Archive for: July, 2009

Friday Weird Science: Refridgerator Mothers vs Refridgerator Kids

Jul 17 2009 Published by under Friday Weird Science

One of the great things about weird AND historical science is the great quotes that old-fashioned writing styles tend to produce. Today's quote, for example "information on the force effects of children". The force effects of children? When merely thrown? Or when using some sort of specialized device, such as a child-size trebuchet or slingshot?

Well, no, this paper is not about forces of children when used as objects. It's about the forces of children used for doors. Refrigerator doors, actually. A study like this would probably never fly now, but heck, the world of child psychology was young. It was 1958. Bain, Feagre, Wyly. "Behavior of young children under conditions simulating entrapment in refrigerators." Pediatrics, 1958.

Sci got this paper some time ago, and unfortunately, when she tried to go back online and get the pictures, was THWARTED. Grr. No pics. Too bad, some of them were incredibly 1950s. If anyone has a copy, pass it along? I can edit pics in!

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10 responses so far

Imaging a Superior Mnemonist

Jul 15 2009 Published by under Neuroscience

In neuroscience, we spend most of our time trying to understand the function of the "normal" brain -- whatever that means -- hence, we are most interested in the average. Under most occasions when scientists take an interest in the abnormal neurology, it is usually someone with who has something wrong with them -- has brain damage or a disorder of some kind. In these cases, we try and understand what brain functions they have difficulty performing as a way to understand what each part of the brain does (and hopefully to someday be able to help them).
The point is that when neurologists study the abnormal, it is typically on the non-functional end of the spectrum rather than the highly functional. This is why I found a paper in the journal Neurocase quite interesting. The authors, Raz et al., placed a superior mnemonist -- an individual who can memorize long lists of arbitrary items -- into an fMRI scanner to try and get an idea how they did it.

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2 responses so far

Book Review: Unscientific America

Jul 13 2009 Published by under Academia

Scicurious is always thrilled to receive books in the mail, and this one was rather eagerly awaited. Given the frequent controversy that Chris Mooney and Sheril Kirshenbaum routinely incite on their blog, The Intersection, the book was bound to be controversial at the very least. And indeed, before Sci had even gotten her little paws on the book, reviews had already gone up all over the blogosphere, some saying how great it was, and some saying how it was horrid and they hoped that all copies of it spontaneously combusted. Sci has avoided, however, giving any book reviews a read in detail, as she didn't want to bias her own views of the book before she had read it.
So here it goes:
unscientific america.png

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13 responses so far

The Frozen North

Jul 09 2009 Published by under Synaptic Misfires

So Sci opened her Google Reader, and once she got over the seizures induced by realizing she had OVER 600 UNREAD POSTS, got down to business. Here are some of the things you may have missed while Sci was away in the Frozen North:

Scientia Pro Publica
is out, and Neurotopia makes an appearance with the post on neurotransmission. I also recommend a post on raising children and gender roles.
And Abel's all famous and got quoted on ABC news for his follow-up on the death of Michael Jackson. Unfortunately, no links followed. But still famous.
And the meme is back! The one where people want to know who you are, and why you are looking at them. You should let me know, too. Why are you looking at me? Who are you, anyway!? WHAT ARE YOU DOING HERE!!? STOP STALKING ME!!! 🙂
And there's another review at Paw-Talk, this time with Janet from Adventures in Ethics and Science, who as usual does an awesome job of talking about animals in research.
Finally, for her 4th of July, Sci actually took a few days of vacation. And by vacation, I mean time away from the internet. Shocking, I know. Instead, Sci took a trip to New York State. And she found out some interesting things about Northern People.

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4 responses so far

In Which Sci is Stared At

Jul 08 2009 Published by under Synaptic Misfires

You may have seen around SB the yearly meme of "who are you, and why are you looking at me". Sci did not get to play last year, but this year...she's rather curious.

So, as seen over at Ed's and Drugmonkey:

Identify yourself in the comments. Even if you've never commented before, speak up. Who are you? Do you have a background in science? Are you interesting lay-person, practicing scientist, journalist, sentient virus, or something else? Are you a close friend, colleague, acquaintance or stranger?
Enlighten me.

I'll go first.
Is Scicurious. Is nth year grad student at a Southern Institution. In reality, is large, chubby Siamese with a keyboard. Likes science, particularly that dealing with amusing hooman bodily functions.

