Archive for the 'Friday Weird Science' category

Friday Weird Science: Oral Sex Gets Fishy

Oct 11 2013 Published by under Friday Weird Science, Uncategorized

When it comes to parenting, some animals will go the extra mile. Possums, for example, have their young clinging on as they trundle around. Kangaroos give birth to immature young that they keep in a pouch until it's bursting at the seams. Humans let 30 year old offspring move back in.

And fish? Do mouth brooding.

The fish above has a mouthful of eggs. It's a cichlid. And some species of cichlid will go the extra...mouthful to protect their eggs. They are so worried about the predation of their eggs that the females lay eggs, circle around, and then immediately gobble them up, holding them in their mouths until the fry hatch, and often even longer, until they are big enough to make it on their own.

However, it turns out that the female fish are in such a rush to pick up their eggs, they sometimes don't even give them time to get fertilized! Holding a mouth of unfertilized eggs seems like kind of a waste. But the males have figured out not just how to get fertilization to happen...they got some oral sex out of the bargain.

Sort of.

Mrowka, W. "Oral Fertilization in a Mouthbrooding Cichlid Fish" Ethology, 1987.

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Friday Weird Science: No Singing, or Sexing, in the Rain

Oct 04 2013 Published by under Friday Weird Science

No siiiiinging in the rain,
No siiiinging in the rain!
But once the storm is over
Bugs are hooooorny again.

They're calling for mates
When the sun's out above
But when pressure's down
They're not ready for love.

Let's the stormy clouds chase
All the bugs from the place
Come on with the rain
And watch horny insects brace

They'll wait out the rain
Til the sun's out again
No singing
Or sexting in the raaaain.

Singing in the rain seems so romantic, doesn’t it? The childlike joy of dancing through the raindrops with your beloved certainly worked for Debbie Reynolds and Gene Kelly in the movie.

But there’s a difference between a light drizzle and a thunderstorm. And when red skies at morning make sailor’s take warning, it’s best to take the romancing indoors.

Unless of course, you’re an insect. Then, maybe you just want to pack it in for the day.

Pellegrino et al. “Weather Forecasting by Insects: Modified Sexual Behaviour in Response to Atmospheric Pressure Changes” PLoS ONE, 2013.

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Friday Weird Science: This bartending paper is not about you

Sep 27 2013 Published by under Friday Weird Science

I have a problem. It's a silly one to have.

I suffer complete and total bar invisibility. I am not exactly someone who fades into the background, but to a bartender, I might as well be an empty stool. I have gone as long as 45 minutes without having a single server come near me, even the ones I truly attempt to make eye contact with. Not only that, but I have gone 45 minutes without being served in a NEARLY EMPTY BAR. Sometimes I wonder if I just look wrong, or my body language is wrong. I try to imitate the people around me, hanging out at the bar, making eye contact. Nothing.

Bar invisibility. My dad says it's genetic, apparently he has it, too.

So you can only imagine how thrilled I was when I received a link to a video showing that SCIENCE has found how to best gain attention at a bar!

I was thrilled, gleeful! Finally I would know what I was doing wrong and bartenders would never ignore me again. I tweeted the link far and wide.

And then I received this reply from Thomas Williams.

And he's right! And much of the coverage is WRONG. Thank you to Thomas for pointing me in the right direction! He helpfully linked me to the BBC coverage (where the scientist corrected the interviewer), and then I got my hands on the paper. He pointed me, and now I can point you!

And the best part of this paper? It's not about PEOPLE AT ALL! It's not even really about how to get attention in bars! This paper? It's not about you. We just all wanted it to be.

Loth et al. "Automatic detection of service initiation signals used in bars" Frontiers in Psychology, 2013.

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IgNobels 2013! You could walk on water! Fins not included

Sep 26 2013 Published by under Friday Weird Science, IgNobel Prizes!

Or rather, you could probably RUN on water if both you and the water were on the moon. Hey, you never know! This could be a sport someday. I'm over at SciAm blogs talking about the last Ignobel prize for this year. Head over and check it out!

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IgNobels 2013! Is your cow going to lie down?

Sep 24 2013 Published by under Friday Weird Science, IgNobel Prizes!

Well, I don't know, but I can tell you if it's going to stand. A small difference, but actually a rather big one. Today's IgNobel prize covers the question of whether or not the amount of time a cow's been standing predicts when it will lie down. In fact, that's the wrong question. A better question is whether or not the cow will stand predicts when it will get UP. Head over to SciAm to check it out.

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IgNobels 2013! The Dung Beetle and the Milky Way

Sep 23 2013 Published by under Friday Weird Science, IgNobel Prizes!

It sounds a bit like the title of a children's book, but no. It's science, and it's science that features dung beetles in little cardboard hats!!!! For science!!! You know you want to see that photo. Head over and check it out.

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IgNobels 2013! Beauty in the eye of the beer holder

Sep 20 2013 Published by under Friday Weird Science, IgNobel Prizes!

Over at SciAm Blogs, We're still talking about this year's IgNobel Prizes! Today, it's the IgNobel Prize in psychology, where in scientists found out that beer goggles...are turned on the SELF as well. You look FABULOUS, darling. Smashing. Or, you think you do. Especially when you've had a few drinks. Head over and check it out.

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IgNobels 2013! Playing opera to your mice

Sep 19 2013 Published by under Friday Weird Science, IgNobel Prizes!

Yes. People at the IgNobel prizes played opera to their mice. Who had received heart transplants. They even dressed up as mice to receive the prize!
(Photo from Reuters)

While I adore their enthusiasm, I'm not so sure about the paper. Why? Head over and check it out.

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IgNobels 2013! The Incredible Tearless Onion

Sep 17 2013 Published by under Friday Weird Science, IgNobel Prizes!

Did you know that we now know what causes you to cry when you cut an onion? Not only that...we're able to create an onion that's tearless, and yet, MAY taste as good as a normal onion? Well, we think it does. We can't taste it. Head over to SciAm blogs for the full story of the IgNobel Prize in Chemistry!

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IgNobels 2013! Who ate the dead shrew for science?

There was a young student who swallowed a shrew.
Didn’t even chew, just swallowed a shrew.
It’s what scientists do.

Sci is still over at SciAm covering this year's IgNobel prizes! Today it's the Archeology prize, for the pair that swallowed a shrew, and then analyzed what came out the other end. For science. Head over and check it out!

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