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United Academics Magazine publishes popular science news on a daily basis.
It’s a problem most scientists don’t have; what would happen if your experiment outlived you? For physicist John Mainstone at the University of Queensland, this has become an important question. He’s the leader of what’s being called the world’s oldest experiment.... Read more »
So much for taking a day off or going to a spa to help you relax. It might be wiser to just give away some of your time to your loved ones. It could magically open op you busy agenda, four experiments show.... Read more »
The benefits of taking fish oil and the harm caused by eating red meat, these two nutritional nuggets of wisdom have been passed around so much over the past few decades, we rarely stop to ask if they really do what people claim they do.
This month, two new papers on the subject of fish and meat have come forward from the University of Western Australia. The first examines the real impact of taking fish oil supplements on the diets of obese people.... Read more »
Wong, A., Chan, D., Ooi, E., Ng, T., Watts, G., & Barrett, P. (2013) Omega-3 fatty acid ethyl ester supplementation decreases very-low-density lipoprotein triacylglycerol secretion in obese men. Clinical Science, 125(1), 45-51. DOI: 10.1042/CS20120587
Koeth, R., Wang, Z., Levison, B., Buffa, J., Org, E., Sheehy, B., Britt, E., Fu, X., Wu, Y., Li, L.... (2013) Intestinal microbiota metabolism of l-carnitine, a nutrient in red meat, promotes atherosclerosis. Nature Medicine. DOI: 10.1038/nm.3145
It’s been taken for granted since Darwin; species evolve through competition with each other for scarce resources. Then, the “more fit” adaptations can reproduce and propel the evolutionary process that much further.... Read more »
Lehman, J., & Stanley, K. (2013) Evolvability Is Inevitable: Increasing Evolvability without the Pressure to Adapt. PLoS ONE, 8(4). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0062186
It was an unprecedented move: U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sibelius overruled the FDA when she announced that Teva Pharmaceutical’s Plan B One Step contraceptive pill would not be available to women under 17 years of age. ... Read more »
Funk RS, Brown JT, & Abdel-Rahman SM. (2012) Pediatric pharmacokinetics: human development and drug disposition. Pediatric clinics of North America, 59(5), 1001-16. PMID: 23036241
He saw respected journals getting hijacked, bogus articles being published quasi-professionally and so-called open access websites covered with “BUY NOW” buttons. So librarian Jeffrey Beall decided to do something about it. He created a black list of all the journals (343!) he thinks are questionable and put it on his website scholaryoa.com. In this interview he explains why.... Read more »
Researchers have mapped the moods of Twitter users from the UK and found that they follow a daily pattern of anger, fear, joy and sadness.
The research paper, posted online last week, was based on approximately 120 million tweets collected during the summer and winter of 2011.
The researchers counted the number of times a tweet expressed anger, fear, joy or sadness and normalised this by the total number of tweets in that hour. This corrected for the inevitably higher use of Twitter during certain times of the day. They then assigned a mood score to the tweets using a standard database of emotionally-charged words.
