Archive for 'Boys Will Be Boys'

Beetles mating with beer bottles, in a minute

Saturday, August 4th, 2018

A pithy (1-minute-long) telling, by TheBrainScoop, of the story of beetles that mate with beer bottles:

The discovery of this biological fact was rewarded with an Ig Nobel Prize. The 2011 Ig Nobel Prize for biology was awarded to Darryl Gwynne and David Rentz for discovering that a certain kind of beetle mates with a certain kind of Australian beer bottle.

Do small dogs urinate dishonestly? [research study]

Friday, August 3rd, 2018

The height of dogged dishonesty or honesty, when dogs urinate, gets analyzed in this new study:

Urine Marking in Male Domestic Dogs: Honest or Dishonest?B. McGuire [pictured here],  B. Olsen,  K.E. Bemis, and  D. Orantes, Journal of Zoology, epub 2018. The authors, at Cornell University, explain:

Via two studies, we tested the hypothesis that urine marking is a dishonest signal in adult male domestic dogs, which raise a hindlimb when marking vertical objects. In Study 1, we tested whether raised-leg angle (i.e., during a urination, the angle between a dog’s raised leg and the axis normal to the ground) is a proxy for urine mark height (n = 15 dogs) and, in Study 2, we tested whether small dogs exhibit larger raised-leg angles than large dogs (n = 45 dogs).

Our findings support raised-leg angle as a proxy for urine mark height and provide additional evidence that scent marking can be dishonest. Assuming body size is a proxy for competitive ability, small adult male dogs may place urine marks higher, relative to their own body size, than larger adult male dogs to exaggerate their competitive ability. We did not control for over marking, which also may explain our findings.

The study also says “Dogs set the pace of walks, explored freely, and investigated prospective marking targets as they pleased,” and points out an alternative, dog-honesty-heavy explanation for what’s happening:

Alternatively, over marking may explain our findings. Over marking is used by mammals to cover deposits by conspecifics in favor of displaying their own scent (Johnston, Chiang & Tung, 1994) and is a common behavior in dogs that may, in combination with adjacent marking (i.e., depositing a scent mark adjacent to that of a conspecific), constitute 63% of all urinations (Lisberg & Snowdon, 2011). If a large dog places a scent mark at the height of its hip, a small dog would need to place its urine higher, relative to its own hip, to over mark the large dog’s deposit. This requires the small dog to perform a larger raised-leg angle than the large dog (per Study 1). Compared to large dogs, small dogs will encounter more marks that are higher in relation to their own body size for them to over mark; this could explain the negative relationship between body size and average raised-leg angle.

(Thanks to Adam Marcus and Ivan Oransky for bringing this to our attention, and for pointing out that “fake news” has now become an issue with dogs.)

The farmer, his neuropathic pain and the cow fence

Monday, July 30th, 2018

Documented improbable electrical treatments for pain relief are not restricted to shocks from the Nile Catfish. ‘An interesting Case’ is described by Professor Jock Murray of the Division of Neurology, Dalhousie University, Nova Scotia, Canada, in which he relates the bespoke treatment that a Canadian farmer had developed for alleviating constant pain in his leg. It involved a novel use for a Canadian Cooperative Electrical Cow Fence Machine.

“When he awoke with pain each morning he would dress and walk to the pasture, take off the boot on his painful right foot, and place it on the damp earth. Then he would grab the fence wire with his right hand to experience a repetitive jolt of electricity. He would hold on until the pain in his leg waned and then disappeared over 8–10 minutes.”

In the winter months, he brought the machine indoors and rigged it up to a metal saw blade which he stood on to receive the shocks [see photo].

Professor Murray describes a visit to the farmer’s house to witness the treatment :

“He led me to the basement where the electrical machine was sitting on a shelf. Shaking off his boot he placed his foot on the saw blade, grabbed the metal pipe with his hand, and flicked the switch with his free hand. His body stiffened briefly to the pulsating jolts from the clicking machine. He stopped the machine after a few minutes and turned to me. ‘‘Want to try it now, Doc?’’ “

The treatment evidently worked well, because the farmer continued its use for many years, and did not feel the need for any further (conventional) medical assistance.

See: ‘The farmer, his neuropathic pain and the cow fence’ Practical Neurology, Volume 8, Issue 3.

Men of The Netherlands, men of Denmark, men of Germany—Beware!

Thursday, June 28th, 2018

If you are a male bicyclist—as is more likely in some nations than in others—consider the implied warning in this new medical study. Men of The Netherlands, men of Denmark, men of Germany—Beware!

The study is  “Effect of Oscillation on Perineal Pressure in Cyclists: Implications for Micro-Trauma,” Thomas Sanford, Adam J. Gadzinski, Thomas Gaither, E. Charles Osterberg, Greg P. Murphy, Peter R. Carroll, and Benjamin N. Breyer, Sexual Medicine, epub 2018. The all-male authors, at the University of California, San Francisco, report:

Genital numbness and erectile dysfunction in cyclists may result from repeated perineal impacts on the bicycle saddle (micro-trauma) that occur during routine cycling….

METHODS: Participants were fit to a study bicycle to ensure all cyclists had the same torso angle (60 ± 1 degree) and maximum knee angle (150 ± 1 degree). A lever system was used to generate oscillation events of 3 progressively increasing magnitudes. Perineal pressure was continuously measured using a pressure sensor on the bicycle saddle….

CONCLUSION: …We found a strong linear relationship between oscillation magnitude and perineal pressure during cycling, which was mitigated by a seatpost shock absorber. The use of shock absorption in bicycle design may reduce perineal micro-trauma and potentially improve cycling-associated perineal numbness and erectile dysfunction.

Divine boredom (new papers)

Thursday, June 28th, 2018

Has God ever been bored, or is currently bored, or might, at some stage, become bored? In a 2017 paper for the scholarly journal Religious Studies (Volume 53, Issue 1, pp. 51-70) authors Vuko Andrić (Akademischer Rat., University of Bayreuth, Germany) and Attila Tanyi (University of Tromsø, Norway) suggest that if God is omnitemporal [i.e. always has been, is, and always will be] he* might be quite likely to suffer from boredom. And if so, they say, that would give rise to a fundamental philosophical paradox :

“[However] since God is the greatest possible being (as we assumed God to be, following perfect being theology), he cannot be bored. Hence, God cannot be omnitemporal, but must be timeless; and if he cannot be timeless, then he does not exist.”

See: ‘God and eternal boredom’. 

This viewpoint, however, has now been questioned, perhaps challenged, or even refuted, by Jerome Gellman (emeritus professor of philosophy, Ben-Gurion University, Israel) who, in a new paper for the same journal, asserts that :

“Since God has no self-needs, God has no unfulfilled needs. But, to fall into boredom requires experiencing a lack, having self-regarding needs unfulfilled. So, God cannot fall into boredom.”

And so, by extension :

“Since it is logically impossible for God to fall into boredom, God can be everlasting in time.”

See: ‘It is logically impossible for everlasting God to fall into boredom’ Religious Studies (2018) 54, 285–288

* BONUS Assignment [optional] : The authors of both papers consistently use the personal pronoun ‘he’ when referring to God – discuss.

Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!