RealClearScience Quick and Clear Science

Brief and Straightforward Analysis of the Latest Research

Can the Eyes Reveal Sexual Orientation?

Ross Pomeroy - October 16, 2021

Through our eyes, the world is revealed. But can our eyes also reveal ourselves? In particular, the pupil, the black oval located in the center of the iris that allows light to enter, is governed by the autonomous nervous system, which controls unconscious bodily functions. The pupil's size primarily responds to light, but also to arousal. This quirk led psychologists to wonder whether or not pupil size would correlate with someone's sexual interest. In other words, do a person's pupils dilate more in response to sexual imagery that matches their sexual orientation? Researchers began tepidly...

Humans Had Advanced Fishing Technology 12,000 Years Ago in Israel

Ross Pomeroy - October 8, 2021

Ancient humans living between 12,000 and 15,000 years ago in what is now Northern Israel were using sophisticated hooks, lines, weights, and lures to catch fish, a new analysis published to PLoS ONE reveals. An international team of researchers led by Dr. Antonella Pedergnana at the University of Zurich analyzed a variety of hooks and grooved pebbles found at the Jordan River Dureijat site on the Upper Jordan River in the Hula Valley of Israel. The hooks (pictured above), are made of bone, likely taken from butchered gazelle or fallow deer, and some even have rudimentary barbs to ensure that...

Machine Learning Identifies the Most Important Predictors of Infidelity

Ross Pomeroy - September 30, 2021

Researchers have used a machine learning approach to identify factors that predict someone's likelihood to cheat in a relationship. Their findings were published late August to the Journal of Sex Research. Authors Laura M. Vowels, Matthew J. Vowels, and Kristen P. Mark ran an algorithm through in-depth survey data from 891 participants gathered in 2014. The anonymous questionnaire asked about sexual satisfaction, relationship satisfaction, sexual behaviors, romantic and sexual desires, a range of demographic information, as well as whether or not the participant had had sex with someone other...

Shock Collars May Make Dogs More Pessimistic

Ross Pomeroy - September 27, 2021

In the past few decades, dog trainers have overwhelmingly switched to practicing and recommending reward-based training for dogs rather than aversive training. Rewarding your pooch with treats, toys, or attention when they behave well and denying those things when they don't seems to be more effective and salubrious instead of employing aversive methods like spraying water, yanking on their leash, or using a shock collar to punish unwanted behaviors. Scientific studies are now providing empirical evidence in favor of reward-based training. Complementing those findings is a new study published...


Are Smarter People More Economically Conservative?

Ross Pomeroy - September 25, 2021

The overwhelming majority of social psychologists are liberal, so that could at least partly explain why the field's scientific literature is overflowing with studies linking conservative political views to lower levels of intelligence. "That's just what the data say," psychologists might counter, glossing over the publication bias, p-hacking, and slanted studies that are rife within the discipline. A new meta-analysis published in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin might be an inconvenient fact then. Drs. Alexander Jedinger and Axel M. Burger, research scientists at the Leibniz...

Praying Mantises Can't Stand 'Beetle Bombs'

Ross Pomeroy - September 22, 2021

Praying mantises are perhaps the most distinct and fearsome predators of the insect world. Their ambush-style attacks are comparable to those of lions and tigers. But, as a recent study published to PeerJ reveals, despite their size and ferocity, praying mantises fall short when it comes to predating on bombardier beetles. Why? As their name suggests, these beetles have an explosive trick up their sleeves, or rather, their bums. Shinji Sugiura, an associate professor in the School of Agricultural Science at Kobe University in Japan, was well aware of this physiological feat when he conceived...

America's Hidden and Growing Life Expectancy Divide

Ross Pomeroy - September 20, 2021

America is plagued by a couple notable gaps in life expectancy. The rich live much longer than the poor, and European Americans live roughly 3.6 years longer than African Americans. These wealth- and race-based disparities have persisted for decades. But there is a recent and rapidly growing divide in life expectancy: Americans dwelling in urban areas live longer than those dwelling in rural areas. The number of Americans living in rural areas has been declining since 1990, and those who remain tend to live shorter than urbanites. In a new paper published to the International Journal of...

