Archive for November, 2009

NCBI ROFL: Dude. I got pitted. And a lump on my chin.

By ncbi rofl | November 30, 2009 4:00 pm

The treatment dilemma caused by lumps in surfers’ chins.

“This is an account of 2 male surfing enthusiasts who recently sought care at our hospital after developing tumorous masses on their chins. Although the lesions appeared grossly benign, establishing a definitive treatment plan was perplexing because of the insidious nature of the protuberances… While the technical aspects of care management were simple, once the histologic structure of the tumor was defined, establishing an accurate clinical diagnosis before surgery was troublesome. The histologic findings for the lesion removed from the first patient… [suggested] that repetitive blunt trauma to the chin area while paddling the surfboard was probably the factor responsible for the pathogenesis of tumor formation. “

And just because…


Crazy Optical Illusion of the Day

By Brett Israel | November 30, 2009 3:11 pm

A few diamond cut-outs and a video camera are all the ingredients for one pretty awesome optical illusion, courtesy of GreeenPro2009.

That’s all we’re going to say. Enjoy.

How does it work? A few viewers offer their suggestions in the comments over on YouTube. (Hint: are those diamonds colored in solid gray tones?) What do you think?

Related Content:
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Video: YouTube / GreeenPro2009

MORE ABOUT: illusions

Puerto Ricans Are Tired of Escaped, Belligerent Research Monkeys

By Andrew Moseman | November 30, 2009 12:40 pm

patas220Fool me with monkeys once, shame on you. Fool me twice… well, Puerto Ricans won’t get fooled again.

Some people on the island commonwealth are up in arms over the proposal by a company called Bioculture Ltd. to make Puerto Rico a major supplier of primates to researchers in the United States. Beyond the ethical issues connected to animal testing, the AP reports, Puerto Ricans have “a bad history with research monkeys”:

The U.S. territory has long struggled to control hundreds of patas monkeys, descendants of primates that escaped in recent decades from research projects and now thrive in the lush tropical environment.

No labs want the patas monkeys because they’re no longer right for research, and many are diseased. There isn’t much demand from zoos, either. So rangers from the island’s Department of Natural Resources trap and kill them.

Bioculture counters that its proposed facility in the mountainous region of Guayama would bring 50 jobs and other economic benefits, like buying fruit from local farms to feed the African monkeys, to a place currently reeling from 16 percent unemployment. Bioculture executive Moses Mark Bushmitz tried to reassure people from the Guyama neighborhood of Carmen, which is near the proposed facility, that their homes would be no more run over with research primates than homes in Cambridge, Mass.:

“You have monkeys in MIT, you have monkeys in Harvard,” Bushmitz said. “So why isn’t it an issue if the monkey will escape in Harvard, but it is an issue if a monkey will escape in Carmen?”

To be fair, though, there isn’t a history of monkeys that “run though backyards, stop traffic and destroy crops” in Harvard Yard.

Related Content:
Discoblog: Are “Microlungs” the End of Lab Rat Experiments?
Discoblog: Muriqui Monkeys, However Gentle, Will Kill to Mate
80beats: NASA’s Plan to Irradiate Monkeys Raises Cruelty Concerns

Image: flickr /Mr. Theklan

NCBI ROFL: Should the definition of micropenis vary according to ethnicity?

By ncbi rofl | November 27, 2009 4:00 pm

“OBJECTIVE: We determined whether the existing reference values for the diagnosis of micropenis are appropriate for optimal care of neonates in a multiethnic environment like Vancouver. METHODS: The stretched penile length and width were measured in 105 full-term newborn males of Caucasian (n = 40), Chinese (n = 40) and East-Indian origin (n = 25). RESULTS: Mean length -2.5 SD was used for the definition of micropenis and was 2.6, 2.5 and 2.3 cm for Caucasian, East-Indian and Chinese babies, respectively (p < 0.05). This is close to the widely accepted recommendation that a penile length of 2.4- 2.5 cm be considered as the lowest limit for the definition of micropenis. CONCLUSION: Mean penile length and diameter are slightly but significantly smaller in newborns of Chinese origin compared to newborns of Caucasian and East-Indian origins."


Handy Holiday Gadget: Bracelet That Measures Stress Levels

By Brett Israel | November 27, 2009 11:41 am

If you’re anxious about the holidays, strap on the rather tepidly named Rationalizer to monitor your stress levels so that you can avoid flipping out in front of the fam (again). From

The Rationalizer consists of an “EmoBracelet” and an “EmoBowl” and incorporates sensors and signal processors designed by Philips. The EmoBracelet’s galvanic skin response sensor measures the level of emotional arousal in a similar way to a lie detector. The result is displayed on either the bracelet or the EmoBowl as a light display that intensifies and changes to reflect the wearer’s intensifying emotional arousal. At the highest emotional stress level the display has a greater number of elements moving at higher speed, and the color changes to a warning red.

Video of the hi-tech mood ring in action:

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Video: YouTube / alizar111

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Technology Attacks!
MORE ABOUT: stress levels

1 More Reason to Get an Electric Car: Gas Fumes Linked to Road Rage

By Andrew Moseman | November 27, 2009 9:58 am

cars exhaust traffic pollution220There are plenty of things about driving to make your blood pressure rise: screaming kids in the back, crappy songs on the radio, rising gas prices, idiot drivers who don’t know what they’re doing and need to get off the phone and keep their eyes on the road and…

Whew, sorry, got a little hot under the collar there. Anyway, researchers from Egypt just published a study in BMC Physiology identifying another ubiquitous aspect of driving that could be making drivers angier: gas fumes. The scientists exposed some rats to fumes of leaded gas (which you can still buy in Egypt) and others to unleaded, but both groups became more prone to chattering their teeth, arching their backs, and biting.


