Cavemen Are Better at Art Than Modern Artists?

I was going to write a post on an interesting paper about genetic variation in the USA but I’ll save it for another day as I found this gem.

A research group in Hungary have found the time to judge who is the best at drawing animals, cavemen or modern artists. Amazingly they found cavemen won the competition! To be fair, what amazes me is that these people came up with this research in the first place. How and why do they have the time to sift through a thousand images and then do a statistical analysis to find which group had the greatest error?

Nevertheless, I’ve learnt something new today. Apparently four legged animals walk in the following way:

The usual succession of the ground-contacting feet of walking quadrupeds, termed as foot-fall formula, is -LH-LF-RH-RF-, where L/R and H/F mean left/right and hind/fore, respectively.

As an illustration the authors provide this figure, follow the (more…)

Revolutionise Neuroscience, Pee in a Cup

The title might seem a bit melodramatic, but I’m pretty amazed by some research I found.

In a recent article from Nature Methods a research group have put forward the possibility of generating Neural Stem Cells (NSC’s) from urine.

Ok so for those who don’t understand all of the above, this is pretty big! (hence why it’s in a Nature Journal). Everyone has heard of stem cells and their possibly magical healing abilities, replacing damaged brain/heart/liver (more…)

How Bread Makes You Better and Florida Makes You Slower

According to a new(ish) study, nice smells make us nice people.

I caught wind of this story (excuse the pun) on the radio the other day and thought I’d do a bit of background to find out what the research is about. I found this article in the Daily Mail, an infamously crap source of science news, but more importantly I located the paper(1).

OK so first off, this has nothing to do with bread! Every news article, radio spot or anything makes mention of bread. The paper only uses it as an example, preferring the phrase ‘ambient odour’ or ‘pleasant scent’. Many would say bread is included in this category, the primary investigator agrees. However this could also include perfumes and many other forms of cooking.

The second point I would like to make is that this paper focuses on what some people would call ‘priming’. This is where your subconscious mind takes in information which then affects your future choices without you realising. This is more or less the way subliminal advertising and product placement works. To be fair, the papers may as well have (more…)

Fighting Faeces with Faeces

Beware, this may be NSFW. Or for a few hours if you just ate.

An article published in PLOS Pathogens(1) caught my eye recently (truthfully it was on the nature news feed). A research group from the Sanger Institute near Cambridge (UK, not MA) have been studying how to deal with a very difficult hospital infection, Clostridium difficile (C. difficile). This probably doesn’t sound very interesting until you realise that one of the methods they used to combat the infection is faecal transplantation.

Yes that means taking one (more…)

Want a Nobel Prize? Eat Chocolate

A study published in the NEJM last month(1) seems to show a pretty convincing positive trend that those countries who consume more chocolate per capita also receive more Nobel Prizes.

The author of the study, Dr. Franz Messerli, continues to associate this trend with one of the key active ingredients in chocolate (flavonol’s). Flavonol’s have previously been implicated in increased brain performance and brain related anti-ageing effects. OK so I’m willing to accept (more…)

Impossible Maths and Cows on Holiday

There’s a couple of things that I don’t understand about my 8 months off from the blog. The first one is the impossible math concerning followers. During these 8 months I gained 5 followers, but I wrote nothing. The obvious question is how they found and followed the blog, even when no one was writing anything (nevertheless my thanks goes out for the interest). The second, slightly more fun part, is that this technically gives a ratio of (followers:words written) 5:0. Which may as well be ∞:0. By that logic this blog will be most successful  if I go on a permanent holiday.

It’s a shame I’m in this for the science then…

Oh damn, someone has spilt some form of red ink on top of conveniently related search phrases…

The other odd thing (more…)

Oddity: Cutting Sandwiches With Crowd-Control Methods?

First off I just need to say that I’m so happy the animation further down the post worked! I spent 2 days making that (lots of relearning to do!). Other than that I have to apologise for the use of childish drawings.

Anyway, onto the main topic of this post. The other day I saw an advert for a food programme which I am almost certainly going to watch (If it’s any good I might mention something here!). Within the advert there was a clip of a woman exclaiming something like: “You cut your sandwiches with sound?!?!”. Whilst I’m not (more…)

Questions and Classifications

So I’ve been busy uploading, drafting and styling the site for the last couple of days (list of uploaded pages at the bottom of this post). I’ve had a vague idea of the structures I’d like to put down and they are finally coming into being! However, I have run into a few issues, questions and controversial problems. So I thought I’d post about it. (more…)

Return and Reform!

It’s been a long time but finally I’m back!

A lot’s happened in the past half year or so that’s kept me pretty occupied but I’ve finally managed to find some time to sit down and restart this whole project. That was about a month ago… But I’ve seriously spent that month thinking and mulling over this project.

So I’ve decided I don’t like what I’ve done so far and I’m going to need to make some changes. First things first I’m splitting the site in two. The first part is the Blog (seriously WordPress doesn’t recognise the word blog?). I’m going to reserve this for opinionated stuff and interesting facts! I might also divert it to explain the latest science news or clear up some questions anyone has. I’ll sort that out as I go along.

The second half is the more serious. That is going to be the pages, here I’m going to start work on making a free resource which is referenced and (hopefully) reliable that explains all aspects of science from the most basic level to the highest, much the same as I wanted to do before, but this time with more structure to make it navigable. The second half I’m sure most people will realise is going to take a hell of a lot more work.

Part of this is to make things easier and more directed, but it’s also to make the whole thing a bit more fun and interesting. The blog I hope will be less boring and something people might want in their rss feed, whereas the pages are just something to refer to in times of need!

Other than that I might be making a few style changes and maybe some interactive stuff, if I get really ambitious (and have way too much time) I may even incorporate some animations. We will see how it goes and your feedback, as always, is welcome!

Believing is Not Seeing: Visual Science and Reality part 2

Let’s get this straight from the off. You don’t see nearly as much as you think you do. In fact you barely see anything. You may think this is an exaggeration but I’m being serious. And I’ll explain why.

Before we start you should read the first post in this series.

Firstly you don’t see smooth motions in the world around you. The neurons in your eyes can’t work that fast (more…)