If you have a fear of creepy-crawlies, read no further. However, if you enjoy imagining worms inside you, then by all means, read on! Although this study sounds like a bad science fiction plot, it is indeed a peer-reviewed paper describing a colonoscopy-performing robot whose movement is designed to mimic an earthworm. This robot is particularly good at crawling through tubes. And by tubes, we mean your intestines.
“Minimally Invasive Surgery (MIS) has become one of the most important research areas in the field of medical engineering. Robotic colonoscopy is a typical medical procedure that complies with the requirements of MIS. In this paper, a new novel miniature robot for intestinal inspection based on the earthworm is described; its diameter and length are 7.5 mm and 120 mm respectively. Read More
First comes the YouTube video, then comes the science!
“PURPOSE: To measure the time needed to teach a series of martial arts techniques to proficiency.
METHODS: Fifteen volunteer subjects without any prior martial arts or self-defense experience were recruited. A panel of martial arts experts selected 21 different techniques including defensive stances, arm blocks, elbow strikes, palm strikes, thumbs to eyes, instep kicks and a carotid neck restraint. Read More
The sex life of the coastal squid (Loligo bleekeri) is pretty complicated. First off, the females get to mate with multiple males (a perk called polyandry) that come in two flavors. First, you’ve got your “consort males.” These (literally) big boys use pimpin’ color-changing displays to woo the ladies, and if she’s down for it, he deposits his sperm into her oviduct and proceeds to hang around to make sure that his is the only sperm in there. Then, you’ve got your “sneaker males.” These underdogs are small and can’t contend with with consort males. Instead, right when the female is about to lay her eggs, these little guys swoop in and mate with the female and leave their sperm all over HER FACE. You might think that this, in terms of producing squid babbies, would be a total fail. But you would be wrong, because it turns out that female squid lay their eggs out the front, which works out pretty well for the sneaker males. However, the story doesn’t end there. It turns out that the sperm produced by sneaker males is much bigger than that of consort males, and this paper reveals that the sperm also behave differently — they actually swarm. These scientists have discovered that sneaker male sperm move as a collective, attracted to CO2 that is presumably produced by the eggs. Another reason to wish you were a squid.
“Behavioral traits of sperm are adapted to the reproductive strategy that each species employs. In polyandrous species, spermatozoa often form motile clusters, which might be advantageous for competing with sperm from other males. Despite this presumed advantage for reproductive success, little is known about how sperm form such functional assemblies. Read More
“Textbooks on evolutionary psychology and biology cite the case of the Sharifian Emperor of Morocco, Moulay Ismael the Bloodthirsty (1672–1727) who was supposed to have sired 888 children. This example for male reproduction has been challenged and led to a still unresolved discussion. The scientific debate is shaped by assumptions about reproductive constraints which cannot be tested directly—and the figures used are sometimes arbitrary. Therefore we developed a computer simulation which tests how many copulations per day were necessary to reach the reported reproductive outcome. Read More
Why do internet trolls do what they do? Here, scientists used online surveys to learn more about trolling personalities. Interspersed among questions like “Do you post comments on websites (e.g., YouTube, news sites, forums, etc.)? (even occasionally?)” were questions such as “I have sent people to shock websites for the lulz”, “I like to troll people in forums or the comments section of websites”, “I enjoy griefing other players in multiplayer games”, and “The more beautiful and pure a thing is, the more satisfying it is to corrupt.” Somewhat unsurprisingly, it turns out that the people who like to troll also score highly on personality measures of sadism, psychopathy, and Machiavellianism (a term used by psychologists to describe a person’s ability to deceive or manipulate others). Don’t click on this.
“In two online studies (total N = 1215), respondents completed personality inventories and a survey of their Internet commenting styles. Overall, strong positive associations emerged among online commenting frequency, trolling enjoyment, and troll identity, pointing to a common construct underlying the measures. Read More
1.) A squamous cell carcinoma with a Saint Valentine’s Day message. When your cancer loves you.
2.) When love makes you blind…literally.
“Our patient experienced transient monocular visual loss every time he reached the climax of sexual intercourse, but never while performing strenuous physical exercise.”
3.) Will your love last? This mathematical model may hold the answer…
” Scholars and therapists agree on the existence of a sort of second law of thermodynamics for sentimental relationships.” Read More
“Don’t sh*t where you sleep” is one aphorism that probably will never catch on with wood cockroaches. That’s because they are constantly pooping in their nests, which is pretty icky. But before you add this to your list of reasons to hate these harmless little beetles, listen up. It turns out that wood cockroach poop is really good at killing fungus, and pooping in their nest likely helps keep these wee beasties healthy (albeit covered in their own poop!) Who’s icky now?
“The wood cockroach Cryptocercus punctulatus nests as family units inside decayed wood, a substrate known for its high microbial load. We tested the hypothesis that defecation within their nests, a common occurrence in this species, reduces the probability of fungal development. Read More
The abstract for this paper starts out fairly depressing — apparently, “Previous research has shown that positive thinking, in the form of fantasies about an idealized future, predicts low effort and poor performance.” And it doesn’t get much better. Here, the researchers hypothesized that positive thinking (in this case, by newspapers and presidents) might also have a negative impact on the economy. To test this, they analyzed historical documents, and did indeed find correlations: for example, “the more presidential inaugural addresses contained positive thinking about the future, the more the gross domestic product and the employment rate declined in the presidents’ subsequent tenures.” If only Eeyore could be president…
“Previous research has shown that positive thinking, in the form of fantasies about an idealized future, predicts low effort and poor performance. In the studies reported here, we used computerized content analysis of historical documents to investigate the relation between positive thinking about the future and economic development. Read More
File this under “reinforcing stereotypes“: these scientists use word clouds created from the Facebook messages of 75,000 people to reveal not only the differences between men and women (fighting, football and xbox vs. babies, emoticons, and shopping), but between introverts and extroverts (anime and computers vs. parties and ‘chillin’). If this hasn’t paralyzed you from depression, continue reading for a peek at the rest of the word clouds in all their glory. xD
“We analyzed 700 million words, phrases, and topic instances collected from the Facebook messages of 75,000 volunteers, who also took standard personality tests, and found striking variations in language with personality, gender, and age. In our open-vocabulary technique, the data itself drives a comprehensive exploration of language that distinguishes people, finding connections that are not captured with traditional closed-vocabulary word-category analyses. Read More
Giant squid have truly giant eyes, in fact they have the largest eyes of any animal. Whether or not their eyes are larger than you might expect for their size is still debated, but nonetheless, they are truly enormous; according to this paper they are three times the size of any other known animal: “In a search for more reliable data on the eye size of the largest deep-sea squid, we were fortunate to obtain a photograph of a freshly caught giant squid (Architeuthis sp.), where the pupil diameter could be reliably determined to be 90 mm [3.5 inches], with the entire eyeball being at least 270 mm [10 inches]. We also had access to an adult colossal squid (Mesonychoteuthis hamiltoni) from New Zealand and determined its eye diameter to be between 270 and 280 mm.” So, why do these deep-sea squid have such giant eyes? Well, if you have read Moby Dick, you might remember that sperm whales feed on giant squid. These researchers propose that the giant squid use their giant eyes to spot sperm whales deep in the sea, where light is a very limited resource, and seeing anything, even a very large whale, is no easy feat.
A unique advantage for giant eyes in giant squid.
“Giant and colossal deep-sea squid (Architeuthis and Mesonychoteuthis) have the largest eyes in the animal kingdom, but there is no explanation for why they would need eyes that are nearly three times the diameter of those of any other extant animal. Read More