Archive for: February, 2011

Friday Weird Science GUEST POST: Why opals aren't like armadillos

Feb 11 2011 Published by under Friday Weird Science

Today's post is a guest post coming at you from the fantastic Vivienne Raper, a freelance journalist who also blogs at the blog Outdoor Science! This is also why all the spellings of things appear to have extraneous "u"s.

Imagine owning a swimsuit that makes you look like a tropical fish, shimmering and changing colour as you flash through the water. Not a fan of swimming? How about an opalescent party dress that dazzles like peacock feathers or butterflies’ wings. It might sound like science fiction, but it could be as little as three years away.

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4 responses so far

Dieting, Stress, and the Changing Brain

Feb 09 2011 Published by under Behavioral Neuro, Uncategorized

Dieting doesn’t work. No really, it doesn’t. Much as people like to talk about how the things they are sticking to are “lifestyle changes”, etc, a lot of them (but not all) are still diets, still ways of restricting your eating, and over 80% of them will fail. By fail, scientists mean that you will gain back all the weight you lost, and then some, within five years. This is not only bad because of the weight people end up gaining, but some people believe that the “yo-yo” dieting style itself can contribute to the beginning of metabolic disorders later in life.

So why DO the diets fail? Why can’t people stick to them and why can’t they keep the weight off even after they’ve lost it? While some people may just claim weak willpower, neuroscientists know that it goes a lot deeper than that. And it turns out that going on a diet may change the way that your brain reacts to stress, changing both how you express stress and whether you start eating for comfort because of it.

Pankevitch et al. “Caloric restriction experience reprograms stress and orexigenic pathways and promotes binge eating” J. Neuroscience, 2010.

It’s time to put some mice on a diet.

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25 responses so far

Book Review: The Science of Kissing

Feb 07 2011 Published by under Book Reviews

Pucker up!


Sci was very excited to get a copy of Sheril's first solo book effort, "The Science of Kissing: What our lips are telling us". I've always enjoyed Sheril's writing and her fun take on life in general, and so I was excited to get the book. But I admit I was also a little worried. After all, it's the science of KISSING. What if it was...well, like a Cosmo article or something? Of course I know Sheril better than that, but there was a deep dark worry in the back of my mind.

(Is this a kissing book?)

"The Science of Kissing: What Our Lips are Telling Us" by Sheril Kirshenbaum.

(Disclaimer: I did give some advice and information for the book, and got the book for free. Sadly, I didn't get to participate in any of the surveys contained therein. Rats.)
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9 responses so far

Ranty Pants!

Feb 03 2011 Published by under Synaptic Misfires

So yesterday I wrote a post where I put on my "ranty pants", and mentioned that I would LOVE to have a pair of them that actually existed.

And a friend of mine read the post...and...


You know you want a pair. The cafepress shop is here. Me, I'm getting like 10 pairs. They can be my blogging pants!!

5 responses so far

Oral Contraceptives and Weight Gain: Data and Anecdotes

Feb 02 2011 Published by under Health Care/Medicine, Natural Sciences

@noahwg linked an article (or a blog post?  It seems more like a blog post) in the NY Times today, on oral contraceptives and weight gain. The post covers a review of various clinical trials (there are only three listed, but that's because they are using the most stringent measures of three treatment trials per study) and concludes that there is no causal association between oral contraceptive use and weight gain.

Yup.  Again.  Because this isn't news.  In fact, it's a reprint of a review released in 2008.  Combined oral contraceptives don't cause weight gain in any of the studies in which they've been tested.

I've seen studies like this before, and I commented on it to a female friend of mine. And I got the response I have now come to expect: "Well, I gained weight!"

Sci's gonna have to put on her ranty pants for a minute.

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25 responses so far

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