The case of the appendicitis that turned out to be broccoli.

By Seriously Science | July 23, 2014 6:00 am
Photo: flickr/darwinbell

Photo: flickr/darwinbell

Think broccoli is a harmless, tasty vegetable that’s a good source of fiber and vitamin C? Think again! According to this article, lurking under that unassuming green exterior is a villain capable of masquerading as appendicitis. Apparently, if you somehow swallow a large enough piece of broccoli, it can become lodged in the intestine. The resulting symptoms resemble appendicitis and required surgery for one unfortunate patient (see photo below of the offending floret… if you dare). Nice try, broccoli.

Rare appendicitis-like syndrome: the case of the obstructing broccoli.

“The diagnosis of acute appendicitis can be somewhat obscure in a patient that presents with right lower quadrant abdominal pain. The advancement and ease of imaging have made CT scanning readily available in the emergency department. Management can be challenging when the patient has a high likelihood of appendicitis based on clinical suspicion and negative CT scan. The purpose of this case report is to demonstrate how an obstructing bezoar caused an appendicitis-like syndrome in a patient with negative CT scan and clinical diagnosis of acute appendicitis. Read More

Scientists explain the amazing process by which bees make hexagonal honeycombs.

By Seriously Science | July 22, 2014 6:00 am
Image: Flickr/Karunakar Rayker

Image: Flickr/Karunakar Rayker

Ever wonder how bees make all those hexagons in their honeycombs? It’s not one wall at a time, which might be your first guess. Need a hint? The holes in the honeycomb don’t actually start out as hexagons! In fact, according to this study, the bees make each hole as a circular tube in a precise staggered organization (Figure 1, below). The heat formed by the activity of the bees softens the wax, which creeps along the network between the holes. The wax hardens in the most energetically favorable configuration, which happens to be the rounded hexagonal pattern that honeycomb is famous for. Sweet!

Honeybee combs: how the circular cells transform into rounded hexagons.

“We report that the cells in a natural honeybee comb have a circular shape at ‘birth’ but quickly transform into the familiar rounded hexagonal shape, while the comb is being built. Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: fun with animals, rated G

Does she want a hookup or a relationship? The answer is in her gaze.

By Seriously Science | July 21, 2014 6:00 am
Photo: flickr/altoexyl

Photo: flickr/altoexyl

It’s a common scenario in the dating world: two people begin a relationship, and it quickly becomes apparent that one person is looking to commit while the other just wants
some nookie. Well, what if there were a scientific way to tell whether that hottie at the bar is interested in you for your body or your mind? According to this study, a person’s intentions are hidden in their gaze. The researchers tracked the eyes of subjects prompted to think about love versus lust, and they found that people focused more on faces in photos when they were thinking about love, but more on bodies in photos when they were thinking about lust (see figure below). So there you have it: according to science, if a lady spends the whole evening looking at your body, she might not be interested in a long-term relationship.

Love Is in the Gaze: An Eye-Tracking Study of Love and Sexual Desire.

“Reading other people’s eyes is a valuable skill during interpersonal interaction. Although a number of studies have investigated visual patterns in relation to the perceiver’s interest, intentions, and goals, little is known about eye gaze when it comes to differentiating intentions to love from intentions to lust (sexual desire). To address this question, we conducted two experiments: one testing whether the visual pattern related to the perception of love differs from that related to lust and one testing whether the visual pattern related to the expression of love differs from that related to lust. Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: feelings shmeelings

Flashback Friday: Finally, a male contraceptive: behold the ball cozy!

By Seriously Science | July 18, 2014 10:18 am
ball_cozy_dude

Image: flickr/Whatsername?

Birth control is often spoken of as a “women’s issue,” but it shouldn’t be. Men are equally involved in producing a baby, and there are a few male-centric birth control options (i.e., condoms) available. But there’s definitely room for new male contraceptives–especially ones that aren’t permanent and don’t require last-minute application. And that’s where the polyester comes in. Apparently, simply wearing a polyester sling around the scrotum can produce sperm-free semen (azoospermia), presumably from the heat (what’s sweatier than polyester?) and the electrostatics. The sling must be worn for months before it’s effective, and it takes another couple of months to reverse the effects. But hey, a polyester ball cozy sounds better than an unwanted pregnancy to me!

