Gorillas, like people, have individual tastes in music.

By Seriously Science | September 2, 2015 6:00 am
Image: Flickr/Tambako The Jaguar

Image: Flickr/Tambako The Jaguar

Problem: you have a bunch of gorillas coming over for a party and you have no idea what music they like. Solution: apparently there is none. That’s because, at least according to this study, gorillas have individual responses to different kinds of music. Here, researchers observed three gorillas (Koga, Sydney, and Lily) listening to rainforest sounds (natural), Chopin (classical), or Muse (rock). Although all the gorillas changed behaviors when listening to the rainforest sounds, Koga oriented toward the speakers playing Muse 40% of the time, while Sydney did it 10%, and Lily never did (graph below). Maybe next time they should try Gorillaz.

The effects of auditory enrichment on gorillas.

“Several studies have demonstrated that auditory enrichment can reduce stereotypic behaviors in captive animals. The purpose of this study was to determine the relative effectiveness of three different types of auditory enrichment-naturalistic sounds, classical music, and rock music-in reducing stereotypic behavior displayed by Western lowland gorillas (Gorilla gorilla gorilla). Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: fun with animals, rated G

Strong-stomached scientists develop a (hilarious) hand-pumped artificial vomiting machine.

By Seriously Science | August 31, 2015 6:00 am
Fig 2. Photo of a Simulated Vomiting Episode. Projectile vomiting of colored simulated vomitus matrix.

Fig 2. Photo of a Simulated Vomiting Episode.
Projectile vomiting of colored simulated vomitus matrix.

When a friend has a stomach bug and you hold her hair back while she blows chunks, are you at risk for inhaling aerosolized virus? Well, that’s exactly what these scientists wondered. But who wants to spend months hanging out at the hospital in the hopes that someone with a stomach bug walks in and lets you measure how many viral particles get aerosolized when they puke? Let’s just go ahead and say (or hope) no one. So, to answer the question, these scientists built a vomit machine–that even included a face–to replicate what happens to the chunks that get blown when we hurl. But what to put in the vomit machine? Why, artificial vomit of course! (And virus. Don’t forget the virus.) Finally, to measure the amount of aerosolized virus, they collected air samples from a plexiglass box that surrounded the “face” of the vomit machine. The result of these shenanigans? Well, lets just say the harder they puke, the worse your chances are.

Aerosolization of a Human Norovirus Surrogate, Bacteriophage MS2, during Simulated Vomiting.

“Human noroviruses (NoV) are the leading cause of acute gastroenteritis worldwide. Epidemiological studies of outbreaks have suggested that vomiting facilitates transmission of human NoV, but there have been no laboratory-based studies characterizing the degree of NoV release during a vomiting event. The purpose of this work was to demonstrate that virus aerosolization occurs in a simulated vomiting event Read More

Flashback Friday: Sexually aroused by farts? You’re not alone.

By Seriously Science | August 28, 2015 1:49 pm

Photo: flickr/wackyvorion

The saying goes “to each his own,” and that definitely holds true for fetishes. This paper describes a person with “eproctophilia”, which is the term for when someone is sexually aroused by flatulence. The first half of the article is included below. Warning–it’s a bit of a wild ride!

Eproctophilia in a Young Adult Male

“Olfactophilia (also known as osmolagnia, osphresiolagnia, and ozolagnia) is a paraphilia where an individual derives sexual pleasure from smells and odors (Aggrawal, 2009). Given the large body of research on olfaction, it is not surprising that, in some cases, there should be an association with sexual behavior. As Bieber (1959) noted, smell is a powerful sexual stimulus. Furthermore, the erotic focus is most likely to relate to body odors of a sexual partner, including genital odors.
One subtype of olfactophilia is eproctophilia. This is a paraphilia in which people are sexually aroused by flatulence (Aggrawal, 2009). Therefore, eproctophiles are said to spend an abnormal amount of time thinking about farting and flatulence and have recurring intense sexual urges and fantasies involving farting and flatulence (Griffiths, 2012a). To date, there has been no academic or clinical research into eproctophilia. Therefore, the following account presents a brief case study of an eproctophile and given a pseudonym (Brad). Brad gave full consent for his case to be written up on the understanding that he could not be identified and that he was guaranteed full anonymity and confidentiality. Read More

Too much eye contact can actually cause hallucinations.

