Archive for October, 2009

NCBI ROFL: "Here's egg in your eye": a prospective study of blunt ocular trauma resulting from thrown eggs.

By ncbi rofl | October 27, 2009 3:00 pm

“OBJECTIVE: To see if a public awareness campaign might be justified around Halloween with regard to the dangers of egg throwing… …RESULTS: 13 ocular injuries that were attributed to assault with a raw egg were reported. In all the 13 cases, the eggs had been thrown by strangers. 12 of the patients were men and the average age of the victims was 27.9 years… …CONCLUSIONS: Although most of our patients showed improvement in visual acuity, there were severe injuries, with the potential for severe ocular morbidity. We conclude that there is sufficient injury caused by this prank to warrant a public health message. At the least this practice should not be promoted by the press.”

New Ink-Remover May Be Key to Recycling Office Paper

By Brett Israel | October 27, 2009 12:28 pm

copy-machine-webKindles, iPhones, laptops, and maybe an Apple Tablet make avoiding the printer a cinch. However, should someone actually need to read off dead trees, a new method to remove ink from white paper could make office paper far easier to reuse. All it takes is a solution of 60 percent dimethylsulphoxide and 40 percent chloroform and a little agitation to shake off the ink, and used paper will be almost as good as new, according to a new study.


[Researchers] found that a combination of solvents can remove toner print from paper without harming the paper to make it reusable, although the resulting paper is not quite as white as new paper. also has a an image of the comparisons between printing on paper treated with chemical solutions versus printing on a fresh sheet.

It’s hard to imaging any office keeping a wet lab and actually doing this, and sloshing through all that solvent can’t be very safe or economical. So here’s an alternative idea: Just stop printing altogether and read things digitally like everyone else.

Related Content:
Discoblog: Not Subtle, But It Works: Peepoo Bag Converts Human Waste Into Fertilizer
Discoblog: Newspapers May Be Dying, But Their Corpses Could Reduce Toxic Waste
Discoblog: Today’s Conservation Gimmick: Drink Your Shower Water!

Image: flickr / michaelkpate

MORE ABOUT: environment, innovation

Butterfly Discovered With Ears on Its Wings

By Brett Israel | October 26, 2009 5:58 pm

blue-morpho-butterfly-webIt’s a question you wouldn’t be surprised to hear a toddler ask: Do butterflies have ears? Well yes, yes they do. And one species was recently discovered to have ears on their wings. The blue morpho butterfly from Central and South America has beautiful bright blue wings complete with a simple ear structure that picks up noise and relays it to the brain.


In the new study, Kathleen Lucas of the University of Bristol in England and her colleagues were interested in the odd-looking hearing membrane that sits at the base of the blue morpho’s wing. The tympanal membrane, as it is called, is oval-shaped with a dome at its center that kind of resembles the yolk at the center of a fried egg, Lucas said.

Researchers determined that the butterflies can distinguish high and low frequencies, uncommon in simple ears, and they speculate this could help them determine if a hungry bird is about to swoop down and attack.

Related Content:
DISCOVER: Littlest Butterfly
DISCOVER: The Wired Butterfly
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Image: flickr /

NCBI ROFL: Understanding russian roulette FAIL.

By ncbi rofl | October 26, 2009 3:00 pm

Russian roulette with a knife.

“The following case report describes an accidental stabbing that occurred on Halloween. The unwitting victim, while preparing for a holiday charade, stabbed himself with an ornamental dagger. By placing himself in a potentially hazardous situation, the victim’s behavior entailed risk taking. The psychological implications of such risk taking are complex, and may be compared to such behaviors as russian roulette, gambling, and parasuicide.”

NCBI ROFL: It's Halloween week on NCBI ROFL!

By ncbi rofl | October 26, 2009 1:06 pm

We’ll be featuring Halloween-related articles all this week. Enjoy!

Will the Super Rich Evolve Into a Separate Species?

By Brett Israel | October 26, 2009 12:25 pm

cash-pile-webAs medicine becomes super advanced, and super expensive, the super rich may evolve into a completely different species from everyone else, according to American futurologist Paul Saffo. He thinks medical technology such as replacement organs, specially tailored drugs, and genetic research tools to alert the moneybags of any possible hereditary health dangers, could all lead to a new class of rich, elite, and longer-living humans.