Why Do Mammals Kill Members of Their Own Species?

Ross Pomeroy - August 14, 2021

In January 2016, millions were touched by a viral photo apparently depicting a male kangaroo 'hugging' his mortally injured female companion in front of her young joey, seemingly trying to pick her up off the ground. Photographer Evan Switzer, who captured the image, said, "It was a pretty special thing, he was just mourning the loss of his mate." Dr. Derek Spielman, a senior lecturer in veterinary pathology at the University of Sydney, knew better. Rather than mourning the incapacitated female, the male was likely trying to mate with her. What's more, he had likely caused her injuries in the...


There Are More Than 50 Long-Term Effects of COVID-19

Ross Pomeroy - August 10, 2021

For many people who contract mild, moderate, or severe COVID-19, the disease's effects don't disappear when the infection fades. A systematic review and meta-analysis published Monday to the journal Scientific Reports found that 80% of cases result in at least one long-term symptom. The authors of the report scoured more than 18,000 publications, seeking studies assessing the long-term effects of COVID-19 with at least 100 subjects. They found fifteen studies, which collectively followed 47,910 patients for as long as 110 days post-infection. They then pooled the data to discern the...

Four Findings From a Systematic Review About Beer and Exercise

Ross Pomeroy - July 29, 2021

After a grueling sports match or a brutal workout, there's often nothing more refreshing than a nice cold beer... But what about the drink's intoxicating effects? When the human body requires recovery after strenuous exercise, will downing a beer actually backfire? Patrick B. Wilson, an associate professor in exercise science at Old Dominion University, and Jaison Wynne, a PhD student in the Department of Human Movement Sciences at Old Dominion explored this, and a variety of other questions in the first systematic review of beer's effects on exercise performance, recovery, and adaptation....

Study Suggests Pterosaurs Could Fly Soon After Hatching

Ross Pomeroy - July 23, 2021

A new analysis of hatchling pterosaur fossils finds that the flying reptiles which dominated the skies between 228 and 66 million years ago were likely capable of flight within days or even hours after breaking out of their shells. The study is published in the journal Scientific Reports. Scientists Darren Naish, Mark P. Witton, and Elizabeth Martin‐Silverstone spearheaded the research. The trio analyzed the wing size and forelimb bending strength of embryonic or recently-hatched specimens from the species Pterodaustro guinazui, one of the best known pterosaurs, with over 750 fossils...

Are Some Dogs Geniuses?

Ross Pomeroy - July 8, 2021

Albert Einstein. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Marie Curie. Gaia. The first person came up with the general theory of relativity. The second is regarded as perhaps the greatest classical composer of all time. The third is the only person to win the Nobel Prize in two scientific fields. The fourth isn't a person at all; it's a dog. All might be considered geniuses. Some individuals are supremely gifted, with abilities that the vast majority of people cannot hope to replicate even after years of dedicated practice – the adolescents who are chess grandmasters, the musicians with perfect pitch,...


A Man Fractured His Penis in a Most Unusual Way

Ross Pomeroy - July 1, 2021

Sometime last year, a 40-year-old man visited a hospital in the United Kingdom with pain and swelling in his penis. While having sex with his partner, the man's erect penis buckled against his partner's perineum and gradually 'deflated'. Doctors suspected that it was fractured, a not-unheard-of risk of lively sexual intercourse. According to a 2020 review of the scientific literature, up to 88.5% of penile fractures occur during sex. Doctors were surprised, however, that the man apparently didn't feel a 'popping' sensation that characteristically accompanies a penile fracture. They ordered an...

How Much Money Does Regular Exercise Save You?

