Posts Tagged: ‘science’

Forensics is a rare area of science that needs no help recruiting more women into its ranks. Although some people seem surprised that young women would be attracted to such a potentially grisly profession that involves analyzing blood ‘n’ guts via forensic toxicology, forensic chemistry, crime scene analysis and so forth, they now comprise an overwhelming majority of those in classrooms and crime labs. And the reasons behind the exponential growth of women in forensics both exemplifies how to attract more girls and women to STEM careers and reflects the challenges of retaining female science talent to top-tier academic programs, labs and leadership positions…

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Asking why humans have sex might seem like an obvious question. It feels good. It bonds us together. Oh, and the future of the human species depends on it.

But prior to the 2007 study, “Why Humans Have Sex,” published in the Archives of Sexual Behavior, “the most comprehensive existing taxonomy” cited only eight reasons: “to feel valued by a partner, expressing value for a partner, obtaining relief from stress, nurturing one another, enhancing feelings of personal power, experiencing a partner’s power, experiencing pleasure and procreating.” Oddly, researchers hadn’t delved too deeply into the seemingly simplistic question. With that 2007 study, then, University of Texas psychology professor David Buss handily myth-busted the notion that we can identify humans’ rationales for sex on our fingers…

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In my previous blog post on thermal dieting, I discussed how exposure to cold temperatures can potentially ramp up fat metabolism. In figuring out what makes this possible physiologically, scientists have pinpointed brown fat as the gatekeeper. Distinct from white fat, the stuff that gym memberships are made of, brown adipose tissue is chock-full of energy-chomping mitochondria (these iron-packed structures give the tissues its brown color, in fact) that kick into gear when the body’s internal temperature drops in order to generate heat. That way, when the mercury plummets, brown fat chows down on calories and fat cells. Rather cannibalistic, eh?

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As you leave 2012 in the dust, join Julie and I as we take one last look in the rear-view mirror at some of the truly mind blowing science that went down in the past year. Plus here are a few of the videos we told you about…

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Mogwai and Gremlins might SEEM the most unrealistic little monsters ever to crawl out of the 1980s, but nothing could be further from the truth.

In this episode of Stuff to Blow Your Mind, Robert and Julie dissect Gremlin/mogwai biology and show you how all that melting and metamorphosing matches up with the rest of the animal kingdom.

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Imagine a half million corpses — mostly women — piled high on a pyre.

Imagine an age of social turmoil, spiritual crisis and technological revolution.

Imagine an age in which children as young as seven were executed for the crime of demonic copulation.

It’s difficult to put ourselves in the shoes of our 15th century predecessors. Witchcraft trials and witch persecutions have become a part of our shared mythology and history, but what truly went on during those centuries of brutal torture and death?

In this episode of Stuff to Blow Your Mind, Julie and I look at some compelling theories to why so many men, children and especially women suffered at the hands of superstitious religious persecution.

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If you’ve never experienced the wonders of Jim Trainor’s animation, then you’re in for a treat. I love a great convergence of art and science and that’s just what you get in thees short films. Trainor anthropomorphizes his subjects just enough to engage our human minds, but retains the basic instincts that define the actual animals — be it the urge to eat, the urge to mate or… well that’s mostly it for animals, isn’t it? You’ll find no cartoon mice piloting steam boats here.

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See “Prometheus” over the weekend? Aching to learn a bit more about some of the futuristic technology that pops up in the film? Well then allow me to share a few HSW links with you — links to wash down all that space horror goodness with a tasty chaser of SCIENCE.

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Neil deGrasse Tyson is probably the last person to suggest NASA falsify the threat of alien invasion to play on humanity’s fears. I also doubt he’d suggest that the space agency exploit America’s religious conservative movement with “proof” that said aliens are governed by demons.

But just for the sake of argument, let’s you and I go there.

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I’m a bit jaded by science. Yes, there’s substantial evidence that life can travel from one planet to another, or at least from Mars to Earth, which strongly suggests that life on Earth came from Mars. What’s more, there may be life on Mars still! Yes, but those are just microbes, so… Also, if life on Earth started on Mars, how did life on Mars start? Psychology as a field and a science is almost entirely underwhelming. Virtually every recent finding using MRI machines is deductive at best and maybe even borderline fraudulent, as, really, MRIs just track the infusion of oxygen from one region of the brain to another.

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