Archive for February, 2012

NCBI ROFL: Finally, science invents a toilet seat that takes your blood pressure!

By ncbi rofl | February 20, 2012 7:00 pm

Fully automatic system for monitoring blood pressure from a toilet-seat using the volume-oscillometric method.

“Daily monitoring of health condition at home is very important subject not only as an effective scheme for early diagnosis and treatment of cardiovascular and other diseases, but also for prevention and control of such diseases. From this point of view, we have been developing a fully automated “non-conscious” monitoring system for home health care. Read More


NCBI ROFL: Sexualization of the female foot as a response to sexually transmitted epidemics: a preliminary study.

By ncbi rofl | February 17, 2012 7:00 pm

“The authors reviewed historical literature and hypothesized a relationship between epidemics of sexually transmitted diseases and foot fetishism. They tested this hypothesis by quantifying foot-fetish depictions in the mass-circulation pornographic literature during a 30-yr. interval. Read More

Separated at the Cloning Lab: Vint Cerf and Sigmund Freud

By Amos Zeeberg (Discover Web Editor) | February 17, 2012 4:18 pm

One is a father of the Internet. The other is the father of psychoanalysis. They both rocked shiny-bald heads, classy three-piece gray suits, and full, lovingly manicured, white-gray beards. They were born nearly a century apart, but the similarities are simply too striking to overlook.

Clearly, Sigmund Freud and Vint Cerf were created in a cloning lab, in what may well have been an experiment run by the Nobel-bestowing Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences to create super-smart scientists with a penchant for fine haberdashery. Is it not obvious to everyone upon looking at photographic evidence?

If you have any leads about other scientists, engineers, or doctors who were separated in the cloning lab, let us know in the comments, @DiscoverMag, or at azeeberg <at> discovermagazine <dot> com.

NCBI ROFL: Study shows reading Twilight makes you more vampiric.

By ncbi rofl | February 16, 2012 7:00 pm

Becoming a vampire without being bitten: the narrative collective-assimilation hypothesis.

“We propose the narrative collective-assimilation hypothesis—that experiencing a narrative leads one to psychologically become a part of the collective described within the narrative. In a test of this hypothesis, participants read passages from either a book about wizards (from the Harry Potter series) or a book about vampires (from the Twilight series). Both implicit and explicit measures revealed that participants who read about wizards psychologically became wizards, whereas those who read about vampires psychologically became vampires. Read More

Amidst Record-Breaking Cold, Hungarians Burn Bricks of Money To Keep Warm

By Veronique Greenwood | February 16, 2012 3:54 pm

As North America enjoys a startlingly balmy winter, Europe is in the midst of a cripplingly frigid cold snap, with snow in Rome that damaged the Colosseum and hundreds dead from the cold. In Hungary, charities are getting heating fuel from the government…in the form of piles of money.

The moolah—Hungarian forints—that people feed into their stoves is paper currency so tattered and worn that is has to be retired from circulation. To make it truly burnable, the authorities tatter it even more, in special factories where old forint bills are shredded and then pressed with fragments of wood into combustible bricks, by workers who must wear special clothes with no pockets.

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CATEGORIZED UNDER: Technology Attacks!

A Caffeine-Tracking App…That Doesn't Actually Track Your Caffeine?

By Veronique Greenwood | February 16, 2012 8:30 am


Sorry to tell you this, US Navy, but in our opinion, you’ve been had. This new app you’ve funded, dubbed Caffeine Zone, is not the best way to schedule your caffeine intake so as to maximize awesome and minimize double vision and crazy manic behavior.  Not by a long shot.

True, Caffeine Zone, developed by researchers at Penn State, does draw on studies that suggest that between 200 and 400 milligrams of caffeine in the blood is the sweet spot, the level at which that glorious productive high kicks in. Likewise, studies also say that having about 100 milligrams in the blood around bedtime puts you in the danger zone of insomnia. But when users type in when they plan to drink their caffeine, how much of it they’ll drink, and how fast they’ll drink it, the readout they get of their projected caffeine levels throughout the day sounds like a pretty basic chart that reflects how long caffeine hangs around in the average Joe, at least in this press release. It doesn’t take into account individuals’ metabolism, whether they’ve eaten recently, and all the other things that even the most dilletante-ish coffee addict can tell you affect the high.

