Posts Tagged: ‘evolution’

Recently, a Stuff Mom Never Told You listener wrote in with a perplexing question about she terms “the wedding ring phenomenon”:

…a guy, lets call him John, told us about how he will wear a wedding ring while trying to pick up women. I thought it was appalling and completely ludicrous, but my husband thought it made sense…

I was curious if you know of any research backing this wedding ring phenomenon or if the men in my life are just full of themselves.

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This Saturday marks the 25th anniversary of Warhammer 40k, which is sort of a big deal if you’re male between the ages of 13 and 60 who digs sci-fi violence and the sweet, seductive scent of acrylic paint. The franchise kicked off in 1987 as a sci-fi take on Games Workshop’s fantasy tabletop game “Warhammer.” From there, it steadily sucked in sci-fi influences to become its own distinct world: novels, movies, video games and of course vast armies of tiny soldiers.

I grew up painting figurines and playing war games with my dad, so I have a warm place in my heart for Games Workshop. But the don’t pay me to reminisce. They pay me to bring the science. So here, for your enjoyment, are five sciencey reasons to be thankful for the Warhammer 4oK universe:

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If you were born a baby spider, things would have turned out much differently for you. You’d have been mostly brain, for example. Researchers have long suspected that tiny spiders — the young of which are routinely born deformed yet grow into normally proportioned adults — are born with very large brains. Now they know it, thanks to what I imagine is research that amounted to dissecting deformed spider babies carried out by arachnid specialists at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, down Panama way.

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We all know “funny” when he encounter it, but just what’s going on inside the human mind when we snicker at the word “wiener” or revel in a well-crafted pun? In this episode of Stuff to Blow Your Mind, Julie and I dive into the world of humor to discuss the evolutionary purpose of humor and just how it changes the world around us.

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I know, this sounds like a question you’d hear a DJ wail out at a rave. But seriously, ARE YOU READY FOR THE NEO-EVOLUTION?

Humans have been around 130,000, evolving into the charming specimens we are today. But what if you could take an evolutionary process of more than 100,000 years and in just 100 years DIY human evolution? Julie and I discuss if evolution as we know it is over and if we might have the technological power to weed out disease and give our future progeny super-human attributes.

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In the great game of evolution, elephants have racked up an impressive list of achievements. For example: They’re the largest living land animal, and scientists are still studying the their prodigious brainpower. This intelligence is readily observable in the wild. Some appear to have an artistic streak (check out the video below). Humans even pay homage […]

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Our current understanding of allergies are that they are defensive measures launched unnecessarily against benign intruders like pollen, which is mistaken by the immune system as a threatening foreign invader. The concept of immunotherapy is based on this logic: By exposing the immune system to small consistent doses of a benign substance like pollen the immune system won’t launch a full-on attack.

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Like most cartoon characters, the Simpsons all have four fingers (except for God, as listener Deming pointed out to us) while us humans have five. Why is that? Why five and not, say, six or two? In this episode of Stuff to Blow Your Mind, Julie and I turn our attention to our own fleshy keyboard paddles to ask why so many creatures evolved with a five-fingered discount.

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Alistair Clarke, an evolutionary theorist has a new book coming out wherein he’s managed to reduce the amount of pleasure we derive from humor into a pretty simple equation. According to the release on Science Daily, humor (h) is equal to the amount of misinformation present in a joke or bit (m), times the “extent to which the individual [the joke receiver] is susceptible to taking it seriously (s).”

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Whether you wield a battle axe or a q-tip, you’re engaging in classic tool user behavior. In this episode of Stuff to Blow Your Mind, Julie and I get to the heart of animal tool use. Just what is it all about and how does the brain see that blood-dripping blade or wax-coated cotton swab as a part of your body? Plus, primates aren’t the only amazing tool users out there. Prepare that brain of yours for the exploits of crows with sticks, elephants with canteens, naked mole rats with tiny masks and octopi who go all “Gilligan’s Island” on some coconuts.

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