Latest Blog Posts


New Type of Drug Shows Promise in Battling Obesity

By Kiona Smith-Strickland | May 21, 2015 11:10 am

Thunder God Vine is a thoroughly deadly plant: Its flowers, leaves, and roots are all highly toxic. But new research suggests that a compound found in its roots could be a brand-new approach to treat obesity.

A compound called Celastrol, found in the roots of Thunder God Vine, may increase the body’s sensitivity to hormones that help fight obesity, according to new research. Mice given oral doses of Celastrol lost an average of about 45 percent of their body weight – and they lost bod …

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Health & Medicine, top posts


VIDEO: Time-Lapse of a Bee's Birth, From Egg to Adult, in 60 Seconds

By Carl Engelking | May 21, 2015 9:45 am

Watching a wriggling, translucent egg transform into a full-grown bee in 60 seconds is certainly amazing.

But there’s a deeper purpose behind this unprecedented video produced by photographer Anand Varma. He partnered with the bee lab at the University of California, Davis, to visually document the first 21 days of a bee’s life in order to better understand what’s making them disappear in alarming numbers. You see, one of the biggest threats to bee colonies today is a tiny parasitic …

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Living World, top posts

The Crux

The Darker Side of the 'Love Hormone'

By S Craig Roberts, University of Stirling | May 21, 2015 9:40 am

A decade ago, a revolutionary paper showed that a hormone called oxytocin can actually make us trust other people. This spawned a flurry of research that revealed oxytocin’s potential to boost social interactions. Now a new study has shown that the hormone is actually very similar to alcohol, a well-known social lubricant. However, just like alcohol, it has a dark side.

In the first study, published in 2005, volunteers were asked to invest money in an anonymous trustee whose honesty cou …

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Mind & Brain, Top Posts
MORE ABOUT: sex & reproduction

Out There

Space Junk is a Problem. Is a Laser Cannon the Solution?

By Corey S. Powell | May 20, 2015 4:14 pm

There’s a general rule in media reporting called Betteridge’s Law: Whenever a headline poses a question–especially a sensational one–the answer is “no.” I’m going to break the law this time. An orbiting laser cannon is not only an intriguing technology but, yes, it’s one of the most promising ways to clean up the ever-thickening cloud of dangerous debris surrounding the Earth.

And just to be clear, space junk is a danger. There are about 25,000 human-made objects larger than …


Video Games May Have Negative Effects on the Brain

By Ben Thomas | May 20, 2015 4:06 pm

Video games are a favored target for various kinds of hand-wringing, about things as diverse as obesity, ADHD, and violence. In many cases the evidence is scant. Now, another item has been added to that list.

A small study has found that people who play action games on a regular basis may undergo brain changes associated with certain kinds of neurological and psychiatric disorders. If this linkage holds up under scrutiny, it could mean that gamers are putting their minds at risk.

Nav …

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Mind & Brain, top posts


Why Some Bugs Are Attracted to the Wrong Species

By Elizabeth Preston | May 20, 2015 9:18 am

The squash bug mating orgies that biologist Christine Miller began noticing in gardens around Gainesville were nothing unusual. Dozens of insects were crowded together, the petite males along with the bulkier females, to search for partners. The unusual thing was that some males were copulating with females of the wrong species—apparently, they found them irresistible.

When Jen Hamel arrived at Miller’s University of Florida lab to do her postdoctoral research, she took up the myste …


What Can "Lived Experience" Teach Neuroscientists?

By Neuroskeptic | May 20, 2015 7:06 am

A provocative paper says that neuroscientists who research mental health problems ought to listen to the views of people who have experienced those conditions.

The piece, from Australian authors Anthony Stratford and colleagues, is published in The Psychiatric Quarterly.

Here are some highlights:
Traditionally, mental health consumer [i.e. patient] involvement in research activities has largely been as “subjects”… the passive recipients of research activity… This approach does lit …

Citizen Science Salon

Is There a Community Lab Near You? Find Lab Space, Equipment, and Training in Your Area!

By Guest | May 20, 2015 5:29 am

Do you want to explore, invent, design, or create something but don’t have the facilities to do so? Do you want to learn more about biotechnology, science, and laboratory safety? Community labs may be the perfect fit for you!

Community labs are rapidly spreading throughout the world. Our editors highlight five, below.

People often pay a membership fee to join and gain access to the lab’s space, community, equipment, materials and guidance. Members join existing projec …

MORE ABOUT: community labs

Drone 360

Foldable Drone Fits in Your Pocket

By Carl Engelking | May 19, 2015 3:57 pm

But does it fit in your pocket?

This simple question is an oft-used standard to determine the utility of our high-tech devices. What good is a cell phone that doesn’t fit in your pocket? Now, it appears, drones are yet another class of gadget that has achieved the coveted pocket-sized standard of excellence.

Researchers at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology created a minuscule folding quadcopter that can outstretch its arms and get airborne within one second. The entire thing, …


The Crux

This Robotic Octopus Arm Could Someday Be Your Surgeon

By Kaspar Althoefer, King's College London | May 19, 2015 12:05 pm

The unparalleled motion and manipulation abilities of soft-bodied animals such as the octopus have intrigued biologists for many years. How can an animal that has no bones transform its tentacles from a soft state to a one stiff enough to catch and even kill prey?

A group of scientists and engineers has attempted to answer this question in order to replicate the abilities of an octopus tentacle in a robotic surgical tool. Last week, members of this EU-funded project known as STIFF-FLOP (STI …

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Technology, Top Posts

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