Post List

Other posts

(Modify Search »)

  • July 2, 2013
  • 12:00 PM

Super Intelligent Machines Aren’t to Be Feared

by Tony Prescott. in United Academics

Fear of machines becoming smarter than humans is a standard part of popular culture. In films like iRobot and Terminator, humans are usurped. Throughout history we can trace stories about humankind overreaching through a desire to understand and copy ourselves, from Ancient Greek mythology to Milton’s Paradise Lost and Shelley’s Frankenstein. Today’s Prometheans are supposedly scientists working on artificial intelligence (AI), who run the risk of creating machines intelligent enough to supercede us.... Read more »

  • July 2, 2013
  • 08:26 AM

#SPARCS2013: The Aftermath

by Cobb & Hecht in Do You Believe In Dog?

Oh Julie! How great was #SPARCS2013? SO VERY, VERY GREAT! I love the buzz that comes from hearing presentations by experts in the various areas of canine science and what the Society for the Promotion of Applied Research in Canine Science achieved over 3 days, AND SHARED GLOBALLY FOR FREE, was just phenomenal!I love that we hung out in little parties in our respective parts of the world - with dogs present! I spent one morning (Australia time, end of a SPARCS day) with my colleague, Kate Mornement (and her dogs, Archie and Joseph!). The other days I spent waking up early and loving hearing from the likes of Adam Miklosi, Monique Udell and Clive Wynne. It was just FABULOUS. I hope everyone who enjoyed SPARCS2013, remembers to donate and/or become a SPARCS member so that this initiative can continue in the future. SPARCS parties around the world! Something that was also interesting to me, was watching the twitter-sphere light up in response to the #SPARCS2013 event hashtag. Seeing the canine science communication get further afield (through the free live streaming over the web) than it would usually in a regular scientific conference was interesting, entertaining and above all - BRILLIANT.Monique Udell breaking down canine cognition There was one thing I found particularly interesting, which was how exchanges of what I would call 'scientific discussion', for example, such as:"You're wrong!""What's the source of that data?""It's OK to not have all the answers""We should all be careful of over-generalising our results""I'm not interested in repeating your experiment, because I'm not interested in testing that hypothesis"were sometimes perceived as "silo" (divisive) attitudes, rather than people just expressing a professional difference of opinion or seeking further information. I think it's really important that when we communicate our science to a broader audience, we also take time to explain the scientific process and how scientific rigour operates as a self-correcting process, over time. Always advancing our understanding and moving towards the best grasp of concepts that we can have. This process doesn't do a disservice to "the dogs", each other, or our work. It is how we ensure we do the best by the dogs, each other, and our work. Sometimes in science, entire premises can get flipped on their heads, and initially, that can feel uncomfortable, or ridiculous, or really, very right.We're not fighting! (Flickr:JesseGardner)Clive Wynne acknowledged this toward the closing of his final presentation, when thanking the SPARCS2013 organisers. He said that it is good for the discipline of canine science to have a forum like SPARCS, where the experts can come and speak, listen to each other, discuss, perhaps even argue, because that process - provided we all stay open to the odd premise-flipping idea - drives our field forwards in a healthy direction for the future.Thank you #SPARCS2013, to the conference planning team for making this available for free, the live stream tech' team for being so responsive and ensuring we were all able to experience this amazing forum, the Twitter community who participated in the online discussion and to the scientists who shared their ideas and understanding with the world.&... Read more »

  • July 1, 2013
  • 11:24 AM

‘Mental Illness’ Isn’t all About Brain Chemistry

by Mary Boyle in United Academics

Do you believe ‘mental illness’ is all about brain chemistry? It wouldn’t be surprising if you did, because this is the message we regularly receive about various forms of troublesome feelings, thoughts and behaviour.

The publication of the latest Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM-5) reinforced this picture. David Kupfer, chair of the manual’s taskforce, declared:

In the future, we hope to be able to identify disorders using biological and genetic markers that provide precise diagnoses that can be delivered with complete reliability and validity.... Read more »

  • June 30, 2013
  • 04:43 AM

Human Revolution Not Caused by Population Growth?

by Akshat Rathi. in United Academics

About 50,000 years ago, modern humans left Africa and began occupying the rest of the world. The common thought is that a sudden growth in population caused the so-called “human revolution”, which gave birth to language, art, and culture as we know it today. Now, based on something that’s not obviously related to human culture—the size of shellfish fossils—researchers have challenged that model.

