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We're a little crazy, about science!

Posts tagged “lifestyle

Social connectedness can increase suicide risk

social media

social media

Community characteristics play an important role in perpetuating teen suicide clusters and thwarting prevention efforts, according to a new study by sociologists who examined clusters in a single town. The study illustrates how the homogeneous culture and high degree of social connectedness of a community can increase suicide risk, particularly among teenagers.

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Can cell phones make you feel less connected to your friends and family?

life without the screen
life without the screen

Image credit goes to: Eric Pickersgill

In this digital age, with phones at our fingertips, you would think that access to constant communication would make us feel closer to one another. But a new study shows that may not be the case. In fact, cell phone use might actually lead to feeling less socially connected, depending on your gender or cell phone habits.

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Cardiac complications from energy drinks?

energy drinks funny meme

energy drinks funny meme

The high levels of caffeine in energy drinks may lead to cardiac complications. A new case report adds to previous reports of adverse cardiovascular events related to consuming energy drinks, including abnormal heart rhythms (arrhythmias).

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What scientists know — and don’t know — about sexual orientation

Love makes a family

Love makes a family

Over the last 50 years, political rights for lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LGB) individuals have significantly broadened in some countries, while they have narrowed in others. In many parts of the world, political and popular support for LGB rights hinges on questions about the prevalence, causes, and consequences of non-heterosexual orientations.

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Suicidal thinking and US veterans

Military sucide
Military sucide

Nearly 14 percent of Veterans reported suicidal thinking at one or both phases of a two-year VA study.
Image credit goes to: Michael Escalante

Something very personal about me, the thought of suicide is never too far behind. It is to the point that I need to qualify it to my counselor when I am asked if I have thoughts of suicide, I always do. A new study shows that I am far from alone Nearly 14 percent of military veterans reported suicidal thinking at one or both phases of a two-year Veterans Affairs (VA) study.

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Stopping organ rejection: An end to the medication

organ transplant medicaitons

organ transplant medicaitons

If you’re a transplant recipient you know that transplant organs are a veritable ticking time bomb waiting to be rejected by your well-meaning (but stupid) body. Not only can you do everything right and still have the organs rejected, you have to take a steady stream of expensive pills to inhibit the immune system and stop the body from launching its attack. Don’t throw your pill organizers away just yet, but soon.

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Why people oppose same-sex marriage

Marriage
Marriage

More pearls of wisdom from the great Cyanide and happiness.

Marriage is legal (here in the US anyway), now I’m not gay, but that is exciting to me. So the question remains, has society fallen apart? Are cats hanging out with dogs and toast falling butter side up? Of course not, so then why do opponents of same-sex marriage really oppose it? A UCLA psychology study concludes that many people believe gay men and women are more sexually promiscuous than heterosexuals, which they may fear could threaten their own marriages and their way of life.

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Why you should never use the term ‘the mentally ill’

The Power of Language and Labels: “The Mentally Ill” Versus “People With Mental Illnesses”
The Power of Language and Labels: “The Mentally Ill” Versus “People With Mental Illnesses”

Yes, it’s real… you can find more information here
Image credit goes to: Jenn Ackerman

Even subtle differences in how you refer to people with mental illness can affect levels of tolerance, a new study has found. In a first-of-its-kind study, researchers found that participants showed less tolerance toward people who were referred to as “the mentally ill” when compared to those referred to as “people with mental illness.”

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Can you trust your gut when public speaking?

Can you trust your gut on a crowd's mood?

Can you trust your gut on a crowd's mood?

There is good news for frequent public speakers. New research shows that individuals have the ability to quickly and accurately identify a crowd’s general emotion as focused or distracted, suggesting that we can trust our first impression of a crowd’s mood.

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Stereotype means girls should expect poorer physics grades

Girls should expect poorer physics grades

Girls should expect poorer physics grades

Imagine that you are a female student and give the exact same answer to a physics exam question as one of your male classmates, but you receive a significantly poorer grade. This is precisely what happens on a regular basis, as concluded in a study by Sarah Hofer, a researcher in the group led by ETH professor Elsbeth Stern.

