science

Online dating's fatal flaws

Online dating's fatal flaws

Researchers recently published a book-length article in the journal Psychological Science in the Public Interest on the scientific flaws of online dating. They wrote a layperson’s summary for Scientific American, but even that was three pages long (practically an eternity in internet time). So here’s what you need to know in a nutshell:

Hey Arizona, check out this male seahorse giving birth

Hey Arizona, check out this male seahorse giving birth

The seahorse is the only male creature — outside of Arnold Schwarzenegger in the 1994 movie JUNIOR — that gets knocked up, and as such has become something of a mascot to us in our line of work. Especially as women’s reproductive rights are increasingly under attack. But until someone forwarded this video to us, we had never actually seen a male seahorse give birth. It’s pretty mind-blowing and kind of, well, sexual. Ejaculatory, even.

Gulf dolphins suffering from liver and lung disease — Hard partying lifestyle probably not to blame

Gulf dolphins suffering from liver and lung disease — Hard partying lifestyle probably not to blame

Oil’s a natural substance, right? A little bit can’t hurt you. That seems to be the position of those pushing for a return to pre-BP oil spill levels of oil and gas drilling in the Gulf of Mexico. And the spill itself: that was so two years ago. Everything’s fine now.

What do we want? An affordable, non-hormonal, long-lasting contraception option for men!

What do we want? An affordable, non-hormonal, long-lasting contraception option for men!

When do we want it? Now! Of course, these kind of things take time and money. And if these things don’t fit the Big Pharma money-making model (take a pill, day after day, year after year, and keep shelling out the dough for it), then getting backing and support is an uphill battle. But Vasalgel seems to be the little birth control that could. After three decades of research and trials in India, this method of reversible male contraception has made it’s way to America thanks to the Parsemus Foundation, which is dedicated to finding low-cost solutions neglected by the pharmaceutical industry.

LOSING CONTROL: Can scientific principles help you find true love?

LOSING CONTROL: Can scientific principles help you find true love?

LOSING CONTROL (opening tomorrow, March 23rd, at the Quad Cinema in NYC) is a romantic comedy about a female scientist who decides she wants scientific proof that her boyfriend is the One. Oh yeah, and her science lab day job involves studying an obscene amount of semen. But this is not semen-as-hair-gel slapstick stuff (although there is one tantric-propelled semen gag) — the science in this movie is actually pretty legit, because writer-director-producer Valerie Weiss happens to have a Ph.D. in Biophysics from Harvard Med School (she was also Em’s classmate at Princeton). Weiss founded the Dudley Film Program at Harvard, and while writing her dissertation, she directed her first film. Two weeks after wrapping production, she defended her Ph.D. thesis — and she hasn’t done another experiment since.

Naked news: prosthetic testes that actually work are in the works

Naked news: prosthetic testes that actually work are in the works

In sci-fi news, scientists are working on a prosthetic testicle that creates and ejects human sperm for men missing one or both testicles who want to procreate. Yale Sex Week, once banned, is in full swing right now. Ron Paul says abortion is okay only when it’s an “honest rape,” you know, as opposed to all…

Today is World AIDS Day

Today is World AIDS Day

Today marks “the beginning of the end of AIDS”:

“Getting to Zero” is the theme of the UNAIDS efforts (the joint United Nations program on AIDS/HIV).
Bono was on The Daily Show last night promoting his activist organization, One, and his fundraising one, Red.
Add a patch to the One and Red campaigns’ 2015 Quilt, pledging to buy at least one Red gift this holiday season, and you’ll get to choose one of The Killers six consecutive Christmas songs benefiting Red for free.

How different are girls' and boys' brains?

How different are girls' and boys' brains?

It’s a favorite question of ours…okay, of mine (i.e. Lo’s), and my personal answer is that yes, there are differences, but not as many or as great as our culture presumes. The bias we have as a society actually influences the development of boys’ and girls’ brains (which are elastic) so significantly as they grow that by the time they’re adults there’s much more difference than there would be if we lived in a more egalitarian, less Men-Are-From-Mars world. In other words, it’s a self-fullfilling prophecy. So while there are differences, we would do better to celebrate our similarities, or at least our potential for overlapping skills and desires and tendencies, so that both sexes don’t feel limited by narrow gender roles…

Best of Kickstarter, 11/14

Best of Kickstarter, 11/14

We scoured the pages of Kickstarter to bring you this week’s best projects. Have a great Kickstarter project of your own or see one you think deserves some extra attention? Let us know about it the comments and we may just feature it in our weekly roundup.

