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A miscellany of science. Whimsy may be included

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  • September 19, 2012
  • 09:53 PM

Crows join humans in the ability to infer hidden causal agents

by aimee in misc.ience

New Caledonian crows – smarter every time we look at them. A fascinating new piece of research was published a couple of days ago in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (or PNAS for short). It shows that New Caledonian crows are capable of a cognitive feat previously only thought to be [...]... Read more »

Taylor, A. H. et al. (2012) New Caledonian crows reason about hidden causal agents. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1208724109  

  • September 13, 2012
  • 09:59 PM

This is your brain on implants (spoiler: it’s better)

by aimee in misc.ience

Today, the Journal of Neural Engineering published rather an interesting paper. In it, they showed that they had been able to restore (and in some cases, improve) decision-making ability in primates through the use of an implanted prosthetic. Sounds like something out of science fiction, doesn’t it?     The region of the brain responsible [...]

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  • November 1, 2010
  • 11:11 PM

5 ways to gain a lover

by aimee in misc.ience

Yes, it is a shameful, shameful misappropriation of a great song, but I couldn’t help myself.

Not even a little bit.
And seriously, there are, apparently, five different styles of flirting.  An ‘inventory’*, if you will.  And what, pray (or, possibly, prey) are they?  Read on, dear reader!
This is based very much in traditional gender roles.  You [...]

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Jeffrey A. Hall, Steve Carter, Michael J. Cody, . (2010) Individual Differences in the Communication of Romantic Interest: Development of the Flirting Styles Inventory. Communication Quarterly. info:/10.1080/01463373.2010.524874

  • September 13, 2010
  • 12:26 AM

The mathematics of war

by aimee in misc.ience

War!  Hngh!
What is it good for?  Well, the development of some interesting mathematics, if nothing else.  And raised eyebrows.  And scheming/strategising.
Last Monday morning (yes yes, I know – been busy, ‘k?!) I successfully managed to hie myself off to Dr Sean Gourley’s speech about, you guessed it, the mathematics of war.
Or, to be particular, the [...]

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Bohorquez, J., Gourley, S., Dixon, A., Spagat, M., & Johnson, N. (2009) Common ecology quantifies human insurgency. Nature, 462(7275), 911-914. DOI: 10.1038/nature08631  

  • September 3, 2010
  • 01:28 AM

Interesting bits: starving to stay awake, and an LCA on Li-Ion

by aimee in misc.ience

I have seen many interesting sciencey things this week.  Which makes sense, given that a large part of my job is to track new research.  Sadly, and for the sake of brevity, I’ve had to pick but two for this post.

Starving to stay awake?
Another interesting factoid related to, well, taking in less calories than one [...]

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Matthew S. Thimgan, Yasuko Suzuki, Laurent Seugnet, Laura Gottschalk, Paul J. Shaw. (2010) The Perilipin Homologue, Lipid Storage Droplet 2, Regulates Sleep Homeostasis and Prevents Learning Impairments Following Sleep Loss. PLoS Biology. info:/10.1371/journal.pbio.1000466

Notter DA, Gauch M, Widmer R, Wäger P, Stamp A, Zah R, & Althaus HJ. (2010) Contribution of li-ion batteries to the environmental impact of electric vehicles. Environmental science , 44(17), 6550-6. PMID: 20695466  

  • July 27, 2010
  • 06:41 PM

Go forth! Make friends!

by aimee in misc.ience

Or, why having a social network is very good for you.  Really.

Yes, fine, I’m biased.  I admit it.  I see no harm in the burgeoning everywhereness of social media and stuff.  And I think having friends is awesomely important. As far as I’m concerned, the more friends we have, and the more people to whom [...]

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Julianne Holt-Lunstad, Timothy B. Smith, J. Bradley Layton. (2010) Social Relationships and Mortality Risk: A Meta-analytic Review. PLoS Medicine. info:/10.1371/ journal.pmed.1000316

  • June 18, 2010
  • 01:40 AM

Sciencey goodness Pt I

by aimee in misc.ience

Sometimes I am able to write posts on Friday.  Sometimes not.

At least part of the reason for this is that I spend my Thursday afternoons and Fridays (or at least parts thereof) research for and writing the SMC weekly newsletter.  Which is awesome.
And you should sign up!  Why?  Because it’s well interesting, of course.  Peter [...]

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  • June 15, 2010
  • 01:26 AM

Distorted internal body maps, anyone?

by aimee in misc.ience

Our brains’ internal representations of ourselves are not, it would appear, quite as accurate as one would have thought.

That, at least, is the conclusion of paper which just came out in the dangerously-acronymed PNAS*.
To introduce the subject, then, let’s agree that it’s important for the brain to know where all our various physical bits are.  [...]

