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United Academics Magazine publishes popular science news on a daily basis.
Calling in the car, listening to the tv while cooking, checking your messages in a meeting: we modern people are all so used to multi-tasking that we actually started thinking we’re good at it. But we’re not, American researchers say.
Why do people multi-task? The first answer at hand would be because people are busy and know from experience that multi-tasking isn’t a problem for them. But this idea doesn’t pass the test of science. It appears that frequent multi-taske........ Read more »
Sanbonmatsu, D., Strayer, D., Medeiros-Ward, N., & Watson, J. (2013) Who Multi-Tasks and Why? Multi-Tasking Ability, Perceived Multi-Tasking Ability, Impulsivity, and Sensation Seeking. PLoS ONE, 8(1). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0054402
It’s not quite clear why human males continue to have facial hair. There are other ways to keep warm, and we’ve lost our hair over most of the rest of our bodies (or they’re at best residual). But facial hair serves another important purpose—determining male attractiveness to females... Read more »
Dixson, B., & Brooks, R. (2013) The role of facial hair in women's perceptions of men's attractiveness, health, masculinity and parenting abilities. Evolution and Human Behavior, 34(3), 236-241. DOI: 10.1016/j.evolhumbehav.2013.02.003
If you’re vulnerable to depression it doesn’t necessarily mean that you have certain unlucky genes or just experienced a traumatic event. What also makes you vulnerable for the mental disorder is the way you think. And even if you don’t yet have this style of thought, you could pick it up from your roommate, a new study suggests.... Read more »
Haeffel, G., & Hames, J. (2013) Cognitive Vulnerability to Depression Can Be Contagious. Clinical Psychological Science. DOI: 10.1177/2167702613485075
It doesn’t sound very appetizing; eating a tree branch or a wooden plank. But an engineering researcher at the Virginia Polytechnical Institute (Virginia Tech) in Blacksburg has found a way to convert the cellulose that makes up wood into starch.... Read more »
You C, Chen H, Myung S, Sathitsuksanoh N, Ma H, Zhang XZ, Li J, & Zhang YH. (2013) Enzymatic transformation of nonfood biomass to starch. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. PMID: 23589840
Scientific research on the evolution of genitalia is not news (though each discovery has made for some interesting reading). But recently, Fox News and others took aim at the “discovery” that U.S. government money was spent to fund these experiments! And in the classic form of “why do we support the X I don’t like, so can’t have the Y I do like” argument, researcher Patricia Brennan’s long-term studies on duck genitals came under fire.... Read more »
Brennan, P., Clark, C., & Prum, R. (2009) Explosive eversion and functional morphology of the duck penis supports sexual conflict in waterfowl genitalia. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 277(1686), 1309-1314. DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2009.2139
People who have more sex, usually feel better than those who do it less. It’s just like income and friendship: the more you have it, the happier you rate yourself. Scientists have confirmed this common knowledge, but now add more complexity to the story.
Why do you feel better when you have sex frequently? Maybe it’s because that means you have a better sex life than your neighbours. Earlier studies already pointed out how important it is for people to compare their income with o........ Read more »
Wadsworth, T. (2013) Sex and the Pursuit of Happiness: How Other People’s Sex Lives are Related to our Sense of Well-Being. Social Indicators Research. DOI: 10.1007/s11205-013-0267-1
Procrastination is a common behavior in 95 percent of people ( Ellis & Knaus, 1977) and in 15 to 20 percent of that group it can be considered chronic and problematic (Harriot & Ferrari, 1996). Recent research shows that men are more likely to procrastinate than women, that procrastinators tend to be less educated, and that their marriages are more likely to fall apart.