BOOKS

“Plaster of Paradise”: One of my all-time favorite books, “I’m With the Band,” a groupie memoir authored by the legendary Pamela Desbarres, contains frequent mention of Cynthia Plaster-Caster. Cynthia, a fellow groupie, infamously cast rock stars’ private parts in plaster to be immortalized for all time. Now, she’s taken to Kickstarter to fund her memoir. The only bummer is that book stores will have to close forever after this thing hits shelves, because no book will ever be as awesome…

Autotune mash-up of Stephen Hawking and his science buds

Autotune mash-up of Stephen Hawking and his science buds

I know the autotuned thing jumped the Internet shark awhile ago, but I couldn’t not share this “musical investigation into the nature of atoms and subatomic particles,” created by sampling autotuned clips from science documentaries that examine the minute and infinitesimal quantum world and universe.

Best of Maker Faire, NYC: day one

Best of Maker Faire, NYC: day one

For anyone who secretly looked forward to their annual grammar school science fair – whose heart leapt at the prospect of thinking up a hypothesis, testing it through a series of experiments conducted with whatever household products you could rummage together, recording your results and then pasting them up on your beloved tri-fold poster board – the Maker Faire is for you. Of course, if you’re one of those people then your inner nerd has probably been unleashed by now, and you’re too busy framing your Maker Faire weekend pass to even read this. But for everyone who didn’t spend their Saturday and Sunday learning how to solder or watching a life-size, Rube Goldberg-inspired mousetrap, here are the first five of the ten best things I saw at Maker Faire, NY, 2011.

New research shows we still have no f-ing clue about the female orgasm

New research shows we still have no f-ing clue about the female orgasm

The female orgasm is a mystery, and not just in that how-the-hell-can-I-make-my-girlfriend-climax kind of way. Scientists just can’t seem to figure out what it’s there for. The most recent theory – popularized in the 2005 book The Case of the Female Orgasm – was that it was just an accidental evolutionary by-product of the male orgasm. Meaning, the orgasm is important for men (no shit) and women share biology with them in the same way that men have non-functioning (unless you count orgasm via nipple clamps) nipples. But anyway, a recent study of thousands of twins and how they do or don’t orgasm, failed to prove this theory.

Morbid Medical Antiques at Musée Dupuytren

Morbid Medical Antiques at Musée Dupuytren

Maybe I’ve been watching too many re-runs of “Oddities,” but there’s something really great about ogling gross, old medical samples and morbid doctoring equipment – if only for the spine-tingling “eeeew!” that they often illicit. Paris’ Musée Dupuytren is like mecca for connoisseurs of creepy curiosities and antiques. Established in 1835 by “the father of toxicology,” Mathieu Orfila, the collection of weird wax figures and diseased body parts was originally compiled in an unused wing of the old Cordeliers Convent, intended for use by medical students and faculty at the University of Paris. Accumulating most of their pieces between 1836 and 1842, the collection was reported to house over six thousand samples by the end of the 19th century. Tragically, financial strife closed its doors in the 1930s, and the collection sat rotting for thirty years.

Why is sex fun?

Why is sex fun?

The Discovery Channel is in the middle of airing a series called Curiosity. Current and upcoming episodes include “What Sank the Titanic” and “Is There a Parallel Universe?” Not sure how we missed the last one, “Why Is Sex Fun?” hosted by Maggie Gyllenhaal.

Time-Lapse auroras over Norway

Time-Lapse auroras over Norway

The Aurora from Terje Sorgjerd on Vimeo. NASA’s feature for their daily “Astronomy Picture of the Day” today is breathtaking. Instead of a photograph, they posted this time lapse shot by Terje Sorgjerd “in and around Kirkenes and Pas National Park bordering Russia” during -25 degree Celsius (-13 degree Fahrenheit) temperatures. NASA explains: ….earlier this…

A kiss can be ten times more effective than morphine in reducing pain

A kiss can be ten times more effective than morphine in reducing pain

GOOD put together this fantastic supercut of famous kiss scenes from cinema history along with pop-up scientific facts about one of our favorite activities.

