The hidden dangers of dog parks.

By Seriously Science | October 8, 2014 11:00 am
Photo: flickr/_tar0_

Photo: flickr/_tar0_

Dog parks may seem like harmless places for dogs to mingle and smell each others’ butts. But lurking in that poopy grass is a hidden menace: intestinal parasites. According to this study, dogs who visited dog parks were slightly more likely than other dogs to have Giardia or Cryptosporidium, two common animal parasites that are spread through poop. However, don’t completely freak out just yet; by doing tests like the “fecal flotation” assay, the scientists determined that dogs that visit dog parks are no more likely to have unpleasant symptoms of these dreaded diseases. But for the love of dogs everywhere, if your little Fifi has diarrhea, please don’t take him to the dog park to infect everyone else. Thanks. Love, Fido.

Prevalence of Giardia and Cryptosporidium species in dog park attending dogs compared to non-dog park attending dogs in one region of Colorado.

“Dog parks are very popular in urban areas, but there are no current studies attempting to correlate visits to dog parks and risk of colonization by enteric parasites. The purpose of this study was to determine whether dog park visitation is associated with an increased prevalence of enteric parasites or an increase in prevalence of gastrointestinal signs in dogs in northern Colorado. Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: fun with animals, ha ha poop

Seizures induced by multiplication but not addition.

By Seriously Science | October 7, 2014 6:00 am
Image: Flickr/Takashi Hososhima

Image: Flickr/Takashi Hososhima

This is an old case study from 1982 that isn’t haha funny, but sure is interesting. It’s about a patient who had seizures when doing mental arithmetic. The really weird part is that the medical staff were able to detect abnormal brain activity when the patient was doing multiplication and division; however, addition and subtraction seemed to cause no problems. Even if this doesn’t really add up (groan!), I guess it just goes to show how amazingly complex our brains really are!

Seizures induced by thinking.

“A patient with generalized convulsions noted that seizures were reliably precipitated by mental arithmetic. The interictal electroencephalogram revealed only a mild, diffuse, nonspecific disturbance, but bursts of generalized epileptiform activity with no obvious clinical expression accompanied efforts at mental arithmetic with a significantly high incidence. Read More

Taking steps one at a time or two: which burns more calories?

By Seriously Science | October 6, 2014 6:00 am
Photo: Flickr/Georgie Pauwels

Photo: Flickr/Georgie Pauwels

If you’re watching your waistline, you probably already know that taking the stairs can help you burn calories. But not everyone climbs stairs the same way. For example, there are those pesky over-achievers who take the stairs two at a time–they must be burning more calories for all that extra effort, right? Well, not so fast. These scientists set out to test whether taking the stairs two at a time really does burn more calories. And while we won’t spoil the punchline entirely for you, let’s just say that total calorie burn isn’t only related to the intensity of the exercise.

The energy expenditure of stair climbing one step and two steps at a time: estimations from measures of heart rate.

“Stairway climbing provides a ubiquitous and inconspicuous method of burning calories. While typically two strategies are employed for climbing stairs, climbing one stair step per stride or two steps per stride, research to date has not clarified if there are any differences in energy expenditure between them. Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: eat me

Flashback Friday: Finally, science weighs in: should you give it up on the first date?

By Seriously Science | October 3, 2014 9:09 am

It’s the eternal question: should you get busy on the first date or wait until later in the relationship? In this study, the researchers surveyed over 10,000 people in unmarried romantic relationships to find out how the timing of “sexual initiation” is related to relationship satisfaction, stability, and communication. Perhaps unsurprisingly, they found that “waiting to initiate sexual intimacy in unmarried relationships was generally associated with positive outcomes.” So how long should you wait? Well, the couples with the most positive outcomes actually abstained until marriage. Did we mention the authors of this study were from the Brigham Young University “School of Family Life”?

Differing Relationship Outcomes When Sex Happens Before, On, or After First Dates.

“While recent studies have suggested that the timing of sexual initiation within a couple’s romantic relationship has important associations with later relationship success, few studies have examined how such timing is associated with relationship quality among unmarried couples. Using a sample of 10,932 individuals in unmarried, romantic relationships, we examined how four sexual-timing patterns (i.e., having sex prior to dating, initiating sex on the first date or shortly after, having sex after a few weeks of dating, and sexual abstinence) were associated with relationship satisfaction, stability, and communication in dating relationships. Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: feelings shmeelings, told you so

Science proves drunk men have more fun than women.

By Seriously Science | October 2, 2014 6:00 am
Photo: flickr/Courtney Murphy

Photo: flickr/Courtney Murphy

It’s known that men are much more likely to binge drink and to develop alcoholism than women. Researchers have long hypothesized that this difference may be due to men getting more of a “reward” from drinking compared to women. In this study, the authors tested this hypothesis in a social context. They had groups of participants drink either alcoholic, placebo, or control drinks: “The alcoholic beverage was 1 part 100-proof vodka and 3.5 parts Ocean Spray Cranberry Juice Cocktail. In the placebo group, the glass was smeared with vodka, and a few drops of vodka were ‘floated’ on the top of the beverage to increase credibility.” They then recorded the social interactions between participants, in particular smiling as a readout for the fun being had. The researchers found that men given alcohol experienced a more significant increase in “contagious” Duchenne smiling — a genuine smile in response to someone else’s smile — compared with women.This doesn’t explain why men are smiling more when drunk, but does imply more fun is being had.

