Archive for June, 2012

The Good-Old Days of Contraception: Lemon-Peel Diaphragms and Beaver-Testicle Tea

By Sophie Bushwick | June 29, 2012 3:23 pm

beaver
You want to make tea from my what now?

Birth control can be a hassle—but as a review of the history of contraception reveals, modern methods don’t hold a candle to the hoops that people used to jump through to prevent unwanted pregnancy. Gents, ever complained about the mandate to, as a U.S. government film instructed soldiers during World War II, “put it on before you put it in”? Perhaps you’d prefer a condom made of fish or animal intestine that ties on with a ribbon, like the ones men used in the 1600s. You could store it in a box by the bed to reuse again and again! Oh, but if you grab the contents of that box for protection when you sneak out to visit a possibly pox- or clap-ridden prostitute, just remember: while sperm can’t fit through the pores in an animal intestine, viruses can. (At least you’d be saving the woman from having to chug mercury, a last-ditch 17th century method of terminating an unwanted pregnancy.)

And ladies, grossed out by the notion of shielding your cervix with animal dung? Try some fruit instead: one 1550 BC recipe for a vaginal suppository included acacia fruit, which has been shown to prevent pregnancy in lab mice—that is, when they eat the seeds. And in the 18th century, Casanova fashioned a cervical cap from half a pulped lemon (perhaps to avoid responsibility for child support), and the combination of blockage and acidity made this a fairly effective method.

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Is the Devil a Great Cop? Belief in Hell Associated With Low National Crime Rates

By Sophie Bushwick | June 25, 2012 12:44 pm

hell
An illustration of hell from the 12th-century encyclopedia
Hortus Deliciarum

Religion takes a two-pronged approach to encouraging good behavior: breaking the rules warrants supernatural punishment, while positive actions can earn a blissful afterlife. To most effectively promote a moral lifestyle, however, religious leaders may want to scrap the heavenly reassurance and preach more fire and brimstone: While belief in hell is strongly associated with lower crime rates, belief in heaven is actually tied to more crime.

For 67 countries and more than 143,000 participants, psychologists compared three decades of data about belief in heaven, hell, and God to information about the rates of ten different crimes, including homicide and robbery. They found that religious beliefs were better predictors for five of the ten crimes than either poverty or income inequality.

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CATEGORIZED UNDER: Crime & Punishment
MORE ABOUT: belief, crime, heaven, hell, religion

Everlasting Love: Ancient Turtles Frozen in Sexual Embrace for 47 Million Years

By Sophie Bushwick | June 21, 2012 11:02 am

turtle fossils

If these fossilized turtles had a final thought, it was probably, “If you’ve gotta go, go out with a bang!” New evidence suggests that the ancient reptiles died while mating and were preserved in their final embrace.

Germany’s Messel Pit Fossil Site contains black oil shale that has preserved even the soft tissues of tens of thousands of 47-million-year-old fossils. Among them, the only ones found in pairs were nine sets of coupled carettochelyid turtles, and although previous research speculated that the reptiles were copulating, there was no proof until now. German researchers discovered that the turtles were all in male-female pairs (in the above image, the larger fossil on the left is the female), and that their tails were aligned, a position that indicates the close contact of a mating stance.

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MORE ABOUT: fossil, mating, poison, sex, turtles

NCBI ROFL: Stinging in the oral cavity caused by ingestion of the sperm bags of a squid: a case report.

By ncbi rofl | June 19, 2012 9:21 pm

It’s vacation time! NCBI ROFL will be on hiatus until July, but we wanted to leave you with one last ROFL to tide you over. Enjoy!

“We present a case of stinging in the oral cavity caused by ingestion of the sperm bags of a squid. The patient experienced severe pain in her oral cavity immediately after eating raw squid. When she was examined at our hospital, we found that several small whitish spindle-shaped stings were stuck to the mucous membrane of the hard palate. Read More

Put Down the Gun: Bank Robberies Just Ain't Worth It

By Sophie Bushwick | June 19, 2012 8:58 am

James brothers
If only the James brothers had studied econometrics,
they would have realized that crime doesn’t pay.

