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  • April 14, 2015
  • 08:45 AM

Malaria diagnosis with RDT MAbs

by SS in Scientific scrutiny

Examining the business of patenting MAbs against epitopes described before and the need for caution in using MAbs against epitopes reported to be deleted in different parts of the world... Read more »

  • April 10, 2015
  • 08:06 PM

The universe is expanding, but how fast?

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

We are expanding, well more accurately the universe is expanding. However researchers have found certain types of supernovae, or exploding stars, are more diverse than previously thought. The results have implications for big cosmological questions, such as how fast the universe has been expanding since the Big Bang. Most importantly, the findings hint at the possibility that the acceleration of the expansion of the universe might not be quite as fast as textbooks say.... Read more »

  • April 8, 2015
  • 05:57 AM

Where Are All The Single Authors?

by Kate Blanchfield in United Academics

The trend towards collaborative research has a downside.... Read more »

Natascha Gaster, Jorge S. Burns, Michael Gaster. (2014) Single Authors – an Exterminated Race – Increasing Numbers by Increasing Credit?,. JUnQ, 5(1). info:/

  • April 1, 2015
  • 03:13 AM

Prehistoric rock crystal extraction in the Alps

by M. Cornelissen in hazelnut relations

I have written about the most famous rock crystal find from the Swiss Alps, the Planggenstock Treasure and the use of rock crystal through the millennia before. We know where the Planggenstock Treasure and other recent finds were originally found. … Continue reading →... Read more »

Leitner, W. (2013) Steinzeitliche Gewinnung von Bergkristall am Riepenkar in den Tuxer Alpen (Tirol). Preistoria Alpina, 23-26. info:/

  • March 31, 2015
  • 04:58 PM

An apple a day may keep the children away: Pesticides and sperm count

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

Ever hear that old saying an apple a day keeps the Doctor away? Well it might have the right idea, just the wrong person. New research investigating the relationship between eating fruit and vegetables containing pesticide residues and the quality of men’s semen has shown a link with lower sperm counts and percentages of normally-formed sperm. So for people wanting children it may be time to rethink that produce.... Read more »

Y.H. Chiu et al. (2015) Fruit and vegetable intake and their pesticide residues in relation to semen quality among men from a fertility clinic. Human Reproduction. info:/10.1093/humrep/dev064

Hagai Levine, & Shanna H. Swan. (2015) Is dietary pesticide exposure related to semen quality? Positive evidence from men attending a fertility clinic. Human Reproduction. info:/10.1093/humrep/dev065

  • March 25, 2015
  • 07:13 AM

Flawed Shades Of Gray

by RAZ Rebecca A. Zarate in United Academics

The Munker-White Illusion: flawed expectations of brightness and shadow.... Read more »

Li, Tavantzis, and Yazdanbakhsh. (2009) Lightness of Munker-White illusion and Simultaneous-Contrast illusion: Establishing an ordinal lightness relation among minimum and split-frame presentations. Review of Psychology, 16(1), 3-8. info:/

Purves D, Shimpi A, & Lotto RB. (1999) An empirical explanation of the cornsweet effect. The Journal of neuroscience : the official journal of the Society for Neuroscience, 19(19), 8542-51. PMID: 10493754  

  • March 18, 2015
  • 06:43 PM

How alien cell membranes could form in methane seas

by This Science is Crazy in This Science Is Crazy!

Scientist identify 'azotosomes' - short carbon chains with a nitrogen terminus native to the atmosphere of Titan which can potentially self-assemble into bilayers in liquid methane.... Read more »

  • March 9, 2015
  • 11:15 PM

How dogs get the point: what enables canines to interpret human gestures?

by Cobb & Hecht in Do You Believe In Dog?

