Category: rated G

NCBI ROFL: Why is butter sooooo delicious?

By ncbi rofl | April 29, 2013 10:00 am

Photo: flickr/jessicafm

What is the secret of butter? How do those rectangular prisms make everything better? Is it the fatty taste? The grassy notes? The oh-so-creamy texture? Does everyone like the same aspects of butter, or are different people responding to different characteristics? These scientists had a lot of people eat a lot of butter to try to determine what characteristics make people like or dislike a butter or butter-spread by using principal component analysis (PCA). Perhaps for the follow up study, they should just ask Paula Deen!

Identification of the characteristics that drive consumer liking of butter.

“This study identified and explored the sensory characteristics that drive consumer liking of butter. A trained descriptive panel evaluated 27 commercial butters using a defined sensory language. Read More


NCBI ROFL: Powerful people are bigger hypocrites.

By ncbi rofl | April 18, 2013 10:00 am

You love to hate them: people in power who talk the talk but don’t walk the walk. I’m sure most of us have suffered a boss who tells you to do things that he or she doesn’t. But do these people become hypocrites because they are in positions of power, or were they just born a**holes? These scientists decided to find out! Turns out that power doesn’t just corrupt, it makes you a bigger hypocrite. Good thing I didn’t get that promotion after all.

Power increases hypocrisy: moralizing in reasoning, immorality in behavior.

“In five studies, we explored whether power increases moral hypocrisy (i.e., imposing strict moral standards on other people but practicing less strict moral behavior oneself). In Experiment 1, compared with the powerless, the powerful condemned other people’s cheating more, but also cheated more themselves. In Experiments 2 through 4, the powerful were more strict in judging other people’s moral transgressions than in judging their own transgressions. Read More

NCBI ROFL: Chimps in glasses…for science!

By ncbi rofl | April 4, 2013 12:00 pm

How do you know what your chimp is thinking about? Are they thinking about you, or the banana you’re holding? One way to get an idea of what’s going on in that fuzzy little head is by identifying the objects they are looking at. With specially-designed glasses. For science!

Head-Mounted Eye Tracking of a Chimpanzee under Naturalistic Conditions.

“This study offers a new method for examining the bodily, manual, and eye movements of a chimpanzee at the micro-level. A female chimpanzee wore a lightweight head-mounted eye tracker (60 Hz) on her head while engaging in daily interactions with the human experimenter. Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: fun with animals, NCBI ROFL, rated G

NCBI ROFL: Dung beetles use Uranus for orientation.

By ncbi rofl | April 2, 2013 12:00 pm

OK, fine. It’s actually the Milky Way (we couldn’t help ourselves). But really, either way, it’s pretty amazing that dung beetles use stars to pilot their way out of a pile of poop. And besides, any study that involves putting dung beetles in a planetarium is a winner in our books.

Dung beetles use the milky way for orientation.

“When the moon is absent from the night sky, stars remain as celestial visual cues. Nonetheless, only birds, seals, and humans are known to use stars for orientation. African ball-rolling dung beetles exploit the sun, the moon, and the celestial polarization pattern to move along straight paths, away from the intense competition at the dung pile. Read More

NCBI ROFL: What makes a cute baby cute?

By ncbi rofl | March 28, 2013 12:00 pm

While perusing your Facebook news feed, have you ever wondered why some people’s babies are adorable, while others are butt ugly? To find out why, these scientists digitally manipulated baby photos to determine what features influence baby cuteness. Turns out that round faces and high foreheads are key for cuteness, and the cuter the baby, the more willing people are to take care of it. Fortunately for those ugly babies, they are not necessarily doomed to become ugly adults.

Baby Schema in Infant Faces Induces Cuteness Perception and Motivation for Caretaking in Adults.

“Ethologist Konrad Lorenz proposed that baby schema (‘Kindchenschema’) is a set of infantile physical features such as the large head, round face and big eyes that is perceived as cute and motivates caretaking behavior in other individuals, with the evolutionary function of enhancing offspring survival. Previous work on this fundamental concept was restricted to schematic baby representations or correlative approaches. Here, we experimentally tested the effects of baby schema on the perception of cuteness and the motivation for caretaking using photographs of infant faces. Read More

NCBI ROFL: Science: taking the magic out of children’s laughter since 1993.

By ncbi rofl | March 27, 2013 12:00 pm

Ah, a child’s laughter. You might describe it as magical (or, depending on your mood, kind of annoying). But that’s not quantitative enough! Enter these researchers, who took it upon themselves to finally bring some rigor to the study of children’s laughter. They even classified it into four major types: “exclamatory and dull comment; chuckle; basic, variable, and classical rhythmical; and squeal.” About time.