Artifacts from two sites in South Africa, Still Bay and Howieson’s Poort, have convinced archaeologists that the period between 85,000 to 65,000 years ago was when the “human revolution” began. Humans from that time made jewellery from perforated shells and used objects as symbols. They made better tools than they had ever before. Some of these tools, made from ostrich eggshells, were even capable of slicing fruit.... Read more »

Klein RG, & Steele TE. (2013) Archaeological shellfish size and later human evolution in Africa. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. PMID: 23776248  

  • June 30, 2013
  • 04:34 AM

Grunting in Tennis: What’s the Racket?

by Pete Etchells in United Academics

Noise seems to be a bit of a problem in major sports tournaments. For many, vuvuzelas were the scourge of the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. So much so that the BBC looked into ways of muting them on live sound feeds.

Now, with Wimbledon in full swing, an old favourite is back – the eponymous tennis grunt.... Read more »

Amy S. Welcha . (2012) Something to Shout About: A Simple, Quick Performance Enhancement Technique Improved Strength in Both Experts and Novices. Journal of Applied Sport Psychology. info:/

  • June 27, 2013
  • 09:06 AM

Quantum Mechanics Still Puzzles Scientists

by Kate Blanchfield in United Academics

The American physicist Richard Feynman is famously supposed to have once said “if you think you understand quantum mechanics, you don’t understand quantum mechanics”. Whether or not he ever actually said it, the idea that quantum mechanics poses difficulties for scientists still seems to be true today. Two surveys from quantum mechanics conferences show that there are still many foundational issues over which scientists disagree.... Read more »

Maximilian Schlosshauer, Johannes Kofler, & Anton Zeilinger. (2013) A Snapshot of Foundational Attitudes Toward Quantum Mechanics. arXiv. arXiv: 1301.1069v1

Travis Norsen, & Sarah Nelson. (2013) Yet Another Snapshot of Foundational Attitudes Toward Quantum Mechanics. arXiv. arXiv: 1306.4646v2

  • June 27, 2013
  • 09:04 AM

Engineered Bacteria Becomes Biofuel Precursor

by Geetanjali Yadav in United Academics

Global population explosion puts us in a very difficult stage where it is very important to have alternatives to modern day fuels like gasoline that fuels million of cars with internal combustion engines as our current biofuels sources are exhaustible. In a recent finding published in PNAS, Scientists at the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University and the Department of Systems Biology at Harvard Medical School have engineered a bacterium which is capable of producing biofuel precursors that is reported to have high-octane fatty acid moieties.... Read more »

Torella JP, Ford TJ, Kim SN, Chen AM, Way JC, & Silver PA. (2013) Tailored fatty acid synthesis via dynamic control of fatty acid elongation. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. PMID: 23798438  

  • June 27, 2013
  • 06:05 AM

Can fingers and limbs self-regenerate after a grievous injury or accident?

by Patrick Meyer in United Academics

Instead of creating scar tissue through an immune system response, extracellular matrix responds to injured areas by creating new cells that in turn divide and reproduce on top of themselves, creating a cellular foundation for new tissue to form.... Read more »

  • June 25, 2013
  • 09:59 AM

Dust Escaping from Black Holes May Form Stars

by Emily Brown in United Academics

Matter escaping from the clutches of mysterious black holes may be responsible for forming stars, according to new research that explores how galaxies are formed. Much has been learnt about black holes – which lurk at the centre of all large galaxies and suck up anything in their vicinity – over the past two decades. Yet the phenomena remain largely unexplained.... Read more »

Hönig, S., Kishimoto, M., Tristram, K., Prieto, M., Gandhi, P., Asmus, D., Antonucci, R., Burtscher, L., Duschl, W., & Weigelt, G. (2013) DUST IN THE POLAR REGION AS A MAJOR CONTRIBUTOR TO THE INFRARED EMISSION OF ACTIVE GALACTIC NUCLEI. The Astrophysical Journal, 771(2), 87. DOI: 10.1088/0004-637X/771/2/87  

  • June 25, 2013
  • 09:08 AM

Testosterone Improves Woman’s Brain Functions

by Alvin Lin in United Academics

It’s been said that hormonal young men with high levels of testosterone are constantly thinking about sex. Certainly, as we age, our libido decreases. Whether this is a result of a natural decline in testosterone or of cognitive maturity is open to debate. It’s also been reported that hypogonadal men are more depressed and perhaps not as sharp cognitively speaking. Some studies even show a benefit to testosterone replacement in such men with low testosterone levels.... Read more »

Davis S, et al. (2013) ransdermal testosterone improves verbal learning and memory in postmenopausal women not on estrogen therapy: a randomized placebo-controlled trial over 26 weeks. ENDO . info:/

  • June 25, 2013
  • 04:49 AM

Want to Learn How to Think? Read Fiction

by Tom Jacobs in United Academics

Are you uncomfortable with ambiguity? It’s a common condition, but a highly problematic one. The compulsion to quell that unease can inspire snap judgments, rigid thinking, and bad decision-making. Fortunately, new research suggests a simple antidote for this affliction: Read more literary fiction.