Pondering a bank-robbing life of crime? Don’t start building the pool for swimming through your piles of money quite yet: Economists say that in a single raid in the United Kingdom, a robber doesn’t even earn enough to purchase a new car, while each theft increases his odds of being captured.

“The return on an average bank robbery is, frankly, rubbish. It is not unimaginable wealth. It is a very modest [$19,889.64] per person per raid,” write three British economics professors in their paper (titled “Robbing banks: Crime does pay—but not very much”) in the journal Significance. At that rate, to earn an average annual income in the UK, any would-be Butch Cassidy would have to hold up two banks a year, and by the time he completed three successful raids—and only 66 percent of bank robberies actually succeed—he would face a fifty-fifty chance of arrest.

In the United States, a bank robber’s gains are even more abysmal, with each hold-up pulling in a feeble $4,330. At least the American bank robbery can lord it over the average commercial raid (which nets an average of $1,589) and convenience store bust (only $769 on average).

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NCBI ROFL: In the slammer: the myth of the prison in American gay pornographic video.

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

“The purpose of this paper is to discuss the significance of the prison scenario and its various permutations in the texts of American commercial pornographic video. The paper will identify the prison as a highly eroticised all male environment, an arena where the active/passive dichotomy of gay pornography is staged and re-staged. The significances of the prison are multiple. Read More

Why Scotch Smells Like Band-Aids & Sharpies

By Veronique Greenwood | June 15, 2012 11:43 am

spacing is important

spacing is important
Lysol, which, like scotch, contains cresol, was also once used as a vaginal douche.

Don Nosowitz over at PopSci has a lovely little explainer explaining something I am glad to realize I am not the only one wanting an explanation for. That is: why does scotch, hifalutin’ drink that it is, smell like Band-Aids? I’ve never liked that Scotchy odor, and now I know why it reeks of the pediatrician’s office. It’s because peat, the mossy stuff that’s burned in order to smoke the barley that becomes scotch, is naturally packed with a class of molecules called cresols, which are also, coincidentally, crack disinfectants.

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CATEGORIZED UNDER: Food, Nutrition, & More Food

NCBI ROFL: Attention and performance in miniature golf across the life span.

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

“Highly skilled adolescent (15-19 years), young (25-35 years), middle-aged (50-57 years), and older (58-73 years) miniature golf players were examined in training and competitive conditions. Number of shots, heart rate, ratings of anxiety, and concentration time were registered. IN addition, two attentional subscales from the Test of Attentional and Interpersonal Style (TAIS) inventory (Nideffer, 1976) were administered. Read More

Step 1: Tape Vacuum Cleaners to Your Hands. Step 2: Climb Walls

By Sophie Bushwick | June 14, 2012 2:26 pm

Another day, another secure facility to infiltrate. Life as a commando is tough—especially when you get stuck with your back up against a wall. Your jet pack’s at the cleaners, you left your grappling hook in your other pants, radioactive spiders are hibernating this time of year…as you run through your wall-scaling options, you’re about to give up, until you remember your handy “vertical ascender” pack! Powerful enough to carry 300 pounds, the device uses vacuum suction to turn a human into a wall-crawler.

In fact, you’re not sure how you forgot you were carrying it in the first place: it’s bulky, heavy, and makes a racket like a vacuum cleaner.

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CATEGORIZED UNDER: Technology Attacks!

NCBI ROFL: Do nachos count as a meal? Depends on which college student you ask.

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

Categorization of foods as “snack” and “meal” by college students.

“The cognitive representation of a food as being a “snack” or a “meal” influences eating behavior. We found previously that subjects who considered a particular food to be a ‘snack’ ate significantly more calories when tested later than subjects who considered the same foods as a ‘meal’. We conducted two surveys to determine the categorization of foods as “snacks” or “meals”. Read More

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