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Seriously, Science?

Flashback Friday: The purpose of yawning might be to cool your brain.

By Seriously Science | April 29, 2016 6:00 am

Wondering what’s been going on lately in the field of chasmology (the scientific study of yawning)? Well, we still don’t really understand why people yawn, but we can add another contender to the list of theories: brain cooling. In this study, the authors showed subjects photos of people yawning to determine their susceptibility to “yawn contagion.” They found that the subjects were more likely to “catch” yawns in the summer compared with the winter. Although there are a number of things tha …

A fictional idea for a smart contact lens in the film "Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol." Credit: Paramount Pictures

Lovesick Cyborg

Google Patent Reveals Vision for Cyborg Eye Implant

By Jeremy Hsu | April 28, 2016 2:32 pm

Google has a vision for cyborg eyes that goes well beyond the idea of smart contact lenses. The Alphabet-owned company filed a patent on the idea of replacing the human eye’s natural lens with an electronic lens implant. Such a cyborg eye implant could replace normal eyesight functions and correct for eyesight problems. But the concept’s existence also hints at future possibilities for putting the capabilities of a smart contact lens directly inside the eye.

The Google patent applicati …

CATEGORIZED UNDER: technology, top posts, Uncategorized

Citizen Science Salon

Methods Matter: Citizen Science Techniques For Exploring Our World

By Arvind Suresh (Editor) | April 28, 2016 2:00 pm

Citizen Science Techniques

Each of the thousands of citizen science projects are unique, yet many rely on similar techniques and methods.

Below, we highlight five that use some of the most popular methods including: the use of low cost, portable sensors; bioblitzes; bird banding; standardized surveys; and photography.

Find more than 1,600 projects and events in the SciStarter Global Project Finder.

The SciStarter Team


Seriously, Science?

Could the color of your bedspread actually attract bedbugs?

By Seriously Science | April 28, 2016 6:00 am

Plagued by bedbugs? Just want to avoid them in the first place? Well, listen up: apparently, bedbugs have very specific color preferences when it comes time to choosing their hiding places. In this study, the authors put bedbugs in dishes containing tent-like “harborages” of different colors (see figure below — the tents are actually kind of cute). They then allowed individual bedbugs to choose a tent and recorded which color each one chose. Turns out that the bugs are big fans of red and b …

CATEGORIZED UNDER: fun with animals


The Neural Precursors of Spontaneous Thoughts

By Neuroskeptic | April 28, 2016 2:46 am

Back in 2013, I wondered if we would ever discover the neural basis of spontaneous thoughts. Why, I asked, do certain ideas just “pop” into our minds at particular times? Now a new paper published in Neuroimage, Canadian neuroscientists Melissa Ellamil and colleagues examines this issue.

Ellamil et al. recruited a group of 18 volunteers, all of whom were highly experienced practitioners of mindfulness meditation. These individuals were selected, the authors say, because they are better at …

CATEGORIZED UNDER: fMRI, papers, philosophy, select, Top Posts

Body Horrors

Polio in the Cancer Ward

By Rebecca Kreston | April 27, 2016 9:25 pm

The New England Journal of Medicine recently published a short letter on two cases of vaccine-derived polio infection that arose in a German pediatric cancer ward three years ago. Two severely immunocompromised girls from the Middle East – one from Libya and the other from Saudi Arabia – had traveled with their families seeking specialized medical treatment in Germany.

A five-month old girl, known as Patient 1 in the article, required a bone marrow transplant for severe combined immunodefic …


Rafting Ants Have Designated Stations

By Elizabeth Preston | April 27, 2016 1:23 pm

Sometimes at the climax of a Star Trek episode, the captain would yell out “Battle stations!” and send the crew scurrying frantically through the corridors. It wasn’t really clear what those battle stations were. Presumably, crew members headed to posts they’d been previously assigned, and this let the whole ship react to the crisis efficiently.

Certain ants respond to a crisis by binding their bodies together into floating rafts. And like the Star Trek crew, they seem to have desi …

CATEGORIZED UNDER: ants, bugs, networks, physics, top posts


Train-Rattling Peacocks Are Biomechanical Wonders

By Carl Engelking | April 27, 2016 1:00 pm

When you see a peacock shake a train feather, you’re watching finely tuned natural engineering at work.

When a peacock wants to woo a peahen, he unfurls his glorious, iridescent feathers and furiously vibrates them in what’s called a “train-rattling” display. The vibrations make the bird’s signature eyespots appear to float, motionless atop a swirling sea of wispy feather barbs.

In his book on sexual selection, Darwin believed peacocks vibrated their colorful tails “merely …

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Living World, top posts
MORE ABOUT: animals, evolution


Dogs and Hugs May Not Mix

By Nathaniel Scharping | April 27, 2016 12:47 pm

It’s hard to resist wrapping your arms around a furry pup, but our well-intentioned hugs might be stressing dogs out.

While it’s natural for us to demonstrate caring by wrapping our arms around our companions, such behavior is likely activating a primal stress response in dogs, says Stanley Coren, a professor of psychology at the University of British Columbia who specializes in canine psychology.

When it comes time to choose between fighting and fleeing in a stressful situation, dog …

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Living World, Mind & Brain, top posts
MORE ABOUT: animals, psychology

The Extremo Files

Can Start-up Culture Save Government?

By Jeffrey Marlow | April 27, 2016 7:42 am

It’s a perennial challenge for institutions of any size, the balance between nimbleness and scale. Start-ups can adapt quickly, changing course to keep up with users’ shifting behavior or to take advantage of the latest technology. Larger organizations have broader reach, but are notoriously slow to adapt; changes can potentially threaten a strong, longstanding foundation. But can there be a middle ground? Is it possible for established organizations, particularly in the public sector, t …


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