It’s not surprising that pop and rock stars have higher mortality rates than your average Joe. But how much higher is it, and does it ever decrease again (say, if they make it through the early days of fame unscathed)? According to this study, which determined the relative mortality rates of North American and European musicians (rock, punk, rap, R&B, electronica and new age), music stars experience about 1.7 times higher mortality rates than people in the general population. Interestingly, this risk goes down after about 25 years of fame in European stars, but not the North American ones. The effect is also greatest for stars who became famous before 1980. As for the reference to Eminem in the article’s title – he’s not dead (as far as we know), he was just the most recently famous person in their dataset.
Rock and pop stars are frequently characterised as indulging in high-risk behaviours, with high-profile deaths amongst such musicians creating an impression of premature mortality. However, studies to date have not quantified differences between mortality experienced by such stars and general populations.
This study measures survival rates of famous musicians (n = 1064) from their point of fame and compares them to matched general populations in North America and Europe. Read More
In “science that does not apply to atheists” news, this study shows that prayer can have a positive effect on relationships. But there’s no need to invoke a deity to explain these results — apparently, when one partner prays for the other, it increases their satisfaction with and commitment to the relationship. Just be careful: a previous study found that increased religious beliefs can also be a sign of “mating competitors”.
“Partner-focused petitionary prayer (PFPP) has received little attention in the prayer literature. In two studies, we examine PFPP to see whether it is uniquely important in conveying relationship benefits, whether its benefits are transmitted through an effect on relationship satisfaction, and whether one’s own or the partner’s PFPP is central to beneficial effects. Read More
Have you ever wished that, instead of having to get up off the couch to check your baby’s diaper to see if it’s wet, you could just get a notification on your smart phone? Well, now we’re one step closer to that (dystopian?) future. This study describes the creation of a sensor that consists of a urine-activated battery connected to a wireless transmitter. Combine it with the baby poop predictor and you’re good to go!
“A self-powered urinary incontinence sensor consisting of a flexible urine-activated battery and a wireless transmitter has been developed as an application for wireless biosensor networks. Read More
At a urology conference in Las Vegas in 1983, Dr. Giles Brindley gave a very memorable lecture. The account below must really be read completely to get the full (hilarious) effect, but we’ll set the stage. At the time, Dr. Brindley was developing some of the first medical treatments for erectile dysfunction, which he tested…on himself. In fact, he injected his penis with over 30 drugs before finding the one that he reported at in the infamous lecture. But that’s not even the best part. It’s how he demonstrated his results to the audience that must be read to be believed. Enjoy!(?)
“In 1983, at the Urodynamics Society meeting in Las Vegas, Professor G.S. Brindley first announced to the world his experiments on self-injection with papaverine to induce a penile erection. This was the first time that an effective medical therapy for erectile dysfunction (ED) was described, and was a historic development in the management of ED. The way in which this information was first reported was completely unique and memorable, and provides an interesting context for the development of therapies for ED. I was present at this extraordinary lecture, and the details are worth sharing. Although this lecture was given more than 20 years ago, the details have remained fresh in my mind, for reasons which will become obvious.
The lecture, which had an innocuous title along the lines of ‘Vaso-active therapy for erectile dysfunction’ was scheduled as an evening lecture of the Urodynamics Society in the hotel in which I was staying. I was a senior resident, hungry for knowledge, and at the AUA I went to every lecture that I could. About 15 min before the lecture I took the elevator to go to the lecture hall, and on the next floor a slight, elderly looking and bespectacled man, wearing a blue track suit and carrying a small cigar box, entered the elevator. He appeared quite nervous, and shuffled back and forth. He opened the box in the elevator, which became crowded, and started examining and ruffling through the 35 mm slides of micrographs inside. I was standing next to him, and could vaguely make out the content of the slides, which appeared to be a series of pictures of penile erection. I concluded that this was, indeed, Professor Brindley on his way to the lecture, although his dress seemed inappropriately casual.
The lecture was given in a large auditorium, with a raised lectern separated by some stairs from the seats. This was an evening programme, between the daytime sessions and an evening reception. It was relatively poorly attended, perhaps 80 people in all. Most attendees came with their partners, clearly on the way to the reception. I was sitting in the third row, and in front of me were about seven middle-aged male urologists, and their partners in ‘full evening regalia’.