By Seriously Science | August 25, 2015 6:00 am
Photo: flickr/Tambako the Jaguar

Photo: flickr/Tambako the Jaguar

If you think gazing into someone else’s eyes for a long time becomes uncomfortable rather quickly, imagine if you were a subject in this study, and were asked to stare into a stranger’s eyes for ten whole minutes. Turns out that it’s a lot more than just awkward. They actually started to experience hallucinations, likely brought on by “a dissociative state induced by sensory deprivation.” So there you have it: look deeeeep into my eyes… at your own risk!

Dissociation and hallucinations in dyads engaged through interpersonal gazing.

“Interpersonal gazing in dyads, when the two individuals in the dyad stare at each other in the eyes, is investigated in 20 healthy young individuals at low illumination for 10-min. Results indicate dissociative symptoms, dysmorphic face perceptions, and hallucination-like strange-face apparitions. Dissociative symptoms and face dysmorphia were correlated. Strange-face apparitions were non-correlated with dissociation and dysmorphia. These results indicate that dissociative symptoms and hallucinatory phenomena during interpersonal-gazing under low illumination can involve different processes. Read More


We are so obsessed with gender, we even assign it to numbers.

By Seriously Science | August 19, 2015 12:19 pm
Photo: flickr/Derrick Tyson

Photo: flickr/Derrick Tyson

Unlike many other languages, most English words are not innately gendered. But apparently things aren’t so simple when it comes to numbers. The authors of this study have spent several years studying whether people perceive numbers as having genders, and whether this perception differs between men and women. Here, they asked college students to rate the masculinity and femininity of different numbers shown on a computer. They found that odd numbers tended to be perceived as male (as well as having the characteristics of being “independent and strong”), while even numbers were perceived as female (and “friendly and soft”). Interestingly, zero was classified as neither male nor female, and women tended to see numbers as more gendered than men. Sorry, lady in the photo — time to put the 9 down. That number is not for you!

The numerology of gender: gendered perceptions of even and odd numbers

“Do numbers have gender? Wilkie and Bodenhausen (2012) examined this issue in a series of experiments on perceived gender. They examined the perceived gender of baby faces and foreign names. Arbitrary numbers presented with these faces and names influenced their perceived gender. Specifically, odd numbers connoted masculinity, while even numbers connoted femininity. In two new studies (total N = 315), we further examined the gendering of numbers. The first study examined explicit ratings of 1-digit numbers. We confirmed that odd numbers seemed masculine while even numbers seemed feminine. Although both men and women showed this pattern, it was more pronounced among women. Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: reinforcing stereotypes

Study shows that internet search engines have the power to swing elections.

By Seriously Science | August 12, 2015 11:20 am
Image: Flickr/MoneyBlogNewz

Image: Flickr/MoneyBlogNewz

As a society, we are happily ensconced in the internet era. And we’re sure that you, oh wonderful blog readers, are among the first to use the internet to find information about candidates come election time. And by and large, we assume the internet search engines we use to find that information are unbiased. But what if they aren’t? Could the order of search results skew our perceptions of possible candidates? Well, this paper explores that very scenario. The result? Let’s just say that we’re happy that Google’s motto is “don’t be evil.”

The search engine manipulation effect (SEME) and its possible impact on the outcomes of elections.

“Internet search rankings have a significant impact on consumer choices, mainly because users trust and choose higher-ranked results more than lower-ranked results. Given the apparent power of search rankings, we asked whether they could be manipulated to alter the preferences of undecided voters in democratic elections. Read More

Flashback Friday: Who needs sunscreen when you have chocolate?

