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Evolutionary Biology, Life Science, Science Education, Human Evolution, and Stuff.
An important study has just been published1 examining the level of consensus among scientists about climate change. The issue at hand is this: What is the level of agreement in the scientific community about the reality of climate change and about the human role in climate change? The new paper, Quantifying the consensus on anthropogenic…... Read more »
Cook, J., Nuccitelli, D., Green, S., Richardson, M., Winkler, B., Painting, R., Way, R., Jacobs, P., & Skuce, A. (2013) Quantifying the consensus on anthropogenic global warming in the scientific literature. Environmental Research Letters, 8(2), 24024. DOI: 10.1088/1748-9326/8/2/024024
A study just published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences explores the question of penis size and female preference in humans. The study involved making a set of 3D models of human males of various relative body sizes, and fitting them out with various size flaccid penises. These were shown to a…... 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
Australia is experiencing a heat spell. The Climate Information Services of the Australian Bureau of Meteorology has issued a special statement (I’ll provide some details below). This is not unexpected, since over the last few years global warming due to the human release of large amounts of fossil Carbon into the atmosphere has been heating…... Read more »
Sterl, A., Severijns, C., Dijkstra, H., Hazeleger, W., Jan van Oldenborgh, G., van den Broeke, M., Burgers, G., van den Hurk, B., Jan van Leeuwen, P., & van Velthoven, P. (2008) When can we expect extremely high surface temperatures?. Geophysical Research Letters, 35(14). DOI: 10.1029/2008GL034071
Until a few minutes ago, I didn’t even know what the heck Vocal Fry is. Apparently some people have gotten really annoyed about it, as it is a speech mannerism that has emerged among young folks, who are always annoying, and especially females, who are always annoying. Apparently. (I also did not know that until…... Read more »
Wolk, L., Abdelli-Beruh, N., & Slavin, D. (2012) Habitual Use of Vocal Fry in Young Adult Female Speakers. Journal of Voice, 26(3). DOI: 10.1016/j.jvoice.2011.04.007
The Slow Loris (Genus Nycticebus) is a category of prosimian (primates that are neither monkey or ape) that lives in southeast Asia. Most prosimian species live on the island of Madagascar, but there are several African and Asian forms, all of which are nocturnal. The Slow Loris is special because it is the only primate…... Read more »
Munds, Rachel, Nekaris, K.A., & Ford, Susan. (2012) Taxonomy of the Bornean Slow Loris, with new species Nycticebus kayan (Primates, Lorisidae). American Journal of Primatology, 46-56. info:/10.1002/ajp.22071
Darwinian Psychology, or really, any “Psychology” that claims to be science, will operate under the assumption that the human brain, as an organ, has arrived at its modern form through the process of evolution, which includes a certain amount of design through Natural Selection. It does not take that much additional sophistication to realize that…... Read more »
Fessler, D., Holbrook, C., & Snyder, J. (2012) Weapons Make the Man (Larger): Formidability Is Represented as Size and Strength in Humans. PLoS ONE, 7(4). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0032751
A study has just come out in the Journal of Sex Research comparing various psychological and lifestyle measures of women who act in pornographic films with matched sets of women who do not. There is a pretty clear association between negative attitudes towards pornography and negative assessments of the quality of life for actresses in…... Read more »
Griffith, J., Mitchell, S., Hart, C., Adams, L., & Gu, L. (2012) Pornography Actresses: An Assessment of the Damaged Goods Hypothesis. Journal of Sex Research, 1-12. DOI: 10.1080/00224499.2012.719168
When Bill O’Reilly said that you “can’t explain tides” I laughed. Why did I laugh? Because if he wasn’t such a dumb-ass he could have EASILY named a dozen thing that science claims to “know” that a reasonably good rhetorician could convince the average Tea Bagger that science really can’t “know” because it can’t really…... Read more »
