Flashback Friday: Scientists determine what makes a good-looking penis.

By Seriously Science | June 23, 2017 6:00 am
Photo: flickr/Dallas Krentzel

Photo: flickr/Dallas Krentzel

Is there such a thing as an ugly penis? How about a pretty one? These researchers set out to determine what features are most important for a “good-looking” dong (with a specific application to men who had surgery to correct a penile birth defect). To do so, they had over 100 women rate photos of normal and surgically corrected penises, as well as complete a survey about which features of penile appearance were most important to them. The result? “General cosmetic appearance” and “appearance of pubic hair” were rated at the top, while penile length, appearance of the scrotum, and position/shape of the meatus (urethral opening) were at the bottom of the list. More proof that size really doesn’t matter (except, perhaps, when it comes to the GDP…)!

What is a Good Looking Penis? How Women Rate the Penile Appearance of Men with Surgically Corrected Hypospadias.

“INTRODUCTION:
Some men with corrected hypospadias perceive their penile appearance to be abnormal, although health professionals consider these results satisfactory.
AIM:
The aim of this study was to investigate how relevant women consider single aspects of penile appearance to be. Moreover, we studied whether women perceive hypospadias-affected surgically repaired genitals (HASRGs) to be as normal-looking as circumcised genitals and identified the most relevant predictors that influence whether a penis is perceived as normal.
METHODS:
In this cross-sectional study, 105 women in different age groups (age range: 16-20, 25-30, and 40-45 years) completed a standardized questionnaire.
MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES:
Participants had to rate the importance of eight penile aspects and to indicate how normal they found the appearance of standardized photos of 10 HASRGs and of 10 circumcised genitals. Furthermore, they were asked about demographic characteristics and their sexuality. Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: penis Friday

Parrot “laughter” is contagious.

By Seriously Science | June 22, 2017 6:00 am
Image: Flickr/Tony Hisgett

Image: Flickr/Tony Hisgett

Instead of parroting the author’s own words (below), we will leave you with a video showing the contagious laughter-like vocalization of Kea parrots. We hope it doesn’t ruffle any feathers.

Positive emotional contagion in a New Zealand parrot.

“Positive emotional contagions are outwardly emotive actions that spread from one individual to another, such as glee in preschool children or laughter in humans of all ages. The play vocalizations of some animals may also act as emotional contagions. For example, artificially deafened rats are less likely to play than their non-hearing-impaired conspecifics, while no such effect is found for blinded rats. As rat play vocalizations are also produced in anticipation of play, they, rather than the play itself, may act as a contagion, leading to a hypothesis of evolutionary parallels between rat play vocalizations and human laughter. Read More

You might want to think twice before buying those expensive headphones.

By Seriously Science | June 20, 2017 6:00 am
Photo: flickr/flattop341

Photo: flickr/flattop341

A pair of expensive headphones can easily clock in at hundreds of dollars. But is that price actually buying you a better listening experience? According to this study, the answer is no: the price of headphones does not correlate with frequency response, which is a major factor that affects perceived audio quality. But at least if you pay extra for wireless headphones, you don’t have to deal with those pesky tangles!

No correlation between headphone frequency response and retail price

“This study quantifies variability of measured headphone response patterns and aims to uncover any correlations between headphone type, retail price, and frequency response. For this purpose, the mean, variance, and covariance of the frequency magnitude responses were analyzed and correlated with headphone type and retail value. Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: told you so

Flashback Friday: Study finds that parakeet yawning is contagious. And super cute.

By Seriously Science | June 16, 2017 9:25 am
Images of a budgerigar yawning (beginning to peak)

Images of a budgerigar yawning (beginning to peak)

Think about yawning. Yawn yawn yawn… yawn. Have you yawned yet? If so, it’s probably because you come from a social species. Contagious yawning, unlike spontaneous yawning (the purpose of which might be related to cooling the brain),  seems to be related to social coordination and empathy. This type of yawning has only been observed in a handful of animals (for example, dogs may be able to catch human yawns), but never in a non-mammalian species..until now, that is! Here, researchers show that budgerigars (aka parakeets), a social bird species, are able to catch each other’s yawns. These findings lend further support to the idea that contagious yawning serves a social function. (And they also happen to be pretty adorable!)

