A bug’s life is better with company

Posted on April 12th 2011 in Blog with Comments Off on A bug’s life is better with company

Parasites are amazing. By taking advantage of the efforts of another species, parasites have been able to flourish in countless strange ways. For example, there is one parasite that lives only on the lips of lobsters (Symbion americanus). The fungal parasite, Ophiocordyceps unilateralis infects the brains of ants, causing them to climb high into the forest canopy, bite into a leaf and die. The fungus is then able to burst out of the ant’s head (much like something out of Alien) and rain down spores onto the forest floor. Rabies, is caused by a virus, that makes dogs more aggressive….

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Batting away pesticide use

Posted on April 11th 2011 in Blog with Comments Off on Batting away pesticide use

Agriculture is a costly business. You need seeds to plant, fertilizer to make it grow and machinery to harvest. Unfortunately, we grow most of this food in big, exposed landscapes providing a delicious buffet for billions of insects. It is no surprise, therefore, that pesticide is one of the biggest expenses for British farmers (£720 million in 2009, DEFRA) This number, however, does not reflect the true amount of pest control that is being carried out in fields around the world. As well as being killed by human action, insects are eaten by a wide variety of species. In doing so,…

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Down in the dumps

Posted on March 21st 2011 in Blog with Comments Off on Down in the dumps

If you men out there have just broken up with your girlfriend, you will probably hear the platitude “time is the greatest healer”. Given enough time you will be able to forget that old flame and move on to someone better. Science has, unfortunately, shown this to be nothing but empty words. According to the Journal of Evolutionary Psychology [pdf], women viewed men who had been rejected by their previous partner as significantly less desirable for long term relationships. Men who dumped their old lady were actually seen as better partners. Conversely, men found women less attractive if they found…

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She’s quite a dish

Posted on March 18th 2011 in Blog with Comments Off on She’s quite a dish

I love it when science demonstrates something that is bloomin’ obvious to the rest of us. In the journal of Evolutionary Psychology, researchers have published a study showing that men are significantly more likely to pay for a meal when their female companion was attractive. The scientists showed pictures of women to 245 men, and asked them who would you prefer to pay for a hypothetical meal you were sharing? They also did the reverse, showing pictures of attractive and unattractive men to a number of women. Firstly, the most common response from both sexes was to share the bill….

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I, Robot, am disgusted

Posted on March 14th 2011 in Blog with 1 comment

Being touched by a sexy nurse is one of the most common fantasies (not admitting anything personally here) – but how would you feel if your object of affection was a robot? Researchers from Georgia Institute of Technology found that volunteers were happy to be touched by a robot nurse, if under the impression they were cleaning a wound. If they were told the robot was there to provide comfort, participants were less than positive about the experience. Humans are very strange creatures, we have the habit of anthropomorphising – of seeing a concious will behind the most inanimate of…

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