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Why daring to compare online prices pays off offline

Why daring to compare online prices pays off offline

Why daring to compare online prices pays off offline

The constant barrage of post-holiday sales touted by web-based retailers may make it seem like online shopping is killing real-world stores. But shoppers are actually engaging in “web-to-store” shopping — buying offline after comparing prices online.

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Want to keep your new year’s resolution? Ask, don’t tell.

To bolster a new year's resolution, ask, don't tell

Results may vary…

“Will you exercise this year?” That simple question can be a game-changing technique for people who want to influence their own or others’ behavior, according to a recent study spanning 40 years of research. The research is the first comprehensive look at more than 100 studies examining the ‘question-behavior effect,’ a phenomenon in which asking people about performing a certain behavior influences whether they do it in the future. The effect has been shown to last more than six months after questioning.

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‘Hydricity’ concept uses solar energy to produce power round-the-clock… really?

'Hydricity' concept uses solar energy to produce power round-the-clock

'Hydricity' concept uses solar energy to produce power round-the-clock

Researchers are proposing a new “hydricity” concept aimed at creating a sustainable economy by not only generating electricity with solar energy but also producing and storing hydrogen from superheated water for round-the-clock power production.

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Our pale blue dot in the wake of destruction

The pale blue dot we call home

The pale blue dot we call home

This is our home, that pale blue dot, dwarfed by an arrow that takes up less space on your screen than this sentence. For all our “overwhelming” intelligence, if we flexed our mental might and developed a weapon to destroy this pale blue dot, it would almost certainly go unnoticed in the universe.

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3-D printing aids in understanding food enjoyment

3-D printing aids in understanding food enjoyment

Tasting food relies on food volatiles moving from the back of the mouth to the nasal cavity, but researchers have wondered why airflow doesn’t carry them in the other direction, into the lungs. Now a team of engineers, using a 3D printed model of the human airway from nostril to trachea, has determined that the shape of the airway preferentially transfers volatiles to the nasal cavity and allows humans to enjoy the smell of good food.

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Predicting what side effects you’ll experience from a drug

Researchers are on their way to predicting what side effects you'll experience from a drug

Researchers at the University of California, San Diego have developed a model that could be used to predict a drug’s side effects on different patients. The proof of concept study is aimed at determining how different individuals will respond to a drug treatment and could help assess whether a drug is suitable for a particular patient based on measurements taken from the patient’s blood.

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Students in credit crisis

Students in credit crisis

New research from the USA suggests that college students are well aware that they should be personally responsible for their finances, including their card obligations, but this awareness rarely correlates with limiting the debts they accrue during their time in higher education.

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Diet beverage drinkers compensate by eating unhealthy food

Diet beverage drinkers compensate by eating unhealthy food, study finds

Alcoholic drinks and sugar-sweetened beverages are associated with higher overall daily intakes, although people who drink diet beverages consume a greater percentage of non-nutritious food.
Image credit goes to: Julie McMahon

Want fries with that diet soda? You aren’t alone, and you may not be “saving” as many calories as you think by consuming diet drinks. A new study that examined the dietary habits of more than 22,000 U.S. adults found that diet-beverage consumers may compensate for the absence of calories in their drinks by noshing on extra food that is loaded with sugar, sodium, fat and cholesterol.

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Fish oil-diet benefits may be mediated by gut microbes

Fish oil-diet benefits may be mediated by gut microbes

Diets rich in fish oil versus diets rich in lard produce very different bacteria in the guts of mice, reports a study from Sahlgrenska Academy published in Cell Metabolism. The researchers transferred these microbes into other mice to see how they affected health. The results suggest that gut bacteria share some of the responsibility for the beneficial effects of fish oil and the harmful effects of lard. Image credit goes to: University of Gothenburg

Diets rich in fish oil versus diets rich in lard produce very different bacteria in the guts of mice, reports a new study. The researchers transferred these microbes into other mice to see how they affected health. The results suggest that gut bacteria share some of the responsibility for the beneficial effects of fish oil and the harmful effects of lard.