The research shows a clear morning peak for all four moods—anger, fear, joy and sadness—but the afternoon patterns differ, giving a glimpse into the shift of moods during the day.... Read more »
Vasileios Lampos, Thomas Lansdall-Welfare, Ricardo Araya, & Nello Cristianini. (2013) Analysing Mood Patterns in the United Kingdom through Twitter Content. Social and Information Networks. arXiv: 1304.5507v1
Golder, S., & Macy, M. (2011) Diurnal and Seasonal Mood Vary with Work, Sleep, and Daylength Across Diverse Cultures. Science, 333(6051), 1878-1881. DOI: 10.1126/science.1202775
Big fish survive, but who gets big? Personality makes the difference. A study shows little ones can cope by acting like Napoleon: just attack a lot.... Read more »
Wilson, A., Grimmer, A., & Rosenthal, G. (2013) Causes and consequences of contest outcome: aggressiveness, dominance and growth in the sheepshead swordtail, Xiphophorus birchmanni. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology. DOI: 10.1007/s00265-013-1540-7
It’s a familiar story: women who say they are looking to date a kind, sensitive and emotionally expressive guy often end up dating a macho man or a jerk. This leaves many ‘nice guys’ feeling they always finish last. For many decades, researchers have tried to get a grip on this so called ‘nice guy paradox’.... Read more »
Urbaniak, G.C., . (2003) Physical Attractiveness and the “Nice Guy Paradox”: Do Nice Guys Really Finish Last? . Sex Roles, 413-426. info:/
Our close evolutionary cousin, the common chimpanzee, comes in four subspecies, each one named after its location along an East-West band in Africa. Yet, there are chimps outside of Africa as well. Many European zoos possess a group of chimpanzees, which often plays a part in conservation plans. After all, the populations of our primate brothers are in steep decline. Habitat destruction, bushmeat hunting, pet trade and disease all take their to... Read more »
Hvilsom, C., Frandsen, P., Børsting, C., Carlsen, F., Sallé, B., Simonsen, B., & Siegismund, H. (2013) Understanding geographic origins and history of admixture among chimpanzees in European zoos, with implications for future breeding programmes. Heredity. DOI: 10.1038/hdy.2013.9
It’s a very attractive idea that we can discover the truth about the stories people tell just by looking at what their eyes are doing. People for example often look to the left if they use their memory, so if they don’t, they can’t be telling anything sincere about the past. What does science make of this?... Read more »
Wiseman, R., Watt, C., ten Brinke, L., Porter, S., Couper, S., & Rankin, C. (2012) The Eyes Don’t Have It: Lie Detection and Neuro-Linguistic Programming. PLoS ONE, 7(7). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0040259
A research team in Massachusetts made a promising start to solve the enormous deficiency of donor kidneys. ... Read more »
Song, J., Guyette, J., Gilpin, S., Gonzalez, G., Vacanti, J., & Ott, H. (2013) Regeneration and experimental orthotopic transplantation of a bioengineered kidney. Nature Medicine. DOI: 10.1038/nm.3154
Tasnim, F., Deng, R., Hu, M., Liour, S., Li, Y., Ni, M., Ying, J., & Zink, D. (2010) Achievements and challenges in bioartificial kidney development. Fibrogenesis , 3(1), 14. DOI: 10.1186/1755-1536-3-14
Whales already were one the most fascinating and intelligent creatures we know and they now also appear to work together in adapting to their environments. Just like us, they give each other tips. Is it in their songs?... Read more »
Allen, J., Weinrich, M., Hoppitt, W., & Rendell, L. (2013) Network-Based Diffusion Analysis Reveals Cultural Transmission of Lobtail Feeding in Humpback Whales. Science, 340(6131), 485-488. DOI: 10.1126/science.1231976
Often, employees are shocked by what they think is a supervisor’s severe reaction to a subordinate’s transgression. Meanwhile, observers of Congressional debates have wondered at how seriously the debaters (on either side of the aisle) seem to take themselves.... Read more »
Wiltermuth, S., & Flynn, F. (2012) Power, Moral Clarity, and Punishment in the Workplace. Academy of Management Journal. DOI: 10.5465/amj.2010.0960
An unemployed neighbor wins the lottery, a friend who regularly boasts about his good health becomes ill. We are highly sensitive to changing fortunes of others. We want to know who’s doing worse and who’s doing better than before, as these shifts in our social environment may have implications for our own well-being. In particular we are drawn to unexpected changes: underdogs that beat the odds and top dogs that fall from grace. Whether we witness the creation of a hero or the demise of a hero – we love it.... Read more »
Feather, N., & Sherman, R. (2002) Envy, Resentment, Schadenfreude, and Sympathy: Reactions to Deserved and Undeserved Achievement and Subsequent Failure. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 28(7), 953-961. DOI: 10.1177/014616720202800708
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-taskers have other reasons to do so.... 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
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