Here are Saffo’s thoughts on the advantages this would give the rich, as reported in the Guardian:

“I sometimes wonder if the very rich can live, on average, 20 years longer than the poor. That’s 20 more years of earning and saving. Think about wealth and power and the advantages that you pass on to your children.”

At the very least, they’ll be able to afford health care—and keep opposing it for the rest of is.

Related Content:
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Discoblog: Real Economy Still Sucks; Virtual Economy Booming
Discoblog: Need a New Pancreas? It May Come From a Sheep

Image: iStockphoto

NCBI ROFL: Rectal impaction following enema with concrete mix.

By ncbi rofl | October 23, 2009 3:00 pm

This article describes an unusual rectal foreign body resulting from homosexual anal erotic activities. The patient had used an enema containing a concrete mix which became impacted and required surgical removal. The use, abuse, and complications of enemas are reviewed.

Weekly News Roundup: Greening the Red-Light District

By Brett Israel | October 23, 2009 11:26 am

roundup-pic_web • Hit the red-light district on the cheap: Berlin brothels are offering discounts to “green” customers that arrive on bike.

• New robotic prosthetic hand lets users regain their sense of touch.

• Do space flights make people crazy? The European Space Agency is looking for a few volunteers to spend 520 days in total isolation to study space travel’s psychological effects.

• Going green? Not if you own a pet. A new book argues that owning a dog has the same carbon footprint as driving 6,000 miles a year in a Land Rover.

• Mix & match brains: Scientists try to create a bird chimera to study the evolution of birdsong.


Pesticides Can Increase Suicidal Thoughts

By Boonsri Dickinson | October 22, 2009 4:52 pm

3kidsChina has an incredibly high suicide rate —44 percent of the world’s suicides occur there. In 2007, China Daily reported that more suicides were happening in rural areas than urban ones, which is the opposite of the trend in other countries.

Now, scientists believe they’ve found the reason why: Exposure to agricultural pesticides increases the number of suicidal thoughts a person has. China still uses agricultural pesticides, or organophosphates, even though they’ve been banned in Western countries because of their known toxicity when ingested and the adverse mental health problems caused by long-term exposure.

Researchers from Tongde Hospital Zhejiang Province and King’s College London studied residents of central and coastal China and found the “first epidemiological evidence to suggest possible effects [of pesticides] on suicidal thoughts.” Leading the study, psychiatrist Robert Stewart took a survey of nearly ten thousand rural Chinese residents to find out how they stored pesticides. People who kept their pesticides in the house were more likely to think suicidal thoughts. Also supporting this casual link: The areas that reported higher numbers of home pesticide storage had a higher suicide thought rate overall.

Physorg reports:

Dr Robert Stewart comments: ‘Organophosphate pesticides are widely used around the world although are banned in many countries because of their risk to health. They are particularly lethal chemicals when taken in overdose and are a cause of many suicides worldwide. Our research findings that suggest that higher exposure to these chemicals might actually increase the risk of suicidal thoughts provides further support for calls for tighter international restrictions on agricultural pesticide availability and use.’

With suicide being the leading cause of death in people ages 15 to 34, public health officials should think about ways to minimize exposure to the pesticides—like making it mandatory to keep them out of the house.

Related Content:
80beats: 1/3 of China’s Yellow River Not Even Fit For Industrial Use
DISCOVER: The FDA Tackles Tainted Drugs From China

Image: flickr/ jefvandenhoute

NCBI ROFL: Boys and girls, please open your textbooks to page 69…

By ncbi rofl | October 22, 2009 3:00 pm

The Dr. Fox effect: a study of lecturer effectiveness and ratings of instruction.

“Students viewed one of six lectures which varied only in substantive teaching points (content) covered and seductiveness. These 207 students then rated the effectiveness of the presentation (satisfaction ratings) and completed a 26-item achievement test. Students who viewed high seduction lectures performed better on the achievement test than did students who viewed low seduction lectures. Similarly, students who viewed lectures high in content performed better on the cognitive test than did students who viewed low-content lectures. The relationship between staisfaction ratings and student achievement was not perfect. Students gave higher ratings to seductive lectures. However, ratings reflected differences in content-coverage only under low seduction conditions. The ratings were not sensitive to variations in content-coverage when lectures were highly seductive. The “Doctor Fox Effect” appears to be more than an illusion. Seductiveness affects both student ratings of instruction and achievement.”

Thanks to Kate for today’s ROFL!


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