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Manning up: men may overcompensate when their masculinity is threatened

Manly men and the men who want to be them

From the old Charles Atlas ads showing a scrawny male having sand kicked in his face to sitcom clichés of henpecked husbands, men have long faced pressure to live up to ideals of masculinity. Societal norms dictating that men should be masculine are powerful. And new research finds that men who believe they fall short of those ideals might be prompted to reassert their masculinity in small but significant ways.

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Rethinking the rebound: The unexpected effects of rejection

Break ups can be rough ... and funny

Image credit goes to: Cyanide and happiness … I think?

It’s portrayed in movies again and again – a character gets rejected by someone attractive and then falls willingly into the arms of someone perhaps less attractive. According to a new study, it’s not so simple: Rejection by an attractive man actually led women to socially distance themselves from an unattractive man, even when he offered acceptance.

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Research shows more sex does not mean more happiness

Married couple sleeping in different beds

Countless research and self-help books claim that having more sex will lead to increased happiness, based on the common finding that those having more sex are also happier. However, there are many reasons why one might observe this positive relationship between sex and happiness. Being happy in the first place, for example, might lead someone to have more sex (what researchers call ‘reverse causality’), or being healthy might result in being both happier and having more sex.

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Procrastinate much? Science offers a way to stop

procrastination Cyanide and happiness

See more comics at explosm.net

Procrastination is the thief of time that derails New Year’s resolutions and delays saving for college or retirement, but researchers have found a way to collar it.

The trick? Think of the future as now.

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Walking an extra two minutes each hour may offset hazards of sitting too long

Sitting behind a desk all day can be tough

Eat less, workout more, these are the messages we are being sent almost on a daily basis. But how do we quantify “more” and who really should listen to that advice? Well a new study suggests that engaging in low intensity activities such as standing may not be enough to offset the health hazards of sitting for long periods of time. On the bright side, adding two minutes of walking each hour to your routine just might do the trick.

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The adolescent brain on alcohol: Changes last into adulthood

Don't drink if you are underage

Repeated alcohol exposure during adolescence results in long-lasting changes in the region of the brain that controls learning and memory, according to a research team at Duke Medicine that used a rodent model as a surrogate for humans. The study provides new insights at the cellular level for how alcohol exposure during adolescence, before the brain is fully developed, can result in cellular and synaptic abnormalities that have enduring, detrimental effects on behavior.

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Science shows intermittent fasting diet could extend life

sandwich

Think of it as interval training for the dinner table. Proponents of fasting style diets will be first to tell you there are health benefits, heck we’ve even covered some of the science here at the labs. Well new research shows that putting people on a intermittent fasting (or IF) diet may mimic some of the benefits of  actual fasting, and that (ironically enough given their popularity) adding antioxidant supplements counteracts those benefits.

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Study shows children and birds learn alike

Image credit goes to: John Petsel

Image credit goes to: John Petsel

Your child is your pride and joy — and why not, every parent should be a proud one, even if your child might be bird brained. Or maybe birds are baby brained? In any case, a new study has found that pigeons can categorize and name both natural and manmade objects–and not just a few objects. These birds categorized 128 photographs into 16 categories, and they did so simultaneously.

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Our increased carbon dioxide output causes global warming and now we have proof

global warming

Global warming, it’s a bigger deal than some people seem to realize. For years science has pointed to the increased carbon dioxide output as the main reason for man-made global warming. However, there has been no evidence to directly link CO2 output to global warming, well until now. Research has identified, for the first time, how global warming is related to the amount of carbon emitted.

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Love, it’s in your genes

love

Most kids worry about passing tests, winning games, lost phones, fractured bones—and whether or not they will ever really fall in love. While the first few things are of relatively low value in the scientific pursuit, three Chinese researchers have focused on that last question. All in a bid to find out some of the more interesting questions about our genes: Why do some students stay single? What factors determine if a young adult falls in love?

