Archive for 'Boys Will Be Boys'

“What Colour is Penguin Guano?” [research study]

Saturday, September 9th, 2017

A new study reports progress on an old chestnut of a question:

“What Colour is Penguin Guano?” W.G. Rees, J.A. Brown, P.T. Fretwell, and P.N. Trathan, Antarctic Science, vol. 29, no. 5, October 2017 , pp. 417-425. (Thanks to Tom Gill for bringing this to our attention.) The authors, at the University of Cambridge and the British Antarctic Survey explain:

“The identification and quantification of Antarctic Pygoscelis penguin colonies depends increasingly on recognition of the characteristic optical properties of guano deposits, but almost all knowledge of these properties until now has been compromised by resolution and atmospheric propagation effects. Here we present hyperspectral reflectance data in the range 350–2500 nm, collected in situ from fresh guano deposits in Pygoscelis penguin colonies on Signy Island, South Orkney Islands. The period of data collection included the transition from predominantly white guano to the pink coloration characteristic of a krill-rich diet. The main identifiable features in the spectra are a broad absorption feature centred around 550 nm, responsible for the pink coloration and identified with the pigment astaxanthin, as well as several water absorption features…. From these results we propose two spectral indices suitable for use with satellite data, one of which responds to the presence of astaxanthin in the guano and the other to water. Our results do not allow us to differentiate between penguin species from their guano, but do suggest that the breeding phenology of Pygoscelis penguins could be determined from a time series of multispectral imagery.”

Fancy Upgrade Car Wheels and their Evolutionary Significance (study)

Thursday, August 31st, 2017

“Charles Darwin considered costly traits that could not be accounted for by survival advantage, such as peacock tails, problematic to his theory of evolution by natural selection. He later realized that these features conferred reproductive advantage in the acquisition of mating partners.”

Could this peacock tail insight be applied to humans? Specifically male humans? More precisely to male humans who are students? To be exact, to male human students who buy expensive fancy wheels for their cars? So wondered Daniel J. Kruger (School of Public Health, University of Michigan) and Jessica S. Kruger (School of Population Health, University of Toledo) who performed the first experimental study (of its kind) to determine whether visually conspicuous vehicle modifications influence perceptions of male owner’s reproductive strategy and attractiveness.

“Ethnically diverse undergraduates at a large public university in the Midwestern USA (N = 339, 53% female, M age = 19, SD age = 1) completed anonymous on-line surveys at their convenience.”

The results of the survey, which showed the students photos of cars with upgraded wheels, allowed conclusions to be drawn – and published in a Professional Article for EvoS : The Journal of the Evolutionary Studies Consortium 2016, NEEPS Special Issue pp. 1-12 and which can be read in full here : Visually conspicuous vehicle modifications influence perceptions of male owner’s reproductive strategy and attractiveness

Note: The photo shows the r8t12 wheel (gold brush finish) available from Radi8

“Radi8 Wheels was [sic] made for those who stand out of the crowd, for those who want to try something different. We devote passion into designing each wheel with its own unique personality. From the ‘Charming Jerk’ wheel to the ‘Mr Drama Queen’ gives your ride that personal touch.”

Scientist who uplifted a frog did not support the Chinese brassiere

Tuesday, August 8th, 2017

News reports say that Andre Geim (who won an Ig Nobel physics prize for using magnets to levitate a frog, and then won a Nobel physics prize for discovering how to obtain and study the virtually-two-dimensional form of carbon known as “graphene“) — discovered that a Chinese brassiere manufacturer is falsely claiming that he, Andre Geim, endorsed the power of their brassieres.

The Times report begins:

Busted! Makers of miracle bra faked support of Nobel winner Sir Andre Geim

Graphene scientists are used to dealing with exciting claims. The material’s superconductivity could revolutionise electronics and its super-strength could transform aircraft construction. Few industries appear safe from disruption.

Even so Andre Geim, who won a Nobel prize for its discovery, was surprised to hear graphene underwear could renew sexual vigour and enlarge breasts. He was particularly surprised because, when he read about the claims, they were endorsed by one Professor Andre Geim, from the University of Manchester….. Shengquan insists underwear made of graphene boosts breast size and sex lives….