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Matthew R. Longo and Patrick Haggard. (2010) An implicit body representation underlying human position sense. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. info:/10.1073/pnas.1003483107

  • April 6, 2010
  • 01:21 AM

Now starring in movies: human genes

by aimee in misc.ience

I do so love it when people make accessibly, entertaining, highly educational science stuff.
In the latest of such moves, researchers from EMBL and the Mitocheck Consortium (both in Europe) have built up a library of movies showing what happens to a human cell when a particular gene is switched off.  One at a time.
This is [...]

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Neumann, B., Walter, T., Hériché, J., Bulkescher, J., Erfle, H., Conrad, C., Rogers, P., Poser, I., Held, M., Liebel, U.... (2010) Phenotypic profiling of the human genome by time-lapse microscopy reveals cell division genes. Nature, 464(7289), 721-727. DOI: 10.1038/nature08869  

  • March 11, 2010
  • 11:18 PM

You know your ‘type’? It’s stress dependent…

by aimee in misc.ience

A number of interesting revelations to be had here, and all to do with our choices of ‘mate’.

And by mate, I don’t mean the antipodean colloquialism meaning ‘friend’.  Nope, I mean mate as in, you know, someone you want to shag.  As it were.
The first revelation in this paper* is that, for the most part, [...]

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Lass-Hennemann, J., Deuter, C., Kuehl, L., Schulz, A., Blumenthal, T., & Schachinger, H. (2010) Effects of stress on human mating preferences: stressed individuals prefer dissimilar mates. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences. DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2010.0258  

  • March 1, 2010
  • 11:10 PM

Superoxygenation: how to prevent alcohol’s nasty side-effects

by aimee in misc.ience

This is great news for all of us drinkers.  And, frankly, if I was just a little better at actual chemistry, how I’d make my first couple of fortunes*
And now I have the song ‘Tiny Bubbles‘ stuck, unfortunately, in my head. (When I first heard it, though it was an Aero jingle.  Possibly)

So yes.  To [...]

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In-hwan Baek, Byung-yo Lee, and Kwang-il Kwon. (2010) Influence of Dissolved Oxygen Concentration on the Pharmacokinetics of Alcohol in Humans . Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research. info:/10.1111/j.1530-0277.2010.01155.x

  • February 28, 2010
  • 05:36 PM

The teapot effect, end of

by aimeew in misc.ience

Fluid dynamicists have figured out how to fight the dreaded teapot dribble, using a mixture of materials and teapot mouth structure.... Read more »

Cyril Duez, Christophe Ybert, Christophe Clanet, and Lyderic Bocquet. (2010) Wetting Controls Separation of Inertial Flows from Solid Surfaces. Physical Review Letters. info:/10.1103/PhysRevLett.104.084503

  • February 8, 2010
  • 12:22 AM

Drink up! Beer benefits bones…

by aimee in misc.ience

I can hear the whoops of joy emanating around the world.  Joined, of course, by mine.

For years, we’ve known that a glass or two of the vino has its benefits.  However, I’ve never heard of anything particularly beneficial coming as a result of drinking beer (apart from general joi de vivre, of course).

But now, praise [...]

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Casey, T., & Bamforth, C. (2010) Silicon in beer and brewing. Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture. DOI: 10.1002/jsfa.3884  

  • February 3, 2010
  • 09:09 PM

Hydrogels or, how to replace petroleum-based plastics

by aimee in misc.ience

Well, wonders will never cease.  Not only is water already one of the strangest,and most interesting fluids/substances around, but clever scientists from the University of Tokyo just added another layer of WTFness.
In essence, they have developed a sort of non-fluid, yet still transparent and flexible, water.  A hydrogel.  That’s flexible.  And transparent.  (That was worth [...]

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Wang Q, Mynar JL, Yoshida M, Lee E, Lee M, Okuro K, Kinbara K, & Aida T. (2010) High-water-content mouldable hydrogels by mixing clay and a dendritic molecular binder. Nature, 463(7279), 339-43. PMID: 20090750  

  • January 27, 2010
  • 04:22 PM

If I was a running shoe manufacturer, I would be worried…

by aimee in misc.ience

This is brilliant.  I’ve heard intimations of it on various websites for the last few months, but it’s always good to see a published paper backing it up.

In short, it says that running shoes are not actually necessary for runners.  In fact, they may do more to cause damage than to protect.

So, the paper, published [...]

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Lieberman, D., Venkadesan, M., Werbel, W., Daoud, A., D’Andrea, S., Davis, I., Mang’Eni, R., & Pitsiladis, Y. (2010) Foot strike patterns and collision forces in habitually barefoot versus shod runners. Nature, 463(7280), 531-535. DOI: 10.1038/nature08723  

  • January 21, 2010
  • 09:01 PM

Sperm of a feather clump together

by aimee in misc.ience

I’m gobsmacked.  And highly amused, as well (it’s the immature part of me, apologies).

Credit: Phil Myers (photographer, copyright holder), Museum of Zoology, University of Michigan.  More info here and here.  (I tried to find a picture of sperm in question, but nothing seemed to be (c)-free)

Research published in Nature this week has shown something incredible [...]

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