A New Home for Your Weird-Science Fix

By Lisa Raffensperger | May 3, 2013 5:33 pm

Blog posts from the perhaps-inscrutably-named but nonetheless hilarious NCBI ROFL have been a mainstay of DISCOVER’s site for years now. What’s not to love about the authors’ explication of why a smile conceals more than a poker face, whether Gollum suffers from multiple personality disorder, or how one girl apparently got pregnant via oral sex?

That’s why we’ve decided to give them their own space.

Discoblog will be retiring, and NCBI ROFL will be taking on a new identity: “Seriously, Science?” Because it’s not just ROFL science in their sights, but interesting, crazy and weird science that gets you thinking, blushing, or scratching your head. The new-and-improved version is already up and running with a post about how the sound of vomiting affects your moral judgements—so click over and check it out now! And while you’re at it, update your bookmark and your RSS feed so you can stay on top of their daily posts.

Because—seriously—you don’t want to miss this science.



NCBI ROFL: Why is butter sooooo delicious?

By ncbi rofl | April 29, 2013 10:00 am

Photo: flickr/jessicafm

What is the secret of butter? How do those rectangular prisms make everything better? Is it the fatty taste? The grassy notes? The oh-so-creamy texture? Does everyone like the same aspects of butter, or are different people responding to different characteristics? These scientists had a lot of people eat a lot of butter to try to determine what characteristics make people like or dislike a butter or butter-spread by using principal component analysis (PCA). Perhaps for the follow up study, they should just ask Paula Deen!

Identification of the characteristics that drive consumer liking of butter.

“This study identified and explored the sensory characteristics that drive consumer liking of butter. A trained descriptive panel evaluated 27 commercial butters using a defined sensory language. Read More


NCBI ROFL: Pleasure and pain: the effect of (almost) having an orgasm on genital and nongenital sensitivity.

By ncbi rofl | April 26, 2013 12:00 pm

Photo: flickr/Rob Hogeslag

If you want to do a scientific study of sexual function (in this case, how orgasm changes genital sensitivity), it’s usually necessary to perform it under carefully controlled conditions. So how do you do that in the context of studying female orgasms? Check out the [probably NSFW] description below.

The effect of sexual arousal and orgasm on genital sensitivity has received little research attention, and no study has assessed sensation pleasurableness as well as painfulness.
To clarify the relationship between sexual arousal, orgasm, and sensitivity in a healthy female sample. Read More

NCBI ROFL: When the mafia does science.

By ncbi rofl | April 25, 2013 12:00 pm

Photo: flickr/A.Sparrow

What happens to a body buried in cement? How long does it take to decompose? In this study, the (Italian) scientists set out to answer these questions using (what else? ) piglet corpses. Don’t worry, the authors assure us that they died of “natural causes”…

Burial of piglet carcasses in cement: a study of macroscopic and microscopic alterations on an animal model.

“Scarce experimental data exist describing postmortem effects of burial in cement. The scanty literature presents several case reports, but no experimental study. To perform a pilot study, the following experimental system was designed: 4 piglet corpses, who died of natural causes, were encased in concrete. After 1, 2, 3, and 6 months, a block was opened, and autopsy and microscopic analyses were performed. Read More


NCBI ROFL: Visual cues given by humans are not sufficient for Asian Elephants (Elephas maximus) to find hidden food.

By ncbi rofl | April 24, 2013 12:00 pm

Photo: flickr/AZAdam

Researcher: “C’mon elephant, the peanuts are right there. I’m pointing right at them!”
Elephant: *blank stare*
Researcher: “The dogs, goats, and horses can find them.”
Elephant: *blank stare*
Researcher: *sigh* “Fine. Just use your trunk then.”

“Recent research suggests that domesticated species – due to artificial selection by humans for specific, preferred behavioral traits – are better than wild animals at responding to visual cues given by humans about the location of hidden food. Although this seems to be supported by studies on a range of domesticated (including dogs, goats and horses) and wild (including wolves and chimpanzees) animals, there is also evidence that exposure to humans positively influences the ability of both wild and domesticated animals to follow these same cues. Here, we test the performance of Asian elephants (Elephas maximus) on an object choice task that provides them with visual-only cues given by humans about the location of hidden food. Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: eat me, fun with animals, NCBI ROFL

NCBI ROFL: Blow as well as pull: an innovative technique for dealing with a rectal foreign body.

By ncbi rofl | April 23, 2013 12:00 pm

Photo: flickr/mae.noelle

OK, we admit it, we just picked this one because of the title. But the method for removing objects from the rectum using a cluster of balloons is actually pretty inventive.

“Removal of a rectal foreign body (FB) has become increasingly common in the recent times. Nature of rectal FB is limited only by the imagination of the patient concerned. Many techniques have been described for removal and various theories have been put forward to explain the mechanics of the procedure. We report a case where a new technique had been employed.”

