Archive for August, 2010

NCBI ROFL: Proven tips for making your partner jealous.

By ncbi rofl | August 31, 2010 7:00 pm

3705966286_3c08e6a540An inventory and update of jealousy-evoking partner behaviours in modern society.

“The goal of the present study was to identify the most important jealousy-evoking partner behaviours and to examine the extent to which these behaviours evoke jealousy. Based on the literature, a questionnaire was constructed containing 42 jealousy-evoking partner behaviours, including a partner’s extra-dyadic involvement with someone else by means of modern communication devices, such as the Internet. A second study examined the extent to which undergraduates and a community sample experienced jealousy in response to these partner behaviours. Read More


Bronze Age Brain Surgeon: Volcanic Glass Scalpel, Please

By Joseph Calamia | August 31, 2010 11:44 am

brainMove over, Dr. Quinn. Sure, the fictional television doctor could perform surgeries in the Old West using nothing more than a spoon–but one researcher now argues that inhabitants of a small village in Turkey sliced skulls over 4,000 years ago, using shards of volcanic glass.

Working in a Bronze Age graveyard in Ikiztepe, Turkey, archaeologist Önder Bilgi has uncovered 14 skulls with rectangular cut marks. He believes the Ikiztepe people used obsidian “scalpels,” found elsewhere on the site, to treat brain tumors and fight-related head injuries, and to relieve pressure from hemorrhaging.

Bilgi also told New Scientist, which has a complete interview, that the skulls’ healing indicates that some patients survived at least two years after their surgeries. Though this isn’t the oldest evidence of brain surgery (researchers have found a hole drilled into a Neolithic skull), Bilgi argues that the Ikiztepe rectangular skull openings are much more “sophisticated.”

Bilgi, who in an earlier study analyzed arsenic absorption in Ikiztepe bones to determine their metalworking skills, told New Scientist that the tools themselves aren’t too worse for multiple millennial wear:

“The blades are double-sided, about 4 centimetres [1.6 inches] long, and very, very sharp. They would still cut you today.”

Related content:
Discoblog: Brain Surgery Enables Woman to Run 100-Mile Races
Discoblog: Why Michael Jackson Might Be Buried Without His Brain
Discoblog: Military Members to Donate Their Brains to Science
Discoblog: Will Drilling a Hole in Your Head Cure Alzheimer’s?

Image: flickr / Mykl Roventine

NCBI ROFL: Factitious diarrhea: a case of watery deception.

By ncbi rofl | August 30, 2010 7:00 pm

screen“Falsification of illness occurs when a patient fabricates symptoms or induces a physical illness. A recent review of the literature covering the past 3 decades identified 42 published case studies of falsified illness in children younger than 18 years of age (1). The psychiatric term for illness falsification is “factitious disorder,” which is defined as an intentional, self-inflicted, or fabricated illness or symptom motivated solely by the individual’s need to assume the sick role, without external incentives (2). Children are at risk of developing a chronic pattern of illness falsification with the potential for serious self-harm as the sophistication of their fabrications increase. Therefore, early detection and intervention is essential (1). We report a unique case of a factitious illness in which an adolescent diluted stool samples with water to feign chronic diarrhea. Read More

Don't Try This at Home: How to Stick Your Hand in Liquid Nitrogen

By Joseph Calamia | August 30, 2010 5:55 pm

liquidnitrogenRemember those high school liquid nitrogen demonstrations? You know, the one where your teacher dipped a banana into the cloudy stuff, pulled it out, and then shattered it on the floor?

Well, Popular Science blogger Theodore Gray recently decided to stick in his hand. As you can see in a video over on their site, his hand survived the encounter. Though he stressed, and we reiterate, that this really isn’t a good idea unless you know what you’re doing, or unless you want your friends to call you Captain Hook, sticking your hand in the cold stuff isn’t necessarily a recipe for digit removal.

Since Gray’s hand was much warmer than the liquid nitrogen (which checks in at around negative 320 degrees Fahrenheit), the hand instantly created a layer of evaporated nitrogen gas–which shielded his skin, temporarily, from frostbite. Gray says on his blog:

“The phenomenon is called the Leidenfrost effect (after Johann Gottlob Leidenfrost, the doctor who first studied it in 1756). I’d known about it for years, but when it came time to test it in real life, I have to admit that I used my left hand, the one I’d miss less.”

For more videos of people doing questionable things in the name of science, check out DISCOVER’s new show Joe Genius.

Related content:
JOE GENIUS: Chemistry Cafe
Discoblog: Crazy Optical Illusion of the Day
Discoblog: To Levitate Water, Turn on the Strobe Lights
Discoblog: Prepare to Be Amazed… An iPhone App That Can Read Minds!