Gentile, F., Moretti, M., Limongi, T., Falqui, A., Bertoni, G., Scarpellini, A., Santoriello, S., Maragliano, L., Proietti Zaccaria, R., & di Fabrizio, E. (2012) Direct Imaging of DNA Fibers: The Visage of Double Helix. Nano Letters, 2147483647. DOI: 10.1021/nl3039162
From NASA: PASADENA, Calif. – An international team of experts supported by NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA) has combined data from multiple satellites and aircraft to produce the most comprehensive and accurate assessment to date of ice sheet losses in Greenland and Antarctica and their contributions to sea level rise. In a landmark…... Read more »
Earlier this year a paper was published in the journal Nature in which a team of scientists looked at changes in storm surge potential under conditions of global warming, and they used the New York City area in their modeling. Combined with resent research adding to the growing body of data and studies that show…... Read more »
Lin, N., Emanuel, K., Oppenheimer, M., & Vanmarcke, E. (2012) Physically based assessment of hurricane surge threat under climate change. Nature Climate Change, 2(6), 462-467. DOI: 10.1038/NCLIMATE1389
Before getting into this, I just want to give you the best quote about physics from a physicist I’ve seen in a long time. In describing the phenomenon we are discussing here, JPL scintist Slava Turyshev says, “The effect is something like when you’re driving a car and the photons from your headlights are pushing…... Read more »
Slava G. Turyshev, Viktor T. Toth, Gary Kinsella, Siu-Chun Lee, Shing M. Lok, & Jordan Ellis. (2012) Support for the thermal origin of the Pioneer anomaly. Phys. Rev. Lett, 108(241101). DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.108.241101
I want to tell you about a cool book, but first, here’s something interesting about Dragonflies. Terrestrial animals (like humans) require long chain fatty acids but don’t synthesize them from basic parts. Higher terrestrial plants don’t make the biggest of these molecules either, but plants do make molecules that can be turned into things like…... Read more »
M. I. Gladyshev, A. Yu. Kharitonov, O. N. Popova, N. N. Sushchik, O. N. Makhutova, & G. S. Kalacheva. (2011) Quantitative estimation of dragonfly role in transfer of essential polyunsaturated fatty acids from aquatic to terrestrial ecosystems. DOKLADY BIOCHEMISTRY AND BIOPHYSICS, 438(1), 708-710. DOI: 10.1134/S1607672911030094
O. N. Popova, & A. Yu. Kharitonov. (1) Estimation of the carry-over of substances by dragonflies from water bodies to land in the forest-steppe of West Siberia. CONTEMPORARY PROBLEMS OF ECOLOGY, 5(2012), 49-56. DOI: 10.1134/S1995425512010043
If all the water currently trapped in all the glaciers across the entire world, the sea level would rise far more than most people imagine. Almost everyone living anywhere in the world at an elevation of below about 500 feet with a direct drainage to the sea would be directly affected; The sea level rise itself might be a bit over 300 feet, but oceans tend to migrate horizontally when they rise onto previously uninnundated land surfaces. So if you lived at 500 feet above sea level in most of Ma........ Read more »
Jacob, T., Wahr, J., Pfeffer, W., & Swenson, S. (2012) Recent contributions of glaciers and ice caps to sea level rise. Nature. DOI: 10.1038/nature10847
In a very interesting way.
As a regular reader of this blog, you know that IQ and similar measures are determined by a number of factors, and for most "normal" (modal?) individuals, one's heritage (genes) is rarely important. Putting it another way, variation across individuals in IQ and other measures have been shown again and again to be determined by things like home environment, diet and nutrition, and even immediate social context. Here's another finding supporting this: Read the rest o........ Read more »
Kishida, K., Yang, D., Quartz, K., Quartz, S., & Montague, P. (2012) Implicit signals in small group settings and their impact on the expression of cognitive capacity and associated brain responses. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 367(1589), 704-716. DOI: 10.1098/rstb.2011.0267
Over the last few weeks I've run into a few misconceptions about tobacco, as well as some interesting news, so I thought I'd share. If you already know some of this, forgive me, not everyone else does.