A trio of University of Toronto scholars, led by psychologist Maja Djikic, report that people who have just read a short story have less need for what psychologists call “cognitive closure.” Compared with peers who have just read an essay, they expressed more comfort with disorder and uncertainty—attitudes that allow for both sophisticated thinking and greater creativity. “Exposure to literature,” the researchers write in the Creativity Research Journal, “may offer a (way for people) to become more likely to open their minds.”... Read more »

Maja Djikica, Keith Oatleya . (2013) Opening the Closed Mind: The Effect of Exposure to Literature on the Need for Closure. Creativity Research Journal. info:/

  • June 25, 2013
  • 04:47 AM

Let's All Re-virginise: Double Standards and Hymenoplasty

by Meredith Nash in United Academics

More and more women are requesting surgery to replace their hymens, in an effort to “fake” virginity. But virginity is a psychological state, and a hymen is no reliable indicator it exists.

The idea of virginity is firmly anchored in religion and influenced by a variety of social forces that have led to its circulation across cultures for centuries. It popularly refers to a state of sexual inexperience, but has historically been primarily associated with women.... Read more »

  • June 24, 2013
  • 11:17 AM

Silver Bullets Kill Bacteria, Not Werewolves

by Anouk Vleugels in United Academics

Science shows us that silver bullets kill bacteria, not werewolves.... Read more »

Morones-Ramirez, J., Winkler, J., Spina, C., & Collins, J. (2013) Silver Enhances Antibiotic Activity Against Gram-Negative Bacteria. Science Translational Medicine, 5(190), 190-190. DOI: 10.1126/scitranslmed.3006276  

  • June 22, 2013
  • 01:06 AM

Working dogs working together

by Cobb & Hecht in Do You Believe In Dog?

Hey Julie! It's the weekend and I'm racing about catching up after an amazing past fortnight! It's been a whirlwind and by gee, do I have some super fun things to tell you about! Working dogs, working together My first news is what has been keeping me flat out busy over the first half of this year, and ESPECIALLY for the past fortnight.  I'm excited to introduce to you, the Australian Working Dog Alliance!You know all about my work with the Australian Animal Welfare Strategy (AAWS) working group and working dog research projects over the past six years, but I might not have mentioned that this year, the project team were given seed funding by AAWS to actually implement the first year of activities outlined in the Australian Working Dog Industry Action Plan. To do this, we realised that we needed to have an administrative home - an organisation that could drive the initiatives and partner with other groups and sponsor companies to maximise our reach - and so, the Working Dog Alliance has been founded. It is a registered not-for-profit organisation, that works with a diverse industry stakeholder network to improve the welfare of Australia's working and sporting dogs. The organisation will publicly launch in August, after the next national AAWS workshop. The Alliance's industry hub (and resource-filled!) website will launch then too, but if you want to keep in the loop, you can register on the webpage for email updates here or keep track of our progress on the Facebook page.For the past two weeks, I've been travelling interstate with my colleague, Dr Nick Branson, visiting many groups to talk about the Working Dog Alliance, the Australian Working Dog Industry Action Plan and inviting them to be part of it all. I'm so happy to report that we've had the most positive and enthusiastic welcome we could have hoped for! We've met with over ten representative groups and bodies from various government, assistance and sporting dog, animal advocacy and rescue group industry sectors so far, and all have been keen to talk about their work and how the Alliance can help in sharing the best bits around the industry. We'll continue these meetings with many more working and sporting dog groups in the coming months. G2Z In other exciting news, I'm really looking forward to speaking at the annual Getting 2 Zero Summit in September. If you haven't heard of it, G2Z is a model that"details the principles, structures and strategies for achieving zero killing of healthy and treatable cats and dogs (more than 90% of all incoming stray and surrendered cats and dogs) in whole communities"I'll be there to share some of the things (science things, personal things, silly things, etc.) I've learned about social media in the year that we've been blogging together here on Do You Believe in Dog? - it will be great fun to join this group of highly committed and resourceful attendees. I'm sure I'll be learning lots of things! Dog bearding Now, it IS the weekend here, and I have to admit that my fancy has been somewhat tickled by the recent trend of dog beard photos. I'd love to invit... Read more »

Bik Holly M, & Goldstein Miriam C. (2013) An introduction to social media for scientists. PLoS biology. PMID: 23630451  

  • June 21, 2013
  • 05:23 AM

Study: That Tattoo Makes You Look Promiscuous

by Anouk Vleugels in United Academics

Study shows that men are more likely to approach a woman with tattoos.... Read more »

Guéguen, N. (2012) Tattoos, Piercings, and Sexual Activity. Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal, 40(9), 1543-1547. DOI: 10.2224/sbp.2012.40.9.1543  

Nowosielski, K., Sipiński, A., Kuczerawy, I., Kozłowska-Rup, D., & Skrzypulec-Plinta, V. (2012) Tattoos, Piercing, and Sexual Behaviors in Young Adults. The Journal of Sexual Medicine, 9(9), 2307-2314. DOI: 10.1111/j.1743-6109.2012.02791.x  

