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The Extremo Files

Microbes are More Social Than You Think, But Not Always in a Good Way

By Jeffrey Marlow | August 22, 2016 7:15 am

Microorganisms may seem like simple beings, miniscule entities floating through a flash-in-the-pan existence. And yet, despite their diminutive size and limited genomes, microbes live remarkably social lives, by turns shunning, attacking, embracing, and ignoring their neighbors. In a recent article in Nature Reviews Microbiology, Carey Nadell, Knut Drescher, and Kevin Foster highlight these interactions, focusing on the fraught dynamics of biofilms.

Biofilms are dense, coherent communitie …

CATEGORIZED UNDER: environment, living world, top posts

Seriously, Science?

In beetles, it's the female genitalia that need to be hard.

By Seriously Science | August 22, 2016 6:00 am

It’s well known that human sperm have a long way to travel in the female body if they are going to fertilize an egg. But that’s nothing compared to the tortuous path taken by the sperm of leaf beetles. Female leaf beetles have a spiral-shaped tube through which the sperm must travel, including turn reversals to make this maze even trickier (the “spermathecal duct”). So, how do these beetles ever get lucky? Well, according to this research, it’s all about hardness… of the female! The female …

CATEGORIZED UNDER: fun with animals, Sex & Mating


What To Do About Software Errors in fMRI?

By Neuroskeptic | August 21, 2016 4:49 am

Last month we learned that a problem in commonly used fMRI analysis tools was giving rise to elevated rates of false positives. Now, another issue has been discovered in an fMRI tool. The affected software is called GingerALE and the ‘implementation errors’ are revealed in a new paper by Simon B. Eickhoff et al., the developers of the package.

GingerALE is a meta-analysis tool, that offers the ability to combine the results of multiple fMRI studies to assess the overall level of evide …


An Alaskan Village Prepares to Move As the Sea Encroaches

By Nathaniel Scharping | August 19, 2016 2:27 pm

A small Alaskan village near the Arctic Circle has voted to pack up and move as its island slips into the sea due to climate change.

Despite the grim circumstances, the vote among villagers was close, with 89 supporting a move and 78 opposing it. The nearly even split speaks to the difficulty of severing ties with a place that has harbored family generations for over four centuries, providing shelter, sustenance and comfort in a place reachable only by boat, plane and sometimes snowmobil …



Space science from balloons

By Liz Kruesi | August 19, 2016 1:46 pm

Most of the space news we hear about comes out of the biggest ground-based telescopes and the observatories launched into space. I admit, I’m guilty of focusing on these sorts of news, too. The biggest and most expensive projects are often equipped to touch on a broader amount of science. (Hubble, for example, has cost billions but astronomers have used it consistently for 25 years to study everything from the atmospheres of planets orbiting other stars to the oldest and most-distant galax …



The Brain That Goes Through Phases: Temporal Metastates in fMRI

By Neuroskeptic | August 19, 2016 1:42 pm

Do you ever feel like your brain is stuck in a rut? A new study from neuroscientists James M. Shine and colleagues reveals the existence of ‘temporal metastates’ in human brain activity. These metastates are modes or patterns of activity that can persist over days, weeks or even months at a time, and they seem to be related to fluctuations in energy levels and attention.

The authors made use of a unique fMRI dataset, namely the results of repeated scanning of neuroscientist Russ Poldrack’s br …

CATEGORIZED UNDER: fMRI, mental health, papers, select, Top Posts

Seriously, Science?

Flashback Friday: The case of the girl who sneezed 2,000 times a day.

By Seriously Science | August 19, 2016 6:00 am

We’ve heard of intractable hiccups (which can be cured, FYI, by digital rectal massage), but here’s a new one: intractable sneezing. This article reports the case of a young girl who sneezed up to 2,000 times a day for 3 months. She did not get better despite being seen by numerous doctors and being treated with everything from antihistamines to corticosteroids, leading the doctors to believe it was probably psychological. Or maybe she was just allergic to sneezing?

Factitious sneezing.


This past July was the hottest of 1,639 months on record

By Tom Yulsman | August 18, 2016 9:37 pm

July 2016 also was the 379th consecutive month with temperatures above the 20th century average

Even though the El Niño warming episode is over, Earth’s heat streak is continuing. Big time.

Both NASA and NOAA have released their verdicts for global temperatures in July (NASA’s here, and NOAA’s here). And both concur that it was the hottest such month on record.

Since July is typically the warmest month of the year globally, that means it was the hottest of all 1,639 months on reco …


Where Fish Pee, Corals Grow

By Nathaniel Scharping | August 18, 2016 3:16 pm

There’s something in the water around coral reefs. And that something is fish pee. Although you may cringe at the thought of swimming through clouds of urine, coral reefs wouldn’t be the same without fishes’ urinary benevolence.

Fish excretion may be the furthest thing from your mind as you swim through a vibrant coral reef, but it a plays a vital, though underappreciated, role in supporting the diversity of life under the sea. That’s because it contains two important elements: nitroge …

MORE ABOUT: animals, ecology

Dead Things

Iceman: Dressed to Kill

By Gemma Tarlach | August 18, 2016 8:00 am

Ötzi the Iceman is the gift that keeps giving. The 5,300 year-old mummy has been the focus of more than a thousand published papers since his discovery in the Italian Alps in 1991. Scientists have analyzed his wounds, his gut contents, his tattoos and even his preserved red blood cells. And today, researchers reveal the animal origins of his kit and kicks.

Turns out our man Ötzi wouldn’t wear just any old thing: He was rocking a haute (altitude) couture ensemble made from several diff …

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Living World, top posts

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