Guest post by: Lucia Lazarowski, PhD candidate. Her research is available via free promotional access in the journal Behavioural Processes until February, 2016. Hi Mia and Julie,As a long-time fan of the blog, it is an honor to be a guest contributor! I am especially excited to tell DYBID readers about this research because it was somewhat of a pet project (pun intended). I am now a PhD student at Auburn University, but this study was done while I was working at North Carolina State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine. At NCSU, I worked with a team of veterinarians and animal behaviorists on a several projects aimed at improving selection and training of military working dogs, and I was primarily involved with studies related to explosives detection. Meanwhile in the canine cognition world, a hot topic was that of dogs’ ability to follow human gestures. Several studies have demonstrated that dogs are able to use human gestures, like pointing, to find hidden treats. An interesting finding that fueled a lot of the research in this area is that dogs perform better on these tasks than chimpanzees, our closest relatives, and wolves, dogs’ closest relatives. Is it possible that dogs are able to read and use human gestures because they co-evolved with humans, endowing them with a specialized human-like type of social cognition that their ancestors missed out on? Or, is it that dogs are such an integrated part of our lives that through our daily interactions they learn that paying attention to our body language pays off?These two viewpoints have sparked a heated debate among canine scientists. In order to tease apart the roles of domestication and experience (or the nature/nurture debate, as your high school psychology teacher would call it), researchers have tested canines of different species (domesticated and wild-type) and different life histories (human-reared and feral). The domestication hypothesis, which suggests that point-following is an innate skill that dogs have acquired in a case of convergent evolution with humans, predicts that domestication alone is sufficient for point-following. The learning hypothesis, on the other hand, contends that dogs must learn through experience to follow human gestures, regardless of domestication status.  The fact that chimps and wolves do not appear to utilize human pointing as dogs do seems to support domestication as an explanation. But, (plot twist!) if wolves are raised with humans from an early age and are tested in appropriate conditions, they can perform as well or even better than dogs.  To recap, groups that have succeeded at human pointing tasks include canines that are domesticated and socialized (pet dogs), non-domesticated and un-socialized (wolves), and non-domesticated and socialized (hand-reared wolves).  Hopefully at this point the missing piece of the puzzle is obvious: what about domestic dogs that have not been heavily exposed to humans? This vital yet untested sub-group of canines would help tip the scales in the domestication vs. experience debate.At NCSU, we were gearing up to begin a new study investigating factors related to olfactory learning in canine explosives detection. The dogs acquired for this study were mixed-breed males around 1 year old, and unlike our previous studies which used trained military working dogs, these were laboratory-reared dogs. It occurred to me that this would be the perfect opportunity to test a group of dogs that met all of the proposed criteria for the “missing link”: laboratory dogs lack the same experiences that pet dogs living in human homes have (including the possibly critical opportunity to learn about human gestures), but they are socialized to humans at an early age and thus not fearful like feral dogs may be. Another bonus is that their life histories are known and documented, unlike dogs found in a shelter that at some point may have lived with people. If the opportunity to learn about human gestures is critical for point-following behavior to develop and not just domestication alone, these dogs would be expected to perform worse than pet dogs on point-following tasks.  We tested 11 laboratory dogs and 9 pet dogs using methods established in previous studies in which dogs watched as humans performed two types of point (“easy” and “hard”, for simplicity’s sake).  What we found was that while pet dogs followed the harder point to the correct container significantly higher than chance, the laboratory dogs did not. Both groups of dogs were able to locate the correct container using the easier point, demonstrating that any failures were not due methodological flaws or to an inability to perform the demands of the task (note that success on these easier point trials can be explained by simpler mechanisms like physical proximity to the container).  Our results seem to suggest that exposure to humans and the opportunity to learn about the meanings of gestures plays an important role in dogs’ ability to follow pointing.  Interestingly, a few dogs in the pet group performed just as poorly as the laboratory dogs, which would lend further support to the idea that individual experiences shape these abilities. Further, failures by the laboratory dogs are not likely caused by cognitive deficits due to an impoverished environment; the dogs received environmental enrichment including daily interactions with kennel and research staff, play-time with conspecifics, outdoor exercise, and a variety of toys (and after completing thi... Read more »

  • March 7, 2015
  • 10:17 AM

How radiation from space affects the Earth's climate

by This Science is Crazy in This Science Is Crazy!

Convergent cross-mapping analysis finds 'modest causal effect' of cosmic rays on global temperatures over short timescales, but rules out effect on long-term global warming.... Read more »

Tsonis, A., Deyle, E., May, R., Sugihara, G., Swanson, K., Verbeten, J., & Wang, G. (2015) Dynamical evidence for causality between galactic cosmic rays and interannual variation in global temperature. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 201420291. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1420291112  

  • March 5, 2015
  • 08:30 AM

Biting Off More Than You Can Chew: The Science of Competitive Eating

by Bill Sullivan in The 'Scope

Matt Stonie recently consumed 182 slices of bacon in just 5 minutes, breaking a competitive eating record. How is this physiologically possible?... Read more »

Levine MS, Spencer G, Alavi A, & Metz DC. (2007) Competitive speed eating: truth and consequences. AJR. American journal of roentgenology, 189(3), 681-6. PMID: 17715117  

  • March 4, 2015
  • 05:33 AM

Does Facebook Use Always Lower Grades?

by Kate Blanchfield in United Academics

Good news for students: New research shows that Facebook use doesn't necessarily lower university students' grades... Read more »

  • March 3, 2015
  • 03:58 AM

Genetically-modified mice resistant to frostbite

by This Science is Crazy in This Science Is Crazy!