Contraceptive efficacy of polyester-induced azoospermia in normal men.

“Every 2 weeks, a physician at the Faculty of Medicine at Cairo University in Egypt examined 14 32-47 year old male volunteers wearing a polyester scrotal sling day and night for 12 months to determine if polyester fabrics can act as a contraceptive in men.  Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: how is babby formed?

Listen up, fellas: science can give you a leg up with the ladies.

By Seriously Science | July 17, 2014 6:00 am
Photo: flickr/stephaniewatsonv

Photo: flickr/stephaniewatsonv

 Want to attract the ladies with your dance moves the next time you’re at a club? Apparently, it’s all about the right knee. In this study, researchers used motion-capture technology to film men dancing. They then converted the movements to dancing avatars, which they asked women to rate for dance quality.  They found that women’s perceptions of “good” and “bad” male dancers depended primarily on movements of the neck, trunk, and right knee. More specifically, “A ‘good’ dancer… displays larger and more variable movements in relation to bending and twisting movements of their head/neck and torso, and faster bending and twisting movements of their right knee.” Why the right knee, you ask? According to the authors, 80% of the population is “right-footed”, so the preference is to be expected. (Sorry, lefties!) Be sure to check out the Supplemental Videos from the paper (below) for specific examples on “good” and “bad” dancing.

Male dance moves that catch a woman’s eye.

“Male movements serve as courtship signals in many animal species, and may honestly reflect the genotypic and/or phenotypic quality of the individual. Attractive human dance moves, particularly those of males, have been reported to show associations with measures of physical strength, prenatal androgenization and symmetry. Here we use advanced three-dimensional motion-capture technology to identify possible biomechanical differences between women’s perceptions of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ male dancers. Read More

Which bedtime stories teach kids to be more honest? (Hint: it’s not Pinnochio)

By Seriously Science | July 16, 2014 6:00 am
Photo: Flickr/Nestor Galina

Photo: Flickr/Nestor Galina

Here at Seriously, Science? we love scientific studies that help us make the choices we face every day in normal life, and the research reported here is a fantastic example. The scientists decided to test the commonly held belief that telling children classic “moral stories” will help make them avoid dishonest behaviors. They exposed 268 three to seven year-old children to stories where bad things happened to children who lied (“Pinnochio” and “The Boy Who Cried Wolf”), stories where the main character benefitted from telling the truth (“George Washington and the Cherry Tree”), or a control story (“The Tortoise and the Hare”). They then reminded the children about the main character’s good, bad, or neutral behavior, and tracked how often the children lied about whether they peeked at a toy when they were told not to. Turns out that the punishment stories did not change the frequency of lying, but the reward studies reduced lying. So, the moral of the study? If you’re trying to teach a child morals, choose bedtime stories featuring the carrot, not the stick.

Can Classic Moral Stories Promote Honesty in Children?

“The classic moral stories have been used extensively to teach children about the consequences of lying and the virtue of honesty. Despite their widespread use, there is no evidence whether these stories actually promote honesty in children. This study compared the effectiveness of four classic moral stories in promoting honesty in 3- to 7-year-olds. Read More

Why you might want to think twice before putting on that little red dress.

By Seriously Science | July 15, 2014 6:00 am
Photo: flickr/dskciado

Photo: flickr/dskciado

Red is a significant color in human psychology. Not only do women perceive men surrounded by red as having a higher status, but men see women wearing red as being more interested in sex. So how do women view other women wearing red? Here, researchers show that not only do women see other women in red as being sexually receptive, but they also assume that the red woman is promiscuous, and hence they “are more likely to intend to guard their romantic partner” when confronted by the woman. But we are left wondering is whether women who choose to wear red are actually trying to have more sex, even if subconsciously. Doctoral thesis, anyone?

Red and Romantic Rivalry: Viewing Another Woman in Red Increases Perceptions of Sexual Receptivity, Derogation, and Intentions to Mate-Guard.

