One of the most important lessons about science in society, is that coverage of scientific research publications by the scientific or lay press often leads to a distorted and inaccurate representation of the findings or the promise held by the data. My intent in these regular ‘Wacky Science Round-Up’ pieces is both to expose this phenomenon, and to explore the wide variety of science being conducted around the world – hopefully to illicit excitement about science and scientific findings. This is after all, why scientists started doing research in the first place – the thrill of discovery.
Some of the Wacky Science Stories from the past month:
** Drugs are now being produced and sold in the form of ice cream. LactoPharma, a company in New Zealand is producing strawberry flavored ReCharge ice cream, containing bioactive lactoferrin which has been shown to restore immune response after chemotherapy. Lactoferrin is a milk-derived protein whose shelf life is improved in ice cream form (See The Scientist, Mar 2010).
** Studies have shown that as use of porn increases, rates of sex crimes go down - with no increase in negative attitudes towards women. (Review of older literature from The Scientist, Mar 2010.)
** View this free Discover gallery of animals that slurp creatively, that’s right – some animals use ingenious ways to slurp up their food:
** Genetic Science Learning Center at Univ. Utah wins science prize for online resources in education. (see Science Jan 29 for other finalists).
Free web-based tool for scientists and non-scientists: http://learn.genetics.utah.edu/
** AAAS Science Books and Film online now – discover the best and the lastest here:
** Aeronaut Felix Baumgartner plans to take a helium balloon 36km into the stratosphere to make a world-record breaking jump back to earth (the record was previously 31km). Commercial flights fly at 12km. (Science 5 Feb)
** Next time you’re in a standoff in the wild west, be sure you’re not the first to draw your gun. Niels Bohr (nobel prize winning physicist) piloted these studies, which have now been confirmed. Apparantly, we move faster in reaction to something – not when we initiate the action (Science 12 Feb).
** We know that in humans, sexuality is a complex spectrum, much more than the simply XX and XY. Well now we know that this same phenomenon exists in chickens, some of which are half-female or half-male in every cell of their body (Nature Mar 10)
** Harvard biologist, author (most notably of Consilience) and ant specialist E.O. Wilson has just authored his first science fiction book, titled (of course): Anthill.
** Science film festivals (Sci 12 Feb) Lights Camera Science – does Avatar belong in this list?? http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/full/327/5967/778
** Food Security (or really, insecurity – aka: hunger) is gaining a lot of press lately. (See also my latest blog about Obesity and Hunger in the same community). Science magazine provided a special in depth section covering this important issue: http://www.sciencemag.org/special/foodsecurity/ (Science 12 Feb)
** A recent PNAS publication outlined a mathematical model to trace criminals and how they “move and mix with potential victims or targets” (Jan 2010)
** Ever notice that tomato juice tastes better while on an airline flight, than on the ground? And that coffee tastes worse at those high altitudes? (well, I’ve never noticed) but scientists have discovered that this is because atmospheric pressure dampens sweet and salty tastes leaving bitter intensified and sour unchanged. I’ll be experimenting with my no-longer-free in-flight meal next time I fly…(Sci 19Feb)
** We’ve all heard that antibiotic omnipresence can lead to bacterial resistance, so the next generation of bacteria will no longer be killed by that antibiotic. Now, scientific understanding shows that this occurs because sub-lethal doses of antibiotics trigger reactive oxygen species in the bacteria that lead to DNA mutations, some of which prove beneficial. So when your Dr. says to take your full prescription of antibiotics, be sure you do. (Sci 19 Feb)
** View the 2009 visualization challenge winners, the best images or graphics from science and engineering: http://www.sciencemag.org/special/vis2009/ (Sci 19 Feb)
http://www.sciencemag.org/special/vis2009/show/ (for the slide show)
The image above is one of the winners, showing self-fertilization of a flower.
** Teenagers these days are not getting enough sleep. And not why you might think. Scientists have discovered that teens are not getting enough sunlight, so their daylight entrained circadian rhythms are all out of whack, leading to a time-shifted sleepiness. Sleep deprivation can affect overall health, focus and attention, and metabolism. (Sci 19 Feb)
See other wacky science from the recent news covered by Aliquot in recent posts:
- Mountain peaks for weight loss and cannabis for slow sperm: http://open.salon.com/blog/aliquot/2010/02/09/mountain_peaks_for_weight_loss_and_cannabis_for_slow_sperm
- The frog signals pesticide harm: http://open.salon.com/blog/aliquot/2010/03/03/surprise_sex_change_the_frog_signals_pesticide_harm
Aliquot enjoys a good science discussion. For this post, please share, rate, comment or send a message. Much appreciated!