Genetically-modified mice resistant to frostbite - How a glycoprotein could improve organ transplant success (and ice-cream).... Read more »

Heisig, M., Mattessich, S., Rembisz, A., Acar, A., Shapiro, M., Booth, C., Neelakanta, G., & Fikrig, E. (2015) Frostbite Protection in Mice Expressing an Antifreeze Glycoprotein. PLOS ONE, 10(2). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0116562  

  • February 23, 2015
  • 05:52 PM

Merging bacteria and solar technology to make biofuel

by This Science is Crazy in This Science Is Crazy! Read more »

Torella JP, Gagliardi CJ, Chen JS, Bediako DK, Colón B, Way JC, Silver PA, & Nocera DG. (2015) Efficient solar-to-fuels production from a hybrid microbial-water-splitting catalyst system. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. PMID: 25675518  

  • February 9, 2015
  • 01:30 PM

Slime mould and researcher set to play piano duet

by GrrlScientist in Maniraptora

SUMMARY: A single-celled organism will perform a piano duet with a computer musician at Plymouth University on 1 March 2015. The public is invited. ... Read more »

Nakagaki Toshiyuki, Yamada Hiroyasu, & Tóth Ágota. (2000) Intelligence: Maze-solving by an amoeboid organism. Nature, 407(470). DOI: 10.1038/35035159  

Saigusa Tetsu, Toshiyuki Nakagaki, & Yoshiki Kuramoto. (2008) Amoebae Anticipate Periodic Events. Physical Review Letters, 100(1). DOI:  

Miranda Eduardo R. , Adamatzky Andrew, & Jones Jeff . (2011) Sounds Synthesis with Slime Mould of Physarum polycephalum. Journal of Bionic Engineering, 107-113. arXiv: 1212.1203

  • February 6, 2015
  • 10:44 AM

Motivation for freelancers especially writers

by Usman Paracha in SayPeople

Main Point:

Freelance writing is an interesting career.

“The only safe thing is to take a chance.” (Mike Nichols)
Study Further:

By definition Freelancing means working for yourself. A freelancer works as a writer and/or artist, and sells his or her services to different employers without any long-term contract. According to a report (Fell, 2014), nearly 34% of people working in America are freelancers. Among the top most freelancing jobs are writing, education, graphic designing, translation, consulting, web development, healthcare, and entertainment. Interestingly, some well known companies such as Bloomberg, Time Warner Cable, and Nintendo also take the help of freelancers.

Among the top 5 countries with registered freelancers are United States, India, Pakistan, Ukraine, and United Kingdom. It has to be considered that freelance market is good for developing countries and those countries where the average wage of people is about $1,000 per year.

Freelancers have better earnings
Freelancers have better earnings

Earning of freelancers:

Freelance writing jobs can give a good level of earning. According to the report (Fell, 2014), nearly 77% (almost eight out of ten) freelancers are making the same or more money than they did before starting the freelancing jobs. Freelance jobs are such a good thing that people can even manage their traditional jobs with freelancing jobs.

Earning of freelancers
Earning of freelancers

According to an infographic published in The Muse (Frost, 2014), an average freelancer is making 45% more than the normal job holders. Interestingly, about 75% of those people, who are working from home, are making more than $65,000 per year. About 15% of freelancers are earning more than $100 per hour. Almost similar facts were noted by Amanda Hackwith in Freelance Confidential, i.e. average freelance web designer is making up to $60,000 per year making $5,000 per month. However, according to The Verge, Arun Bhattachary, a Indian designer, earned nearly $10,000 in a month on DesignCrowd – a site for freelance designers (Falconer, 2011).

In a study, researchers have reported that in Europe “annual freelancer earnings amount to €98 175 and the annual cost of a salaried writer to €102 098.” (Reeves & Hamilton, 2014).

“I opted for a freelance writing career. I was lucky enough to have the means to do it.” (Matt Ridley)

Work life balance of freelancers
Work life balance of freelancers

Life of freelancers:

Freelancers have an excellent work-life balance. Moreover, freelancers feel little disturbance in the times of recession (Frost, 2014). However, some of the challenges faced by freelancers include finding clients, getting paid on time, competition, and maintaining high productivity. On the other hand, freelancers can have a good level of freedom in the case of work, i.e. they can work anywhere, anytime. Freelancers can have more interesting projects, and they can travel while working.

“If a nation loses its storytellers, it loses its childhood.” (Peter Handke)

Over 75% freelancers are earning more than $65,000 per year.
Over 75% freelancers are earning more than $65,000 per year.

