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Seriously, Science?

People expect good scientists to be less attractive.

By Seriously Science | May 25, 2017 6:00 am

Scientists are the subject of many stereotypes, from the mad scientist to the goofy nerd. What these all have in common, of course, is that they are generally not very attractive. So it’s probably not too surprising that this study found that people judge the quality of a scientist’s research by his/her facial appearance. More specifically, when it comes to science communication, “Apparent competence and morality were positively related to both interest and quality judgments, whereas attractiven …

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Uncategorized

D-brief

Seed Beetles Are Locked in a Brutal 'Sexual Arms Race'

By Carl Engelking | May 24, 2017 3:07 pm

Cowpea seed beetle sex is complicated.

During copulation, the male seed beetle, Callosobruchus maculatus, uses his sharp, spiky penis to damage females’ reproductive tract while depositing sperm. All the while, the female vigorously kicks at her suitor—it hurts! As studies have shown, males with longer, harmful penis spikes enjoy more reproductive success, to the detriment of their partner’s health.

But the process of evolution has a way of balancing the scales. In a new study, L …

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Living World, top posts

D-brief

With Improvements, Humanity's 'Doomsday' Seed Vault Is Safe, Probably

By Nathaniel Scharping | May 24, 2017 2:43 pm

Just nine years after its official opening, the Svalbard Global Seed Vault in Norway is undergoing renovations to protect it from climate change.

The work was prompted by accidental flooding that took place last week, as melting permafrost seeped into the vault’s access corridor. While the seeds were in no danger, the flooding is nevertheless a worrying sign at a facility meant to endure the worst this planet can throw at it.

The list of vault improvements includes a ditch to divert m …

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Environment, top posts

D-brief

Conquering the ICU atop Mt. Everest

By Nathaniel Scharping | May 24, 2017 12:03 pm

A trek to base camp at Mount Everest will leave you short of breath in a hurry.

A push to the summit begins in thin air, 17,000 feet above sea level — higher than any peak in the Rocky Mountains. Once you reach the “Death Zone,” above 26,000 feet, oxygen levels drop to a third of what they are at sea level. Few climbers reach the summit, which rises 29,029 feet above sea level, without bottled oxygen.

To acclimate their bodies to diminishing oxygen levels, climbers ascend Mt. Eve …

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Health & Medicine
MORE ABOUT: personal health

Neuroskeptic

Unreliability of fMRI Emotional Biomarkers

By Neuroskeptic | May 24, 2017 9:21 am

Brain responses to emotion stimuli are highly variable even within the same individual, and this could be a problem for researchers who seek to use these responses as biomarkers to help diagnose and treat disorders such as depression.

That’s according to a new paper in Neuroimage, from University College London neuroscientists Camilla Nord and colleagues.

Nord et al. had 29 volunteers perform three tasks during fMRI scanning. All of the tasks involved pictures of emotional faces, which …

CATEGORIZED UNDER: fMRI, papers, select, Top Posts

Science Sushi

Death From Below: Invasive Lionfish Lurking in Deep Reefs, Sending Hungry Reinforcements to the Shallows

By Christie Wilcox | May 23, 2017 6:01 pm

In the last few decades, scientists have come to appreciate the incredible creatures living on the reefs that lie just below conventional diving limits in what is called the mesophotic zone. These incredible biodiversity hotspots are home to more endemic species than shallower reefs, and conservationists are hopeful they may serve as refuges—pockets of relatively pristine habitat out of reach of anthropogenic stressors—where species under threat from pollution, overfishing, and even the …

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Ecology, More Science, select, Top Posts

D-brief

Why Do Flamingos Stand on One Leg?

By Charles Choi | May 23, 2017 6:01 pm

Flamingos are striking not only for their brilliant pink plumes, but for how they often stand on a single slender leg, even when asleep.

Now scientists find that standing on one leg may counter-intuitively require less effort for flamingos than standing on two. It’s a finding that could help lead to more stable legged robots and better prosthetic legs.
The One-Legged Problem
One prior explanation for the mystery of why flamingos stand on one leg is that it conserved body heat, as doing  …

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

Citizen Science Salon

Book Review: Citizen Science, How Ordinary People are Changing the Face of Discovery

By Guest | May 23, 2017 3:24 pm

By Dr. Ashley Rose Mehlenbacher

Caren Cooper. (2016). Citizen Science: How Ordinary People Are Changing the Face of Discovery. Overlook Press: New York, NY. $28.95.

While publications proliferate on the subject of citizen science, an introduction to inform and delight all readers has been conspicuously absent until Caren Cooper’s new book, Citizen Science: How Ordinary People Are Changing the Face of Discovery hit the shelves this spring. In the pages of Citizen Science we find compellin …

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Citizen Science

Inkfish

Agar Art Contest Winners Grow Masterpieces with Microbes

By Elizabeth Preston | May 22, 2017 9:16 pm

No matter how flamboyant your shower curtain mold is, it couldn’t have competed with the fungus that won this year’s Agar Art contest.

This is the third year the American Society for Microbiology has run the contest, asking for “works that are at their core an organism(s) growing on agar.” The artwork can be any kind of microbe colonizing any size or shape of petri dish. This year’s winner, Jasmine Temple, used yeast to create this image of a sunset over the water:

Temple is a lab …

MORE ABOUT: Microbes & viruses

D-brief

Mice Born from Freeze-dried Space Sperm Are Doing OK

By Nathaniel Scharping | May 22, 2017 2:00 pm

Before they were born, these mice were astronauts. Or, rather, the sperm that would go on to deliver half of their genetic material were.

For nine months, mouse sperm was kept aboard the International Space Station, freeze-dried to preserve it. Brought back to Earth, the sperm was rehydrated, introduced to an egg and allowed to divide for about 20 days. The resulting mouse pups carry the distinction of having traveled perhaps the farthest distance ever on their way to being born.
Sperm I …

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