Archive for October, 2009

NCBI ROFL: I vaaaant to suuuuck your…

By ncbi rofl | October 30, 2009 3:00 pm

Fellatio by Fruit Bats Prolongs Copulation Time

“Oral sex is widely used in human foreplay, but rarely documented in other animals. Fellatio has been recorded in bonobos Pan paniscus, but even then functions largely as play behaviour among juvenile males. The short-nosed fruit bat Cynopterus sphinx exhibits resource defence polygyny and one sexually active male often roosts with groups of females in tents made from leaves. Female bats often lick their mate’s penis during dorsoventral copulation. The female lowers her head to lick the shaft or the base of the male’s penis but does not lick the glans penis which has already penetrated the vagina. Males never withdrew their penis when it was licked by the mating partner. A positive relationship exists between the length of time that the female licked the male’s penis during copulation and the duration of copulation. Furthermore, mating pairs spent significantly more time in copulation if the female licked her mate’s penis than if fellatio was absent. Males also show postcopulatory genital grooming after intromission. At present, we do not know why genital licking occurs, and we present four non-mutually exclusive hypotheses that may explain the function of fellatio in C. sphinx.”

And a little somethin’ somethin’ from the supplemental material (with audio goodness):

Thanks to the flood of fans who sent in today’s ROFL!

Weekly News Roundup: Special Halloween Edition!

By Brett Israel | October 30, 2009 1:34 pm

roundup-pic-web• Sure, haunted houses can be scary, but for a real fright, turn to scientists.

• Sex offenders really aren’t anything to fear on Halloween, according to new research.

• Take a look at some of the spookiest species discovered this year.

• No costume idea? How about the iguyPhone.

• And in the odd event that teenagers don’t smash your pumpkin, do it your self…with a catapult.

Image: iStockphoto

MORE ABOUT: Halloween, technology

Will Swine Flu Take Down the Internet?

By Boonsri Dickinson | October 29, 2009 5:48 pm

swine fluSwine flu has returned, just as predicted, and is getting the better of us—46 states have reported cases of the flu already. And even if you want to take precautions by getting vaccinated, there aren’t enough vaccines to go around.

In any case, when you take sick days to recover, the last thing you’d want to do is be at home without access to the Internet. The Washington Post brings up a good point: If the flu truly becomes a pandemic, then the sick will begin accessing their Internet from home en masse. Such an increase in traffic might overwhelm the system and clog networks run by Comcast, AT&T, Cox, and Verizon. The Post reports:

The Department of Homeland Security is in charge of communications networks during times of national emergency. But it doesn’t have a strategy to deal with overloaded Internet networks—an essential resource to keep the economy humming, and residents informed and connected during a pandemic, the GAO said. Furthermore, the DHS hasn’t coordinated with agencies such as the Federal Communications Commission to create guidelines for how telecom, cable and satellite providers can minimize congestion.

There are solutions, but each has its downsides. Adding bandwidth capacity would be a little too late, and cost too much. Slowing connections to some ‘hoods would violate service agreements to those customers. And blocking traffic to Web sites would require government approval.

Related Content:
Discoblog: Michael Jackson’s Death Causes Internet to Slow
DISCOVER: Swine Flu Has a Warning Shot

Image: flickr/ hitthatswitch

Dentists Organize A Cash-For-Candy Program on Halloween

By Boonsri Dickinson | October 29, 2009 4:32 pm

candyMany children are anxiously awaiting Halloween this weekend. But with all these sugary treats come a price: cavities. In fact, one out of every four children in the U.S. currently has at least one cavity in their baby teeth, a number that’s the highest it’s been in 40 years— and has been blamed on today’s sugary diet. Even worse, British researchers found that when kids consumed candy every day, they were more likely to be criminals when they grew up.

This Halloween, two Michigan dentists, Shawn Morris and Daniel Simmons, are encouraging kids to turn in their candy for cash. The mission is called Operation Gratitude—children will receive $1 per pound of sweets, so the dentists can collect a large candy stash. The candy, however, won’t go uneaten: The dentists will send it to U.S. troops stationed in Iraq so they can hand out the candy to local children.