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CATEGORIZED UNDER: Technology Attacks!

NCBI ROFL: Do women with urinary incontinence really know where all the toilets are? The toilet paper.

By ncbi rofl | February 15, 2012 7:00 pm

“AIMS OF STUDY: Aim of this study was to determine if women with overactive bladder really do have a more detailed knowledge about toilets and their conditions in their vicinity in comparison to women with urinary stress incontinence and those without any urinary symptoms. Read More

NCBI ROFL: A squamous cell carcinoma with a Saint Valentine's Day message.

By ncbi rofl | February 14, 2012 7:00 pm

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CATEGORIZED UNDER: NCBI ROFL, rated G, ridiculous titles

The Formula for Love, Plus the Best of V-Day Science

By Sarah Zhang | February 14, 2012 3:05 pm

Hey, Internet. It’s science here wishing you a happy Valentine’s Day. And we do mean happy—we wouldn’t be here if there weren’t any oxygen in the air right?

Let’s start with a pretty picture. Copy all of the below mathematical function and enter it into Google. Just do it.

sqrt(6-x^2), -sqrt(6-x^2) from -4.5 to 4.5

…and links to the best V-Day science out there:

You Can Die of “Broken Heart Syndrome”

That soap opera cliche of someone clutching their chest and kneeling over dead after finding out a dead lover has some science behind it. Sudden shocks—even positive ones like winning the lottery—can cause a massive release of adrenaline, causing the heart to freeze up. The hearts of patients who die from this take on a distinctive shape resembling a Japanese octopus trap, which is where the name takotsubo cardiomyopathy comes from.

Why We Celebrate Valentine’s Day: Naked Romans

Every year on Valentine’s Day, writers dig up the origin of the holiday to talk about naked Romans. Sorry, we’re not immune to it either. Those pagan Romans used to run around naked with whips, hitting young women to increase their fertility. (Seriously? Dinner plans are looking so much better now.) Then, the Church pegged that pagan celebration to the story of St. Valentine, so today we have chocolate and roses and singing valentines. We’re not really sure what those have to do with St. Valentine either.

The Dark Side of the Love Hormone

The “love hormone” oxytocin makes you more empathetic and generous and, as it turns out, also more racist and less trustful. Huh? Ed Yong, who’s covered this before on his blog, writes on the latest hypothesis about oxytocin at New Scientist. Instead of just making us feel cuddly, it helps direct our attention to salient social cues in the environment. And what’s salient, of course, depends on the environment.

Most Popular Breakup Songs According to Facebook

Since Facebook tracks both your relationship status to and what songs you listen to when (among other things), they put it together and released a list of most popular songs when starting new relationships and breaking up. We’re only surprised that Adele doesn’t have a monopoly on the breakup list.

Physical Theories as Women (and Men!)

Oldies but goodies. Two pieces comparing the types of men and women you date with the types of physics you might encounter. Did you know that the derivative of acceleration is called jerk? Just saying some of these remind us of that.

Elsewhere on DISCOVER, you’ve got the hearts of space (love really is universal), animals that don’t have sex (sex is not so universal), and right here on Discoblog’s NCBI ROFL is the Valentine’s week archive. Get lovin’.

NCBI ROFL: A micro creeping robot for colonoscopy based on the earthworm.

By ncbi rofl | February 13, 2012 7:00 pm

“Minimally Invasive Surgery (MIS) has become one of the most important research areas in the field of medical engineering. Robotic colonoscopy is a typical medical procedure that complies with the requirements of MIS. In this paper, a new novel miniature robot for intestinal inspection based on the earthworm is described; its diameter and length are 7.5 mm and 120 mm respectively. Read More


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