Unattractive People Are Seen As Better Scientists

Good looking, sociable people don't make good scientists, according to popular stereotypes. This is one of the findings of an interesting new study of how scientists are perceived, from British researchers Ana I. Gheorghiu and colleagues. Gheorghiu et al. took 616 pictures of scientists, which they downloaded from the faculty pages at various universities. They gave the portraits to two sets of raters. The first group were asked to rate the attractiveness of the portraits and to say whet

Flashback Friday: There’s no proof that eating your placenta has any health benefits.

Eating your own placenta: some people (many of them celebrities) claim that it is a miracle cure-all, helping a new mother overcome everything from postpartum depression to low milk production. But is there actually any proof to these claims? Not that pro-placentophagers (we just made that word up) will likely care, but according to this meta-analysis of the literature, there is little scientific proof for any of these health claims. More specifically, the authors conclude that "studies inve

Juno Results Offer Tantalizing Hints of Jupiter’s Secrets

The first results from Juno's brush with Jupiter reveal swarms of cyclones, massive ammonia plumes and complex interactions between a turbulent magnetic field and powerful streams of electrons. The findings are published today in Science and Geophysical Research Letters. The Juno team is still sifting through the massive piles of data the probe is sending back from the gas giant. Since arriving last year, the probe has  begun to study the composition and internal structure of Jupiter. We’

People expect good scientists to be less attractive.

Scientists are the subject of many stereotypes, from the mad scientist to the goofy nerd. What these all have in common, of course, is that they are generally not very attractive. So it's probably not too surprising that this study found that people judge the quality of a scientist's research by his/her facial appearance. More specifically, when it comes to science communication, "Apparent competence and morality were positively related to both interest and quality judgments, whereas attractiven

Seed Beetles Are Locked in a Brutal ‘Sexual Arms Race’

Cowpea seed beetle sex is complicated. During copulation, the male seed beetle, Callosobruchus maculatus, uses his sharp, spiky penis to damage females’ reproductive tract while depositing sperm. All the while, the female vigorously kicks at her suitor—it hurts! As studies have shown, males with longer, harmful penis spikes enjoy more reproductive success, to the detriment of their partner’s health. But the process of evolution has a way of balancing the scales. In a new study, Liam Do

With Improvements, Humanity’s ‘Doomsday’ Seed Vault Is Safe, Probably

Just nine years after its official opening, the Svalbard Global Seed Vault in Norway is undergoing renovations to protect it from climate change. The work was prompted by accidental flooding that took place last week, as melting permafrost seeped into the vault's access corridor. While the seeds were in no danger, the flooding is nevertheless a worrying sign at a facility meant to endure the worst this planet can throw at it. The list of vault improvements includes a ditch to divert me

Conquering the ICU atop Mt. Everest

A trek to base camp at Mount Everest will leave you short of breath in a hurry. A push to the summit begins in thin air, 17,000 feet above sea level — higher than any peak in the Rocky Mountains. Once you reach the "Death Zone," above 26,000 feet, oxygen levels drop to a third of what they are at sea level. Few climbers reach the summit, which rises 29,029 feet above sea level, without bottled oxygen. To acclimate their bodies to diminishing oxygen levels, climbers ascend Mt. Everest i

Unreliability of fMRI Emotional Biomarkers

Brain responses to emotion stimuli are highly variable even within the same individual, and this could be a problem for researchers who seek to use these responses as biomarkers to help diagnose and treat disorders such as depression. That's according to a new paper in Neuroimage, from University College London neuroscientists Camilla Nord and colleagues. Nord et al. had 29 volunteers perform three tasks during fMRI scanning. All of the tasks involved pictures of emotional faces, which

Death From Below: Invasive Lionfish Lurking in Deep Reefs, Sending Hungry Reinforcements to the Shallows

In the last few decades, scientists have come to appreciate the incredible creatures living on the reefs that lie just below conventional diving limits in what is called the mesophotic zone. These incredible biodiversity hotspots are home to more endemic species than shallower reefs, and conservationists are hopeful they may serve as refuges—pockets of relatively pristine habitat out of reach of anthropogenic stressors—where species under threat from pollution, overfishing, and even the effe

Why Do Flamingos Stand on One Leg?

Flamingos are striking not only for their brilliant pink plumes, but for how they often stand on a single slender leg, even when asleep. Now scientists find that standing on one leg may counter-intuitively require less effort for flamingos than standing on two. It's a finding that could help lead to more stable legged robots and better prosthetic legs. The One-Legged Problem One prior explanation for the mystery of why flamingos stand on one leg is that it conserved body heat, as doing

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