So what is the incentive for candy-heavy children to turn in their loot? Hometownlife reports:

Youngsters who trade in their candy — a maximum of five pounds per child and total 1,000 pounds for the event — will receive a new Firefly glow-in-the-dark toothbrush and a goody bag of gifts. The youngsters will also be entered in a raffle to win one of three Nano iPods.

Along with reducing damage to young teeth, the candy collection also will benefit U.S. troops.

Good habits taught when you’re young could go a long way—especially considering that 80 percent of U.S. adults have some sort of gum disease. Plus, if cavities are left untreated, they can lead to permanent damage including loss of teeth and gum disease, which has been linked to stroke and heart disease. Seriously, more candy, more problems.

Related Content:
Discoblog: Is Your Halloween Costume Safe?
Discoblog: Top Ten Science Halloween Costumes Part I
Discoblog: Top Ten Science Halloween Costumes Part II

Image: flickr/ spundekas

NCBI ROFL: Word of the day: cacodemonomania.

By ncbi rofl | October 29, 2009 3:00 pm


“The experience of having had intercourse with the devil has in the past been regarded as evidence that the individual is a witch. Those investigating cases of witchcraft were advised to seek the judgment of doctors, and the verdict of physicians became a test for the presence or absence of witchcraft. The woman described in this case study might well have suffered the death penalty in former times. She is unusual because of her belief that she had had intercourse with the Devil, and because the belief was shared by her religious minister. The patient also presents a diagnostic problem.”

Robot Army Could Explore Space, Researchers Say

By Brett Israel | October 28, 2009 4:53 pm

robot-space-army-webInstead of spending time and money planning a manned mission to Mars, why not send an army of robots into space to do all the work? A fleet of robots could be deployed to explore far-away planets, according to researchers at Caltech’s Visual and Autonomous Exploration Systems Research Laboratory.

From the Telegraph:

Robotic airships and satellites will fly above the surface of the distant world, commanding squadrons of wheeled rovers and floating robot boats…The systems will transform planetary exploration, says [Wolfgang] Fink, who envisages the cybernetic adventurers mapping the land and seascapes of Saturn’s moon, Titan—believed to have lakes of standing liquid—as well as closer planetary neighbors like Mars.

Researchers say the robots could command themselves and other robots with little input from ground control. All of which seems like a great idea, since the human space flight program isn’t likely to take off anytime soon.

Related Content:
Discoblog: Billionaire to Throw a “Tickle Party” in Space
Discoblog: How to Find Aliens? Look for Pollution on Other Planets
Discoblog: Japan’s First Lady Claims She Went to Venus, Consorted With Aliens

Image: NASA

MORE ABOUT: Mars, robot, space

NCBI ROFL: This paper is ghastly.

By ncbi rofl | October 28, 2009 3:00 pm

Experimental simulation of a haunt experience and elicitation of paroxysmal electroencephalographic activity by transcerebral complex magnetic fields: induction of a synthetic “ghost”?

“To test the hypothesis that experiences of apparitional phenomena with accompanying fear can be simulated within the laboratory, a 45-yr.-old journalist and professional musician who had experienced a classic haunt four years previously was exposed to 1 microTesla, complex, transcerebral magnetic fields. Within 10 min. after exposure to a frequency-modulated pattern applied over the right hemisphere, the man reported “rushes of fear” that culminated in the experience of an apparition. Concurrent electroencephalographic measurements showed conspicuous 1-sec.-to-2-sec. paroxysmal complex spikes (15 Hz) that accompanied the reports of fear. A second magnetic field pattern, applied bilaterally through the brain, was associated with pleasant experiences. The subject concluded that the synthetic experience of the apparition was very similar to the one experienced in the natural setting. The results of this experiment suggest that controlled simulation of these pervasive phenomena within the laboratory is possible and that this experimental protocol may help discern the physical stimuli that evoke their occurrence in nature.”