“Research has shown that men perceive women wearing red, relative to other colors, as more attractive and more sexually receptive; women’s perceptions of other women wearing red have scarcely been investigated. We hypothesized that women would also interpret female red as a sexual receptivity cue, and that this perception would be accompanied by rival derogation and intentions to mate-guard. Read More

Scientists use MRI to measure precisely how your butt deforms when you sit down.

By Seriously Science | July 14, 2014 6:00 am
Photo: Flickr/StarAlex1

Photo: Flickr/StarAlex1

In our beauty-obsessed culture, people spend a lot of time thinking about the shape of their butts. Although humans have developed mirror technology to help us check them out while standing, we have had very little understanding of the shape of our butts when we sit. Until now, that is! This study used MRI to track how one lucky lady’s butt changed shape while sitting either in a chair with a butt-shaped hole, or on a regular cushion. Spoiler alert: sitting made her butt flatter… at least temporarily!

3-dimensional buttocks response to sitting: a case report.

“AIM OF THE STUDY: The aim of this study was to describe an individual’s 3-dimensional buttocks response to sitting. Within that exploration, we specifically considered tissue (i.e., fat and muscle) deformations, including tissue displacements that have not been identified by research published to date. Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: analysis taken too far

Flashback Friday: Spoiler alert! Spoilers actually increase enjoyment of stories.

By Seriously Science | July 11, 2014 9:35 am

Are you one of those people who avoids spoilers at all costs, even going so far as to block people from your Facebook and Twitter feeds who give away the plot of Game of Thrones? If so, listen up — contrary to what you might think, it turns out that avoiding spoilers might not be worth the trouble. According to this study, “spoilers may allow readers to organize developments, anticipate the implications of events, and resolve ambiguities that occur in the course of reading.” In other words, spoilers can actually make you enjoy the story more because you know where the author is going and can appreciate the hints that are given along the way. Whether, as the authors suggest, “birthday presents [might also be] better when wrapped in cellophane” remains to be determined.

Story spoilers don’t spoil stories.

“The enjoyment of fiction through books, television, and movies may depend, in part, on the psychological experience of suspense. Spoilers give away endings before stories begin, and may thereby diminish suspense and impair enjoyment; indeed, as the term suggests, readers go to considerable lengths to avoid prematurely discovering endings … However, people’s ability to reread stories with undiminished pleasure, and to read stories in which the genre strongly implies the ending, suggests that suspense regarding the outcome may not be critical to enjoyment and may even impair pleasure by distracting attention from a story’s relevant details and aesthetic qualities … We conducted three experiments, each with stories from a different, distinct genre, to test the effects of spoilers on enjoyment.
Read More

Sorry, tall guys — turns out short men get more play.

By Seriously Science | July 10, 2014 6:00 am
Photo: flickr/elwillo

Photo: flickr/elwillo

Although there are many cultural stereotypes about what types of men have the most sex, there have been surprisingly few scientific studies that actually test these ideas. This recent article describes one such study, and it turns out that most of the results are not terribly surprising. When comparing men’s sexual activity levels based on characteristics such as age, height, weight, and health, the younger, fitter men tended to get more play. However, we were surprised to see that “coital frequency was higher among men with a height of less than 175 cm.” (For those of you who are metrically challenged, that turns out to be about 5  ft 9 inches.) So there you have it, shorter men have more sex. So much for “tall, dark, and handsome”?

Sexual Activity of Young Men is Not Related to Their Anthropometric Parameters.

“INTRODUCTION:
Many articles have been written about the deterioration of male sexual function, mainly in relation to metabolic diseases and aging. With younger men, unless they have a complaint, sexual issues are rarely discussed during medical consultations. No articles could be found about anthropometric parameters as factors potentially influencing sexual performance.
AIM:
The aim of this study was to find the anthropometric parameters with the closest correlation with sexual activity.
MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES:
Main outcome measures included self-reported weekly intercourses, age, body weight and height, body mass index (BMI), and waist circumference. Read More

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Seriously, Science?

Seriously, Science?, formerly known as NCBI ROFL, is the brainchild of two prone-to-distraction biologists. We highlight the funniest, oddest, and just plain craziest research from the PubMed research database and beyond. Because nobody said serious science couldn't be silly!
Follow us on Twitter: @srslyscience.
Send us paper suggestions: srslyscience[at]gmail.com.
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