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April 15, 2010

There is a leech that swims up noses

Just Discovered: A Leech With Giant Teeth That Lives In Your Nose - biology - io9 Sometimes nature is just a complete bastard.
Let me introduce Tyrannobdella rex, named for its single large jaw, with eight oversized teeth. Found in Peru, it was discovered up the nose of a nine-year old girl, who bathed in streams and lakes. She complained of a "sliding" feeling in her nose, and they spotted a 65mm leech lodged up her nostril, which took some effort to dislodge. After this new species was named, two older specimens were found - one 25mm and the other 60mm, also found up people's noses in Peru. At least the slithery bastard is kind enough to not cause pain while it's eating.

April 10, 2010

What if our universe existed inside a wormhole?

Does Our Universe Live Inside a Wormhole? - ScienceNOW
A long time ago, in a universe much larger than our own, a giant star collapsed. Its implosion crammed so much mass and energy together that it created a wormhole to another universe. And inside this wormhole, our own universe was born. It may seem fantastic, but a theoretical physicist claims that such a scenario could help answer some of the most perplexing questions in cosmology. A number of facets about our universe don't make sense. One is gravity. Scientists can't construct a mathematical formula that unites gravity with the three other basic forces of nature: the strong and weak nuclear forces and electromagnetism. Another problem is dark energy, the mysterious phenomenon that seems to be expanding our universe at an accelerating rate, even though gravity should be contracting it or at least slowing the expansion. These conundrums may be a result of stopping the search for the riddle of the cosmos at the big bang, says Nikodem Poplawski of Indiana University in Bloomington. The big bang theory holds that our universe began as a single point—or singularity—about 13.7 billion years ago that has been expanding outward ever since. Perhaps, Poplawski argues, we need to consider that something existed before the big bang that gave rise to it. Enter the wormhole. . . .

April 07, 2010

Evolutionary Psychology Bingo

Remember folks, evolutionary psychology is absolute bull. Language Log -- Evolutionary Psychology Bingo

April 06, 2010

Earth slammed by powerful space storm

Earth struck by most powerful space storm in three years - space - 06 April 2010 - New Scientist Can we stop and take a moment to thank the planet's molten iron core for generating the Van Allen radiation belts that keep this planet safe from solar radiation? Without them there'd be no life at all. Thanks, iron core! Thanks, Van Allen belts! You're the best planetary force field a guy could have.
The most powerful geomagnetic storm since December 2006 struck the Earth on Monday, a day earlier than expected. On 3 April, the SOHO spacecraft spotted a cloud of charged particles called a coronal mass ejection (CME) shooting from the sun at 500 kilometres per second. This velocity suggested the front would reach Earth in roughly three days. "It hit earlier and harder than forecast," says Doug Biesecker of the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Space Weather Prediction Center in Boulder, Colorado. Fortunately, the storm was not intense enough to interfere strongly with power grids or satellite navigation, but it did trigger dazzling auroras in places like Iceland (pictured).

March 30, 2010

Neuroscientists use magnets to mess with people's morality

The Great Beyond: Magnets mess minds, morality
Talk about messing with your mind. A new study by neuroscientist Liane Young and colleagues at Harvard University does exactly that: the researchers used magnetic signals applied to subjects’ craniums to alter their judgements of moral culpability. The magnetic stimulus made people less likely to condemn others for attempting but failing to inflict harm, they report in PNAS. Most people make moral judgements of others’ actions based not just on their consequences but also on some view of what the intentions were. That makes us prepared to attribute diminished responsibility to children or people with severe mental illness who commit serious offences: it’s not just a matter of what they did, but how much they understood what they were doing. Neuroimaging studies have shown that the attribution of beliefs to other people seems to involve a part of the brain called the right temporoparietal junction (RTPJ). So Young and colleagues figured that, if they disrupted how well the RTPJ functions, this might alter moral judgements of someone’s action that rely on assumptions about their intention.

Social Anxiety Breeds Bullies and Loners Alike

Social Anxiety Breeds Bullies and Loners Alike : Discovery News>
Social anxiety disorder (SAD) can manifest not only in stereotypical wallflowers, but also among confrontational bullies and promiscuous party animals, according to a new study from George Mason University. Although SAD is clinically characterized by extreme shyness and situational avoidance, some patients engage in paradoxically aggressive, impulsive actions meant to pre-empt potential rejection. "We aren't suggesting a different condition; we're opening up people's eyes to behaviors that look like another disorder but are, in fact, at the core... of social anxiety," said Todd Kashdan, a study author and associate professor of psychology.