Archive for: January, 2011

Book Review: The Calculus Diaries

Jan 20 2011 Published by under Book Reviews, Uncategorized

Sci's not going to lie. I HATED math. Ok, Algebra I could handle, but Calculus? Let's just say my GPA wasn't high for a very good reason. And that reason was Calculus. Remembering the dusty lecture room with the plain white furniture and the feeling of fear every time I hear the words "Derivative" or "Integral" is not a pretty thing. But when I heard that Jennifer Oullette had a book out about Calculus...I thought I'd give it another try. I've always liked Jennifer's blog, Cocktail Party Physics, and I thought, if ANYONE was going to get me to feel ok about Calculus, she was probably it.

I got my copy in the mail (SIGNED! <3) and settled in to read. Well, "settling in" is a misnomer. I have basically no time to read anymore. So I read all my books for review (and other books) while cross-training at the gym. This means I only get in 1-3 hours of reading a week (the rest of the workout time is running and it's very hard to read, you run in to people and trees and stuff). But doing reading while on the stairmaster and elliptical and bike turned out to be really useful for this book, particularly in Chapter 7. Jennifer, throughout Chapter 7, I quite literally felt your pain. 🙂

(Available at Amazon)

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7 responses so far

Serotonin may help you recognize the sad and bad, rather than glad

Jan 18 2011 Published by under Behavioral Neuro, Neuroscience

Sci has RETURNED from a bangup AWESOME time at #scio11. Sadly, my trusty netbook was not particularly trusty, and so I wasn't able to crazy tweet up the conference like other attendees did. But I learned a lot and had a spectacular time meeting and having deep conversations with everyone. It's like the first week of freshman year of college, only with more booze. Bigger writeup coming soon, as I finalize the google doc for the session that I helped with on "how to explain science in blog posts".

In the mean time, let's talk about serotonin, and recognition of emotional faces. Alves-Neto, et al. "Effect of escitalopram on the processing of emotional faces" Brazilian Journal of Medical and Biological Research, 2010.

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6 responses so far

Helloooooo Hermitage! And OOOOOmg Odyssey!!

Jan 17 2011 Published by under Uncategorized

The Hermitage is here!!!! And OMG, so it Odyssey!! A huge welcome to our newest Scientopians! Go and check them out at The Hermitage and at Pondering Blather!

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Smelly Self-Confidence

Today is Sci's entry for this month's CARNAL CARNIVAL. The month's topic, as you may have body odor.

Ah, the big B.O. One of the things that people are by the most sensitive about in countries like the US. In fact, people have been busily covering any sign of their natural scent (and blocking out the scents of others) with hefty doses of whatever sweet smelling item they could come across for several thousand years. We judge others based on their body odor and we also judge ourselves. But the question is, if we think that WE smell other people notice?

It might sound like a one hand clapping sort of question, but not at all. If whether you think you smell is linked to the way you portray yourself, it's possible that other people may notice, even if they can't smell you. This study was going to find out whether this is true. Roberts, et al. "Manipulation of body odour alters men’s self-confidence and judgements of their visual attractiveness by women" International Journal of Cosmetic Science, 2009.

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Friday Weird Science: You know what they say about guys with big feet...

Jan 14 2011 Published by under Friday Weird Science

...they wear big socks.

No, really, you KNOW what they say about guys with big feet. Everyone learned some time in middle school that guys with big feet were supposed to have big penises. This is related to the idea that longer, or bigger, penises are associated with increased masculinity or better abilities in the sack. The idea of a LONGER penis being automatically more satisfactory is, of course, bogus. Masters and Johnson reported, way back when (Masters WH, Johnson VE, Kolodny R. "Heterosexuality". 1994), that penis size had no effect on female sexual satisfaction, but others have reported that girth may play a role, at least, if you believe the response of sophomore college students on surveys. But the reality is probably that it's not the size that counts, it's how you use it.

Anyway, the idea that guys with big feet must also have other things about them that are are larger than normal has been around for a while, and has probably made a lot of perfectly normal men feel somewhat embarrassed about their shoe size. But the question it TRUE?!

