Archive for September, 2008

For Impulsive Eaters, Losing Weight Is a Guilt Trip Away

By Andrew Moseman | September 22, 2008 10:35 am

cookieDepending upon your personality, a new study says, the key to laying off the junk food could be  matter of letting yourself wallow in guilt.

Three scientists tested subjects who were impulsive eaters and those who weren’t, asking each group to think about times in the past when they had felt pressure to indulge in some calorie-filled delight. The researchers also secretly watched the subjects when they were given the opportunity to grab some cheese balls or cookies (though given the line of questioning in the test, it seems dubious to suggest that the subjects didn’t know their snacking was being observed).

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MORE ABOUT: obesity

Weekly Science Blog Roundup

By Andrew Moseman | September 20, 2008 3:33 pm

Yee-haw! It’s the blog roundup.· James Watson and E.O. Wilson talk Darwin with Charlie Rose.

· The perfect way to scare off would-be sandwich thieves: fake mold.

· Times are changing on the Internet: Nobody has time to look for porn anymore.

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MORE ABOUT: evolution

Firing the Coach Doesn't Make the Team Play Any Better, Study Says

By Andrew Moseman | September 20, 2008 3:32 pm

baseballEarlier this week, this blogger’s beloved Milwaukee Brewers fired their manager, Ned Yost, with less than a month remaining in a pennant race. It’s pretty common in pro sports to cut the coach loose when things go south; it’s easier than firing all the players. But a study out of Sweden says that frankly, it doesn’t do any good.

Leif Arnesson at Mid Sweden University led a team that studied the Swedish Elite Series of hockey all the way back to the 1975/76 season. Sweden’s league is another bastion of mid-season coach firing—five were fired last season. But after studying the data, Arnesson says that firing the coach in mid-season has basically no effect: A good team is still a good team, and a bad team is still a bad team.

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MORE ABOUT: math, sports

"CSI: Dog Poop" Comes to Israel

By Andrew Moseman | September 18, 2008 1:00 pm

dogpoopIt doesn’t seem like so long ago that DNA testing was the task of forensic experts working on hugely important criminal cases. But here’s another sign that it’s entered the mainstream: An Israeli city wants to use DNA testing to catch dog owners who don’t clean up their mutts’ messes.

Petah Tikva, a town near Tel Aviv, is in the midst of compiling a DNA database of its dog population. Right now authorities are in a six-month trial of the program, and registering your dog is optional. You can see video of their efforts (if you really want to) at the BBC.

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MORE ABOUT: genetics

Detectors Catch Whales Swimming Near New York City

By Andrew Moseman | September 18, 2008 9:34 am

humpback!Start spreading the news: Whales want to be a part of New York.

Cornell University researchers have detected whale song in the waters near New York City. The team, led by Chris Clark, hoped to track the migrations of humpback, fin, and North Atlantic right whales on their migrations from their calving waters in Florida to their feeding areas in the waters off New England. This week their detectors, deployed only 13 miles outside the entrance to New York harbor, heard their first traces of the marine mammals singing.

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MORE ABOUT: Ocean, whales

Bugs that Can Travel in Space…Naked

By Boonsri Dickinson | September 17, 2008 2:32 pm

waterbear.jpgSpacesuits are designed to protect astronauts from the cold, oxygen-less, radiation-filled vacuum of outer space. So what happens when you don’t have a space suit? Naked, dried-up bugs were put to the test last September. Scientists in Sweden sent 3,000 tiny bugs, known as tardigrades, on a spaceship to see if they’d survive.

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LHC Collisions to Commence Next Week…Hopefully

By Andrew Moseman | September 17, 2008 10:38 am

lhcThe collisions are coming! The collisions are coming!

Yes, CERN scientists opened the bubbly last Wednesday after their first successful tests of the Large Hadron Collider’s particle-firing parts. But none of those secrets-of-the-universe-revealing proton collisions have actually happened yet. Never fear, LHC chief Lyn Evans told The Telegraph—next week could be the week.

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The Deep Sea is a Red Light District After All

By Andrew Moseman | September 16, 2008 3:43 pm

red fishNow that they know some fish can see red, ichthyologists might be a little red in the face.

Because water tends to absorb long wavelengths of visible light, long-wavelength red photons don’t penetrate much past the top 30 feet of ocean. So fish experts had assumed that red just wasn’t part of the underwater world, and fish probably couldn’t see it. But a new study led by German researcher Nico Michiels concluded quite the contrary—numerous species of fish can produce their own red light through luminescence.

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MORE ABOUT: fish, light, Ocean

Darwin Tangles With Religion, Part II: Clergyman Defenestrated

By Andrew Moseman | September 16, 2008 3:34 pm

darwinThe Charles Darwin news keeps on coming this week.

Yesterday we reported on the fracas at Britain’s Royal Society, where Nobel laureates threw a fit after the society’s education director, Michael Reiss, appeared to endorse science teachers discussing creationism. Reiss tried to say that he was misquoted, but it was too little, too late: Today he formally resigned.

If Reiss is honest that he was misrepresented, and he really meant that science teachers should be able to discuss (but not endorse) creationism with students who bring it up, then his departure is unfortunate. First, it’s more fodder for those peddling the nonsense that science is just like a religion because it persecutes dissenters. And second, Reiss is right: Teachers need to be able to talk to creationist students. Dismissing them as dumb or informed is no way to get students interested in science.

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MORE ABOUT: evolution

Don't Swat Them! Insectoid Pollinators are Worth $217 Billion

By Andrew Moseman | September 16, 2008 3:18 pm

Bees!The news this week is all about financial trouble, and even science can’t escape.

Often when a species is in trouble, their plight tugs only at the heartstrings of people who want to save them; polar bears are of little practical use to us. But colony collapse disorder, which has been wrecking bee populations around the world, goes right to our wallets. In a new study, French and German scientists calculated that pollinators are worth about $217 billion to the world economy, which would be lost if bees and other pollinators keep disappearing.

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MORE ABOUT: bees, insects

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