Archive for: May, 2013

Friday Weird Science: The Concrete Enema

May 31 2013 Published by under Friday Weird Science

Note: all the pictures within are ENTIRELY safe for work. Really!

It is not for me to judge what people do for kicks. I mean, however many fully consenting adults are involved, hey, whatever.

But there are some things that people do that just seem...ill-advised. And raise more questions than they answer. For example: HOW does someone get a "personal sized" volume of concrete mix? Can you ask for that at the Home Depot? And why, exactly, would you want to take said personal volume of concrete mix and put it where the sun don't shine?

And what was with the ping pong ball, anyway?!

Stephens and Taff. "Rectal Impaction Following Enema with Concrete Mix" The American Journal of Forensic Medicine and Pathology, 1987.
(Figure 2. Do you want to know what this is? Do you REALLY?)

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8 responses so far

Scicurious Survey Day!

May 30 2013 Published by under Synaptic Misfires

Today, I'd like to take the opportunity to assess my readers! Who are you? And why are you looking at me? I'd like to know what you like about the blog, and what you think I could do to improve! So I've set up a survey! It's very short, and I'd really appreciate the minute or two it would take to fill it out! Please help me out! And if you have any more details, please feel free to leave a comment!

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Scicurious Guest Writer! Addressing complexities in cancer genetics

May 29 2013 Published by under Scicurious Guest Writers

Please welcome this month's Scicurious Guest Writer, Karissa Milbury! She's at SciAm Blogs today, with an interesting piece on the future of cancer gentics. When the human genome was sequenced, some thought cancer would soon find cures. But it turns out it's never that simple. Head over and check it out.

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Calling all Brave Travelers

May 28 2013 Published by under Academia, Activism

I want to talk to the scientists out there who are doing world-shaking work. Hello? Does anybody know your names?

So begins yet another "call to arms" for scientists. We aren't communicating, we aren't getting out there and making Star Trek-like movies about the inner biology of the cell (which I would TOTALLY watch and help with, btw), and this is, entirely, our fault.

I like a lot of these calls to arms. I think they are important, as many scientists still hide away, convinced that in times of difficult funding, they just need to, you know, submit two grants per cycle instead of one, and well aware that they do not get anything professionally out of giving a TED talk. Scientists get no direct benefits from sci comm, making the long-term benefits much less salient. But while I think they are important, the details of some of these calls bug me. The current example is no exception.

So to this latest piece on Medium, here is my response to your question:

"I want to talk to the people who think they can fix the Science PR problem by getting all scientists to do [X]*. Hello? Have you been on the internet lately?"

*Where [X] is one thing, say, that all scientists should blog or should all communicate in some manner. I personally believe that we could fix it all with all Nobel Prize Winners sitting for LOLcat photo shoots, but then, I know I'm too idealistic.

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14 responses so far

Treating Depression with Ketamine

May 27 2013 Published by under Behavioral Neuro

Sci is at SciAm today, where a recent piece was discussing ketamine. While ketamine's been getting some big press, many people assume that we don't know how it works. And while we don't KNOW...we do have some ideas. I'm talking about one of them. Head over and check it out.

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Friday Weird Science: Can a slug live in your stomach?

May 24 2013 Published by under Friday Weird Science

It's always fun to hear about the rumors that were going around back in the day. Like, now, I'm sure people hear all sorts of rumors about their friend who knows a guy who ran from the cops over the state line or something.

But historically? Well, different times, different rumors.

And apparently the one going around in 1865 was that everyone knew this guy who knew a guy who...swallowed a slug and had it come out alive.

I suppose that escargot no longer looks quite so appealing.

Dalton, JC. "Experimental Investigations to determine whether the garden slug can live in the human stomach." April 1865.

(Mmmm, tasty! Source)

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2 responses so far

The scent of a kitten: Fear may smell like cats, if you're a mouse

May 22 2013 Published by under Behavioral Neuro, Uncategorized

What does terror smell like? Well, if you're a mouse, terror smells like something that's going to eat you. Maybe a cat, a fox, or a large bird. As prey animals, mice need all the help they can get in avoiding potential predators. And they get a lot of help from smell. Most predators produce pheromones that mice can sense, and these are often the only warning the mouse has that it's about to become dinner.

But not all dangers produce pheromones, and mice still have to let each other know that something is coming. So, as these authors show, mice may produce pheromones of their own that can communicate alarm to other mice.

If you need to keep the mice away, be prepared to wear...ear d'terror.

Brechbuhl et al. "Mouse alarm pheromone shares structural similarity
with predator scents" PNAS, 2013.


(Or get a cat. That works too. Behold, Scicat).

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3 responses so far

Becoming an individual twin

May 20 2013 Published by under Behavioral Neuro

Sci is at SciAm Blogs today, talking about a study showing development of individuality in genetically identical mice. It's not the genetics, and it's not the environment. Rather, it's how you experience your environment that makes an individual difference. Head over and check it out!



One response so far

Friday Weird Science: What's your Farting Frequency?

May 17 2013 Published by under Friday Weird Science, Uncategorized

Have you ever wondered how much you fart? Or rather, not how much you fart (presumably you notice most of the time and have a general idea), but instead, how you rate against other people. After all, we humans tend to be competitive little snots. And if we're going to fart, we're probably going to wonder how much other people do. Do you fart more than others? Are you a "superfarter"? Are you magically gassless?

And are you willing to wear a tube inserted right up your butt to find out?

Beazell and Ivy. "The Quantity of Colonic Flatus Excreted by the "Normal" Individual" American Journal of Digestive Diseases, 1941.

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9 responses so far

The Squeaky Wheel Gets the Grease

May 15 2013 Published by under Behavioral Neuro

Everyone knows that the squeaky wheel gets the grease. After all, in a crowded room, it's often the loudest voice that's going to get heard. And if you're a busy rat mom just trying to get through the day, well, when all your pups are squeaking? Start with the one that squeaks the loudest!

But who DOES squeak the loudest, and what does that do?


Bowers et al. "Foxp2 Mediates Sex Differences in Ultrasonic Vocalization by Rat Pups and Directs Order of Maternal Retrieval" Journal of Neuroscience, 2013.

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4 responses so far

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