Latest Blog Posts


Winter is Coming, and Hamsters Are Getting Feisty

By Janine Anderson | November 19, 2015 2:30 pm

What makes female Siberian hamsters ready to duke it out in the winter? Melatonin.
The same hormone gaining popularity as a natural sleep aid plays a major role in seasonal aggression in female hamsters, according to new research. The study, published this week in the Proceedings of the Royal Academy B, is a collaboration between the Indiana University Bloomington College of Arts and Sciences’ departments of Biology and Psychological and Brain Sciences.
And just as a reminder: Winter  …

Seriously, Science?

Having sex more than once a week doesn't make you any happier.

By Seriously Science | November 19, 2015 9:51 am

Conventional wisdom suggests that having sex more often should lead to greater happiness–after all, as John Updike said (at least according to this article) “Sex is like money; only too much is enough.” Well, these authors set out to test whether that’s actually true. By studying the results of nationwide surveys and using Amazon’s Mechanical Turk, they found that sex does make people happier…up to once a week, and only if they’re in a relationship. More often than that, and the effect p …


For the First Time, Astronomers Witness a Planet's Birth

By Shannon Stirone | November 18, 2015 4:04 pm

A fledgling star system is giving astronomers the cosmic version of the “birds and the bees talk.”

For the first time astronomers directly observed a planet growing in its very early stages of life, and that’s quite a rare find: Of the nearly 1,900 planets discovered outside of our solar system the infant planet, known as LkCa 15 b, is the only one known to be forming as you read this. It’s a first-of-its-kind opportunity to study a planet in this stage early of development.
The  …

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Space & Physics, top posts


Pigeon Pathologists Know Cancer When They See It

By Carl Engelking | November 18, 2015 1:00 pm

Would you rather have a human or pigeons scrutinize medical images to detect the presence of cancer?

At first blush, it seems like an absurd question. But if you went out on a limb and chose pigeons, their diagnoses, surprisingly, would rival a human’s in accuracy.

In a thought-provoking study, researchers trained pigeons to look at anatomical images and distinguish between benign and malignant breast tissue. After about 14 days on the job, a pigeon flying solo could scope out cancer …

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Living World, Mind & Brain, top posts

Seriously, Science?

Study finds that men are less likely to help a woman with a ponytail.

By Seriously Science | November 18, 2015 6:00 am

Several studies have found that men tend to view women with long hair as more attractive. But for some reason, no one has tested how a woman’s hairstyle affects men’s responses…until now. Enter our trusty friend Nicolas Guéguen and his band of female confederates. Guéguen had the women walk down the street with their hair in different styles (loose, ponytail, or bun) and pretend to accidentally drop a glove. They found that men (but not women) were more likely to help the women with thei …


NASA data confirm: Global warming in October obliterated previous record for the month

By Tom Yulsman | November 17, 2015 8:33 pm

NASA is out with its monthly analysis of global surface temperatures, and the verdict is unsettling: This past month positively obliterated the previous record for warmest October.

The global average temperature in October according to NASA’s analysis was 1.04 degrees C warmer than the long-term average for the month. The previous record of 0.86 degrees C was set in October of last year.

This corroborates the picture drawn by data released a couple of days ago by the Japan Meteorolo …


Five Animals That Would Be Better Off Nameless

By Elizabeth Preston | November 17, 2015 2:23 pm

Names like “giraffe” and “jerboa” are nice and snappy, but what are you supposed to do when you’re a naturalist trying to name yet another smallish rodent or brownish beetle?

Sometimes all the good options are already taken. At other times, humans have named animals based only on their usefulness to us. Whatever the reason, here are a few species that got a bum deal.

Edible dormouse

Poor Glis glis. The chubby little rodent got its common name because the ancient Romans c …

The Crux

Taming the New Frontiers in Gene Editing

By Sarah Scoles | November 17, 2015 1:10 pm

The world’s most powerful gene-editing tool, CRISPR-Cas9, gives humans the ability to swap out sections of the genome with less money and time than ever before. That’s a lot of power, and with great power comes great responsibility.

But right now, most of the world doesn’t have regulations about what scientists — and someday, hobbyists — can and can’t do to the double helix. In China, scientists have used CRISPR-Cas9 to modify human embryos. And that has left the rest of the w …


Earth Art: 'Delicate fingerprints of water'

By Tom Yulsman | November 17, 2015 12:46 pm

I spotted this stunning image on Instagram this morning, and I just had to share it. Make sure to click on it to see an enlarged version.

Shot by NASA astronaut Kjell Lindgren aboard the International Space Station on Nov. 11, 2015, it shows a desert region of Oman dissected in a beautiful filagree pattern by dry water-courses.

On Twitter, Lindgren described it this way: “The delicate fingerprints of water imprinted on the sand. The #StoryOfWater.”

For the exact location of this sp …

The Crux

The Brain Has a Blind Spot for 'Unknown Unknowns'

By Rob Brotherton | November 17, 2015 9:00 am

A conspiracy theory is an invitation to an exciting alternative reality where nothing is quite as it seems. There is fun to be had defying conventional wisdom, sifting through signs, uncovering lost knowledge and secret plots. But we don’t generally believe stuff just for the fun of it. For us to really believe something it has to seem plausible.

How can we be so sure that our journey off the intellectual beaten path and down twisting trails of conspiracy theory has led us to the truth, w …

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

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