Archive for: March, 2013

In search of bench friendly hair

Mar 31 2013 Published by under Uncategorized

I got a haircut the other day. I'm tying to grow it longer, and it's currently in what cannot be helped...the awkward phase. No matter how you cut it, it's going to look awkward, and probably bad, or at least require far more trouble to make it look good than what I am willing to give it in the morning.

My hairstylist knows this. She knows that I want nothing to do with my hair on most days (sometimes, I admit, I forget to brush it). She also knows that, when I am forced to leave my hair down (which I have to when it's too short to stay UP), I almost uniformly tuck it behind my ears or under a headband or something else so I don't have to think about it.

She's well meaning. She wants my hair to look decent without much effort. She doesn't want me to be a walking advertisement of when a haircut goes bad!

So she gave me little bangs. Attractive little side swept bangs. Bangs that, when they fall into my face, are JUST under my eyes. JUST too short to put behind my ears. And therefore, bangs which constantly fall in my face.

I'm ready to shave my head. Sure, it makes the hair look much less awkward than it might otherwise. I know she's doing her best for me.

...but this hair is NOT BENCH FRIENDLY. Here I am, trying to work under the hood in glove-covered hands which are in turn covered in noxious substances, and my HAIR IS IN MY FACE. It's too short to be held back by headbands, at times I have resorted to paperclips. It being chunky and layered makes it worse, all barrette efforts are in vain.

And I have noticed that much of the hair I have seen recently is not bench friendly. Long side swept side parted hair that, while getting attractively in your face constantly, also makes you look kind of like one of those dogs that can't possibly see through their hair. Lots of hair that is scooped carefully forward, short in the back and longer in the front, so that despite your best efforts it gets in your face. Lots of long little wisps of hair, meant to look ethereal, that do their best ethereal impressions in front of your face. Even the guys aren't unaffected! I see lots of longer guy hair, brushed charmingly over the eyes.

Why do I keep seeing the vast number of hairstyles that are artfully swept over one eye? I guess hair is more important than vision.

Has anyone else had bench unfriendly hair? Advice on how to deal with it? Currently I'm pinning it back all over the place, but the net result is that I often have to walk directly into a meeting with my hair in full on nutty professor. While the Professor Trewlawney look might suit me to some degree, it's not exactly preferable. Anyone?

30 responses so far

Friday Weird Science: does this milk taste like goat pee to you?

Mar 29 2013 Published by under Friday Weird Science

Today's post comes to you courtesy of Mary Roach (aka, the person I want to be when I grow up). I have a copy of her latest book, Gulp: adventures in the alimentary canal that I am reading for review, and a weird science connoisseur such as myself of course spends half her time in the bibliography section, wherein I located this paper. This paper may thus be taken as a pre-review of the book. Spoiler: so far, the book is FABULOUS, but should never be read while eating.

Ah, goat milk. When I think of goat milk, I think of places like farmer's markets, Whole Foods, and little Heidi dancing through the alps. I'll admit to never having drunk raw goat milk (though I do LOVE goat cheese). But after having read this paper, I'm afraid that I do not WANT to try raw goat milk. Why? I'm afraid of the taste...the goaty taste...that is potentially hot, sexy goaty hormones. Hot sexy goat hormones sprayed around in hot, sexy goaty URINE.

Smith et al. "Characterization of Male Goat Odors: 6-Trans Nonenal" Journal of Dairy Science, 1984.

(Awwww. Just wait til he pees all over himself... source)

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4 responses so far

Scicurious Guest Writer! Protein misfolding and disease

Mar 27 2013 Published by under Scicurious Guest Writers

Over at SciAm blogs today, make sure to check out this month's Scicurious Guest Writer, Emily Burns! She's talking about when protein folding goes bad, and how it can cause disease, particularly diseases like Cystic fibrosis. Make sure to head over and check it out!

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Increasing telomerase to save you from stress

Mar 25 2013 Published by under Behavioral Neuro

Sci is at SciAm blogs today, looking at a recent study which examines the effects of stress on telomerase. Telomerase lengthens your telomeres, and telomeres help keep your cells from aging. In times of stress, you might want to keep your telomeres long. Head over and check it out.

EDIT (3/26/13): Based on reader comments, I think this post was too credulous. I have made corrections in the original post in italics.

