Friday Flashback: Nifty ways to leave your lover: The tactics people use to entice and disguise the process of human mate poaching.

By Seriously Science | April 4, 2014 6:00 am

Photo: flickr/denharsh

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.

Nifty ways to leave your lover: The tactics people use to entice and disguise the process of human mate 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

CATEGORIZED UNDER: feelings shmeelings

What to eat to avoid garlic breath.

By Seriously Science | April 3, 2014 3:52 pm
Photo: flickr/Sebastian Mary

Photo: flickr/Sebastian Mary

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!

Deodorization of Garlic Breath Volatiles by Food and Food Components.

“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

CATEGORIZED UNDER: eat me, smell you later

There’s nothing like ice lubrication for sliding large things into the Forbidden City.

By Seriously Science | April 2, 2014 6:00 am
Photo: fickr/Dermot Roantree

Photo: fickr/Dermot Roantree

Sometimes I’m just amazed at how ancient civilizations got stuff done without today’s computers and machine power. And there are a number of feats from more modern civilizations that we still don’t understand. This detailed analysis describes one such situation, and deduces that the engineers of the Ming dynasty (~1500 AD) built water-lubricated ice paths on which to slide huge stones (up to 100 tons) for 40 miles. Pretty awesome!

Ice lubrication for moving heavy stones to the Forbidden City in 15th- and 16th-century China.

“Lubrication plays a crucial role in reducing friction for transporting heavy objects, from moving a 60-ton statue in ancient Egypt to relocating a 15,000-ton building in modern society. Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: rated G, super powers

Study proves cat bacon just as tasty as pig bacon.

By Seriously Science | April 1, 2014 6:00 am
Photo: flickr/Mandy Jouan

Photo: flickr/Mandy Jouan

If you’ve been grocery shopping recently, you’ve probably noticed that the price of meat has been climbing steadily. And you’re not the only one. Large food companies have also noticed, and as a consequence, they are starting to explore nontraditional sources of processed meat products. In this study, researchers explored whether they could make a processed bacon-like product out of cat meat. Amazingly, the researcher found that participants liked the “cat bacon” nearly as much as the regular old pig variety. But, despite the obvious allure to hipsters everywhere (what’s hotter than bacon right now, if not LOLcats?), we really hope we don’t see this on the menu anytime soon.

Sensory properties and acceptance of dry-cured feline bacon in comparison to traditional porcine dry-cured bacon.

“The high cost of swine production has caused producers of processed meat products to seek alternative sources of bulk meat. The objective of this study was to compare the nutritional values and taste acceptance of processed cured bacon produced from readily-available feline sources to that of traditional porcine bacon. Read More >>

CATEGORIZED UNDER: eat me

The case of the chocolate candy dental fracture.

By Seriously Science | March 31, 2014 6:00 am
Fig. 4.  Moment of fracture of the test food and record of the applied force.

Fig. 4.
Moment of fracture of the test food and record of the applied force.

In this episode of “Law & Order: Medical Case Report”, we bring you a story involving a broken tooth, a candy company, and a lawsuit. Were the victim’s already-troubled teeth to blame, or was the unnecessarily hard chocolate the real culprit? Watch as the authors use a gruesome device (see Figure 4) to test how much force it takes for real human teeth to break through different types of frozen chocolate. Yum!

Dental fracture and chocolate candies: case report.

“A complaint by a customer to a food company claimed that the consumption of a chocolate candy fractured his anterior teeth, due to its hard consistency. Fragments of the fractured teeth and the chocolate candy that supposedly caused it were collected, examined and photographed. Fragments presented caries, large restorations, and suggested previous endodontic treatment. To evaluate causation, the food company requested a laboratory analysis, which simulated the human bite on chocolate candies of the same brand. Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: analysis taken too far, eat me

Friday Flashback: President Kennedy’s death: a poison arrow-assisted homicide.

By Seriously Science | March 28, 2014 6:00 am

800px-JFK_limousine_cut_off_ver.Who doesn’t love a good conspiracy theory? Well, here’s one with plenty of juicy details–and delightfully hand-drawn figures to boot! This gem from the journal Medical Hypotheses (which used to publish conceptual articles without peer review) lays out the “evidence” that President Kennedy was not shot with a gun, but rather was killed by poison arrow, possibly shot from an umbrella. Surprisingly, The Penguin was never once mentioned in the full text. Unbelievable.