Like surveys? Take this one about porn

Like surveys? Take this one about porn

Whether you’re not really into porn and only enjoy the occasional romance novel sex scene or you’re an addict whose love of Barely Legal Asian Sluts is jeopardizing your career and family life, there are three researchers from across the pond who’d love to hear from you. Clarissa Smith, Feona Attwood and Martin Barker have put together an online pornography survey that they say is “unlike almost all the previous research that has been conducted on pornography.”:
In the past, pornography has overwhelmingly been assumed to be a ‘problem’, and the only really important questions to ask about it are – how much do people (and especially children) encounter it, and how great is the ‘harm’ that it does? This research is different.

Our project is concerned with the everyday uses of pornography, and how the people who use it feel it fits into their lives. Pornography is of course a highly topical issue, subject to many opposing views and ‘strong opinions’. And we are not saying that there are no moral or political issues. But we are saying that the voices of users and enjoyers have been swamped. In fact, there is very little research that engages with the users of pornography, asking how, when and why they turn to it.

Supermoon this Saturday

Supermoon this Saturday

When the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie, that’s amore! So brace yourself for love this Saturday night (March 19th) when, according to Space.com, “the moon will swing around Earth more closely than it has in the past 18 years, lighting up the night sky from just 221,567 miles (356,577 kilometers) away.”…

The science/poetry of kissing

The science/poetry of kissing

We recently heard an interview on NPR with Sheril Kirshenbaum, author of the new book “The Science of Kissing: What Our Lips Are Telling Us” (timed perfectly to come out about a month before this recent Valentine’s Day). The question came up: Are we the only species that kisses?

NPR: Why Can't We Walk Straight?

NPR: Why Can't We Walk Straight?

A Mystery: Why Can’t We Walk Straight? from NPR on Vimeo. Watch this wonderfully animated short film from NPR that explores the puzzle of the “profound inability in humans to stick to a straight line when blindfolded or when there is no fixed point.” This is true for swimming as well. It’s a really interesting…

Green tech finds (1/13/11)

Green tech finds (1/13/11)

From green tech at the auto show in Detroit to a potential standard for eco cell phones… your green tech finds for the week.

Research shows a woman's tears kill a man's libido

Research shows a woman's tears kill a man's libido

Scientists have long pondered the mystery of why humans, unlike other species, cry emotional tears. A new study provides a few answers — as well as raising a whole bunch of new questions. Basically, researchers found that men who sniffed drops of women’s emotional tears became less sexually aroused than when they sniffed a saline solution that had been dribbled down women’s cheeks. The sexual arousal was measured in a number of ways, including testosterone levels, skin responses, brain imaging and also self-reporting (i.e. this study wasn’t just a bunch of guys claiming that “teary chicks are a boner killer”).

Martian sunset

Martian sunset

The still plugging away Mars Exploration Rover recorded this brilliant footage of a sunset from the viewpoint of a Martian. It seems like the loneliest view in the galaxy. And if you’re wondering why it’s so blue (as opposed to our Earth’s red-orange-ish sunsets) here’s your answer: The red dust in the atmosphere scatters red…

Earth gazing: best view of Earth ever

Earth gazing: best view of Earth ever

I love this photo posted at NASA’s Astronomy Photo of the Day of astronaut Tracy Caldwell Dyson gazing out the window from the International Space Station. I agree with Madeleine Robins that this picture is “the perfect cover for the perfect unwritten/unread SF novel I wanted to read when I was thirteen.” Also, is it…

The flaws in the science of sex differences

The flaws in the science of sex differences

One of our biggest pet peeves is our society’s automatic acceptance — the giddy embrace, even — of the theory that men are from Mars and women are from Venus, with nary a space shuttle between them. We’ve written before on the lazy scientists who are suckers for a sexy headline about the “innate” differences between men and women, while touting the seemingly lone, reasonable voice of neuroscientist Lise Eliot in her book “Pink Brain, Blue Brain: How Small Differences Grow into Troublesome Gaps — and What We Can Do About It.” Fortunately, there are now a few other voices of reason voice that have jumped into the fray as of late: First, Barnard professor Rebecca Jordan-Young in her new book “Brain Storm: The Flaws in the Science of Sex Differences”; and then “Delusions of Gender: How Our Minds, Society and Neurosexism Create Difference” by academic psychologist Cordelia Fine. Slate has a great review of “Brain Storm” here, and below is Publisher’s Weekly succinct starred review of it: