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April 23, 2009

Did Masters and Johnson fake their "gay conversion" research?

Can Psychiatrists Really "Cure" Homosexuality?: Scientific American

Most staffers never met any of the conversion cases during the study period of 1968 through 1977, according to research I've done for my new book Masters of Sex. Clinic staffer Lynn Strenkofsky, who organized patient schedules during this period, says she never dealt with any conversion cases. Marshall and Peggy Shearer, perhaps the clinic's most experienced therapy team in the early 1970s, says they never treated homosexuals and heard virtually nothing about conversion therapy.

When the clinic's top associate, Robert Kolodny, asked to see the files and to hear the tape-recordings of these "storybook" cases, Masters refused to show them to him. Kolodny—who had never seen any conversion cases himself—began to suspect some, if not all, of the conversion cases were not entirely true. When he pressed Masters, it became ever clearer to him that these were at best composite case studies made into single ideal narratives, and at worst they were fabricated.

Eventually Kolodny approached Virginia Johnson privately to express his alarm. She, too, held similar suspicions about Masters' conversion theory, though publicly she supported him. The prospect of public embarrassment, of being exposed as a fraud, greatly upset Johnson, a self-educated therapist who didn't have a college degree and depended largely on her husband's medical expertise.

(via)

April 20, 2009

How does the brain form sentences?

How Does the Brain Form Sentences?: Scientific American

Turns out it's less a matter of knowing what to do, and more a matter of rote memorization.

A recent study suggests that our ability to construct sentences may arise from procedural memory—the same simple memory system that lets our dogs learn to sit on command.

Scientists distinguish between procedural memory, which is relevant for learning skills such as how to swim, and declarative memory, which stores knowledge, including facts and memories of events, such as one’s birthday, says Victor S. Ferreira of the University of California, San Diego. To find out which system is at work when we form sentences, Ferreira and his team exploited a phenomenon called syntactic persistence—speakers tend to use the same grammatical pattern they have used or heard in previous sentences.

April 18, 2009

Possible cure for colony collapse found

Cure For Honey Bee Colony Collapse?

For the first time, scientists have isolated the parasite Nosema ceranae (Microsporidia) from professional apiaries suffering from honey bee colony depopulation syndrome. They then went on to treat the infection with complete success.

In a study published in the new journal from the Society for Applied Microbiology: Environmental Microbiology Reports, scientists from Spain analysed two apiaries and found evidence of honey bee colony depopulation syndrome (also known as colony collapse disorder in the USA). They found no evidence of any other cause of the disease (such as the Varroa destructor, IAPV or pesticides), other than infection with Nosema ceranae. The researchers then treated the infected surviving under-populated colonies with the antibiotic drug, flumagillin and demonstrated complete recovery of all infected colonies.

The loss of honey bees could have an enormous horticultural and economic impact worldwide.

April 17, 2009

Did you ever wonder about barnacle penises?

Penis length isn't everything … for barnacle males - life - 17 April 2009 - New Scientist

The hermaphroditic filter-feeders can grow penises up to eight times their body length – they have the longest penis length relative to body size in the animal kingdom – but new research suggests that stouter members are sometimes more effective for mating.

Glued to a rock year-round and unable to self mate, a lengthy penis increases a barnacle's odds of spreading its seed.

The animals regrow their penises each year, just before their brief mating season, and previous research has shown that water conditions play an important role in shaping the budding penis.

April 13, 2009

Report: Coastal wind turbines could power the nation

Wind turbines could more than meet U.S. electricity needs, report says - Los Angeles Times

Simply harnessing the wind in relatively shallow waters -- the most accessible and technically feasible sites for offshore turbines -- could produce at least 20% of the power demand for most coastal states, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said, unveiling a report by the Minerals Management Service that details the potential for oil, gas and renewable development on the outer continental shelf.

The biggest wind potential lies off the nation's Atlantic coast, which the Interior report estimates could produce 1,000 gigawatts of electricity -- enough to meet a quarter of the national demand.

April 07, 2009

Nasa has discovered a giant hand crushing the stars out in space

THE BEAT -- Giant hand in space

According to NASA: Red represents low-energy X-rays, the medium range is green, and the most energetic ones are colored blue. The blue hand-like structure was created by energy emanating from the nebula around they dying star PSR B1509-58. The red areas are from a neighboring gas cloud called RCW 89.