It’s Friday! Links to information for you to share with family, friends, children, and total strangers:
Babies on obesity path? Well, it’s questionable. Study says that babies who hit two growth markers before age 2 have increased risk of obesity. But only 12% of the 45,000 infants in the study who did hit the mark were obese by age 5. Two of my children have always been off the charts for growth. They are both quite slender. Researchers writing in an accompanying editorial expressed concern that using the “red flags” identified in the study may cause more harm than good.
Amber-encased mite A teeny mite captured along with its spider host when amber flooded them both 50 million years ago. Video below:
Logical fallacies: Do you like to argue? Are you invested in being right? Check yourself against these logical fallacies before you wreck yourself, online or in real life.
There is grandeur, really: Want your children to see, investigate, and experience the world? Take them outside. Often. Go with them. Explore the tiniest and most intricate mysteries of nature together. A dead tree is a place to start. A beautiful post from Emily Finke.
Hairy typeface: Wanna gross out your kids? Or anyone, really? Show them this font made out of LEG HAIR (above). Artist Mayuko Kanazawa created the font as part of an art class assignment. Her work has already been featured in a Japanese ad campaign
Vax for breast/ovarian cancer? A small study, a vaccine that triggers an attack on tumor cells. Some women’s cancers stopped progressing, and one woman’s cancer vanished completely. These are patients for whom other therapies had already failed.
New BCPs tied to blood clots, again: The common culprit among these hormonal birth control methods is drospirenone. Hormonal birth control has always been known for increasing blood clot risks, but these versions seem to increase it even more.
A Double X Science grandma showed us this picture. We thought it was the most ridiculously cute thing we’d seen all year.
As 2011 draws to a close, media outlets and science bloggers have busily collated their top-10 (or 12 or 20) lists of science-related cool/interesting/freaky/fantastic stuff this year. Here’s a selection that should keep you busy for about the first half of 2012:
Emily Willingham, Double X Science managing editor, is also an editor on a new book just out, The Thinking Person’s Guide to Autism. Consider buying a copy to leave in your pediatrician’s office or to donate to your local library.
Once upon a time, people made condoms that glowed in the dark, thanks to radium. Yikes.
Climate vs weather: Do you know the difference? This video explains it oh so very clearly.
Vaccinating children is a social responsibility, like driving on streets and not sidewalks, not stabbing people, and giving pedestrians the right of way at street crossings. When you choose not to do it, you endanger others (see “measles,” above).
Can moderate red wine consumption cut breast cancer risk? This study found that red wine consumption altered hormone levels in the blood in a pattern that suggests it might halt the growth of cancer cells. Not anything definitive.
We’ve been reading a lot lately about these great ways to trick picky eaters into eating. We know from experience that some picky eaters are untrickable. This scimom tells us what one of the latest studies really means.
A UK study finds that homebirth in specifically low-risk women carries no increased risk for women who have had children previously. They assessed data for 64,538 women and found, after a whole lot of statistical adjustment, that there were no increased odds of negative outcomes for women having birth at home or midwife-attended births in facilities. They did find an increased risk for women who were trying to have planned home births who were giving birth for the first time.
The FDA is thinking about lowering the standard it’s set for how much arsenic exposure is OK in apple and other juices. Cutoffs are usually set in what are known as “parts per billion” (ppb). That means what you think: if the cutoff is 3 ppb, that means, for example, three drops in a billion drops. Right now, the cutoff for arsenic in drinking water is 10 ppb, and consumer groups are asking the EPA to drop that to 3 ppb. Deborah Blum has addressed the fact that arsenic is present in food, water, and soil and that different forms of it have different effects. As always, it’s not as simple as hollering “toxic metal!” and calling for its removal.
Speaking of being like us, some dinosaurs cared for their young, as this fossilized nest of 15 baby dinosaurs seems to suggest.
Looking for the animal with the most amazing, the strangest, the most remarkable nose around? Look no more. It’s the star-nosed mole:
Need a break from the workaday world? Listen to some whale songs and help scientists translate the language of whales.
Speaking of whales, scientists have sunk a 67-foot fin whale carcass off of the San Diego coast. Why go to the trouble? Whale fall is an important contribution to ocean ecosystems, and the researchers plan to study how an entire ecosystem builds up around the sunken cetacean. Here’s a video of the community that forms around a whale fall:
And here’s a beautiful video via Radiolab that uses cutouts to illustrate how such a community builds.
Nicole Ostrowsky shares her love of science in her book, An Agenda of an Apprentice Scientist. She also shares her love of science–and inspires it in others–as a teacher. As she notes, to teach science well to non-scientists, “You have to master subject to explain it simply.”
