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D-brief

Music: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

By Mark Barna | June 26, 2017 12:12 pm

Our lives are awash in tunes. Songs are blasted through the radio, piped into supermarkets, they waft through the air at public gatherings and soundtracks can make or break a blockbuster movie.

Humans seem obsessed with melody and rhythm. But when did it begin in hominin history? What purpose does it fulfill? And does music have a dark side?

The first bands started gigging at least tens of thousands of years. Archaeologists have found 40,000-year-old flutes carved from bird bones. The  …

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Living World, top posts
MORE ABOUT: human origins
Cooper Cavalier SciStarter 2.0

Citizen Science Salon

Why "SciStarter is excellent for citizen science."

By Darlene Cavalier | June 24, 2017 11:31 am

Well thank you for the kind words, Pietro Michelucci (founder of EyesOnALZ, a crowdsourcing platform designed to accelerate Alzheimer’s research). Pietro is one of 15 project and platform partners we’ve been working with to test and deploy a suite of new citizen science tools.

For the past two years, thanks to support from the National Science Foundation, the SciStarter team has been hard at work building tools, partnerships, and methodologies to help connect millions of citizen scientists to …

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Uncategorized

D-brief

Sex Sells? No, It Doesn't

By Carl Engelking | June 23, 2017 1:41 pm

Chiseled abs and bikinis can sell just about anything, right? According to the minds behind those Carl’s Jr. ads—and countless others—you’d think that’d be true.

This idea that “sex sells” has hung around for more than a century, and by this point it’s almost accepted as a doctrine. And those are exactly the types of claims researchers love putting to the test.

John Wirtz, an advertising professor at the University of Illinois, conducted a meta-analysis of 78 peer-revie …

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Living World, top posts
MORE ABOUT: psychology

Science Sushi

Forget The Sharks: How 47 Meters Down Fails Dive Science

By Christie Wilcox | June 23, 2017 12:12 pm

This is a guest post by Jake Buehler, who just so happens to be an AAUS certified scientific diver as well as a science writer based in the Seattle area. He blogs over at Sh*t You Didn’t Know About Biology, which is full of his “unrepentantly celebratory insights into life on Earth’s under-appreciated, under-acknowledged, and utterly amazing stories.”

 

Summer is finally here in the Northern Hemisphere. The days are long, the weather is warm, and the water is inviting. It’s a …

CATEGORIZED UNDER: More Science, select, Top Posts

D-brief

Massive, 'Dead' Galaxy Puzzles Astronomers

By Alison Klesman | June 23, 2017 10:38 am

Objects in the distant universe appear small and difficult to see – unless they’re sitting behind a cosmic magnifying glass.

That’s exactly the case for MACS 2129-1, a galaxy lensed by a massive foreground galaxy cluster. Using the Hubble Space Telescope, astronomers have managed to catch a glimpse of this unusual object, which appears to be an old, “dead” galaxy that’s already stopped making new stars just a few billion years after the Big Bang. Not only is this galaxy finish …

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Space & Physics, top posts
MORE ABOUT: cosmology

Seriously, Science?

Flashback Friday: Scientists determine what makes a good-looking penis.

By Seriously Science | June 23, 2017 6:00 am

Is there such a thing as an ugly penis? How about a pretty one? These researchers set out to determine what features are most important for a “good-looking” dong (with a specific application to men who had surgery to correct a penile birth defect). To do so, they had over 100 women rate photos of normal and surgically corrected penises, as well as complete a survey about which features of penile appearance were most important to them. The result? “General cosmetic appearance” and “appearanc …

CATEGORIZED UNDER: penis Friday

D-brief

Why Do Bird Eggs Come in So Many Shapes?

By Carl Engelking | June 22, 2017 4:18 pm

When something is described as egg-shaped, the ubiquitous hen’s egg typically comes to mind. But for birds, eggs come in myriad shapes: owl eggs look like ping-pong balls, hummingbird eggs are shaped like jelly beans, swift eggs are pointed at one end like a pear.

So what’s the reason?

Biologists have been asking that question for quite some time, and their hypotheses are perhaps just as varied as the eggs themselves. Scientists in the past have concluded that cliff-dwelling birds la …

CATEGORIZED UNDER: top posts
MORE ABOUT: animals

D-brief

A Better Touch Screen, Inspired by Moth Eyes

By Sylvia Morrow | June 22, 2017 1:47 pm

Moth eyes and lotus leaves may be important to the future of touch screens.

Researchers from the University of Central Florida and National Taiwan University designed an anti-reflective coating that was inspired by moth eyes. The coating reflects about 10 times less light than the best anti-glare technique in commercial use.
Optical Properties
The ability to see your phone’s display is a competition between display brightness and reflected ambient light. Relying on extra bright screen …

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Space & Physics, top posts
MORE ABOUT: physics

Seriously, Science?

Parrot "laughter" is contagious.

By Seriously Science | June 22, 2017 6:00 am

Instead of parroting the author’s own words (below), we will leave you with a video showing the contagious laughter-like vocalization of Kea parrots. We hope it doesn’t ruffle any feathers.

Positive emotional contagion in a New Zealand parrot.

“Positive emotional contagions are outwardly emotive actions that spread from one individual to another, such as glee in preschool children or laughter in humans of all ages. The play vocalizations of some animals may also act as emotional co …

D-brief

Physicists Tackle the Wobbly Suitcase Problem

By Nathaniel Scharping | June 21, 2017 12:11 pm

Rolling luggage is both a blessing and a curse for hurried travelers. While we no longer need gym-toned biceps to heft our sundries through the airport, the slightest misstep can send a two-wheeled suitcase rocking and spinning into an uncontrollable disaster. Now, scientists think they know why rolling suitcases are so annoyingly unsteady at exactly the wrong times.

French researchers, writing in the Proceedings of the Royal Society A, say that the problem comes down to simple physics. …

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Space & Physics, top posts
MORE ABOUT: physics
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