Amal Kinawy of Cairo University found that rats exposed to gasoline fumes were more aggressive than those breathing clean air and more likely to show signs of anxiety. What’s more, their brains experienced changes in neurotransmitters in the hypothalamus, hippocampus and cerebellum. Although Kinaway limited her research to rats, she says the findings could apply to humans and be a factor in road rage.

“Heightened aggression may be yet another risk for the human population chronically exposed to urban air polluted by automobile smoke,” she said. “Millions of people every day are exposed to gasoline fumes while refueling their cars.”

On second thought, maybe I will buy that fresh pine air freshener at the gas station the next time I’m refueling.

Related Content:
Discoblog: If You Can Read This, I’m About to Run You Off the Road
DISCOVER: What’s in a Gallon of Gas?
80beats: Will These Four Biofuels Be Bonanzas or Busts?

Image: iStockphoto

CATEGORIZED UNDER: What’s Inside Your Brain?
MORE ABOUT: cars, gasoline, road rage, scent

NCBI ROFL: "[We conducted] a content analysis of presidential Thanksgiving proclamations."

By ncbi rofl | November 26, 2009 4:00 pm

Generosity or genocide? Identity implications of silence in American Thanksgiving commemorations.

“This paper investigates the identity implications of silence about genocide in commemorations of American Thanksgiving. In Study 1 we assessed the co-occurrence of national glorification themes with different forms of silence in commemoration products by conducting a content analysis of presidential Thanksgiving proclamations. In Study 2 we examined the extent to which different commemoration products are infused with particular beliefs and desires by measuring participants’ reactions to different Thanksgiving commemorations-a literal-silence condition that did not mention Indigenous Peoples, an interpretive-silence condition that mentioned Indigenous Peoples but did not explicitly mention genocidal conquest, and an anti-silence condition that did mention genocidal conquest-as a function of national glorification. In Study 3 we manipulated exposure to different Thanksgiving commemorations (with associated forms of silence) and assessed the impact on national glorification and identity-relevant action. Results provide evidence for the hypothesised, bi-directional relationship between national glorification and silence about genocide in commemorations of American Thanksgiving.”

CATEGORIZED UNDER: analysis taken too far, NCBI ROFL

iPhone App May Help You Nap Off That Turkey-Day Binge

By Brett Israel | November 26, 2009 12:39 pm

So you’ve sufficiently gorged yourself on turkey and deviled eggs, now it’s time to flop onto the couch and slip away into a tryptophan coma. Luckily, the Pzizz Relax iPhone app will ensure you get the perfect post-meal nap, even on your relative’s horribly uncomfortable, left-over-from-the-70s couch. From Macworld:

Pzizz Relax…enables you to create a customized, relaxing sleep soundtrack. With a combination of soothing music, positive and calming words, and just-right wake-up alarm, I found Pzizz Relax did the trick for me nearly ever time I tried to take a midday 20- or 30-minute snooze break. With Pzizz Relax playing on my headphones, I was able to fall asleep quickly and wake up, when I was supposed to, feeling refreshed. That’s what the app is trying to assist with.

So hopefully you can shake that mid-day turkey hangover and be back at it for dinner.

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CATEGORIZED UNDER: Technology Attacks!

The One Where Ben Franklin Electrocutes a Turkey

By Brett Israel | November 26, 2009 9:23 am

And now, a cautionary yarn to keep in mind this Thanksgiving. Even great amateur scientist/polymaths like Ben Franklin can have turkey-related mishaps, according to the Annals of Improbable Research:

In December 1750, Franklin learned one lesson the hard way, when he shocked himself while trying to electrocute a holiday turkey. Franklin believed electrocuting the turkey made it uncommonly tender. When he began his electrical experiments in about 1745, Franklin had already retired from his printing business, which was good, because he soon became so absorbed in the experiments he had little time for anything else. “I never was before engaged in any study that so totally engrossed my attention and my time, as this has lately done,” Franklin wrote to his English friend Peter Collinson in a letter thanking him for the gift of a Leyden jar with directions for charging it.

This turkey tale appeared a few years ago in the American Physical Society, as part of their This Month In Physics series. To avoid shocking yourself, read, memorize, and dutifully follow DISCOVER’s list of (safe and) hi-tech ways to cook and store this year’s bird.

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Discoblog: Cooking the Perfect Turkey–With Science!
Discoblog: Thanksgiving Dinner in Space!
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DISCOVER: Think Tech: 4 Hi-Tech Ways to Cook Thanksgiving Dinner—and Store the Leftovers


CATEGORIZED UNDER: Technology Attacks!
MORE ABOUT: thanksgiving

NCBI ROFL: Ready…set…GO (to the bathroom).

By ncbi rofl | November 25, 2009 4:00 pm

Comparison of straining during defecation in three positions: results and implications for human health.

“The aim of the study was to compare the straining forces applied when sitting or squatting during defecation. Twenty-eight apparently healthy volunteers (ages 17-66 years) with normal bowel function were asked to use a digital timer to record the net time needed for sensation of satisfactory emptying while defecating in three alternative positions: sitting on a standard-sized toilet seat (41-42 cm high), sitting on a lower toilet seat (31-32 cm high), and squatting. They were also asked to note their subjective impression of the intensity of the defecation effort. Six consecutive bowel movements were recorded in each position. Both the time needed for sensation of satisfactory bowel emptying and the degree of subjectively assessed straining in the squatting position were reduced sharply in all volunteers compared with both sitting positions.”

Thanks to Eugene for today’s ROFL!


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