Ross Pomeroy - June 25, 2021

Regular exercise is without a doubt one of the best things you can do for your overall health. It reduces or prevents just about every mental and physical ailment, helps maintain bodily function into old age, and adds an estimated six years of life. But what does physical activity do for your financial health? Do hours spent exercising boost your bottomline while shrinking your waistline? An analysis conducted by scientists at the CDC and the National Cancer Institute recently published to the journal BMJ Open Sport and Exercise Medicine sheds some light on the subject. The researchers pored...

A Simple, Upper-Body Exoskeleton Makes Carrying Things Much Easier

Ross Pomeroy - June 17, 2021

A trio of researchers based out of the Technical University of Munich and Technical University Darmstadt in Germany has engineered a soft, pneumatic exoskeleton that supports a wearer's elbows, thus making it much easier to carry heavy loads. John Nassour, Guoping Zhao, and Martin Grimmer described their invention and demonstrated its effectiveness in a new paper published to the journal Scientific Reports. "Carry", as the researchers dubbed their exoskeleton, consists of two pneumatic actuators that affix to a user's elbows, held in place by straps around the upper arm, upper chest,...

When Domestic Cats Eat Humans

Ross Pomeroy - June 10, 2021

(Warning: Graphic image below.) Most cat owners probably think their beloved pets adore them in return, and they may be right. Still, deep down, there's a nagging suspicion... "Does my cat want to eat me?" Maybe it's when they look at you and lick their lips, revealing their vampiric canines. Maybe it's when they spread out on one step of a precarious staircase, almost begging you to trip. Maybe it's when they sit on your lap and knead their claws into your supple skin, as if softening the meat... Maybe it's when – suddenly – they lash out with their claws, unprovoked, and draw...


Do Brain Differences Trigger Transgender Identity? The Science Isn't Clear

Ross Pomeroy - June 7, 2021

Somewhere between 0.5% and 1.3% of individuals identify as transgender, adopting a gender that does not match their sex at birth. Is this biologically determined or socially constructed? Or perhaps both nature and culture play a role? Brain scans could provide an answer. If genetics hold sway, we might expect to find clear-cut differences between the brains of transgender people and those of their cisgender peers. If social factors dominate, there might not be such a clear distinction. Over the last few years, scientists have begun to tackle this topic. In May, researchers from the University...

Study: Mammals Can 'Breathe' Through Their Butts

Ross Pomeroy - May 14, 2021

A team of scientists hailing from institutions across the United States and Japan has discovered that rodents and pigs can respirate via their intestines. It's possible they share this surprising ability with other mammals, even humans. The findings are published in the journal Med. Senior study author Takanori Takebe, of the Tokyo Medical and Dental University and the Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, and his colleagues were inspired to probe intestinal breathing in mammals after looking at loaches, bottom-dwelling, freshwater fish that make use of their hindguts to absorb extra...

What Scientists Learned From Iran's "Saltmen" Mummies

Ross Pomeroy - May 3, 2021

The Chehrābād salt mine is located near the village of Hamzelou in Northwestern Iran, but there hasn't been any actual mining there for more than a decade. That's because, starting in 1993, excavators began digging up mummies along with the usual salt crystals. Since then, remains of at least eight individuals have been unearthed. In 2009, the site was protected under Iranian Heritage laws. The mummies recovered at Chehrābād have subsequently been dubbed the "Chehrābād Saltmen", and have captured worldwide scientific attention, most recently from a team primarily composed of researchers...

A Young Man Drank Four Energy Drinks a Day. It Almost Killed Him.

Ross Pomeroy - April 23, 2021

Bang, C4, Monster, Wicked, Rockstar, Reign, Amp... The gaudy brand names of popular energy drinks radiate explosive excitement. But be careful, when consumed habitually in high amounts, these drinks could wreck your heart. A new case study published to BMJ Case Reports elucidates the danger. A 21-year-old man in the United Kingdom visited a London hospital after four months of experiencing shortness of breath during exertion and when lying down. He was also plagued by weight loss, migraines, and insomnia. Blood tests and internal scans soon revealed him to be in both kidney and heart failure....