Curious about how climate has changed over the long term–the very, very long term? This video from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration puts it all into perspective:
Jane Austen poisoned by arsenic? A mystery author claims that all signs point to arsenic poisoning as the cause of Jane Austen’s death. The rationales that treatments with arsenic may have been fatal are plausible, but how about the idea that it was…murder?
If you found the climate change video depressing, how about some astronauts falling down on the moon? Watching smart courageous people fall over is always entertaining, right?
Bones and breastfeeding fads. Would you consider giving your baby pap, “a mixture of flour or bread crumbs cooked in milk or water, or a bread broth called panada, or milk flavoured with spices, sugar, or eggs? These bones tell the story of breastfeeding practices before our time.
Ever wondered why smells–like baking cookies or a pinewood fire in the grate–are so evocative and memory stirring? Here’s why.
Perhaps you’ve heard about fecal transplants–they are exactly what they sound like–and thought, “Ewwww.” The thing is, they seem to work, but as Maryn McKenna writes, they are not easy to come by.
Rick Perry’s debate brain freeze: Parents, you know this happens to you, too, just not on national television. In a presidential debate.
Post-Thanksgiving links: All about food…or sorta food
You made it through Thanksgiving even though you ran out of vanilla extract? Let science help you out the next time you fall short of that one important ingredient. Scientists have compiled a list of suitable substitutes for cooks everywhere.
Did you wake up this morning with fingers twice their normal size? Find out where the salt was in that Thanksgiving meal.
Asking, “Are you improbable or inevitable?”, Robert Krulwich tells us that the math determines that we are improbable. But we’re here, so aren’t we…inevitable?
Have you read about “the gene” for ADHD or the “drinking gene”? Stop reading that bad writing! There’s a difference between a trait that a gene confers and the many, many ways someone can manifest that trait. Read more from David Dobbs over at Neuron Culture in “Enough with the ‘slut gene’ already: Behaviors ain’t traits.”
Speaking of how scientists might spend their days, how about spending them watching 400 YouTube videos of dogs chasing their tails? Via DiscoBlog at Discover Science.
Use this app to follow live cameras trained on the wild places animals live in Sri Lanka, Kenya, the UK, and other places. When you spot an animal, identify it for science. Via GeekDad at Wired, Citizen science from Instant Wild! The featured Webcam as we posted these links had captured a porcupine in action.
Maybe you’ve never been in a lab in your life and wouldn’t know PCR from a VCR. That doesn’t matter when you watch this video of stop-motion animation using thousands and thousands of the tiny tubes scientists use when they conduct PCR (polymerase chain reaction). The video is actually a promotional video from vendors of equipment for this kind of lab test.
Conditions in Antarctica are almost unimaginable inhospitable for humans, yet scientists visit there yearly to conduct valuable research. Valuable, dangerous research, but the scenery? Stunning. Via BoingBoing.
The brain is encased in a skull for protection, with a nice fluid surrounding it for extra cushioning. But the human brain was never meant to endure years of the Newtonian physical pounding that comes with playing football. Now, researchers are beginning a brain study to test the brains of 100 former National Football League players to see what harm has been done and how to identify it early. Watch the video below. Imagine the brains inside those skulls. Recall that for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. Yikes.
You’ve done it. We’ve done it. You walk from one room to another on a mission and when you get into the other room…you forget why you’re there. Now, instead of blaming age, you can blame the door.
Look around: Do you a see a lot of stuff you just can’t bring yourself to throw away? Read this.
When it comes to sex–studies of it, studies of how it develops–males get a lot of the attention, and the female sex has even (gasp) been referred to as the “default” sex, as in, if there aren’t signals to become male, then females develop by default. That ain’t true, and as it turns out, females have a pathway dedicated to developing and maintaining them just as males do. So there, scientists.
Is it hard for women to self promote? This one is about academe, but it applies across many work places.
You may have read about this person’s efforts to perform a butt injection on a woman using “Fix a Flat.” It’s probably best to just love your butt for what it is, which isn’t Fix a Flat.
In smarter news, NASA is rolling out Aspire 2 Inspire, targeting girls interested in science. Know a girl who’s interested in science? You can start with the Aspire 2 Inspire video below about women in science:
“Yet more must be done to address the projected shortfall of 280,000 math and science teachers that our nation will face by 2015. We need public and private investments in math and science education and we need a commitment to making a difference on a national scale.”
Vocal fry: I (Emily) am a biologist. This phrase makes me think of tiny, loudmouthed fish. But it’s reallyabout a vocal tic. Do you do this when you speak? It’s all the rage among young XXers these days.