Archive for March, 2009

NCBI ROFL: Sex differences in Nintendo Wii performance as expected from hunter-gatherer selection

By ncbi rofl | March 18, 2009 10:59 pm

“To test the hunter-gatherer theory of cognitive sex differences, men and women each played four video games on a Wii console: two games simulating skills necessary for hunting (navigation and shooting) and two games simulating skills necessary for gathering (fine motor and visual search). Men outperformed women on the two hunting games, whereas there were no sex differences on the gathering skill games. The findings are discussed in terms of evolutionary psychology theory.”

The Science of March Madness: Experts Turn Their Skills to Brackets

By Boonsri Dickinson | March 18, 2009 5:01 pm

basketball.jpgChances are you’ve received an invitation to enter a pool for the NCAA tournament. If so, be warned: Bracket picking is no simple game. If everyone else in your pool picks the top seeds, then you’ll end up smack in the middle, because those who predict upsets will score higher. With a 9,000,000,000,000,000,000-to-1 long shot at making perfect picks, the odds aren’t great for anyone.

Enter, a site that takes years of stats and uses it to analyze your March Madness picks for just $20.

The website’s founder, Pete Tiernan, has gathered game programs from the “pre-digital, short-shorts age” in an effort to build a database of the entire history of March Madness stats. He uses it to run a regression analysis of the stats against the official seed rankings to find out which teams tend to do better than expected. One portion of the site allows you to enter the factors you’re interested in, such as the year, seed, school, and conference, so you can use custom-made stats to fill in your bracket. If that’s not enough, also provides 10 statistical models such as “from the gut” or “upset special,” and offers team analysis to forecast a team’s 2009 performance.

Tiernan shared some pointers for picking upsets:

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Today's Unscientific Media Conclusion: Boobs Getting Bigger in New Zealand

By Rachel Cernansky | March 18, 2009 3:06 pm

bras.jpgIn another example of a news report that lacks… reporting/analysis/context/rational thought, the increasing size of women’s breasts is apparently mystifying “braologists” in New Zealand. This one-quotation article says that over the last three years, bra sizes between D and J have increased more rapidly than those from AA to C.

With no mention of the growing obesity epidemic worldwide, it does not answer (or ask) the question of whether it’s an overall increase in body weight that’s translating into into the larger busts.

Plus there’s the little matter of cosmetic breast enhancements, which may also be the cause of the increase. Of course, it’s much more fun (and incorrect) to simply imply that every young lass in New Zealand is simply growing bigger knockers these days.

Related Content:
Discoblog: Worst Science Article of the Week: Drinking Coffee Shrinks Your Breasts?

Image: Flickr / AZAdam

From iFart to iSperm: Apple Apps Go Highbrow

By Rachel Cernansky | March 18, 2009 11:32 am

isperm1.jpgIt wasn’t mentioned in Mac’s official software update, but iPhone (and iPod Touch) users can now download one of the most…titillating applications yet: iSperm.

To play, you tap, shake, and tease the phone to guide an individual sperm down a “fallopian tube” in the race to fertilize an egg. The Mobigem game, now available for $0.99 on iTunes, is designed to demonstrate the stiff competition a sperm faces when it is released into the race for fertilization.

Strange, perhaps—though the title of most promiscuous iPhone app should probably be saved for its use as a personalized sex toy.

Related Content:
Discoblog: Return of the Hi-Tech Condomed Finger!
Discoblog: Today in iPhones: The Taliban Can Have Them, Melinda Gates Can’t
Cosmic Variance: The Best Calculator Ever
DISCOVER: Sperm Cells Demonstrate Some Brotherly Solidarity

Image: Mobigem

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Sex & Mating, Technology Attacks!

NCBI ROFL: Salmonella excretion in joy-riding pigs

By ncbi rofl | March 17, 2009 6:13 pm

Selected excerpt from the Materials and Methods:
“The plan was to select a part of a group of pigs approaching the age of slaughter. Our knowledge of the Salmonella content of the ingredients of the feed would lead us to consider that these pigs were being fed salmonellae. Using rectal swabs, we would examine this group of pigs on the farm and find their salmonellae excretion rate by this method. We would then take a truck that had been cleaned and made free from salmonellae, and load these pigs upon it as if they were going to be slaughtered. However, rather than taking them to slaughter, we would give them a joy ride through the countryside and end the trip, not at the slaughter-house but back at their home farm. We would examine them again at this time because, if the experiment had been successful, the pigs would have had a similar stress situation to pigs bound for slaughter. We then intended to repeat this experiment on the same pigs at a later date, but this time deliver them to slaughter.”