President Kennedy’s death: a poison arrow-assisted homicide.

“‘President John F. Kennedy’s death was a neurotoxin-assisted homicide’ is the hypothesis of this study. Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: analysis taken too far

How to tell if someone is really in pain or just faking it.

By Seriously Science | March 27, 2014 6:00 am
Photo: flickr/Sarah-Rose

Photo: flickr/Sarah-Rose

When it comes to reading people, scientific studies have revealed helpful strategies for situations ranging from playing poker and identifying gonorrhea-infected people by smell alone.  But this study might just prove even more useful. Here, researchers show that it is possible to distinguish between people who are faking pain and those who are actually experiencing it. And although people can be trained to improve their ability to tell the two apart, they have nothing on computer vision — apparently, when it comes to pain, computers are better at identifying when facial expressions are forced and when they are involuntary. Are we one step closer to a Torture Bot? Only time will tell…

Automatic Decoding of Facial Movements Reveals Deceptive Pain Expressions.

“In highly social species such as humans, faces have evolved to convey rich information for social interaction, including expressions of emotions and pain. Two motor pathways control facial movement: a subcortical extrapyramidal motor system drives spontaneous facial expressions of felt emotions, and a cortical pyramidal motor system controls voluntary facial expressions. Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: feelings shmeelings

Designing ergonomic hand grenades.

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

Photo: flickr/Martin Taylor

Photo: flickr/Martin Taylor


What makes for a good grenade? Well, how far and accurately you can throw it, how easy it is to throw, and how it feels to throw it seem like pretty good measures. And how do you know which shape of grenade is best? Why, by throwing lots and lots of hand grenades. At a flagpole. Laugh all you want, but if you are ever in a situation requiring the use of a hand grenade, you’re probably going to want its designer to have read this type of research.

Influence of hand grenade weight, shape and diameter on performance and subjective handling properties in relations to ergonomic design considerations.

“Three hand-grenade design factors, namely shape (ball, oval, can), diameter (55, 60, and 65 mm) and weight (300, 400, and 500 g), were assessed. Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Crime & Punishment

Science that makes you itchy just thinking about it.

By Seriously Science | March 25, 2014 6:00 am

225314166_d99927da20Mosquito bites. Woolen pants. Ants crawling under your clothes. Chicken pox. Dry skin. Feel it yet? This study set out to empirically test whether thinking about itching makes one feel more itchy. To test this “nocebo” effect — similar to the placebo effect but resulting in a negative response — the researchers trained participants to expect to feel more or less itchy by exposing them to higher or lower levels of electrode-induced itch while telling them about it, and showing them corresponding lights. The control patients either had the same experience but without the lights and verbal information, or were given the information, but the amount of itch received did not correspond to the information. The result? The participants with more information did feel itchier. And now, so do I. Thanks, science!

Role of Conditioning and Verbal Suggestion in Placebo and Nocebo Effects on Itch

“Placebo and nocebo effects are known to play a key role in treatment effects in a wide variety of conditions. These effects have frequently been investigated with regard to pain and also in other physical sensations, but have hardly been investigated with regard to itch. Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: told you so

Babies lifting weights…for science!

By Seriously Science | March 24, 2014 6:00 am
 Photo courtesy of Lynn Griffin

Photo courtesy of Lynn Griffin

As you probably know, babies are really out of shape. They’re chubby, pretty weak, and could really use some definition in their arms. But before you set your wee one loose in the gym, you’d better read this study, which tested what happens when babies pump iron using wrist weights. This was no workout marathon (the experiment lasted for only 2 minutes at at time); nevertheless, it turns out that the wrist weights do, in fact, interfere with typical baby behaviors, especially when it comes to picking up and dropping objects. Too bad–I guess we’ll just have to stick to baby yoga for now.

Effect of weight load added to wrists on manual non-exploratory and exploratory behaviors in infants.

“Investigating manual actions when infants’ upper limbs are heavier can provide information on whether mechanical forces can influence the early ability of exploring grasped objects. This study assessed whether additional weight load affected typical infants’ manual non-exploratory and exploratory behaviors. Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: how is babby formed?, 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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