Professor Brindley, still in his blue track suit, was introduced as a psychiatrist with broad research interests. He began his lecture without aplomb. He had, he indicated, hypothesized that injection with vasoactive agents into the corporal bodies of the penis might induce an erection. Lacking ready access to an appropriate animal model, and cognisant of the long medical tradition of using oneself as a research subject, he began a series of experiments on self-injection of his penis with various vasoactive agents, including papaverine, phentolamine, and several others. (While this is now commonplace, at the time it was unheard of). His slide-based talk consisted of a large series of photographs of his penis in various states of tumescence after injection with a variety of doses of phentolamine and papaverine. After viewing about 30 of these slides, there was no doubt in my mind that, at least in Professor Brindley’s case, the therapy was effective. Of course, one could not exclude the possibility that erotic stimulation had played a role in acquiring these erections, and Professor Brindley acknowledged this.
The Professor wanted to make his case in the most convincing style possible. He indicated that, in his view, no normal person would find the experience of giving a lecture to a large audience to be erotically stimulating or erection-inducing. He had, he said, therefore injected himself with papaverine in his hotel room before coming to give the lecture, and deliberately wore loose clothes (hence the track-suit) to make it possible to exhibit the results. He stepped around the podium, and pulled his loose pants tight up around his genitalia in an attempt to demonstrate his erection.
At this point, I, and I believe everyone else in the room, was agog. I could scarcely believe what was occurring on stage. But Prof. Brindley was not satisfied. He looked down sceptically at his pants and shook his head with dismay. ‘Unfortunately, this doesn’t display the results clearly enough’. He then summarily dropped his trousers and shorts, revealing a long, thin, clearly erect penis. There was not a sound in the room. Everyone had stopped breathing.
But the mere public showing of his erection from the podium was not sufficient. He paused, and seemed to ponder his next move. The sense of drama in the room was palpable. He then said, with gravity, ‘I’d like to give some of the audience the opportunity to confirm the degree of tumescence’. With his pants at his knees, he waddled down the stairs, approaching (to their horror) the urologists and their partners in the front row. As he approached them, erection waggling before him, four or five of the women in the front rows threw their arms up in the air, seemingly in unison, and screamed loudly. The scientific merits of the presentation had been overwhelmed, for them, by the novel and unusual mode of demonstrating the results.
The screams seemed to shock Professor Brindley, who rapidly pulled up his trousers, returned to the podium, and terminated the lecture. The crowd dispersed in a state of flabbergasted disarray. I imagine that the urologists who attended with their partners had a lot of explaining to do. The rest is history. Prof Brindley’s single-author paper reporting these results was published about 6 months later .
Professor Brindley made a huge contribution to the management of ED, for which he deserves tremendous gratitude. He was a true lateral thinker, and applied his unique mind to a variety of problems in medicine. These include over 100 publications that focus on the areas of visual neurophysiology and several other aspects of neurophysiology, including ejaculation and female sexual dysfunction. He also published one remarkable paper studying the effect of 17 different drugs used intracorporally to induce erection . Seven of these (phenoxybenzamine, phentolamine, thymoxamine, imipramine, verapamil, papaverine, naftidrofury) induced an erection. It is not clear to what degree Brindley’s own penis served as the test subject for these studies.
This lecture was unique, dramatic, paradigm-shifting, and unexpected. It is difficult to imagine that a similar scenario could ever take place again. Professor Brindley belongs in the pantheon of famous British eccentrics who have made spectacular contributions to science. The story of his lecture deserves a place in the urological history books.”
NCBI ROFL: Does semen have antidepressant properties?
NCBI ROFL: Slimmer women’s waist is associated with better erectile function in men independent of age.
NCBI ROFL: How do alligator erections work?
We know that methane from cow farts is a greenhouse gas and a contributor to global warming. But how about farts from camelids (camels, llamas, and alpacas), which have a similar type of digestive system? In this study, the researchers set out to measure methane emission by camelids. To do so, they built “respiration chambers” for the animals (5 alpacas, 6 llamas, and 5 camels) — basically, sealed rooms that allowed the scientists to control and measure the air coming in and out. Then they waited for the camels/llamas/alpacas to fart. Turns out that camelids produce less methane overall than cows, probably due to their lower food intake. Still, the next time you’re feeling bad about your job, just be glad it doesn’t involve setting up camel fart chambers.