Considering procrastination has little benefit, why is it such a common way of behaving? One of the possible causes is perfo........ Read more »
Wohl, M., Pychyl, T., & Bennett, S. (2010) I forgive myself, now I can study: How self-forgiveness for procrastinating can reduce future procrastination. Personality and Individual Differences, 48(7), 803-808. DOI: 10.1016/j.paid.2010.01.029
Nearly every organism that’s ever lived and died (certainly every person you’ve ever met) owes their continued existence to the steady flow of charged, particulate energy that originates from the thermonuclear fusion of our star. It is the most perfectly spherical object ever observed in nature. The Earth, by comparison is lumpy and bulging, not a sphere, but an oblate spheroid (flat at its poles, bulbous around its equatorial regions). Once thought of as average and relatively banal........ Read more »
Charles J. Lada. (2006) Stellar Multiplicity and the IMF: Most Stars Are Single. Astrophys.J. 640 (2006) L63-L66. arXiv: astro-ph/0601375v2
How would you feel if you would have an eternal liver, a liver that lasts forever? Recently, researchers have found gene targets which will boost the regenerative capacity of your liver cells. This means a complete cure for all your liver related problems!... Read more »
Wuestefeld, T., Pesic, M., Rudalska, R., Dauch, D., Longerich, T., Kang, T., Yevsa,T.,, Heinzmann, F., Hoenicke, L., Hohmeyer,A., Potapova,A., Rittelmeier, I., Jarek,M., Geffers,R.,, Scharfe, M., Klawonn, F., Schirmacher, P., Malek, N., Ott, M., Nordheim, A., Vogel, A.,, & Manns, M. . (2013) A Direct In Vivo RNAi Screen Identifies MKK4 as a Key Regulator of Liver Regeneration. Cell, 153(2). info:/
Everybody remembers the kind captain in Titanic, drowning in his own guilt when he realises he has comprised safety regulations for fame, and his decision to go down with the ship. Before meeting his demise, he first makes sure the women and children make it off the ship. Surely this is the proper thing to do in such situations – women and children first- right? Research suggests otherwise.... Read more »
Bruno S. Frey, David A. Savage, and Benno Torgler. (2010) Behavior under Extreme Conditions: The Titanic Disaster. Journal of Economic Perspective. info:/
Bush SP. (2004) Snakebite suction devices don't remove venom: they just suck. Annals of emergency medicine, 43(2), 187-8. PMID: 14747806
It happens mostly with names: you recall a person, can perfectly imagine his face, the first letter of his name may even be there, but he whole name just won’t come off the tip of your tongue. Everybody knows the feeling and most don’t dwell on it too long. But neuroscientists take if very seriously. What do we know about this strange phenomenon?... Read more »
Schwartz, B., & Metcalfe, J. (2011) Tip-of-the-tongue (TOT) states: retrieval, behavior, and experience. Memory , 39(5), 737-749. DOI: 10.3758/s13421-010-0066-8
Usually, the human eye takes in signals that are processed by both sides of the brain. What’s remarkable is now these signals are distributed. In most brains, signals from one eye are sent to two places; directly back to the part of the optical lobe behind the brain, and by “crossing over” to the lobe on the opposite side of the brain. But a Canadian man literally sees things differently.... Read more »
Davies-Thompson, J., Scheel, M., Jane Lanyon, L., & Sinclair Barton, J. (2013) Functional organisation of visual pathways in a patient with no optic chiasm. Neuropsychologia. DOI: 10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2013.03.014
While females are attracted to larger penises, their interest only extends to a degree and penis size isn’t the only trait that concerns them, a new Australian study shows. Although this finding grabbed a lot of headlines, the research also provided insight into how genitalia can evolve, even without having offspring.... Read more »
Mautz, B., Wong, B., Peters, R., & Jennions, M. (2013) Penis size interacts with body shape and height to influence male attractiveness. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1219361110
Hurricane Sandy churned across the Caribbean and up the eastern seaboard of the U.S. in late October of 2012, leaving a path of death and destruction in its wake. This article focuses on the decision making among some of those who stayed behind in the storm—and how we might use that information to better prepare for the disasters of the future.... Read more »
Nicole M. Stephens,MarYam G. Hamedani,Hazel Rose Markus,Hilary B. Bergsieker,and Liyam Eloul1. (2009) Why Did They "Choose" to Stay? Perspectives of Hurricane Katrina Observers and Survivors. PSYCHOLOGICAL SCIENCE. info:/
The data were a shock even to climate scientists. Four years ago, researchers noticed that Arctic sea ice was melting much faster than expected; it’s so bad now that these same scientists predict that all Arctic sea ice will be gone by 2050. That’s bad news for a warming planet.... Read more »
Overland, J., & Wang, M. (2013) When will the summer arctic be nearly sea ice free?. Geophysical Research Letters. DOI: 10.1002/grl.50316
In a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences last year, researchers conclude, after a longitudinal study on the Dunedin cohort, that the use of cannabis at a young age could lower intelligence at a later age. Many media, including us, wrote about these findings. But now it seems the researchers may have gone a bit too far with their statements.