Success factors for freelancers:

Success is not easy for many people, but it is important to follow some rules for a sure successful life. Following are some of the factors that are important in the success of a freelancer:

In a study (Born & Witteloostuijn, 2013), researchers have reported that external environment plays an important role in the success of a freelancer. So, freelancers have to work on the outer conditions such as better family environment and neighborhood for more success, and people in the surrounding can help them in achieving their goals.
Uniqueness is important in the success of freelancers. Interestingly, most of the freelancers can start thinking in a unique and ideal manner after sometime.
Freelancers must have to remain ready for a change in the market. He or she has to consider that the expectations of customers can change with the passage of time.
Endurance is important along with discipline as first 2-3 years are not that easy for freelancers. Confidence is also among the topmost factors that freelancers must have to ac... Read more »

  • January 16, 2015
  • 12:12 AM

2015: Puppy New Year! Get some science into your dog

by Cobb & Hecht in Do You Believe In Dog?

2015 is a bright and shiny new year for canine science! But first, this face:After being a dog-less household for eight months (you might remember we sadly farewelled Elke in 2013 and gut-wrenchingly, also old man Caleb, in the first half of 2014) we welcomed a new member to the family at the end of 2014. Those paws. Not photoshopped.If I'm honest with you, I'd been stalking PetRescue quietly for a month or so, not really sure if the time was right, but also open to being inspired to make it the right time to welcome a new dog into our lives. I eventually made a call to a shelter a long, long way away about a dog I'd seen who looked like the kind of dog I thought would be a good fit for our family over the next fifteen years. His profile had been up for a few weeks and I was concerned he might be nearly out of time to be adopted. The lovely shelter staff let me know he'd actually just been adopted that morning - I was thrilled for him and his new family. Probably a good thing anyway, that shelter was 5 hours' drive away - no small distance.  The following day I received a message from the shelter staff - there was another dog - a younger pup, similar type, would I be interested? "Send me some photos and a video clip of him" I said... and they did. I told Julie about the pup and how far away he was. "Love this story!! Keep it coming ;)" she said via email. Huh, I thought - what an adventure this could be to meet a new family member - and luckily, my partner agreed!So a week later, coincidentally on my birthday, we headed off after lunch on a 400km (that's 250miles to those of you who prefer miles) drive to a faraway coastal town south west of Melbourne to meet this four month old pup. He had come into the regional shelter as a stray. Whether he was deliberately dumped, wandered off through an open gate, or actively strayed by jumping a fence - we'll never know. That's part of the shelter dog story - not necessarily knowing what came before. What we do know is this: He was not identified by microchip, had no collar with ID and was not desexedNo one came looking for him during his two weeks in the shelterOn meeting us, he was excitable, mouthy and jumpy, but calmed down fairly quicklyWe have named him Rudy (roo-dee), inspired by Rudolph as it was Christmas weekWhat is he?We've been asked that a lot! Rudy is a Staghound. Staghounds in Australia are similar to Lurchers and Longdogs in the UK - a 'type' of dog, rather than a breed. Staghounds are generally greyhound x deerhound with maybe a bit of whatever else was around the area in them too. They can vary widely in looks as they are bred with an emphasis on health, performance and longevity, rather than to a physical standard. They are generally bred to help with hunting in rural areas, but like greyhounds, can make excellent companions as well. As you'd expect, they are highly distracted by moving things.A diet of scienceInevitably, we're feeding Rudy a daily dose of science. If you want to keep up with how he's going, you can follow the #RaisingRudy hashtag on Twitter, keep up with our Do you Believe in Dog? Facebook posts, or check in here at the blog for regular updates. I've never claimed to be a dog trainer, but I'm certainly aware of the importance of putting the wide array of scientific findings into practice with our dogs to help them have a great life and help us enjoy our time with them. So far, over the first couple of weeks Rudy's been with us, this has looked a bit like this:... Read more »

Hiby E.F., Rooney N.J., & Bradshaw J.W.S. (2004) Dog training methods: their use, effectiveness and interaction with behaviour and welfare. . Animal Welfare, 13(1), 63-70. info:other/

  • January 7, 2015
  • 08:44 PM

French Fries without Fat, Anyone?

by Wiley Asia Blog in Wiley Asia Blog - Life Sciences

Imagine the world where what we call junk food could be oil free. Researchers explored the alternatives of oil for fried food. Colour, texture and flavor of fried foods that attract our appetite depends on “the amount of oil absorbed during frying”. To achieve the similar characteristics of fried food, researchers found out that glucose could be used as “a nonfat frying medium”.

