October 2012 Archives

A True Tale of Voodoo Zombification and Pufferfish

On a typical Caribbean day, natives of a small Haitian village were enjoying their weekly cock-fight when they looked up and saw a soiled, bedraggled boy standing in their midst. Shock instantly gripped the gathering. They all knew who the boy was; he was...

Haunted Hills Where Gravity Is Forsaken

There is a hill just outside of Moorpark, California where gravity seems to be forsaken. Set your car in neutral, and the vehicle will slowly creep up the slope. Legend has it that in the 1940s, a group of schoolchildren was on a field trip when their bus...

A Giant Leap for 'Three Parent Embryos'

Mitochondria are the powerhouses of the cell; their function is to produce energy. (See the orange-colored structures in the figure.) These tiny cellular organs also contain a trace amount of DNA (mitochondrial DNA or mtDNA), which encodes various enzymes...

Clinical Vampirism: When You Think You're a Vampire

In 1979, Richard Trenton Chase committed a spree of sordid murders in Sacramento, California. In each of the six murders, he drank his victims' blood and cannibalized their remains. For these atrocities, he garnered a sinister nickname: "The Vampire of...

Earthquake Prediction: On Solid Ground?

Yesterday's news that the Italian courts sent seven seismologists to jail was stunning. It is a complete failure of their court system.Beyond the idiocy of blaming those who try to help, the expectation that seismologists can predict earthquakes like...

If You Buy Store Eggs and Sit on Them, Will They Hatch?

Rising early on a bright, autumn Saturday, the sounds of morning echo soothingly in your ears: birds chirping, leaves rustling in the wind, construction crews hammering away... okay maybe not that soothing. As you shuck off the covers and rise from your bed,...

Why I'm a Green and Shop at Walmart

I remember the first time I shopped at Walmart...It was the summer before my junior year of college, and, on my first zoological internship, away from my home at the University of Wisconsin - Madison, out in the boondocks of Wisconsin, the omnipresent...

Coburn, Fox News Criticism of Science Funding Is Unfair

Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) is a medical doctor and notorious budget hawk. (His colleagues call him "Dr. No" because he likes to block legislation.) Annually, he releases a list of what he perceives to be examples of wasteful government spending. In an era where...

Constant Vigilance, for Fifteen Days Straight

A new study shows that dolphins can remain alert and aware of their environment for up to fifteen days with no sign of fatigue.We humans often muse about sleeping with one eye open, but for bottlenose dolphins, this is a regular facet of life.Over thousands...

Parasites, Both Real and Imagined

Many parasite tales have... wormed their way into our hearts. But, are these stories true? Is there really a parasite that swims up your urethra? Can intestinal parasites cure allergies and asthma?  Are strange parasitic infections prevalent in our...

Demon Hill: A Devilishly Disorienting 3-D Optical Illusion

Think you know which way is up and which way is down? "Demon Hill #2," a life-sized, 3-D optical illusion currently on display at the Harris Lieberman Gallery in New York City, will turn that notion on its head.An outside sign ominously forewarns of the...

Computer Science Should Be Required in K-12

I, like the majority of Americans, rely heavily -- almost to the point of dependency -- on computer technology. Similarly in step with my fellow tech-toting countrymen and women, I possess only a scant understanding of how the gadgets I utilize on a daily...

Be Very Afraid: Why Are Scary Political Ads So Effective?

Political action committees and campaigns are churning out scary ads left and right.Already we've seen Mitt Romney blamed for an uninsured woman's death and labeled as a life-sucking "vampire." The alarming insinuation here: If Mitt Romney is elected, he will...

Science: Too Much Information!

Sometimes you hear things that make you wish you had the power to purge memories. Maybe it's your lewd, blunt, and abrasive Uncle Harry talking about the build-up of smegma under his foreskin. Maybe it's your strange cousin Geninne, who won't shut up about...

Atomic Clock Wins 2012 Physics Nobel

The Nobel Prize in Physics was just awarded to American physicist David Wineland and French physicist Serge Haroche for work which lead to development of new quantum computers and ultra-precise atomic clocks.Atomic clock at NIST (NIST)What's interesting about...

Live Chat: New Therapies for Mental Illness

Via ScienceLive: Psychiatric disorders such as depression and schizophrenia are an enormous cause of disability throughout the world. Yet most current medications are no better than drugs discovered more than half a century ago, and some pharmaceutical...

How Does Catnip Affect Humans?

Nickels was a hulking, gray, long-haired tabby, a gentle giant. She enjoyed eating, sleeping, cuddling, and general lollygagging. By any definition, she was your typical friendly cat. That all changed one afternoon when she got a hold of the "Nip." At first,...

Mad Scientists of the Modern Age: Barry Marshall

Think that mad scientists are confined only to the literary world? Think again. The annals of history are littered with kooky researchers and batty experiments, and many of their stories actually outdo their fictitious counterparts. This week, Newton Blog...

Mad Scientists of the Modern Age: Josef Mengele

Think that mad scientists are confined only to the literary world? Think again. The annals of history are littered with kooky researchers and batty experiments, and many of their stories actually outdo their fictitious counterparts. This week, Newton Blog...

Mad Scientists of the Modern Age: Nikola Tesla

What is the first image that pops into your mind when you hear the phrase "mad scientist"? Quite possibly (unless you chose the "mad chemist" wielding test tubes and Erlenmeyer flasks of frothing liquids) it is an eccentric early-twentieth century man, in a...

Mad Scientists of the Modern Age: Vladimir Demikhov

(Please note that there is a graphic image below.)Think that mad scientists are confined only to the literary world? Think again. The annals of history are littered with kooky researchers and batty experiments, and many of their stories actually outdo their...

Mad Scientists of the Modern Age: Jack Parsons

Think that mad scientists are confined only to the literary world? Think again. The annals of history are littered with kooky researchers and batty experiments, and many of their stories actually outdo their fictitious counterparts. This week, Newton Blog...