It's time for SCIENCE! Science and VERSE. Yeah, I said it. Shah and Christopher. "Can shoe size predict penile length?" BJU International, 2002.

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14 responses so far

Flirting Butterflies with Ornate Ornamentation

Jan 12 2011 Published by under Evolution, Natural Sciences

When it comes to mating, most species of animals have one sex that does all the work. Stereotypically, we think of the male putting in most of the effort, whether it's with extreme ornamentation like peacocks or with extreme effort like dung beetles. But it's not always the case, and sometimes females take the initiative. But in most cases the solicitor for sex doesn't really vary, it's the male, or the female, but not generally both.

Enter the butterfly: Bicyclus anynama. It's an African species often called the "Squinting Brown Bush Butterfly". I imagine that the genus "bicyclus" refers to the dual life cycle of the genus (though I couldn't find any solid information on that, anyone?), but to me it just makes me think of a butterfly riding a bicycle. Prudic, et al. "Developmental Plasticity in Sexual Roles of Butterfly Species Drives Mutual Sexual Ornamentation" Science, 2010.

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7 responses so far


Jan 10 2011 Published by under Basic Science Posts

The other night, Sci was drifting slowly off to sleep.  Suddenly, I sneezed.  It woke me up completely again, and left me wondering, with some irritation, whether it couldn't have waited til I was asleep and didn't care.

And then I thought: CAN you sneeze in your sleep? I asked the Twitterverse and looked around in vain. There are conflicting reports. I may not ever have my answer.

But dang did I ever learn a lot about sneezing. And of course, when that happens...I gotta blog it. So today's post is going to be a basic science post (SCIENCE! 101) on the SNEEZE. How it works, what causes it, and...whether you can do it in your sleep. Songu and Cingi. "Sneeze reflex: facts and fiction" Therapeutic Advances in Respiratory Disease, 2009.

(Props go out to Songu and Cingi, who have written what may very well be one of the most entertaining reviews I have EVER read. I highly recommend).

Is there anything better than sneezing kittens?

Maybe sneezing baby elephants.

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38 responses so far

Who Reads Sci? RESULTS

Jan 08 2011 Published by under Blog Carnivals

First off, thanks SO much to everyone who responded to my survey!!! I really appreciate it! I ended up with over 200 responses, but because I'm cheap and don't want to pay outrageous prices for Survey Monkey, I only have access to the first 100. 🙁 But still, we got DATA. And what it says is very interesting, I think.

Let's take a look-see.

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15 responses so far

OMG Open Lab!

Jan 07 2011 Published by under Blog Carnivals

The Open Lab results are out! And Sci is IN for my guest post in Scientific American on the antidepressant reboxetine! Go check out who else, esp the posts by Kate Clancy, Deborah Blum, Christie Wilcox, Brian Switek, Ed Yong, Captain Skellett, Eric Michael Johnson,... you know what, just check them all out. Why am I bothering here.

I want to give major props to Jason for his amazing work as this year's editor!! Having been editor last year, I can tell you it involves an organized brain, many sleepless nights, and some seriously hard decisions. I think he came up with a great list, and I'm so proud to be in it!!

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Friday Weird Science: SPERM...IN...SPAAAAAACE!

Jan 07 2011 Published by under Friday Weird Science

Sometimes Sci has a wonderful week in which she is completely inundated with fabulous possibilities for Friday Weird Science. Such a week was this one. There is SO MUCH CRAZY SCIENCE OUT THERE YOU GUYS.

So first I was going to do one paper, and then another, and then a third, and finally Mary Roach got on Twitter and posted a link to this article, commenting on the lack of real paper citation to back it up. Sci never takes that sort of thing lying down, and so I began hunting for papers. And I found this one.

It's got rats. Rats doing handstands. And sperm. Can it get any better? Tash et al. "Long-term (6-wk) hindlimb suspension inhibits spermatogenesis in adult male rats" Journal of Applied Physiology, 2002.

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7 responses so far

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