“Methane emissions from ruminant livestock have been intensively studied in order to reduce contribution to the greenhouse effect. Ruminants were found to produce more enteric methane than other mammalian herbivores. As camelids share some features of their digestive anatomy and physiology with ruminants, it has been proposed that they produce similar amounts of methane per unit of body mass. This is of special relevance for countrywide greenhouse gas budgets of countries that harbor large populations of camelids like Australia. However, hardly any quantitative methane emission measurements have been performed in camelids. In order to fill this gap, we carried out respiration chamber measurements with three camelid species (Vicugna pacos, Lama glama, Camelus bactrianus; n = 16 in total), all kept on a diet consisting of food produced from alfalfa only. Read More
We know that overhearing someone’s cell phone conversation is annoying. But does the act of talking on the phone actually make you more of a jerk? In this study, the authors tested whether people talking on their phone would be less likely to help someone in need — in this case, a ‘confederate’ wearing a leg brace who drops a stack of magazines. As you might have guessed, the people on the phone were much less likely to offer any help (9% vs. 72% for people not on the phone). Is this no big deal? A sign of the death of civilized society? Discuss!
“Use of a cell phone reduces attention and increases response times. 62 people (30 men, 32 women) were confronted with a confederate wearing a large leg brace, who dropped a stack of magazines and feigned difficulty retrieving them. Read More
Nicolas Guéguen, a regular on this blog, is at it again. So far, he has shown us that hitchhiking success is affected by such diverse variables as a woman’s bust size, how much makeup she’s wearing, and the color of her hair. This time, he tested the effect on the weather on the number of rides offered to four 20-year-old “confederates.” Turns out that sunny weather is more conducive to hitchhiking because it puts drivers in a better mood. Still, we think a bit of lipstick and a blonde wig probably wouldn’t hurt.
“Previous studies have shown that pleasant weather conditions can improve people’s mood and facilitate positive social relationships. The current study tested the effect of sunshine on drivers’ willingness to give hitchhikers a ride. Four confederates (2 men, 2 women; M age = 20 yr.) acted as hitchhikers on the roadside in France, on sunny and cloudy days. Read More
In the 1980s, a man named Justin Schmidt invented the Schmidt pain index, which measured the painfulness of stings from 78 species of insects on a scale of 0 to 4 (the only stings that rated 4 were the bullet ant and the tarantula hawk). Of course, pain is subjective, so Schmidt rated all of the stings himself. In that tradition, the author of this study hypothesized that the pain level of a sting also depends on its location on the body. He tested this hypothesis by — you guessed it — getting stung. A lot. Turns out that the most painful location for being stung by a bee is on the nostril, followed by the lip and the penis. Yup, the penis.
“The Schmidt Sting Pain Index rates the painfulness of 78 Hymenoptera species, using the honey bee as a reference point. However, the question of how sting painfulness varies depending on body location remains unanswered. This study rated the painfulness of honey bee stings over 25 body locations in one subject (the author). Read More
Most of us know at least one romantic couple that got together as a result of “mate poaching.” But it turns out that partner stealing partner is actually relatively rare — another study by the same author suggests that only 5% of marriages are a result of mate poaching. The authors reasoned that not all relationships are as likely as others to be “poach-able”, and so they set out to determine if there are signals that partners give indicating they might be willing to be “stolen”. And boy, did they find what they were looking for. Check out the table below, complete with rankings of how effective each tactic was. Some are pretty blatant –”He offered her sex”– but others are more obscure: “He displays high levels of ambition”. The full text is worth a read, especially if you think your partner might be ready for poaching.
“Although a number of studies have explored the ways that men and women romantically attract mates, almost no research exists on the special tactics people use when already in a relationship and trying to attract someone new–a process known as mate poaching enticement. Read More
Garlic! So delicious, yet so stinky. If only there were foods you could eat after garlic to quench the stench. Well, according to this study, there are. These scientists first developed an automated method for detecting garlic odors, and then used this to “smell” the breath of participants after eating garlic followed by a variety of foods. The result? Turns out that eating parsley, spinach, mint, raw and microwaved apple, soft drink, green tea, and lemon juice all helped. Hmm… sounds like I should order a limoncello for dessert the next time I go out for Italian. Troppo male!
“The ability of foods and beverages to reduce allyl methyl disulfide, diallyl disulfide, allyl mercaptan, and allyl methyl sulfide on human breath after consumption of raw garlic was examined. Read More