To identify the results of this new fries, researchers analysed moisture content, microscopic images, texture measurement, color measurement and oil and glucose content. Fries done under high frying temperature developed the well-defined crust which is an essential characteristic of fries.... Read more »

Al-Khusaibi, M., Ahmad Tarmizi, A., & Niranjan, K. (2014) On the Possibility of Nonfat Frying using Molten Glucose. Journal of Food Science. DOI: 10.1111/1750-3841.12713  

  • December 31, 2014
  • 01:48 PM

A surprising discovery about fast food portion sizes

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

Since the noticeable expansion of most of the worlds waistlines, people have come to lay the blame (amongst other things) almost squarely on fast food and ever increasing portion sizes. While the world and it’s leaders are dealing with this mysterious problem by trying to help push fast food chains in the direction of change, it might be surprising to know that according to new research, fast food portion sizes have changed little since 1996.... Read more »

Urban LE, Roberts SB, Fierstein JL, Gary CE and Lichtenstein AH. (2014) Temporal Trends in Fast-Food Restaurant Energy, Sodium, Saturated Fat and Trans Fat Content in the United States, 1996-2013. Preventing Chronic Disease . info:/

Urban LE, Roberts SB, Fierstein JL, Gary CE, Lichtenstein AH,. (2014) Sodium, Saturated Fat and Trans Fat Content Per 1,000 Kilocalories: Temporal Trends in Fast-Food Restaurants, United States, 2000-2013. Preventing Chronic Disease . info:/

  • December 28, 2014
  • 02:12 PM

Insights into the scientific gatekeepers: A fight for the status quo?

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

A new study has found that well respected peer reviewed journals have rejected manuscripts that could discuss outstanding or breakthrough work. The researchers found that some manuscripts rejected by three leading medical journals went on to receive a large number of citations after publication in other journals. The study, which if course was peer reviewed itself, offered insight into the process that the typical researcher might not see.... Read more »

Siler K, Lee K, & Bero L. (2014) Measuring the effectiveness of scientific gatekeeping. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. PMID: 25535380  

  • December 18, 2014
  • 11:22 PM

Top 4 of 2014: Your Favourite Canine Science Posts

by Cobb & Hecht in Do You Believe In Dog?

As December rolls into its second half, and the days warm up - or cool down - depending on where you are situated on the globe, we wanted to say thank you for joining us in 2014 - we are continually blown away with the popular and supportive community we have around us at Do You Believe in Dog? here on the blog, on Facebook and also on Twitter. Taking our lead from Companion Animal Psychology, we decided to jump into some statistics (because hey, we are scientists!) to see what you made our most popular posts of 2014.You voted with your clicks all year long and so, without further ado, here are the Top 4 Do You Believe in Dog posts of 2014:# 4 What the pug is going on?After seeing popular opinion of pugs framed as 'cute', Mia put together this review of the health issues facing brachycephalic breeds such as pugs, why it's a welfare concern and what can be done to raise awareness and improve the quality of life in future generations of these dogs.  Read: What the pug is going on?This piece was cross-posted to The Dodo# 3 Dogs Are Like Porn: All Over the Internet and Waiting For YouOutlining all the ways you can actively participate in canine research, even without leaving the comfort of your couch, Julie compile this fantastic list of scientific studies seeking participants. You can be a citizen scientist!    Read: Dogs Are Like Porn: All Over the Internet and Waiting For You # 2 Dog Loses Ear at Dog Park and There Was Nothing We Could Do About It "Dogs are confusing. People are confusing. Put them together in a public space, and it’s like all the circuses came to town on the same day." Julie outlines the issues of dogs and people combining in public spaces and offers many easily accessed resources and opportunities to educate ourselves so we can be proactive in preventing bad experiences for all. Read: Dog Loses Ear at Dog Park and There Was Nothing We Could Do About It # 1 Why do dogs lick people?It started with a question on twitter, and turned out to be our most popular post of 2014.@DoUBelieveInDog why do dogs lick you lots when they like you?— Chanukah Potatolatke (@cpezaro) March 28, 2014With the photo by Chris Sembrot that can not be unseen, this post from Mia looked at what we have learned about why dog lick us - there's no one quick answer and some people were quite surprised at the depth of background, in evolutionary, social and environmental terms, behind what we consider an everyday behaviour. A big part of why we love canine science! Read: Why do dogs lick people?This piece was cross-posted to The DodoWe're looking forward to sharing more great canine science with you in 2015. Have a safe and fun holiday season. ... Read more »

Wong-Parodi Gabrielle, & Strauss Benjamin H. (2014) Team science for science communication. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. PMID: 25225381  

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