Bonus excerpt and figure from the main text:
“Techniques for the safe extraction of a rectal foreign body require ingenuity, but few authors have considered the mechanics of this surprisingly common procedure Read More

NCBI ROFL: Phase 1: Build an army of remote-controlled turtles. Phase 2: ? Phase 3: Take over the world!

By ncbi rofl | April 22, 2013 12:00 pm

Photo: flickr/Ollie Crafoord

Do you have tasks that need doing but can’t afford to buy a robot? Look no further! Remote-controlled turtles can do your bidding, from… um … swimming in shallow waters? to … uh … walking really slowly on the land? Look, the point is that these scientists figured out how to make turtles do what they want simply by attaching a movable blinder to the turtle’s shell. This apparatus allows the scientists to control the turtles’ movements by activating their instinct to avoid obstacles (see it in action in the movie clip below). Turtle army!

Remote Guidance of Untrained Turtles by Controlling Voluntary Instinct Behavior

“Recently, several studies have been carried out on the direct control of behavior in insects and other lower animals in order to apply these behaviors to the performance of specialized tasks in an attempt to find more efficient means of carrying out these tasks than artificial intelligence agents. While most of the current methods cause involuntary behavior in animals by electronically stimulating the corresponding brain area or muscle, we show that, in turtles, it is also possible to control certain types of behavior, such as movement trajectory, by evoking an appropriate voluntary instinctive behavior. Read More


NCBI ROFL: Cunnilingus increases duration of copulation in the Indian flying fox.

By ncbi rofl | April 19, 2013 11:00 am

This isn’t the first time we’ve highlighted a report of a bat species that engages in oral sex. However, this time it’s the females that get the extra attention. First fellatio, and now cunnilingus: who knew bat sex would be so hot? Be sure to the check out the perhaps-NSFW video from the paper’s supplementary information:

Cunnilingus Apparently Increases Duration of Copulation in the Indian Flying Fox, Pteropus giganteus.

“We observed a total of 57 incidences of copulation in a colony of the Indian flying fox, Pteropus giganteus, over 13 months under natural conditions. The colony consisted of about 420 individuals, roosting in a Ficus religiosa tree. Copulations occurred between 07.00 h and 09.30 h from July to January, with more occurring in October and November. Initially males groomed their penis before approaching a nearby female. Females typically moved away and males followed. When the female stopped moving, the male started licking her vagina (cunnilingus). Read More

NCBI ROFL: Powerful people are bigger hypocrites.

By ncbi rofl | April 18, 2013 10:00 am

You love to hate them: people in power who talk the talk but don’t walk the walk. I’m sure most of us have suffered a boss who tells you to do things that he or she doesn’t. But do these people become hypocrites because they are in positions of power, or were they just born a**holes? These scientists decided to find out! Turns out that power doesn’t just corrupt, it makes you a bigger hypocrite. Good thing I didn’t get that promotion after all.

Power increases hypocrisy: moralizing in reasoning, immorality in behavior.

“In five studies, we explored whether power increases moral hypocrisy (i.e., imposing strict moral standards on other people but practicing less strict moral behavior oneself). In Experiment 1, compared with the powerless, the powerful condemned other people’s cheating more, but also cheated more themselves. In Experiments 2 through 4, the powerful were more strict in judging other people’s moral transgressions than in judging their own transgressions. Read More

NCBI ROFL: If you feel like you can’t work due to a hangover, you’re probably right.

By ncbi rofl | April 17, 2013 10:00 am

Your head throbs. You feel like you’ve been run over by a truck. Ugh. It’s no fun to go to work with a hangover. You want to call in and take one of your personal days, but is it really worth it? Are you actually going to be bad at your job, or should you just suck it up and go to work? Well, these scientists got 13 volunteers to go home, get wasted, and come back the next day to see if they performed as terribly as they felt. The results weren’t pretty.

The effects of self-administered alcohol-induced ‘hangover’ in a naturalistic setting on psychomotor and cognitive performance and subjective state.

“AIMS: To examine in as naturalistic a setting as possible whether having an alcohol-induced ‘hangover’ impairs psychomotor and cognitive performance. PARTICIPANTS AND DESIGN: The sample consisted of 71 male and female social drinkers who were tested twice, once at baseline and once after exposure to the study condition. They were randomized into a control group who returned for testing on a prearranged date (n = 33), and a group who were instructed to make arrangements to return the day after a self-determined heavy drinking session (n = 38). Read More


Discover's Newsletter

Sign up to get the latest science news delivered weekly right to your inbox!


Quirky, funny, and surprising science news from the edge of the known universe.

See More

Collapse bottom bar