“The “Monty Hall Dilemma” (MHD) is a well known probability puzzle in which a player tries to guess which of three doors conceals a desirable prize. After an initial choice is made, one of the remaining doors is opened, revealing no prize. The player is then given the option of staying with their initial guess or switching to the other unopened door. Most people opt to stay with their initial guess, despite the fact that switching doubles the probability of winning. A series of experiments investigated whether pigeons (Columba livia), like most humans, would fail to maximize their expected winnings in a version of the MHD. Read More
“Sexual selection via male mate choice has often been implicated in the evolution of permanently enlarged breasts in women. While questionnaire studies have shown that men find female breasts visually attractive, there is very little information about how they make such visual judgments. In this study, we used eye-tracking technology to test two hypotheses: (1) that larger breasts should receive the greatest number of visual fixations and longest dwell times, as well as being rated as most attractive; (2) that lightly pigmented areolae, indicative of youth and nubility, should receive most visual attention and be rated as most attractive. Read More
We know that dim lights, a little Marvin Gaye, and a lot of red wine usually do the trick to get humans in the mood for some nookie. But what encourages endangered frogs to get it on?
Apparently, they are a fussy lot, and demand that the temperature be just right and that the humidity and day length be just so; only then will they kick off their slippers for a little bit of action. So, the Bristol Zoo obliged a few endangered frogs by building them a love shack, a specially designed “AmphiPod” with controlled natural conditions that will hopefully encourage the endangered frogs to breed.
Scientific superstars like Carl Sagan and Richard Dawkins are sounding better and better. In the series Symphony of Science, creator John Boswell uses the auto-tune program so beloved by R&B and pop stars to tweak such nerdy delights as Carl Sagan’s monologues from “Cosmos,” and sets them to electro-funk music. The result? Highly watchable videos of Sagan and other guest scientists expounding on the magic of the cosmos and our place in the universe. Boswell has put four videos out previously, but here is his latest offering, “The Poetry of Reality.”
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Discoblog: Carl Sagan Sings Again: Symphony of Science, Part 4
Discoblog: Sounds of the Universe: Making Music From the Supernova Cassiopeia A
Swinging high and low: Why do the testes hang at
different levels? A theory on surface area and
“Anatomically, one or the other half of the scrotal sac hangs at a lower level than the other. The testes, housed within the sacs are also situated, suspended, one slightly lower than its other counterpart. While many theories on why and how of the testicular levels have been proposed, including those engendered by vascular, functional, embryological or evolutionary influences, none of the proposed scientific reasons are totally convincing. Read More
Yelp, the popular website that offers reviews of local businesses, has just been bitten by Cats and Dogs, a veterinary hospital that is accusing the site of extortion. In a class-action lawsuit filed in Los Angeles this week, the Long Beach pet hospital claims that Yelp tried to get it to cough up $300 a month for a 12-month advertising commitment in exchange for tweaking possible bad reviews of the clinic.
In its complaint, Cats and Dogs alleges that Yelp carried a negative review of the hospital written by a certain “Chris R” that the hospital’s owner, Gregory Perrault, viewed as false and defamatory. He asked Yelp to remove it because the review was based on an office visit that occurred 18 months before the post was written, and Yelp’s guidelines mandate that reviews must be posted within 12 months of an experience. The site took down Chris R’s review.
However another bad review, this time by “Kay K,” popped up five days later. According to Wired, Kay K wrote:
Ever wonder why buffalo wings always smell so awesome when a football game is blaring in the room? Scientists have proposed that the way food smells could possibly be related to the sounds we hear when we consume them.
They note that there could be a connection between smell and sound, a hybrid sense they call “smound.” The theory is in findings published in the Journal of Neuroscience.
Daniel Wesson made the possible neural connection quite by accident when he was studying the olfactory tubercle, a structure at the base of the brain that aids odor detection. He was observing mice when he put his coffee mug down. The clunk of the mug hitting the desk produced a spike in the mice’s olfactory tubercle activity.
“Nasal leech infestation rarely occurs in society today and it is usually reported as an anecdote. In this study, we present seven nasal leeches in six patients from 1984 to 2008… Read More
Chinese citizens hoping to share dirty jokes or flirtation via text message will now be subject to Beijing’s all-seeing eyes. After policing the Internet and censoring online dissent, the Chinese government has stepped up its monitoring of cell phone messages in the country. The government is encouraging people to be mindful of the texts they send, and is asking them to refrain from writing or forwarding any smutty messages or pornographic content.
State controlled-media has reported on the new effort to clean up cell phone messages. Mobile service providers in Guangzhou, Beijing, and Shanghai are reportedly trying a text-filtering system, looking for porn or sexual content in short messages–which the Chinese refer to as “yellow texts.”
Augmented reality, the blending of real-life environments with computer generated imagery, has provided a bunch of creative applications, including a virtual tattoo. Now, the same technology can be used to identify virtual strangers.
A new app called Recognizr, developed by the Swedish mobile software firm The Astonishing Tribe, lets you find out more about a person–including what social networks they are on and in some cases their phone numbers–simply by pointing your camera-phone at them (see video below). The app works by mashing up the latest in facial recognition software, cloud computing, and augmented reality.
But before privacy advocates storm the offices of The Astonishing Tribe, we should note that the app only works on people who have opted in to the system. People have to sign onto this service, submit a profile, and upload a picture to be picked up by Recognizr. So you needn’t scramble to delete all your pictures on social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter, since Recognizr works only by mining information off its own database.