The South China Morning Post carries this headline on its report:

‘I’m not advertising underwear’: UK Nobel laureate in ‘fake claims’ row with Chinese firm

(Thanks to Davide Castelvecchi for bringing this to our attention.)

NOTE: So far as we are aware, the Shengquan bra is not connected in any way with the Emergency Bra (a brassiere that, in an emergency, can be quickly converted into a pair of protective face masks, one for the brassiere wearer and one to be given to some needy bystander.), whose inventor, Elena Bodnar, was awarded an Ig Nobel Prize for public health….

Forensic Comparison: Sex With Animals vs Human-Butt-Fisting

Wednesday, August 2nd, 2017

The traditional method of literary analysis known as “Compare and Contrast” gets a workout in this newly published medical study:

Similar mechanisms of traumatic rectal injuries in patients who had anal sex with animals to those who were butt-fisted by human sexual partner,” Damian Jacob Sendler, Journal of Forensic and Legal Medicine, vol. 51, 2017, 69e73.

The author, at the University of Lublin Medical School, Lublin, Poland, reports;

“Among zoophiles, the mode of harm occurs through blood-engorged, interlocked penis that causes tissue lacerations upon retraction from an anus. In people experimenting with fisting, repetitive stretching within anal canal and of external sphincter causes the internal injuries. The mode of physical stimulation explains the extent of injuries in fisters vs. zoophiles: in fisting, the pressure applied by hand is controllable proximally around and within anal sphincter, while penetration by the animal penis is unpredictable and occurs within the proximal anal canal. Forensically, the findings presented in this article describe a significant mechanism of injury in fisters versus passive zoophiles. These descriptions may aid in clinically differentiating pleasurable and pathological rectal stimulation.”

Here’s additional detail from the study:

(Thanks to Ivan Oransky for bringing this to our attention.)

Why Use Dinosaur Poop to Repair Sheep Bones?

Thursday, July 27th, 2017

Roy Bloebaum used fossilized dinosaur poop to repair sheep bones. The repair of bones can be an intricate undertaking. Dr. Bloebaum (and colleagues!) hoped to demonstrate how easy it can be to make iffy assumptions. They chose dinosaur feces fossil material to attract attention that could then be focused on certain intellectual aspects of bone repair. They describe this, in technical language, in a newly published study:

Transcortical or intracondylar? Which model is accurate for predicting biomaterial attachment in total joint replacement?” Roy D. Bloebaum [pictured here], Nicole T. Abdo, Aaron A. Hofmann, Richard T. Epperson, Raymond E. Olsen, and Ornusa Chalayon, Journal of Biomedical Materials Research Part B, epub 2017. They authors, at the Bone & Joint Research Laboratory, DVA SLC HCS, Salt Lake City, Utah, and the University of Utah, report:

Despite four decades of research on material and porous coatings intended for cementless fixation in total joint replacement (TJR), aseptic mechanical loosening unrelated to particulate disease remains a concern….

Porous-coated commercially pure titanium implants (Ti-Coat) were from Thortex Inc., Portland Oregon and were used as the material to test the hypothesis (control). Commercially pure titanium has been shown to provide successful attachment clinically in TJR. Coprolite implants, from David Gillette with Utah State University, commonly known as petrified dinosaur poop (Dino), were used to establish a dramatic understanding that even this unique material (which would never be used in TJR) might demonstrate that bone could hypothetically bridge a 500 mm gap at the transcortical location, but possibly not at the weight-bearing intracondylar location….

In conclusion, the results of this investigation emphasize that biomaterial scientists, manufacturers, investigators, and orthopedic surgeons should be aware of the inferior healing properties of cancellous [the inner, spongily-structured, portion of] bone as compared to cortical [the outer, more-compactly-structured portion of] bone and how these results suggest a false-positive nature of the transcortical model in TJR. The results showed that even petrified dinosaur feces could be mechanically stable in the transcortical model.

Here are further details from the study:

(Thank to Donald W. Howie for bringing this to our attention.)