Lather Up: New Sunscreen Could Be Inspired By Hippo Sweat

By Rachel Cernansky | March 17, 2009 1:47 pm

hippo2.jpgIf researchers can figure out how to replicate hippo sweat, they may bring the quest for the perfect sunscreen—and for magic tricks like sunburn indicators—to an end.

A California-based research team has discovered that hippos produce an oily red secretion that contains microscopic structures that scatter light and protect the hippos from burning. The researchers, who specialize in biomimicry, hope to develop a product inspired by the sweat that will serve as a four-in-one: sunscreen, sunblock, antiseptic, and insect repellent.

The team collected sweat from hippos at a zoo and found that it contained two types of liquid crystalline structures. The banded structure, characterized by concentric rings that are comparable to wavelengths of visible light, makes it effective at scattering light, and the non-banded structure reduces the sweat’s viscosity and allows it to spread more easily over the surface of the animal.

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MORE ABOUT: cancer, hippos, sunburn, UV rays

Why Do Some People Never Get Fat? Scientists May Have the Answer

By Boonsri Dickinson | March 17, 2009 11:19 am

burgerweb.jpgRemember the guy from Super Size Me who ate about 23,000 Bic Macs and never got fat? Ever wonder how he did it? Turns out he may have been born without the “fat enzyme.”

The enzyme MGAT2 is found in the intestines and determines the fate of our food by regulating how it is metabolized: It either makes fat go straight to your waistline, or converts it into energy. Scientists in California have discovered that when mice are missing the gene for MGAT2, they can eat whatever they want and never have to worry about getting fat.

The University of California at San Francisco knocked out the gene in experimental mice to see how their bodies grew after feeding them different diets. When the normal and experimental mice were fed a diet low in fat, both sets of mice grew the same way. But when the mice were eating a 60 percent fat diet (i.e., a typical American diet), the experimental mice weighed 40 percent less and had 50 percent less fat than the normal mice.

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MORE ABOUT: fat, genetics, McDonalds

NCBI ROFL: Penis too long. What to do?

By ncbi rofl | March 17, 2009 1:25 am

“Four hundred years later, Hildanus’ forgotten penis shortening device deserves a resurrection in today’s medical practice.”

And the money shot:

What Happens to Your Underwear in Space?

By Boonsri Dickinson | March 16, 2009 5:10 pm

underwear.jpgAstronauts make plenty of sacrifices to stay alive in space—including drinking their own urine if they have to. But when it comes to underwear, they need to change it every few days or else their briefs could turn into a bacterial mess, according to the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA). Newcomer astronaut Koichi Wakata will pack 45 pairs of underwear for his trip to space, so he can help JAXA make some upgrades to its space under garments—including making it odor-free and bacteria-resistant in zero-g.

JAXA, Japan Women’s University, and five Japanese companies have given Wakata a week’s worth of underwear and other clothing to test in space. The clothes are easier on the skin, fitted for someone crouched in zero gravity, have Velcro to prevent static, and are made of antibacterial threads.

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In Japan, a Robot Works the Catwalk

By Rachel Cernansky | March 16, 2009 1:17 pm

humanoid-fashion-robot-2009.jpgShe introduced herself as “cybernetic human HRP-4C” at her first press conference, and charmed her audience just as any supermodel would. She smiled, struck seductive poses, and even made mistakes that her inventors attributed to nerves. Except that this head-turner is a fashion-bot, and she’ll make her catwalk debut in Tokyo on March 23.

The model-bot met a smaller crew of journalists this week at Japan’s National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology. They transmitted commands by Bluetooth and she acted accordingly, tapping into the 42 fashion-model-like movements that she’s been programmed to emulate. She gave the wrong facial expressions a couple times, but her inventors say that was because all the noisy cameras confused her sound recognition sensors.

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CATEGORIZED UNDER: Technology Attacks!
MORE ABOUT: fashion, robots

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