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Solar Panel Hybrid is Cheap and Super Efficient

Solar Power

Solar cells are inefficient, it’s a sad fact. With todays technology they boast about a 10-15% efficiency, compare that to todays gas engine at roughly 20-25% and you can see it’s not quite up to par. Well that could all change very soon thanks to a new method for transferring energy from organic to inorganic semiconductors. This could boost the efficiency of widely used inorganic solar cells to as close as 100% efficiency as they can get.

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Marijuana and the Developing Brain

learning

You can’t get away from it, the big marijuana debate here in the US. Is it good? Is it bad? What are other countries doing? There are also a lot of claims made about marijuana, most of which aren’t true, namely the big medical claims. Then there is the other side of that fence, what about some of the health issues that are claimed, where does science sit on that?

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Fighting the Obesity Epidemic with X-box [No, not that one]

Despite all the efforts, people are losing the war on obesity. There is probably a number of factors involved, genetics, underlying medical problems, most of all diet, but in any case we are living in a world that is slightly heavier than our historical counterparts. Maybe that’s why so many researchers are trying to find an easy way for people to better regulate their weight. Thankfully that goal is one step closer because researchers have found a protein that controls when genes are switched on or off, one that plays a key role in specific areas of the brain to regulate metabolism.

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Lose Weight, Live Longer. Simple, Right?

It's funny because it's true.

It’s funny because it’s true.

Suprise! Really this shouldn’t come as a shock, but adults with extreme obesity have increased risks of dying at a younger age from cancer and other complications like stroke, diabetes, heart disease, and kidney and liver diseases, according to results of an analysis of data pooled from 20 large studies of people from three countries. The study found that people with class III obesity [or extreme, as defined as a BMI of greater than 40] had a dramatic reduction in life expectancy compared with people of normal weight.

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Staying up late? You’re going Crazy

psychosis

All night cram sessions, anyone in college has probably had more than just a few of these [okay maybe only if you are a procrastinator like me]. If you have done anything like that, well then you know how weird you start to feel. Well researchers have now shown that with a “mere” twenty-four hours of sleep deprivation can lead to conditions in healthy persons similar to the symptoms of schizophrenia. The team points out that this effect should be investigated more closely in persons who have to work at night [as anyone who works nights knows how hard that can be on a sleep schedule]. They also recommend that sleep deprivation may serve as a model system for the development of drugs to treat psychosis.

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To Lose the Weight, Feel the… freezer burn?

1

Are you so fat you can’t see your toes? Have you forgotten what toes even look like? Have you been mistaken for the infamous “Kool-aid man”? Want to shed the pounds easier than taking off your shirt? Well too bad, that is science fiction and the stuff of horrid marketing ploys and this my friends is a science website. Losing weight is hard, I’ve written several articles on it in fact. Nothing is going to be more effective at weight loss than a sensible diet, a calorie deficit and maybe some insoluble fiber that I mentioned in the very first article I’ve written.

A new companion study to this post, which I wrote not long ago not only confirms that original studies findings, but also gives insight into another factor for the mounting obesity epidemic.

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Global Warming doesn’t actually benefit Plants

Global warming signs

Things are heating up. It’s no secret that the mercury is rising and we are to blame. Sure, there is a lot of uncertainty, for example how long we have until we simply cannot reverse global warming, or worse, how long we have before we cannot survive on the planet. That would be a good question to answer; maybe it will get the people who can actually do something to fix it, to make a change.

The planet works in sometimes-unforeseen ways, sometimes that is good and sometimes that is bad. The hope was that global warming might be offset – if only for a short time – by the increased energy in the system [meaning longer warm periods], which would increase the growing season. It is unfortunate then, that this turns out not to be the case.

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Haters gonna… hate?

Haters gonna hate, unless you’ve been hiding under a rock since the internet has been born you’ve probably heard this phrase. Well now there is a new study that shows all that time spent hating, might mean less work doing.

The study, published in the journal Social Psychology might sound like more of a joke than actual science, but it is, in fact very real. Previous research done by the team have already shown that haters [and likers] are predisposed to be that way. Assuming that our disposition motivates behavior, the team suggested that people who like many things (those with positive dispositional attitudes) also do many things during the course of a week, while people who dislike many things (those with low dispositional attitudes) do very few things with their time.