Alcohol and Emotional Contagion: An Examination of the Spreading of Smiles in Male and Female Drinking Groups

“Researchers have hypothesized that men gain greater reward from alcohol than do women. However, alcohol-administration studies in which participants were tested when they were drinking alone have offered weak support for this hypothesis. Research has suggested that social processes may be implicated in gender differences in drinking patterns. We examined the impact of gender and alcohol on “emotional contagion”—a social mechanism central to bonding and cohesion. Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: ethanol, feelings shmeelings

Thinking about confessing something? Read this first!

By Seriously Science | October 1, 2014 6:00 am

If you are contemplating confessing a transgression, chances are you’ve also considered a “partial confession,” at least according to this study:  “As a strategy to appear better to others, partial confessions may help offenders to ‘get off the hook.’ For example, drivers accused of speeding may tell the officer, ‘I was only driving 10 mph above the limit’; a dieter may say, ‘I ate only one piece of chocolate’; a sexist manager may say, ‘I told only one dirty joke’; a cheating partner may say, ‘It happened only once.’” Here, researchers discovered that it’s pretty common to admit to a portion of one’s guilt, particularly among those who cheat to the greatest extent possible. Although the scientists found that partial confessions were more believable than not confessing at all, they also found that half-confessing made the cheaters feel worse than fully confessing or not confessing at all. Do you hear that, celebrities?

“I cheated, but only a little”: partial confessions to unethical behavior.

“Confessions are people’s way of coming clean, sharing unethical acts with others. Although confessions are traditionally viewed as categorical-one either comes clean or not-people often confess to only part of their transgression. Such partial confessions may seem attractive, because they offer an opportunity to relieve one’s guilt without having to own up to the full consequences of the transgression. In this article, we explored the occurrence, antecedents, consequences, and everyday prevalence of partial confessions. Read More

Why do some people like rare hamburgers while others prefer well-done?

By Seriously Science | September 30, 2014 11:00 am
Photo: flickr/Marshall Astor

Photo: flickr/Marshall Astor

Do you like your steak black and blue or just blackened? According to this study, your preference may depend on the emotions you feel when looking at raw meat. Here, researchers first showed 1046 Norwegian subjects pictures of either a rare or a well-done hamburger and asked them to indicate whether the image elicited “fear, disgust, surprise, interest, pleasure, or none of these.” The subjects were then told to rate their likelihood of eating burgers done to different levels (see figure below). Although it’s hard to untangle cause and effect in this case, those subjects who experienced interest or pleasure while looking at the rare burger were more likely to want to eat rare meat than those who experienced fear or disgust. My question is this: who are these people who are afraid of hamburgers?

Hamburger hazards and emotions.
“Previous studies indicate that many consumers eat rare hamburgers and that information about microbiological hazards related to undercooked meat not necessarily leads to more responsible behavior. With this study we aim to investigate whether consumers’ willingness to eat hamburgers depends on the emotions they experience when confronted with the food. Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: eat me

Scientists finally explain why your grandma will never find “Borat” funny.

By Seriously Science | September 29, 2014 6:00 am

Did you find the above “Mr. Bean” clip funny, or just inappropriate? Depending on your answer, we can probably guess your age. That’s because, according to this study, there is a clear association between age and the ability to laugh at socially inappropriate humor. The researchers demonstrated this by showing people of various ages humorous video clips featuring either socially appropriate or inappropriate scenarios. Throughout the video sessions, the participants wore electronic sensors that could detect smiling, giving the scientists a quantitative measure of their subjects’ spontaneous reactions. The result? The older the subject, the less they laughed at the inappropriate clips. The study’s list of sitcom scenes is pretty good (see below), and includes the clip shown above, which was determined to be the most inappropriate of the bunch. 

Age-related differences in judgments of inappropriate behavior are related to humor style preferences.

“Identifying social gaffes is important for maintaining relationships. Older adults are less able than young to discriminate between socially appropriate and inappropriate behavior in video clips. One open question is how these social appropriateness ratings relate to potential age differences in the perception of what is actually funny or not. Read More

Flashback Friday: Innocent until proven bearded.

By Seriously Science | September 26, 2014 6:00 am

Photo: memebase.com

All of you beardy-weirdy hipsters out there, listen up! If you are ever getting ready to be tried by a jury, be prepared to shave that bad boy. That’s because these scientists have data showing that jurors associate facial hair with criminals, and they are more likely to assume you’re guilty if you have a beard. And no, this study was not sponsored by Gillette.

Mock jurors’ perceptions of facial hair on criminal offenders.

“Two studies were conducted to measure whether mock jurors would stereotype criminal offenders as having facial hair. Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: rated G, told you so

The case of the magician who was allergic to his rabbit.

By Seriously Science | September 25, 2014 6:00 am
Photo: flickr/Howard Dickins

Photo: flickr/Howard Dickins

This case study reads like a scene from a sitcom: a magician reaches the climax of his show, in which he pulls a rabbit out of his hat, much to the delight of his audience. Soon after, however, he begins to have an allergic reaction that requires the use of both an inhaler and a steroid shot. It turns out he has become allergic to his rabbit due to the brief periods of exposure during his show, and he eventually has to scrap the rabbit act altogether. Abracad – achoo!

An unusual case of occupational asthma in a part time magician. He has got an allergy surprise from his top hat!

“In this report we describe a case of respiratory allergy induced by an unusual occupational exposure to rabbit. The patient worked as a part-time magician in theatres and private parties and the most popular performance of his show was to pull out a white rabbit from a top hat. Unfortunately, a few minutes after the extraction of rabbit from top hat, the patient experienced the onset of upper and lower airway symptoms, and in some occasions he was forced to stop the show and to use short acting β2 agonists and intramuscular steroids. Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: fun with animals, WTF?
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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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