At least, that’s what Ole Rogeberg, researcher at the Norwegian Frisch Centre, thinks. He says the researchers Me........ Read more »
Meier, M., Caspi, A., Ambler, A., Harrington, H., Houts, R., Keefe, R., McDonald, K., Ward, A., Poulton, R., & Moffitt, T. (2012) From the Cover: PNAS Plus: Persistent cannabis users show neuropsychological decline from childhood to midlife. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 109(40). DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1206820109
Rogeberg, O. (2013) Correlations between cannabis use and IQ change in the Dunedin cohort are consistent with confounding from socioeconomic status. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 110(11), 4251-4254. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1215678110
Until now we were able to use scans (like the one pictured on the left) to have a quick look at the brain. But to dig deeper into the mystery hidden in our skull, scientists had to slice the matter up, which makes it hard for them to keep the general overview of the brain. Now there’s a new way: biologists managed to make brains transparent.... Read more »
Chung, K., Wallace, J., Kim, S., Kalyanasundaram, S., Andalman, A., Davidson, T., Mirzabekov, J., Zalocusky, K., Mattis, J., Denisin, A.... (2013) Structural and molecular interrogation of intact biological systems. Nature. DOI: 10.1038/nature12107
“If I had an hour to solve a problem I’d spend 55 minutes thinking about the problem and five minutes thinking about solutions.” This quote from Albert Einstein reflects how this article approaches the underlying problem of reoccurring heart attacks, which affects millions of people. This is illustrated by statistics from the US, where around 935’000 (first and subsequent) heart attacks occur every year. The death rate after the first attack is approximately 10%, yet reoc........ Read more »
Dutta, P., Courties, G., Wei, Y., Leuschner, F., Gorbatov, R., Robbins, C., Iwamoto, Y., Thompson, B., Carlson, A., Heidt, T.... (2012) Myocardial infarction accelerates atherosclerosis. Nature, 487(7407), 325-329. DOI: 10.1038/nature11260
Leuschner, F., Rauch, P., Ueno, T., Gorbatov, R., Marinelli, B., Lee, W., Dutta, P., Wei, Y., Robbins, C., Iwamoto, Y.... (2012) Rapid monocyte kinetics in acute myocardial infarction are sustained by extramedullary monocytopoiesis. Journal of Experimental Medicine, 209(1), 123-137. DOI: 10.1084/jem.20111009
Karakas, M., & Koenig, W. (2013) Sympathetic Nervous System: A Crucial Player Modulating Residual Cardiovascular Risk. Circulation Research, 112(1), 13-16. DOI: 10.1161/CIRCRESAHA.112.281097
Though some new statistical reports show signs of slowing down, we are still very much in the era of social media euphoria, where more and more people join up, sign in, and check their feeds as often as possible. ”Like” it or not- grievances are aired, ideas are sometimes exchanged, and a never ending stream of baby photos are shared at every minute of the day. On the surface, both regular users and professional researchers have observed and chronicled the list of achievements and p........ Read more »
Gehl, R. (2013) What's on your mind? Social media monopolies and noopower. First Monday, 18(3). DOI: 10.5210/fm.v18i3.4618
What’s the story?
It’s great news for leering men! A study in none other than the New England Journal of Medicine found that men who stare at large breasts live longer than men who don’t. A German research group, headed by an aging specialist named Karen Weatherby, found that staring at large breasts for longer than 10 minutes is equivalent to a 30 minute workout. The study, which took five years, revealed that breast watching men had lower blood pressure, slower resting pulse........ Read more »
Campbell, J. (2011) Getting it wrong: ten of the greatest misreported stories in American journalism. Choice Reviews Online, 48(12), 48-48. DOI: 10.5860/CHOICE.48-6722
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