Experimental evidence of contagious yawning in budgerigars (Melopsittacus undulatus)

“Experimental evidence of contagious yawning has only been documented in four mammalian species. Here, we report the results from two separate experimental studies designed to investigate the presence of contagious yawning in a social parrot, the budgerigar (Melopsittacus undulatus). Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: fun with animals

Flashback Friday: Study finds conservatives have more self control than liberals.

By Seriously Science | June 9, 2017 6:00 am
Image: Flickr/DonkeyHotey

Image: Flickr/DonkeyHotey

We’ve reported on a number of studies that try to address the question of what makes people liberal or conservative, and here’s another to add to the pile. These researchers found that one difference between liberals and conservatives seems to be self-control–apparently conservatives have more! And this is not just any old correlation; the relationship seems to stem from the conservative ideology that people can choose their outcome in life. When this belief was experimentally reinforced, conservatives exhibited more self control, and less after reading a paragraph explaining how free will leads to frustration and unhappiness (see below for the full text of the paragraph). But there is one thing we hope everyone has enough self-control to do: don’t forget to vote!

The self-control consequences of political ideology.

“Evidence from three studies reveals a critical difference in self-control as a function of political ideology. Specifically, greater endorsement of political conservatism (versus liberalism) was associated with greater attention regulation and task persistence. Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: politics schmolitics

Washing your hands in cold water works just as well as hot!

By Seriously Science | June 7, 2017 6:00 am

Photo: flickr/jar[o]

Photo: flickr/jar[o]

Conventional wisdom says that the best way to wash your hands is with soap and plenty of hot water. Well, prepare to have your mind blown! According to this study, it’s not the temperature of the water that matters for getting bacteria off your hands, or even whether the soap is antibacterial. What really matters is how long you lather, with 20 seconds being more effective than 5 seconds. I guess surgeons knew something we didn’t!

Quantifying the Effects of Water Temperature, Soap Volume, Lather Time, and Antimicrobial Soap as Variables in the Removal of Escherichia coli ATCC 11229 from Hands

“The literature on hand washing, while extensive, often contains conflicting data, and key variables are only superficially studied or not studied at all. Some hand washing recommendations are made without scientific support, and agreement between recommendations is limited. The influence of key variables such as soap volume, lather time, water temperature, and product formulation on hand washing efficacy was investigated in the present study. Baseline conditions were 1 mL of a bland (nonantimicrobial) soap, a 5-s lather time, and 38°C (100°F) water temperature. A nonpathogenic strain of Escherichia coli (ATCC 11229) was the challenge microorganism. Twenty volunteers (10 men and 10 women) participated in the study, and each test condition had 20 replicates. Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: ha ha poop, told you so

Does wearing tighty whities kill your sperm count?

By Seriously Science | June 5, 2017 6:00 am

Boxers versus briefs: it’s a personal question that might have big consequences for your future. That’s because warming up your testicles can seriously screw up sperm development–so seriously, in fact, that polyester ball cozies have been shown to be an effective form of birth control. So if briefs are (literally) hotter than boxers, they may reduce your fertility. But before you go burn your briefs, check out the study below. These scientists actually tested the testicular temperatures of men wearing both styles of nut huts, and they found that there was no significant difference. Don’t just rely on our brief (!) summary, though–go read the paper for yourself!

Are boxer shorts really better? A critical analysis of the role of underwear type in male subfertility.

“PURPOSE: Elevation of testicular temperature may result in arrest of spermatogenesis, abnormal semen parameters and sterility. It has been proposed that brief style underwear may produce scrotal hyperthermia and lead to clinical subfertility. Although this idea is regarded as dogma by many in the lay community and the changing of underwear type is a therapy frequently recommended by medical practitioners, there is a paucity of data measuring scrotal temperature as a function of underwear type.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: Scrotal, core and skin temperatures were measured in 97 consecutive men presenting for evaluation of primary clinical subfertility. These cases were categorized by underwear type to boxer or brief group. Semen analyses were obtained in all patients. Individuals from each group were compared to ascertain differences in temperature when wearing and not wearing underwear. Baseline semen parameters also were compared. In 14 subjects (crossover group) underwear type was changed to the alternative type and scrotal temperature measurements were repeated. Literature regarding underwear type, testicular temperature and/or fertility was reviewed and critically analyzed.