By Seriously Science | August 7, 2015 3:00 pm

Photo: flickr/Charles Haynes

Tired of slathering on sunscreen every time you want to spend some time outside? Try eating chocolate instead! Chocolate naturally contains very high levels of antioxidants (flavanols), but these are mostly lost during conventional chocolate processing. In this study, the researchers tested whether simply eating high-flavonol chocolate could help protect people’s skin from the effects of the sun (measured here by “minimal erythema dose” [MED], or the amount of UV exposure needed to produce a sunburn). Surprisingly, after the subjects ate 20 g of high-flavanol chocolate daily for 12 weeks, their MEDs doubled compared to a control group who ate conventional low-flavanol chocolates. So go ahead, bring your chocolate to the beach … but maybe think twice about the bikini?

Eating chocolate can significantly protect the skin from UV light.

Cocoa beans fresh from the tree are exceptionally rich in flavanols. Unfortunately, during conventional chocolate making, this high antioxidant capacity is greatly reduced due to manufacturing processes.
To evaluate the photoprotective potential of chocolate consumption, comparing a conventional dark chocolate to a specially produced chocolate with preserved high flavanol (HF) levels.
A double-blind in vivo study in 30 healthy subjects was conducted. Fifteen subjects each were randomly assigned to either a HF or low flavanol (LF) chocolate group and consumed a 20 g portion of their allocated chocolate daily. The minimal erythema dose (MED) was assessed at baseline and after 12 weeks under standardized conditions. Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: diy medicine, eat me

Want to increase your fertility? Try wearing a kilt!

By Seriously Science | August 4, 2015 6:00 am
Photo: flickr/kf0nz1

Photo: flickr/kf0nz1

As we’ve reported previously, heat is really bad for sperm — to the extent that a polyester scrotum sling is actually an effective form of contraception. So it’s probably not surprising that the opposite might be true: that not wearing underwear at all might be a fertility booster. Enter this author, who argues that traditional Scottish kilts (and perhaps other traditional skirt-like garments) may have originally arisen because they reduce scrotal temperature and thus increase fertility. Any volunteers out there want to help test this hypothesis?

‘Real men wear kilts’. The anecdotal evidence that wearing a Scottish kilt has influence on reproductive potential: how much is true?

There are anecdotal reports that men who wear (Scottish) kilts have better sperm quality and better fertility. But how much is true? Total sperm count and sperm concentration reflect semen quality and male reproductive potential. It has been proven that changes in the scrotal temperature affect spermatogenesis. We can at least affirm that clothing increases the scrotal temperature to an abnormal level that may have a negative effect on spermatogenesis. Thus, it seems plausible that men should wear skirts and avoid trousers, at least during the period during which they plan to conceive children. Read More

Flashback Friday: A new thing to fear: “intranasal teeth”.

By Seriously Science | July 31, 2015 12:28 pm

Maybe it’s because of the various traumatic ways I lost my baby teeth, but whatever the reason, teeth feature prominently in my nightmares. And now I have yet another vision to add to the bag of horror: “intranasal teeth” (literally, teeth inside the nose). Apparently (and horrifyingly), it’s not unheard of to have teeth buried deep inside one’s nose. There are a number of ways this can come about, but typically it happens to children. And no wonder–the image to the left shows what the front of a child’s face looks like when the adult teeth are about to grow in; from nose to chin, it’s pretty much ALL teeth. Not surprisingly, some of these teeth can get a bit lost and grow into the nasal cavity. Other children fall, lose a tooth, and get it stuck in their nose. Like this one:

An unusual foreign body in the nostril.

“BACKGROUND: Intranasal teeth are uncommon. Causes include trauma, infection, anatomical malformations and genetic factors. Read More

Are racehorses still evolving to get faster?

By Seriously Science | July 29, 2015 10:10 am
Image: Flickr/Tsutomu Takasu

Image: Flickr/Tsutomu Takasu

You might think that after centuries of breeding, racehorses have reached their peak speeds. And previous studies supported that. But not this one! According to this study, which used “a much larger dataset covering the full range of race distances and accounting for variation in factors such as ground softness,” racehorses have gotten faster over the past 150 years or so, an improvement evident even in the past 15 years. Holy Secretariat!

Racehorses are getting faster.

“Previous studies have concluded that thoroughbred racehorse speed is improving very slowly, if at all, despite heritable variation for performance and putatively intensive selective breeding. Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: fun with animals, told you so

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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