Latest Blog Posts


How to Build an Ant Bridge: Start Small

By Elizabeth Preston | November 27, 2015 2:43 pm

You know when you’re out walking with a big horde of your friends and you come to a chasm you can’t step across, so a bunch of you clasp each other’s limbs and make yourselves into a bridge for the rest to walk on?


Eciton army ants do this. And they’re not the only ants that build incredible structures out of their strong, near-weightless bodies. Weaver ants make chains between leaves by holding onto each other’s waists. Fire ants cling together to form rafts and survive f …

MORE ABOUT: Animals, Physics


Real Data Are Messy

By Neuroskeptic | November 27, 2015 6:29 am

Over at the sometimes i’m wrong blog, psychologist Michael Inzlicht tells A Tale of Two Papers.

Inzlicht describes how, as associate editor at the Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, he rejected a certain manuscript. He did so despite the fact that the peer review reports had been very positive. The article reported 7 studies, all of which found nice, statistically significant evidence for the hypothesis in question.

So why reject it? Because, to Inzlicht, it was just too good …

Seriously, Science?

Flashback Friday: Women’s preference for male body hair changes across the menstrual cycle.

By Seriously Science | November 27, 2015 6:00 am

 After the popularity of Wednesday’s beard post, we couldn’t resist sharing this oldie-but-goodie for Flashback Friday. Enjoy!

It’s widely accepted that most women don’t like men with lots of body hair. But does this preference have a biological basis, or is it a result of cultural conditioning? In this study, Finnish scientists showed women “pictures of male torsos before and after the removal of body hair” and asked them to rate the attractiveness of each photo. They also polle …

Science Sushi

Trading Turkey for Turkeyfish: A Holiday Proposal

By Christie Wilcox | November 26, 2015 4:18 pm

If you live in the United States, then odds are that today, you’re eating turkey. It’s Thanksgiving — that’s what we Americans do. Some fifty million turkeys are consumed in the states every year on Thanksgiving, keeping with a centuries-old tradition started by the first Europeans to come to this land. But the land has changed since the pilgrims shot their first wild turkey; forests have been clear-cut, making way for agricultural fields and urban centers. Rivers have been dammed and diverted …

Out There

What I'm Thankful For: The Science and Technology Edition

By Corey S. Powell | November 26, 2015 3:16 pm

It can feel inappropriate celebrating the exploration of the universe while the media are saturated with grim stories about warfare, terrorism, and other forms of human suffering. The issue boils down to matters of sensitivity and propriety: How can you talk about something so theoretical and remote when there are so many problems all around us? I wrote a column on this theme last year, and it feels especially timely right now as I (like so many other Americans) am stepping back to think abo …

The Crux

The Psychological Benefits of Thanksgiving Rituals

By Barbara Fiese, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; Anne Fishel, Harvard Medical School; Bill Doherty, University of Minnesota; Janine Roberts, University of Massachusetts Amherst | November 26, 2015 11:33 am

When Americans gather together around a table groaning with favorite dishes on the fourth Thursday of November, what are we doing beyond filling our bellies with turkey and pie? We convened four experts in the psychology of family traditions and shared meals for a roundtable discussion about what ritual means in the context of Thanksgiving.

Anne Fishel, psychologist and author of Home for Dinner: I think of Thanksgiving as the mother of all family dinners. As a ritual, it has all the  …

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Mind & Brain, Top Posts
MORE ABOUT: psychology


Do We Need A Neuroscience of Terrorism?

By Neuroskeptic | November 25, 2015 2:46 pm

In the Boston Herald, we read that
Little is currently known about the neurological pathways of terrorism – the inner workings of a brain that can justify random violence to promote an abstract, extreme belief… there has been no neuroimaging done to examine terrorist brain activity at play.

This lack of neuroscientific knowledge is a problem, we’re told, because
“[terrorism is] like with cancer: The more you know about it, the more you start to understand the process of it, the ea …

The Crux

5 Extreme Examples of Evolutionary Prowess

By Marla Broadfoot | November 25, 2015 11:00 am

Hidden among us are survivors – living, breathing beings that have pulled off some pretty remarkable feats in order to live another day. They can be found ambling through the moss beneath our feet, drifting in our oceans and our streams, even stuck in the local pet store or on the subway. You just have to know where to look.

These creatures give clues into how we could withstand extreme conditions, regrow damaged tissue or missing limbs, turn back the hands of time, guard ourselves from …

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Living World, Top Posts

Seriously, Science?

Men with beards are more likely to be sexist.

By Seriously Science | November 25, 2015 6:00 am

Despite the recent popularity of beards, facial hair can be controversial: as we’ve previously shown, it makes men less likely to get hired and more likely to be seen as guilty by a jury. Well, all you beard-haters out there, here’s some more ammunition for you. In this study, researchers surveyed men from the USA and India on both their facial hair and their attitudes towards women. They found that men with beards were more likely to be sexist, and they hypothesized that men who have sexi …

Body Horrors

HIV, the New Chronic Illness

By Rebecca Kreston | November 24, 2015 4:57 pm

Just thirty-odd years ago, a HIV diagnosis was a death sentence. Advances in pharmaceuticals and in our understanding of the mechanisms of HIV infection mean that today it is a manageable, chronic disease on par with diabetes, hypertension, and cardiovascular disease. People with HIV are living longer, and a graph recently published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows that in the United States the average age at death from HIV infection has dramatically increased since  …


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