Archive for 'Boys Will Be Boys'

A rock, a paper, a scissors, a bunch of lizards

Friday, January 30th, 2015

Hannah Fry, in this Numberphile video, tots up the cases of rock-paper-scissors mathematics as applied to lizards:

This goes back, more or less, to a sex study published in the year 2000:

Polygyny, mate-guarding, and posthumous fertilization as alternative male mating strategies,” Kelly R. Zamudio and Barry SinervoPNAS, 2000 97 (26) 14427-14432.

Here’s a photo of rock-paper-scissors/lizards researcher Kelly Zamudio, of Cornell University, sitting on a pile of sand with a colleague:

zamudio

“Gay bomb” research facility urges caution about “love hormone”

Sunday, January 25th, 2015

oxytocinThe laboratory facility that long ago won honors for doing research and development on the so-called “gay bomb” is casting a skeptical eye at widespread claims about oxytocin, a substance some people call “the love hormone”.

The Neuroskeptic blog reports:

A new study offers two reasons to be cautious about some of the claims made for the role of the hormone oxytocin in human behavior.

The paper’s out now in PLoS ONE from researchers James C. Christensen and colleagues, who are based at the US Air Force Research Laboratory in Ohio. That the military are interested in oxytocin at all is perhaps a testament to the huge amount of interest that this molecule has attracted in recent years. Oxytocin has been called the “hug hormone”, and is said to be involved in such nice things as love and trust. But according to Christensen et al., quite a lot of previous oxytocin research may be flawed.

The 2007 Ig Nobel peace prize was awarded to the Air Force Wright Laboratory, Dayton, Ohio, USA, for instigating research & development on a chemical weapon — the so-called “gay bomb” — that will make enemy soldiers become sexually irresistible to each other.

REFERENCE: “Harassing, Annoying, and ‘Bad Guy’ Identifying Chemicals,” Wright Laboratory, WL/FIVR, Wright Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, June 1, 1994.

BONUS: James C. Christensen [pictured below] also is part of a team that says: “We did something that has never been done before. Modifying a car—a 2014 Corvette C7 Stingray—so a qualified quadriplegic driver can safely operate it under racetrack conditions. We call it SAM. A semi-autonomous motorcar.”

james_christensen

The Self-Acupressure-to-Overcome-Constipation Experiment

Thursday, January 22nd, 2015

There is (people say) more than one way to skin a cat. So too are there multiple ways to overcome constipation. Here’s a newly documented way:

Effect of Perineal Self-Acupressure on Constipation: A Randomized Controlled Trial,” Ryan Abbott, Ian Ayres [pictured below], Ed Hui, and Ka-Kit Hui, Journal of General Internal Medicine, 2014, pp. 1-6. (Thanks to investigator Toby Sommer for bringing this to our attention. The authors, at the University of California, Los Angeles and at Southwestern Law School, Los Angeles, report :

“We aimed to evaluate whether perineal self-acupressure would improve patient reports of quality of life and bowel function at 4 weeks after training…. Among patients with constipation, perineal self-acupressure improves self-reported assessments of quality of life, bowel function, and health and well-being relative to providing standard constipation treatment options alone.”

Here’s further detail from the study:

self-accupressure

Here’s an appreciative writeup in the Yale Alumni Magazine:

A law professor’s theory about relieving constipation is put to the test

Toppling of the Pops: A sometimes fatal quest for soda pop

Tuesday, January 20th, 2015

We all know that fizzy drinks can affect the health of people who drink them, especially in super-size quantities, but – even worse – fizzy drinks in a vending machine sometimes bring immediate violent death when the machines are attacked.

This is documented dramatically by Dr Michael Q Cosio in a 1988 research study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. In the summary of his paper, Soda Pop Vending Machine Injuries, Cosio minces no words.

“Fifteen male patients, 15 to 24 years of age, sustained injuries after rocking soda machines. The machines fell on to the victims, resulting in a variety of injuries. Three were killed. The remaining 12 required hospitalisation for their injuries.”

At the time, Cosio was working at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, DC. He has since died. I have not determined the manner of his passing.

—So begins another Improbable Research column in The Guardian.

BONUS: For context, here is detail from a patent for a beverage vending machine. According to Dr. Cosio’s report, this general class of vending machine dispenses cans and — if attacked — death:

can-machine-patent

Westling’s lightning-rod economic growth thesis

Thursday, January 15th, 2015

Tatu Westling wrote an economics paper linking two things he has pondered intensely:

Male Organ and Economic Growth: Does Size Matter?” Tatu Westling, Helsinki Center of Economic Research Discussion Paper No. 335, July 2011. The author, at the University of Helsinki, Finland, explains:

“This study explores the link between economic growth and penile length between 1960 and 1985. It estimates an augmented Solow model utilizing the Mankiw-Romer-Weil 121 country dataset. The size of male organ is found to have an inverse U-shaped relationship with the level of GDP in 1985. Economic development between 1960 and 1985 is negatively associated with the size of male organ. With considerable reservations it is also found to be a more important determinant of GDP growth than country’s political regime type. Two interpretations for the patterns between male organ and economic growth are discussed briefly: the link between penile length, testosterone and risk-taking, and selfesteem production. Despite the robust statistical links, until more rigorous treatments on the subject the proposed ‘male organ hypothesis’ should be taken with reservations.”

In this video, Tatu Westling presents, deadpan, his theory:

Here’s further detail from Westling’s paper:

westling-graph

(Thanks to Evelyn Cornish for bringing this to our attention.)