Archive for the 'Friday Weird Science' category

Friday Weird Science: Why cunnilingus?

Jul 12 2013 Published by under Friday Weird Science

Humans are infuriating creatures. We don't ever just want to know how. Or when, or what. We want to know WHY. WHY is the sky blue. WHY do we search for the Higgs Boson. WHY is blood red. WHY do people perform cunnilingus. Deep questions, man.

But for these deep questions, there is SCIENCE. And so these authors set out to answer this deep, deep question. Why cunnilingus? What is the evolutionary purpose? After all, we can't possibly be doing this stuff just because it's fun or nothin'.

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16 responses so far

Friday Weird Science: The Best Pose for Passing Gas

Jul 05 2013 Published by under Friday Weird Science, Uncategorized

Today's post fodder comes to you from the former NCBI ROFL, now "Seriously, Science?" over at Discover Blogs. I swear, I do TONS of pubmed searches for farts, but somehow never found this one.

In what position do you prefer to fart? Do you let them loose while lying down? Cut the cheese crouching? Squeak one out while standing? Squirt while sitting? Do you find one position more effective to really let it go?

I imagine that if you took a poll of your friends (your hopefully very honest friends who would all admit they farted and pooped rather than passing colorless, odorless, stackable cubes), they all would give you different answers. Maybe one prefers legs up to the chin, another prefers a slight 45 degree angle. I've been told (from the back of an herbal tea box offering yoga poses for various things) that the best position is a cat/cow, on hands and knees, with the head lowered to the floor and the butt in the air. Gas rises, you know (also, according to this tea, you breathe through one nostril for energy and the other for peace. This is clearly why I walk around with one nostril blocked).

But most of the time, we don't have the leisure to be carefully taking the forty-five degree angle of the buttocks. Often, we we're stuck standing, or we're in bed. And so all of us, at one point or another, come to a brief crisis in our lives...which is better for farting? Lying down? Or standing up?

Worry not, friends. SCIENCE is here.

Dainese et al "Influence of body posture on intestinal transit of gas" Neurogastroenterology, 2002


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4 responses so far

Friday Weird Science: Does your mouse prefer Renoir?

Jun 28 2013 Published by under Behavioral Neuro, Friday Weird Science

…well have you ever ASKED it? Maybe it is more of a Picasso type of mouse.

This seems like a completely absurd question. After all, art is thought to be one of the highest of the human endeavors, making things of beauty may be one of the things that makes us the species that we are. But do other animals have artistic sensibilities? Have we ever asked them?

As it turns out, probably mice don’t care if they’re viewing Renoir or Picasso. But even if they don’t care, they can tell the difference. And that is much more interesting than you might suppose.

(I have seen a lot of Renoir, and I must conclude that, aside from similarities in soft styles and lighting, what Renoir really liked was painting naked women. Source)

Watanabe, S. “Preference for and Discrimination of Paintings by Mice” PLoS ONE, 2013. 10.1371/journal.pone.0065335

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7 responses so far

Friday Weird Science: Do Bigger Beetle Boys Make for Better Babies?

Jun 21 2013 Published by under Friday Weird Science, Uncategorized

And by bigger, I mean older. At least, in this case.

Do you know what makes a good burying beetle dad? One that cares for its offspring and guards the carcass (because the hotspot for beetle romance is on something dead) from invaders? It's not the beetle who's momma raised him right, or the beetle who took classes in women's studies in college. Nope, in this case, he's just a little bit older.

Benowitz et al. "Male age mediates reproductive investment and response to
paternity assurance" Proceedings of the Royal Society B, 2013.

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Friday Weird Science: When studying species, know your Roo Poo.

Jun 14 2013 Published by under Friday Weird Science

Ecologists have to know their s**t. Sure, you might think, people who study ecology have to learn a lot of stuff about the area, they need to learn lots of different kinds of information. And that's all true. But what's also true is that many ecologists really DO need to know their s**t. Literally. It's hard to study species in the wild, and this means that often, you are stuck studying not the species directly, but what the species left behind. Tracks, scents, and s**t. Scat. Crap. Many ecologists can tell wolf poop from deer from rabbit from squirrel instantly.

Studying scat is not just about where an animal has been. Yes, it can tell you a lot about the distribution of populations, but it can also give you a rough idea of population size, what they eat, where they've been before, and even where an animal might be in its life cycle. Clearly, it's important to know your crap.

Many poop samples are pretty easy to tell apart (if you can mix up a wolf and a squirrel, it's safe to say that one of those species is having some tummy trouble), but what about species that are very closely related? One species of squirrel from another? type of kangaroo from another?

Wadley et al. "Rapid species identification of eight sympatric northern
Australian macropods from faecal-pellet DNA" Wildlife Research, 2013.

(This 'roo wants to know the deal with its poo. Source)

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2 responses so far

Friday Weird Science: There once was a moth that lived on a sloth...

Jun 07 2013 Published by under Friday Weird Science

...or rather, it lived on sloth poop. But that doesn't really rhyme.

And really, when you've got sloths on moths, you need to rhyme.

There once was a moth
That lived on a sloth
All snuggled in tight in its hair
But it's small fry eat crap
So to avoid a food trap
Moths have to lay all their eggs...down there.

(Oh sure, they're clean now, but just wait til you see the s**t-eating moths they bring home)

Waage and Montgomery. "Cryptoses choloepi: A Coprophagous Moth That Lives on a Sloth" Science, 1976.

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5 responses so far

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

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

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

Friday Weird Science: Are Boobs Better Braless?

May 10 2013 Published by under Friday Weird Science

I'm sure many of you saw the news going around a few weeks ago. Bras make breasts sag!! The French debate the bra! Etc etc. Of course, I immediately wanted to blog it! I mean, bras! Boobs! That's Friday Weird Science material!

And so I set out looking for the study. Until I realized...there was no study. This is an example of what we like to call "science by press release". However flawed one may feel about the peer-review system in academia*, it's definitely important that SOMEONE be able to see the data and find the potential flaws (or, possibly, back you up in how awesome your science is) that are making the study sag (as it were). The science we are about to talk about? Has not been published yet. It is preliminary. The lead author has in fact been bemused by all the media attention (dude, you study boobs, you didn't think we'd just walk BY, did you?), and has stated that he's withholding final judgement until the paper is out.

Rouillon told Reuters that his unpublished work is still in the early stages and he is hesitant about giving one-size-fits-all advice to women, despite the media circus.

But it is not required that science pass peer review before its reported on (heck, there would be no scientific reporting at science conferences if that was the case). So while the science reported may well be...full-figured enough to pass muster, until they DO report it, it's good to keep in mind that it's preliminary.  This means that we only have bits and pieces of the data, and so drawing any conclusions is going to be premature. It's a good idea to keep in mind, honestly, that all science will probably be replaced by better science over time, but stuff that isn't out yet (and on which we have no real details), deserves extra fish-eye.

So. Eyes up here, friends.

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15 responses so far

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