  • June 20, 2013
  • 10:19 AM

New Improved Allergy-Treatment Developed

by Pieter Carriere in United Academics

Charlie Chaplin once said: “The saddest thing I can imagine is to get used to luxury”. Strikingly, being accustomed to ‘luxurious’ health care in the developed world is associated with more prevalent ‘saddening’ allergic disorders. In the developed world, about 25% of the population suffers from allergic disorders, like hay fever, asthma, eczema and anaphylaxis (which is a life-threatening allergic reaction) (As reviewed by Galli et al., 2008).... Read more »

Dhaliwal B, Yuan D, Pang MO, Henry AJ, Cain K, Oxbrow A, Fabiane SM, Beavil AJ, McDonnell JM, Gould HJ.... (2012) Crystal structure of IgE bound to its B-cell receptor CD23 reveals a mechanism of reciprocal allosteric inhibition with high affinity receptor FcεRI. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 109(31), 12686-91. PMID: 22802656  

Galli, S., Tsai, M., & Piliponsky, A. (2008) The development of allergic inflammation. Nature, 454(7203), 445-454. DOI: 10.1038/nature07204  

Gould, H., & Sutton, B. (2008) IgE in allergy and asthma today. Nature Reviews Immunology, 8(3), 205-217. DOI: 10.1038/nri2273  

Chen BH, Kilmon MA, Ma C, Caven TH, Chan-Li Y, Shelburne AE, Tombes RM, Roush E, & Conrad DH. (2003) Temperature effect on IgE binding to CD23 versus Fc epsilon RI. Journal of immunology (Baltimore, Md. : 1950), 170(4), 1839-45. PMID: 12574349  

  • June 20, 2013
  • 05:20 AM

Lunar Crater Discovery Helps Unlock Moon’s Secrets

by Sunanda Creagh and Francisca Gallardo in United Academics

In a new paper published in the Journal of Geophysical Research: Planets, the researchers described using a technique called “gravity mapping” which tracks the movement of satellites to make calculations about surface terrain. “As a satellite passes over a set of dense lunar rocks, it gets pulled toward the moon, so by tracking its orbit, scientists can deduce the gravity field of the moon. We also looked at the shape of topography and, together with the gravity, made our deduction,” said lead author of the new study, Professor Will Featherstone of Curtin’s Institute for Geoscience Research. “If you have something that looks like an impact basin with a gravity anomaly, then it is likely it really is an impact crater.... Read more »

Featherstone, W., Hirt, C., & Kuhn, M. (2013) Band-limited Bouguer gravity identifies new basins on the Moon. Journal of Geophysical Research: Planets. DOI: 10.1002/jgre.20101  

  • June 19, 2013
  • 11:55 AM

What is Foreign Accent Syndrome?

by Lyndsey Nickels in United Academics

In the past few days, a great deal of media attention has been paid to Leanne Rowe, a Tasmanian woman who has lived eight years with a French accent she acquired after a car accident. This phenomenon is known as foreign accent syndrome, a rare disorder that usually arises after brain damage as a result of, for example, stroke or head injury.

Foreign accent syndrome has always been the source of much media interest and the stories often sound sensational. There has been, for example, an American who spoke with a British accent, a British Yorkshireman with an Irish accent and another British man with a Russian accent.... Read more »

David Stehling. (2009) Foreign Accent Syndrome (FAS): The Speech Characteristics of Foreign Accent Syndrome. Grin. info:/

  • June 19, 2013
  • 10:58 AM

Sons and daughters of same-sex couples grow up as good as in traditional families.

by Simone Munao in United Academics

Sons and daughters of same-sex couples grow up as good as in traditional families. That's what Australian research shows us.... Read more »

  • June 19, 2013
  • 10:36 AM

Kids of Same-Sex Couples Are Just as Happy As Those In Traditional Families

by Simone Munao in United Academics

They live with two mums or two dads, and they are on the same level as their school friends regarding self-esteem, emotional behavior and time spent with their parents. But they seem to have the edge over the average regarding overall health and familiar cohesion. Kids that grow with homosexual couples grow up as good as in traditional families, and even better in some aspects. This seems to be confirmed by a study conducted by a group of researchers of the University of Melbourne on 500 minors living in Australia: member of same-sex families are closer to one another –the research suggests- since they have to face attacks that come from society, digest them and give them an explanation.... Read more »

join us!

Do you write about peer-reviewed research in your blog? Use to make it easy for your readers — and others from around the world — to find your serious posts about academic research.

If you don't have a blog, you can still use our site to learn about fascinating developments in cutting-edge research from around the world.

Register Now

Research Blogging is powered by SMG Technology.

To learn more, visit