How many times have you met someone really, really ridiculously good-looking, only to discover that the catch-22 of such genetic physical advantage is that they’re also really, really ridiculously terrible — or, perhaps even worse, really, really ridiculously boring? At long last, scientists have proven that there’s actually something behind what we’ve suspected for years: when seeking to make a connection between beauty and appealing character traits or values, Psychological Science found that “beautiful people tend to focus more on conformity and self-promotion than independence and tolerance.” Keep reading »
A study done at Case Western Reserve University in Ohio found that the parts of our brains that empathize and the parts that analyze are essentially unable to function at the same time. Instead, our brains move back and forth between the two functions. “This is a cognitive function we’ve evolved.Empathetic and analytic thinking are, at least to some extent, mutually exclusive in the brain,” explained Anthony Jack, one of the researchers.
This explains why even the most intelligent people can get taken in by a sob story, or why the overly analytical person can come off as cold-hearted, because only one function or the other is at work. Researchers also found that some people tend to rely on one function or the other. Keep reading »
When Dr. Kathleen Pryer and her team at Duke University’s herbarium discovered a new species of fern that produces spores that grow into male, female, or bisexual plants, their minds turned to–who else?–Lady Gaga. “We wanted to name this genus for Lady Gaga because of her fervent defense of equality and individual expression,” said Pryer. “And as we started to consider it, the ferns themselves gave us more reasons why it was a good choice.” One of those reasons was in the plant’s genetic code: when a graduate student discovered the sequence “GAGA” in the fern’s base pairs, it seemed only obvious that the plants would be named “Gaga germanotta” (Gaga’s real name is Stefani Germanotta) and “Gaga monstraparva” (translation: “Little monster”). “‘Born this Way’ is enormously empowering,” adds Dr. Pryer, “especially for disenfranchised people and communities like LGBT, ethnic groups, women — and scientists who study odd ferns!”
I’d just like to say that my new life goal is to have a “Born This Way” dance party at the Duke herbarium. Botanists know how to party. [Rolling Stone]
This weekend, the streets of Los Angeles were graced with a sight much more spectacular than the usual gridlock as the Space Shuttle Endeavor was moved to its new home at the California Science Center. As breathtaking as it is to see a space shuttle rounding a corner next to a Sizzler, my palms are sweating on behalf of whoever had to steer that thing. Seriously, look at the tiny amount of clearance between the wings and those light poles! So stressful. Check out more amazing shots of the move over at NASA’s Flickr page. [NASA]
Ladies and gentlemen, meet Pegomastax africanus, a newly discovered dinosaur about the size of a house cat, with self-sharpening fangs and porcupine-like quills. It looks vicious, but scientists believe Pego (that’s its nickname from now on, OK?) was an herbivore who used those fearsome teeth for nothing more than foraging yummy plants and defending its adorable little self. Another bombshell? Paul Sereno, a paleontologist at the University of Chicago, insists that if this long-extinct creature were still around today, “it would be a nice pet—if you could train it not to nip you.” Well fancy that. I’ve been wanting to get a Pomeranian, but suddenly I want a Pegomastax instead. Amelia, would you and Lucca care to join us for a walk? [National Geographic]