion. And if you can guess what they are, Sci something cool. Like send you one of her favorite books. Or perhaps a tshirt with a molecule on it. Or perhaps some of her delicious cookies. Obviously, you can only guess if you don't KNOW already (that means you, Dad). So there you go, contest open.
Anyway, years and years of music lessons. But the question is: did they do me any good? Does playing 'Baby Mozart' really do anything, and is anything achieved by starting your child on Suzuki when they are 2, other than the pain and misery of your child, and possibly an eventual love of music? Can it, perhaps, make me SMARTER? Forgeard et al. "Practicing a musical instrument in childhood is associated with enhanced verbal ability and nonverbal reasoning" PLoS ONE, 2008.
And for the record, Einstein did play the violin. Apparently he was quite good.

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16 responses so far

Why Did the Dolphin Carry a Sponge?

Dec 18 2008 Published by under Natural Sciences

It sounds like the beginning of a joke: Why do dolphins carry sponges? technically, it's to scoop up fish, but that's not get to the other side? No? Dang.
This paper from PLoS ONE has recently been covered by the illustrious Ed Yong (he of the recent book publication!), but it's PLoS ONE's birthday, and I really think this phenomenon is cool, and so I'm going to blog it, too. So there, Ed. *ppppbbbbtttttttth* 🙂
So why DO dolphins carry sponges? Mann, et al. "Why do dolphins carry sponges?" PLoS ONE, 2008.

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12 responses so far

'Twas the day of experiments, and all through the lab...

Dec 17 2008 Published by under Blog Carnivals

Ok, that just gave me an idea for a poem. I think I have to write it.
But first: Giant's Shoulders went up yesterday at Rigorous trivialities. And we're in it. So yay. I particularly like the post by bayblab on the rise and fall of phrenology.
And tomorrow is a big day! It's the day that PLoS is celebrating its birthday!! I wonder what the terrible twos will be like for a Journal. More fights with Nature? So there's going to be a contest, blogging your favorite paper from PLoS, and whoever wins...wins. See Coturnix for details. I'm totally in, though I'm not sure I'll have a lot of time to put something really good together. You think I can post more than once?
And now, Sci has to go and run a TON of experiments. The poem will have to wait. But it will happen! I am inspired.

4 responses so far

It's Podcast Time!

Dec 17 2008 Published by under Synaptic Misfires

Every once in a while I publish a list of my current podcasts. I listen to a LOT of podcats, most of them pretty unrelated to science, but I've found a couple of other science bloggers do the same. Moreover, I am ALWAYS looking for new podcast recommendations. I spend a lot of time analyzing my data, and when you're doing something tedious and mindless, it's nice to be learning something at the same time. I can always use to improve my trivia skills. So here they are, and I'd love to know what other people think or if they can recommend other cool podcasts! I'll group them by category, and include some of my likes and dislikes (podcasters voices, in particular, are very important to me, though if the information is good I can get past certain issues).

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4 responses so far

Where did the time go?

Dec 15 2008 Published by under Academia

The semester is finally winding down. Kudos to Scicurious for holding down the fort. After teaching 3 courses on top of my 40+ hour-a-week lab job, I'm rather grateful. No wait, I'm frakkin' ecstatic. Possibly rapturous. Don't get me wrong, I had a blast being an instructor. Most notably my Basic Concepts students told me they really appreciated my efforts, and a number of them did pass their departmental exams to enter their respective programs. That made me feel great. My Human Bio course was a bit of a sleeper, however, since almost every single person was there to fill a credit. I found myself-- pressed for time-- devoting more of my energy to the Basic Concepts classes.
If I had to do it again, I'd not teach so much so I could devote more time to each class. However, Daddy needed a new roof and lab work doesn't pay that great. Weighing the options, new roof>>>leisure time spent emptying buckets from leaky roof.
Next semester I'll be at the local state school instead of the community college, teaching Biopsych. I'm psyched about it (*rim shot*), but I'll miss my CC kids.

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Stimulants as Cognitive Enhancers?

Dec 14 2008 Published by under Uncategorized

I'm sure everyone has heard by now about the commentary that appeared in Nature on use of stimulants as cognitive enhancers. Unfortunately, I didn't have a chance to read the commentary myself until this weekend, when I curled up (at the lab, no rest for the grad student) with a cup of delicious coffee, some Moose Munch, and the latest issue of Nature. Unfortunately, this commentary has completely destroyed my peace of mind. The arguments laid out for the use of cognitive enhancers are persuasive, but there are also some interesting flaws.
I'm sure most people have thought about cognitive enhancement. All my life I have envied, to some extent, those who are more successful than I am. Somehow they can focus when I cannot, can study for much longer hours than I can, and consequently get better grades. Some can focus on training more than I can, can stick to nutritional advice, practice when they are supposed to. What if I could get myself a little pill that made me match them all?
Part of me (the part that is competitive and in grad school) says sign me up. The other part, the part of me that worries about the effects of drugs and the way the public reacts to statements like the one in Nature, says hold it, is this another "Listening to Prozac"?

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19 responses so far

Friday Weird Science: Which porn gets you hot, baby?

Dec 12 2008 Published by under Friday Weird Science

UGH. First off my apologies for the weird scheduling. I have no idea why it posted itself four days ago.
And I have to start this with a personal porn anecdote. You KNOW you wanna hear it. Woodard et al. "What kind of erotic film clips should we use in female sex research? An exploratory study." Journal of Sexual Medicine, 2008.

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48 responses so far

Back by popular demand: Cocaines

Dec 09 2008 Published by under Addiction

On request from several people, I am here reposting my post that I wrote on cocaine way when I was but a little blogging larvae. Now, I think I have reached pupa stage, and then when I go into my chrysallis will be when I'm writing my dissertation. I think we can all look forward to when I emerge as a lovely blogging butterfly. I have no doubt that my color design with be great.
Anyway, cocaine. This post is slightly edited from when it first appeared, which was in response to a question from a friend of mine. The question was, basically, doesn't Ritalin act in a manner different from cocaine?
The answer: not really...

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7 responses so far


Dec 09 2008 Published by under Activism

In my department this year, someone has decided to hold a "deck the doors" contest. Basically, you sign up for a door, deck it out, and whoever has the best door gets pizza. I'm actually not a HUGE fan of this. This is partially because my lab is not very Christmas oriented, and thus it's blown up into a huge issue. It's also partially because the organizer of the contest has gone around hounding everyone to make SURE they decorate their doors.
Anyway. My lab manager has decided to do her own door (for various reasons). She wants to win, and give the pizza to charity, which I happen to think is a damn good idea. We don't need extra pizza on our butts at Christmas, but there are a lot of hungry people out there who do. Our lab studies dopamine (in case you hadn't already guessed), so she wants to make a dopamine wreath, along with some dopamine carols to put on the door. I also want her to wrap the door for extra festive. We're geeks, I know.
The problem is this. I don't like her dopamine carol. I just...don't like it...and so she challenged me to make up my OWN. And you know what, IT IS ON, Lab Manager, IT IS ON! Besides, I think it would be a really good thing if she won and donated the pizza. So I WANT her to have the best carol. And I personally think it'd be even BETTER to have more than one carol, right? A whole book of carols! Then we'd definitely win!
Here are some of MY suggestions:

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5 responses so far

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