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New Obesity drugs: Coming Soon to a Store Near You!

Afraid to go into public because you think those double doors might be a little narrow for you? Are you pretty sure you have feet, even though you haven’t seen them for awhile now? Did you recently find something you think may have been a twinkie at one point in your folds? If you answered yes to any of these questions, then science might be able to help.

Believe it or not weight gain is complex –or at least the biological aspect of it– for example hormones control our appetite and even the uptake of food. In recent years, science has taken on the seemingly insurmountable quest of investigating these physiological functions and finding a medical way to fight the ever growing obesity epidemic.

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Land of the Free, Home of the Afraid?

smartphone science

Let’s take a Loony quiz! Do you believe any of these statements are true? Global warming isn’t real. GMO food is the devil. Organic and all natural are better. Science is just a belief like religion. Evolution is just a theory, so other theories should be taught along side. Vaccines do — or can– cause serious health concerns. If you answered yes to any of these questions, then you might be suffering from a lack of scientific understanding, but don’t worry you’re not alone.

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Solar Freakin’ Roadways!

Artist's rendition of downtown Sandpoint, Idaho - Home of Solar Roadways Graphic design by Sam Cornett

Artist’s rendition of downtown Sandpoint, Idaho – Home of Solar Roadways
Graphic design by Sam Cornett

America loves it’s oil. Screw renewables, right? Because let’s face it, the world can be cleaned by someone else. As easily upset pretentious apes, us humans have few comforts in the changing world like fossil fuels. Our old friends coal, gas, and oil, they would never hurt us; they kick started the industrial revolution!

Let’s face it folks, global warming isn’t coming… it’s already here. We have study after study showing the effects. It’s time to ditch the medieval technology and move toward the future. Solar has been a good option, wind being another good choice. Both have drawbacks of course, no one likes wind farms and the solar farms don’t fare too much better.

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Cheaper, Cleaner Biofuel: A Temporary Fix to a Big Problem

biomaterials

Algae, the other, other biofuel

Biofuels seem to be all the rage these days, not a bad thing since that whole global warming thing [that people are scared to admit is real] is going on. It is then, very unfortunate that every biofuel or even “green alternative” has an achilles heel the size of Texas keeping it from becoming our fossil fuel replacement.

[Useless Loony Fact: I shudder every time I have to use the word “Green” referring to anything other than the color. Oh and Jesus roundhouse kicks a panda in the face, so save the pandas and stop using the word green for anything but the color]

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Colony Collapse Disorder and Pesticides, Or Save the Bees!

Die hard, the bee version.

Bees, who needs them? They are scary, they sting and they seem to find magical ways into your securely locked home. I’m not bias, even though I run screaming like a little girl when I see one… okay maybe a little. But as it turns out we need the bees!! Who knew, right? After the colony collapse that came out of nowhere and could not be explained [at the time] everything from global warming to government conspiracy was being blamed. But now a new study helps strengthen the cause of the collapse.

Two widely used insecticides– in the class called neonicotinoids [for those of you who think you will be tested on this at the end]– appear to do significant damage to honey bee colonies over the winter, particularly in bad winters [hello global warming, I’m looking at you].

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Grew up disadvantaged? Your genes show it.

 

telomere

Are you constantly stressed? Did you grow up disadvantaged [no judgement here, I did], or maybe you had a nurturing household as a child? As it turns out, we can see it in your genes.

A new study out published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, shows a strong link between the way you are raised and your genes. The study used telomere length as a marker of stress, then compared it to genetic and environmental cues.

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Tired of the weather? Blame the jet stream.

queens_new_york_city

Polar vortexes, snow storms and hurricanes, oh my!

Who’s tired of the crazy weather that most of the US and the UK are dealing with? I suspect that most are, in fact I don’t remember the last time I heard someone talk excitedly about being snowed in.

There is good news and bad news though, and like a true gentleman I will give the good news first. We know what is causing the weather changes we’ve seen.

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