Vocal affect in three‐year‐olds: A quantitative acoustic analysis of child laughter

“Recordings were obtained of the laughter vocalizations of four 3-year-old children during three sessions of spontaneous free-play between mother and child in a laboratory playroom. Acoustic analysis was used to determine laughter durations, laughter events, F0, and harmonic characteristics, and to suggest a taxonomy of laughter types. Melodic contours were assessed from patterns of F0 change during laughter. Read More


NCBI ROFL: Saint Paddy’s Day Bonus: Not so luck of the Irish.

By ncbi rofl | March 16, 2013 5:58 pm

Doctors spend much of their time staring at body parts. Specialists spend an even higher percentage of their time staring at the body part that is their particular area of expertise. So, I guess it should come as no surprise that they like to tell each other about the crazy-looking examples they find. And how do doctors tell each other things? By publishing a paper, of course! Some of our favorites include a tumor that looked like the Easter bunny, and an endoscopy result that resembled a jack-o-lantern. Here’s one where a patient’s aortic valve (the valve the prevents blood from flowing back into the heart once pumped out) looked like a four-leaf clover, instead of the Mercedes-Benz emblem it should have (note the helpful figure from the paper). Read More

NCBI ROFL: On how an astronaut is like a fetus.

By ncbi rofl | March 7, 2013 1:00 pm

You know when you come up with a really really good analogy, and you try to explain it to someone, and the more you say about it, the more you realize how awesome it is, until you look up and your friend has that WTF look? Well, here are a few definitions to help you through this abstract:

Intrauterine- within the uterus.
Hypoxic- not having enough oxygen.
Hyperoxic- having too much oxygen.
Parturition- birthing.

Good luck, and God speed.

Interplanetary space flight compared with fetal/neonatal motor strategy: Theoretical and practical implications.

“The condition of simulated or real manned spaceflight, i.e. thermally comfortable microgravitation (G∼0), is very similar to the intrauterine immersion to the amniotic fluid. Domination of fast muscle fibers and phasic movements forms the fetal strategy to survive in heating, strongly hypoxic, albeit normal for fetus, immersion. In adults, the adaptive response separately to microgravitation, heat stress and hypoxia also shifts muscle fiber properties to faster values. That allows to speculate about specific motor strategy induced by micro-or hypogravitation (fetal/microgravitation, or FM-strategy). After birth the newborn is subjected to a combined ‘sensory attack’ of Earth gravitation, cooler ambient temperature and normoxia which is actually hyperoxic for fetus. Read More

NCBI ROFL: You are not one of us; ergo, your argument is invalid.

By ncbi rofl | March 6, 2013 1:00 pm

Have you ever witnessed a creationist and an atheist having a fight? If so, you’ve likely seen firsthand the subject of this paper: what happens when a member of a group (e.g., a creationist) is criticized by a non-member (e.g., an atheist). It has now been scientifically proven that no matter how logical the arguments of the non-group member are, they will probably be rejected. Even the authors describe their results as depressing.

Shooting the messenger: Outsiders critical of your group are rejected regardless of argument quality.

“People are more resistant to criticisms of their group when those criticisms are made by an outgroup rather than an ingroup member, a phenomenon referred to as the intergroup sensitivity effect (ISE). The current study compared four competing models of how argument quality would moderate the ISE, with a view to establishing the complex interrelationships between source and message effects in group-directed criticism. Read More

NCBI ROFL: This study should be taken with a grain of salt.

By ncbi rofl | March 4, 2013 9:00 am

As everyone knows, “practice makes perfect”. But how much better do you get with practice? Do you become more accurate, or just more precise (more consistent, despite whether you are correct)? Apparently, this hasn’t been tested, and these researchers earned their salt by investigating if trained subjects are more accurate or more precise at estimating how much sodium chloride (table salt) is in a sample of salt water spiked with sucrose (sugar). Should we a-salt you with another salty joke? Na, that just wouldn’t be kosher. Iodized.

Superiority of experts over novices in trueness and precision of concentration estimation of sodium chloride solutions.

“Several studies have reported that experts outperform novices in specific domains. However, the superiority of experts in accuracy, taking both trueness and precision into consideration, has not yet been explored. Here, we examined differences between expert and novice performances by evaluating the accuracy of their estimations of physical concentrations of sodium chloride in solutions while employing a visual analog scale. Read More


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