29 responses so far

For the Geeks out there

Jul 07 2009 Published by under Synaptic Misfires

So I'm sure you all know that last week, Jodi and Jason, two awesome geeks, got engaged. And when I heard this cute story of geeks in love, I was reminded forcefully of this:

Don't you all wish you were geeks in love? Congrats to Jodi and Jason!
More is to come, I've been away from the tubes, and when Sci checked her reader, there were over 600 posts demanding her attention in their tiny, squeaky little voices. Yikes. The stuff of nightmares.

One response so far

Does stress trigger your chocolate habit?

Jul 07 2009 Published by under Behavioral Neuro

There are many behavioral tasks out there which use monkeys. But a lot of people lately are asking the question: why use monkeys when you can use humans? Of course, for some of these tasks, conditions have to exist that we would be unable to obtain in humans, but there are some simple behavioral tasks which a rat, a monkey, and a human can do equally well. And Sci must imagine that tasks like this involve some amusement factor on the part of the experimenter. After all, if something looks cute when a rat is doing it, it often makes a human look profoundly ridiculous.
And this paper is interesting for other reasons. There are a lot of questions as to how well humans REALLY operate in times of stress. Perhaps some of us may think that stress facilitates our abilities. And in some people, that might be the case. But it also appears that stress brings out other behaviors in humans that may not be as positive as you think. Schwabe and Wolf. "Stress promts habit behavior in humans." The Journal of Neuroscience, 2009.
Today's study brought to you by Nestle Quik

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6 responses so far

'Tis the 4th

Jul 04 2009 Published by under Synaptic Misfires


I know not all my readers are from the US (I know I've got a couple in the UK, some in Canada, and some in New Zealand. What up, guys?) but 'round these digs, the 4th of July is usually celebrated as Independence Day, the day a bunch of people who didn't like their taxes decided to let their government know it in a really violent manner.
Contrary to popular belief, it is not the day the 2nd Continental Congress voted to declare independence. That was July 2. Neither was it the day when the Declaration was read out loud to the city of Philadelphia (that was July 8). Some say it was the day when the Declaration of Independence was signed officially, but it's believed the official signing didn't happen until after all the details were hammered out, on August 2. So WHAT, pray tell, happened on July 4? The Declaration of Independence was adopted. Yeah. That's it. Not voted on. Not signed (though maybe it was), not read to a cheering populace. John Adams always thought that Independence Day should be celebrated on July 2. Others thought August 2. Perhaps people were compromising.
So today is the day. The day of cook-outs, and fireworks, and food, and patriotism. After all it's been through, and all it's going through, and all the crap we have to contend with, and all the issues, in the end, Sci is American, and she's proud of her country. She tries not to get too cynical. After all, everyone in the Roman empire moralized when the empire was 250 years old that everyone had gone soft, and after the Punic wars, what was there to live for, and the whole empire was going downhill. That was around 100 BCE (or a little before or after), and they managed to stick around for while. And in the US, we don't have despotic emperors (anymore), and no lead in the drinking water, and actually give people the vote even if they don't have enough money for a cavalry horse and armor. So I hope we'll stick around a while, at least long enough to fix some of the problems.

Democracy is delicious.

3 responses so far

Has you any Russian Brides?

Jul 03 2009 Published by under Synaptic Misfires

Ok, there's a big furor going on around Scienceblogs over some truly disgusting ads in the side bars for thing like Thai women and Russian brides and chelation therapy. Sci would like to take this opportunity to state that Neurotopia in no way approves of these ads. However, I haven't really seen them popping up around these digs. It could be that our keywords are just not the right ones to activate them. Has anyone seen them up around here? I usually see stuff for banks. We are assured the problem is being taken care of, so we shall hopefully be back up and running soon.
In the mean time, may I assure you that that credit ad on the top bar will NOT change your life, that mail order bride ads are disgusting, and that you should NOT, repeat, should NOT, get chelation therapy unless you have seriously overdosed on some heavy metals.

5 responses so far

Friday Weird Science: Echidnas like it cold and torpid

Jul 03 2009 Published by under Friday Weird Science

Ok, I'll admit, this post is kind of stolen from the fabulous Ed Yong of Not Exactly Rocket Science, who just won the Association of British Science Writers' Best Newcomer award! Imitation is the most sincere form of flattery, Ed. 🙂
Well, the post isn't stolen, but the subject is. And it's actually been a little disappointing. When I first scanned the title, I thought it said "echinoderm", rather than "echidna", and I thought "Starfish sex!!! w00t1!!!" But no.
We're talking about these:

You see? It's just...not the same...sigh...well, ok, they're pretty cute. Check out Ed's post for an adorable video. Morrow and Nicol. "Cool sex? Hibernation and reproduction overlap in the echidna" PLoS ONE, 2009.

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3 responses so far

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