Image: flickr / Lee Gillen

Activists Say Whale Burgers Have a Special Sauce of Poisonous Mercury

By Joseph Calamia | August 30, 2010 11:50 am

whalemeatAnti-whaling activists are trying a different tack: Rather than focusing on the ethical problems with hunting and eating majestic and often endangered whales, they’re declaring that whale meat could be harmful to your health. Several groups want the World Health Organization to set guidelines for whale consumption, given the meat’s mercury content.

Though the World Health Organization does not currently have guidelines for the amount of whale meat someone should eat, it does list mercury as a chemical of public health concern, the BBC reports. Activist groups, including the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society, argue that although fish may contain trace levels of mercury, the animals that consume those fish accrue much higher levels–and whales and dolphins, at the top of the food chain, could have dangerously high levels.

Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Food, Nutrition, & More Food
MORE ABOUT: cetaceans, mercury, whaling

NCBI ROFL: Positioning the booty-call relationship on the spectrum of relationships.

By ncbi rofl | August 27, 2010 7:00 pm

booty callPositioning the booty-call relationship on the spectrum of relationships: sexual but more emotional than one-night stands.

“Most research on human sexuality has focused on long-term pairbonds and one-night stands. However, growing evidence suggests there are relationships that do not fit cleanly into either of those categories. One of these relationships is a “booty-call relationship.” The purpose of this study was to describe the sexual and emotional nature of booty-call relationships by (a) examining the types of emotional and sexual acts involved in booty-call relationships and (b) comparing the frequency of those acts in booty-call relationships to one-night stands and serious long-term relationships. Read More

Judge: Man Can't Sue Over LHC's Potential "Destruction of the Earth"

By Joseph Calamia | August 27, 2010 12:48 pm

large-hadron-colliderBack in 2008, a Hawaiian fellow named Walter Wagner claimed the Large Hadron Collider’s hunt for the Higgs boson would end in apocalypse, and sued to stop the collider from going online. His suit was soon dismissed by a federal judge, but with the fate of the world on the line, Wagner kept trying.

Now an appellate judge for the United States District Court in Hawaii has foiled Wagner again by knocking down his appeal, as Symmetry reports. The judge found that Wagner failed to show “credible threat of harm” and also noted that the United States doesn’t control the collider, which spans the border of Switzerland and France:

The European Center for Nuclear Research (“CERN”) proposed and constructed the Collider, albeit with some U.S. government support. The U.S. government enjoys only observer status on the CERN council, and has no control over CERN or its operations. Accordingly, the alleged injury, destruction of the earth, is in no way attributable to the U.S. government’s failure to draft an environmental impact statement.

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Sneak Peak: The Bad Astronomer Blows Things Up

By Eliza Strickland | August 27, 2010 10:55 am

What happens when you give a brainy, hyperactive astronomer his own TV show? Well first off, explosions happen.

The excitement here at Discover headquarters is palpable–only three days until we get to watch our Bad Astronomy blogger, Phil Plait, tear up the Discovery Channel with his new TV show, Bad Universe. In the inaugural episode Phil examines the threat of an asteroid impact on Earth, and gets his hands on a whole lot–seriously, a whole truckload–of explosives to model the potential disaster. But it’s not all doom and gloom; he also explains what we can do “to keep an impact from ruining our whole day,” as he says.

The show premieres this Sunday, August 29th at 10 p.m. Here’s a sneak peak:

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Events, Space & Aliens Therefrom

NCBI ROFL: Garlic: a way out of work.

By ncbi rofl | August 26, 2010 7:00 pm

garlic“Two 18-year-old men were seen for second-degree burns to the dorsum of their knees, ankles, and feet. Upon investigation, it was revealed that the burns were self-inflicted and resulted from the application of crushed garlic with the intent of exemption from work. Read More


Vladimir Putin Conducts Whale Research via Crossbow

By Joseph Calamia | August 26, 2010 5:47 pm

Required for biopsying a gray whale: one speed boat, one crossbow, and one Russian prime minister. Vladimir Putin recently spent some quality time in Olga Bay, helping the V.I. Il’ichev Pacific Oceanological Institute sort out the family tree for a group of gray whales.

As Nature’s blog The Great Beyond explains, the Institute hopes to determine if the whales descended from a Californian or extinct Korean whale population, and the crossbow holds a specially-designed arrow for taking a skin sample. The bold Russian prime minister, known for his shirtless fishing, fire fighting, and bear tracking, told the Russian news agency ITAR-TASS that science can be tricky but exciting:

“I had the sporting feeling, I missed the target thrice, but hit it the fourth time.”

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