First, tobacco, Nicotiana tabacum, is a member of the Solanaceae family of plants, which from a human perspective has got to be one of the most interesting plant families out there. It includes Belladonna, peppers, potatoes, and tomatoes. So, from this one family of plants, you can kill your n........ Read more »
Zagorevski, Dmitri, & Loughmiller-Newman, Jennifer. (2012) The Detection of Nicotine in a Late Mayan Period Flask by GCMS and LCMS Methods. Rapid Communications in Mass Spectrometry, 403-411. info:/
The sun heats the earth, but unevenly. The excess heat around the equator moves towards the poles, via a number of different mechanisms, the most noticeable for us humans being via air masses. That's what much of our weather is about. Heat also moves towards the poles, in the ongoing evening-out of energy distribution on the planet's surface, via ocean currents.
One of the interesting things that happens with ocean currents is this: Warm water tends to move from equator towards polar region........ Read more »
In a recent study, 35,533 prostate cancer-free men in a higher risk age group for prostate cancer in the US, Canada and Puerto Rico were given various treatments of Vitamin E, selenium, and placebo in order to see if claims that Vitamin E and/or Vitamin E with selenium were effective in reducing prostate cancer risk.
8752 received selenium alone - 575 developed prostate cancer.
8737 received Vitamin E alone - 620 developed prostate cancer.
8702 received both - 555 developed prostate cance........ Read more »
Klein, E., Thompson, I., Tangen, C., Crowley, J., Lucia, M., Goodman, P., Minasian, L., Ford, L., Parnes, H., Gaziano, J.... (2011) Vitamin E and the Risk of Prostate Cancer: The Selenium and Vitamin E Cancer Prevention Trial (SELECT). JAMA: The Journal of the American Medical Association, 306(14), 1549-1556. DOI: 10.1001/jama.2011.1437
Although one can not be certain, all the evidence points to the fact that William Shakespeare smoked pot. This is not a new story. My good friend and colleague, Dr. Francis Thackeray, who has never smoked pot in his life but who has acted in Shakespeare's plays numerous times, led a research team that put 2 and 2 together and came up with narcotic literary munchies. In Shakespeare's time, land owners were required to grow pot in order to provide fibers for making the rope needed hoist the sai........ Read more »
Harm van Bakel, Jake M Stout, Atina G Cote, Carling M Tallon, Andrew G Sharpe, Timothy R Hughes, & Jonathan E Page. (2011) The draft genome and transcriptome of Cannabis sativa. Genome Biology, 12(R102). info:/
Urban areas can be warmer than surrounding non-urban areas because there is a lot of combustion, pavement and other structure can collect solar heat and retain it for a while, and other factors. It is not uncommon to look at a weather map where conditions for precipitation are marginal, and everywhere but the urban zone, or only the urban zone and nothing else, is showing a weather phenomenon. Because people and airports (where weather is very important) are located in or very near urban areas........ Read more »
Wickham, C., Curry, J., Groom, D., Jacobson, R., Muller, R., Perlmutter, S., Rohde, R., Rosenfeld, A., & Wurtele, J. (2011) Influence of urban heating on the global temperature land average using rural sites identified from MODIS classifications. Unknown. info:/
Rapid climate change can cause species extinction. But if a species is highly mobile or wide-ranging, then that effect may be attenuated. And, more rapid climate change would be more serious a problem than less rapid climate change. Therefore, there should be a relationship between species mobility (migration) and the rate, or velocity, of climate change vis-a-vis extinction. This is a nice set of hypotheses which have been tested in a recent paper. The abstract: Read the rest of this post.......... Read more »
Sandel, B., Arge, L., Dalsgaard, B., Davies, R., Gaston, K., Sutherland, W., & Svenning, J. (2011) The Influence of Late Quaternary Climate-Change Velocity on Species Endemism. Science. DOI: 10.1126/science.1210173
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