Women's Stockings Used to Measure Whales' Sex Drive

By Brett Israel | October 28, 2009 12:49 pm

whale-webTo see if a whale’s libido is going full-throttle, grab a pair of nylons and head to the ocean, reports the New Scientist:

For the first time, testosterone and progesterone—two key hormones that signal whether whales are pregnant, lactating or in the mood to mate—have been extracted from whales’ lung mucus, captured in nylon stockings dangled from a pole over their blowholes as they surface to breathe.

This method could allow scientists to study whales without having to slaughter them, and could be used to simply give them a pregnancy test to try to learn why some species aren’t breeding, say the authors of the study.

Related Content:
Discoblog: Japanese Whaling Redux: American Scientists Say Slaughter Was Unnecessary
Discoblog: Is Bleaching Next? Whales Look at Teeth When Picking Mates
Discoblog: Detectors Catch Whales Swimming Near New York City

Image: flickr / percita

MORE ABOUT: whales

This Is (Literally) Your Brain on Drugs: Views From Inside a Drug User's Brain

By Brett Israel | October 27, 2009 3:58 pm

Researchers want to find out if LSD could help medical research, but first they first need to examine the inside of a brain under the influence of the drug to see exactly what’s happening. National Geographic takes an inside look at their Explorer program:

Using enhanced brain imaging, non-hallucinogenic versions of the drug and information from an underground network of test subjects who suffer from an agonizing condition for which there is no cure, researchers are finding that this “trippy” drug could become the pharmaceutical of the future. Can it enhance our brain power, expand our creativity and cure disease? To find out, Explorer puts LSD under the microscope.

Want to see for yourself? Take a look inside a tripper’s brain:

Related Content:
Discoblog: Modern Bedfellows: LSD Inventor Wrote to Steve Jobs, Asked for Support
Discoblog: Weird Science Roundup: Wallabies on Drugs, Microsoft Lawsuits, and Predatory Nymphs
Discoblog: Weird Science Roundup: Psychedelic Science, Melting Ski Runs, and Virtual Schwarzenegger

Video: YouTube / NationalGeographic

CATEGORIZED UNDER: What’s Inside Your Brain?
MORE ABOUT: drugs, LSD, the brain

Does Twitter Really Cost British Companies $2.2 Billion a Year?

By Boonsri Dickinson | October 27, 2009 3:01 pm

twitterwhaleWhile some companies are hiring people to promote the company brand on Twitter, others frown on their employees’ personal use of social networking during work hours. And now, it’s being reported that people waste so much time Tweeting/Facebooking/etc. that it costs British companies $2.2 billion a year, according to a survey put out by Morse. The results are based on 1,460 people surveyed, who on average used Twitter or Facebook for 40 minutes during the business week.

But is time spent on Facebook and Twitter really wasted time? As TechCrunch points out, there is a “difference between being productive and ‘not wasting time’:

I’d like to see more research in this field, but more focused on office workers who spend the majority of their day staring out the windows, yapping about last night’s television highlights with coworkers in the coffee and/or smoking room, attending meetings where no decision or progress gets made, or simply working on stuff that’s not particularly considered to be productive for their employer, the British economy as a whole, or the rest of planet Earth.

As a protective measure, some companies have banned the use of social networks by having the IT guy block access to the sites. The Washington Post put out guidelines on what to Tweet and what not to Tweet. Perhaps these tips could have prevented ABC employees from tweeting that Obama called Kanye a “jackass” during an off-the-record interview. Needless to say, basic Twitter etiquette will continue to evolve: In the meantime, don’t say anything that will get you fired.

And if you happen to be on Twitter, follow us — @discovermag.

Related Content:
DISCOVER: 3 Great Uses of Twitter, According to Cofounder Jack Dorsey
Discoblog: Want a Job at Best Buy? Better Have 250 Twitter Followers

Image: flickr/ Mykl Roventine

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Technology Attacks!

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