RESULTS: Mean scrotal temperature plus or minus standard deviation was 33.8 +/- 0.8 C and 33.6 +/- 1.1 C in the boxer and brief group, respectively. There were no significant temperature differences between the groups. Differential temperatures comparing core to scrotal temperature and semen parameters also were not significantly different. These observations remained constant in the crossover group.

CONCLUSIONS: The hyperthermic effect of brief style underwear has been exaggerated. In our study there was no difference in scrotal temperature depending on underwear type. It is unlikely that underwear type has a significant effect on male fertility. Routinely advising infertility patients to wear boxer shorts cannot be supported by available scientific evidence.”

Related content:
Finally, a male contraceptive: behold the ball cozy!
Want to increase your fertility? Try wearing a kilt!
Scientists determine what makes a good-looking penis.

Flashback Friday: There’s no proof that eating your placenta has any health benefits.

By Seriously Science | May 26, 2017 6:00 am
Photo: flickr/danox

Photo: flickr/danox

Eating your own placenta: some people (many of them celebrities) claim that it is a miracle cure-all, helping a new mother overcome everything from postpartum depression to low milk production. But is there actually any proof to these claims? Not that pro-placentophagers (we just made that word up) will likely care, but according to this meta-analysis of the literature, there is little scientific proof for any of these health claims. More specifically, the authors conclude that “studies investigating placenta consumption for facilitating uterine contraction, resumption of normal cyclic estrogen cycle, and milk production are inconclusive.” Sorry, Matthew McConaughey.

Placentophagy: therapeutic miracle or myth?

“Postpartum women are consuming their placentas encapsulated, cooked, and raw for the prevention of postpartum depression (PPD), pain relief, and other health benefits. Placentophagy is supported by health advocates who assert that the placenta retains hormones and nutrients that are beneficial to the mother. A computerized search was conducted using PubMed, Medline Ovid, and PsychINFO between January 1950 and January 2014. Keywords included placentophagy, placentophagia, maternal placentophagia, maternal placentophagy, human placentophagia, and human placentophagy. A total of 49 articles were identified. Empirical studies of human or animal consumption of human placentas were included. Editorial commentaries were excluded. Animal placentophagy studies were chosen based on their relevance to human practice. Ten articles (four human, six animal) were selected for inclusion. Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: diy medicine, eat me

People expect good scientists to be less attractive.

By Seriously Science | May 25, 2017 6:00 am

595f0-bbmachineScientists are the subject of many stereotypes, from the mad scientist to the goofy nerd. What these all have in common, of course, is that they are generally not very attractive. So it’s probably not too surprising that this study found that people judge the quality of a scientist’s research by his/her facial appearance. More specifically, when it comes to science communication, “Apparent competence and morality were positively related to both interest and quality judgments, whereas attractiveness boosted interest but decreased perceived quality.” Obviously, all we need is a list of the 50 sexiest scientists to help raise awareness. Oh yes… that actually exists :(

Facial appearance affects science communication.

“First impressions based on facial appearance predict many important social outcomes. We investigated whether such impressions also influence the communication of scientific findings to lay audiences, a process that shapes public beliefs, opinion, and policy. First, we investigated the traits that engender interest in a scientist’s work, and those that create the impression of a “good scientist” who does high-quality research. Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Uncategorized

What makes chocolate so deliciously melty in your mouth?

By Seriously Science | May 22, 2017 6:00 am
Image: Flickr/Jackie

Image: Flickr/Jackie

Mmmmm…. chocolate! It’s not just the flavor that makes is so delicious, it’s also the rich texture in your mouth. But what factors lead to that smooth film that coats your mouth when you eat chocolate? If you think it’s simply melted cocoa butter, think again! According to this study, properties of both the chocolate and your saliva contribute to the “lubrication” of the chocolate as you chew it. These scientists measured the physical properties of molten chocolate mixed with either saliva or salty water (PBS) as well as “chocolate expectorated after chewing till the point of swallow” (yum!). They report that the cocoa butter, sugar particles, and saliva also play a role in developing the texture of chewed chocolate. We just hope the poor souls who were asked to spit out chocolate before swallowing were well compensated!

Lubrication of chocolate during oral processing.

“The structure of chocolate is drastically transformed during oral processing from a composite solid to an oil/water fluid emulsion. Using two commercial dark chocolates varying in cocoa solids content, this study develops a method to identify the factors that govern lubrication in molten chocolate and saliva’s contribution to lubrication following oral processing. 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.
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