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Friday Weird Science: Bourbon or Vodka? Pick your poison

Mar 22 2013 Published by under Friday Weird Science

Most everyone who drinks has had some variation on this conversation with other drinkers:

Person 1: Let's go out and get margaritas!!!
Person 2: Ugh, beer for me then, tequila does horrible things to me.
Person 1: Well I can't do beer, clear liquors are the only way I never get a hangover!

...and so it goes. It seems like everyone has their drink of choice, and often one of the factors involved is how bad it will make you feel the next day. Maybe wine gives you migraines but bourbon goes down smooth? Maybe beer is your favorite and vodka leaves you hanging? It seems like everyone has their own choice and the choice is highly individual.

But actually? Not quite so individual as you might think. Because yes, people have done science on this.

(Hangover in a glass or your new best friend? Stay tuned! Source)

Rosenhow et al. "Intoxication With Bourbon Versus Vodka: Effects on Hangover, Sleep, and Next-Day Neurocognitive Performance in Young Adults" Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, 2010.

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5 responses so far

From destructive dudes to devoted dads, it's all in the vomeronasal organ

Mar 20 2013 Published by under Behavioral Neuro

Sex does strange things to males. Specifically, to some kinds of male mice. When a male mouse is a virgin, he makes for a terrible father figure. Male mice who haven't mated show a lot of aggression toward baby mice (pups) and will attack and kill them if you let them.

But what happens when you give that male mouse a lovely little mate? After mating and a couple of weeks with a female, the male mice that formerly would have attacked and killed pups on sight are completely different. They start displaying nurturing behavior, hovering over the pups and generally becoming devoted dads.

But the pups aren't any different. The small and sight of them is the same. It's the same stimulus, but for the male, it's an entirely different response. What is changing? What is turning these destructive dudes into devoted dads?

Tachikawa et al. "Behavioral Transition fromAttack to Parenting in Male Mice: A Crucial Role of the Vomeronasal System" Journal of Neuroscience, 2013.

mouse mom

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4 responses so far

Science and social media: passing each other by

Mar 18 2013 Published by under Academia

Sci is at SciAm Blogs today, talking about a recent controversy. The paper is not a scientific study, instead it's a scientific study of scientists, and how they look at science communication. Do they use blogs? Media outlets? Who do they trust, who do they think has influence? The answers are, sadly, not very surprising, but I wonder what they mean, and how we might change the way things are. Head over and check it out.

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Friday Weird Science: To everything (sperm, sperm, sperm), there is a season...

Mar 15 2013 Published by under Friday Weird Science

Today's paper came to me via a tweet from the perspicacious Ivan Oransky, who linked to the Reuters coverage.

I can't help it, this paper made me sing.


To everything (sperm, sperm, sperm)
There is a season (sperm, sperm, sperm)
And a time, to many humans,
for conceeeeeeeeption.

Or perhaps...


It's the time, of the season (wow, wow, wow)
When sperm runs high
In this tiiiime, be mindful of your sperm counts
And dare to try, with fast-swim sperm...

We know that many animals have a "season". Maybe females go into heat, or males produce more or less sperm. In sheep and goats, the "season" is so profound that males actually halve their testicle weight (I'm trying, and failing, to imagine this happening in humans).

But do humans have a season? Female fertility is more of a monthly issue, but what about men? At first, this seems like a silly question. Sperm take about 70 days to mature, and men are always producing new sperm. So you know, if it's not good, just make more! But in fact...there may be a season. And men, you're in season now.

Levitas et al. "Seasonal variations of human sperm cells among 6455 semen samples: a plasible explanation of seasonal birth patterns" American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, 2013.

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8 responses so far

Oh, thank you! You know I always prefer compliments!

Mar 13 2013 Published by under Behavioral Neuro, Uncategorized

Sci is at SciAm Blogs today for the launch of the new SciAm MIND section! Make sure to head over and check out all things brain! And I'm there today talking about a study looking at positive bias in processing social feedback. Because it's true, we all really go prefer compliments! Head over and check it out.

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Plants give bees a caffeine buzz!

Mar 11 2013 Published by under Behavioral Neuro

Sci is at SciAm blogs today, talking about how some plants, particularly the coffee and citrus plants, use caffeine in their nectar to make bees remember them. But do they remember them fondly? Well that is still to bee determined. Head over and check it out!

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