academic research

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Bored? Experts Want to Study Your Brain

Boring activities can affect your health and productivity

(Newser) - Feeling bored? That's just fascinating to researchers in the little-known field of boredom studies, the Wall Street Journal reports. They gather at events like the third annual Boring Conference in East London, and orate on subjects such as toast and out-of-date portable keyboards. Participants in their studies are asked... More »

Scholars Can't Get Enough Colbert

Fake news inspires wealth of academic writing, courses

(Newser) - Stephen Colbert is good for more than just a few laughs; in fact, some scholars wonder if he's "America's Socrates." As a result, the Colbert Report has sparked its own mini-discipline in academia, the Washington Post reports. (Writer Paul Farhi pokes a little fun at the... More »

Biblical Shade of Blue Rediscovered

Celebrated color called Tekhelet identified in 2,000-year-old cloth

(Newser) - The Bible describes a shade of blue known as tekhelet, worn in ceremonial robes and considered the most important of the ritual colors—but the color's exact appearance has puzzled scholars, who have compared it to the color of sapphires, the sea, and the sky, for centuries. Now, an Israeli... More »

For Contagious Laughs, Open Your Mouth

... And get your vocal chords into it

(Newser) - When it comes to laughs, the bigger the better, at least if you want it to spread. In one of those science-confirms-the-obvious studies, researchers found that open-mouth laughs in which people use their vocal chords in "vowel-like bursts" are the most contagious, LiveScience reports. And the longer they last,... More »

All Guys Watch Porn

Research stymied by pornography's ubiquity

(Newser) - Canadian researchers hit a roadblock in recent attempts to study the effects of porn on male sexuality: they couldn't find any 20-something men who hadn't watched porn, dashing hopes of creating a "porn-free" control group, Gawker reports. Just how porn-addled are young men? Single guys watch 40 minutes in... More »

Your Skin Can Help You Hear, Study Finds

Subjects identify sounds better when paired with touch

(Newser) - What you feel can influence what you hear, a new study suggests. People were better able to identify aspirated sounds—those requiring a puff of air, like “pa” or “ta”—when the sound was paired with a puff of air on the back of the hand or... More »

Swine Flu Turns Critical With Deadly Speed, Taxing ICUs

Sickest H1N1 patients deteriorate rapidly, studies say

(Newser) - Swine flu can turn from mild to critical extremely rapidly, with the sickest patients needing to be moved to intensive care only a day or so after being admitted to the hospital, new studies show. The worst cases have the potential to overwhelm health care facilities in the event of... More »

College Kids' iPod Volume Hurts Hearing

Most subjects in study set volume to damaging level

(Newser) - Most young people listen to their iPods at levels that will damage hearing over time, a new study shows. Researchers measured the output of an iPod while college-age students listened to music in a lab setting, and they found 55% of the subjects set the volume higher than 85 decibels—... More »

Even a Little Exercise Boosts Your Ego

Psychological benefits of working out not related to actual fitness: study

(Newser) - Good news for the semi-motivated couch potato: doing just a little exercise—not actually getting fit—will make you feel better about yourself, a new study says. University of Florida researchers reviewing 57 studies on exercise and body image found that people who exercised got the same body-image boost no... More »

Scientists Retract Paper Touting Sperm From Stem Cells

But say attribution, not science itself, at issue

(Newser) - A paper by British scientists on the creation of synthetic human sperm had to be retracted from the journal Stem Cell and Development, AFP reports. The paper, which reported the revolutionary creation of sperm from stem cells, included text written by another scientist, who was not credited. The retraction is... More »

Online Dating's Problem: Too Many Matches, Not Too Few

(Newser) - Online dating sites are so packed with possible matches that they cause “cognitive overload” in seekers, leading to unconsidered choices, the MIT Technology Review reports. The lovelorn may say they want a wider variety of candidates, but they spend less time evaluating them, new research shows. “More search... More »

Beach Sand Is Bad For You: Study

Contact with sand can increase risk of diarrhea, gastrointestinal sickening

(Newser) - Bird droppings, road runoff, and raw sewage are just some of the contaminants present at your local beach—and the reason playing in the sand could be hazardous to your health, the San Diego Union-Tribune reports. A new study, which assessed the health of more than 27,000 beach-goers over... More »

Cats Do Use Mind Control: Study

Cry used by hungry kitties shows knowledge of human hearing, psychology

(Newser) - Cats seeking food use a cry that humans find maximally urgent and annoying, LiveScience reports. Researchers played a range of cat calls for humans and found that one—a high-pitched cry embedded in a purr—to be the most difficult to ignore, whether the subject owned a cat or not.... More »

Promising 'Trojan Horse' Cells Kills Animal Cancer

Sydney biotech firm to begin human trials in coming months

(Newser) - Australian researchers have achieved promising results with a new approach to treating cancer, reports the Sydney Morning Herald. Scientists have developed mutant bacteria nanocells that slip into tumor cells to switch off drug-resistant genes, and allow cancer-fighting drugs inside, also delivered by the nanocells. The strategy has achieved near-universal success... More »

Schoolkids Need Less Work, More Play

Recess cutbacks creating unruly students, researchers discover

(Newser) - Recess isn't just for fun, according to a new study, which has found that cutting back on playtime is harming schoolchildren. The loss of a 15-minute daily recess tended to make 8- and 9-year-old students unruly and deprived them of an opportunity to exercise and socialize, reports Reuters. The study... More »

Brain Looks Beyond Eyes to Recognize Faces: Scientists

New research shows that eyebrows, noses are key to distinguishing people

(Newser) - Want to make yourself hard to recognize? Get a nose job and shave your eyebrows, say facial-recognition experts, who have yet to fully understand—or agree upon—how we “see” or “read” faces. Psychologists and neuroscientists, fueled by the need to quickly and correctly identify people in the... More »

Chemicals Hitting Males Where It Hurts

Toxins triggering sex changes across species, research finds

(Newser) - Common chemicals are speeding the pace of evolution and having a feminizing impact on males across several species, reports the Independent. New research reveals that baby boys whose mothers have been exposed to more "gender-bending" chemicals—endocrine-disrupters like many pesticides—have smaller, feminized genitals. "This research shows... More »

43% of Women Have Sex Issues, But Few Are Troubled

Experts caution that dysfunction is relative, say 12% bothered is lower than thought

(Newser) - Just under half of the female population suffers from sex problems, ABC News reports. A new study found that 43% of its 32,000-women sample reported problems with low desire, arousal or difficulty with orgasms, but only 12% of women said such problems cause them personal anguish. More »

Anti-'Frankenfood' Activists Should Modify Stance

Opposition to genetically souped-up crops has run its course

(Newser) - The recent destruction of a research crop of genetically modified potatoes in England highlights how attitudes towards altered crops have changed, the Economist writes. A decade ago, Greenpeace activists caught in the act of destroying food crops were acquitted because of popular fear of the consequences of “Frankenfoods.”... More »

Firebombed Researcher Fears Animal-Rights Activists

UC Santa Cruz biologist speaks out after weekend firebombing of home

(Newser) - A university researcher says he fears for his family’s safety after a weekend firebomb attack, the San Jose Mercury News reports. David Feldheim, who does neuroscience research on mice at the University of California Santa Cruz, was slightly injured. He said he expects a continuining threat from animal-rights activists—... More »

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