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venerdì 25 dicembre 2015


Oooooh-oh dear... Well, maybe this time “Oh-Oh-Oh!” is more appropriate, so, oh-oh-oh dear English speaking-thinking-reading visitor, welcome back to sciencemug, the blog that sings Xmas songs backwards and in Eng?ish [a language that is to proper English what  “human beings lived among the dinosaurs” is to something coming from a functional brain (well, or, simpler, from a brain tout-court)] while swimming, like a drunk dolphin which fights a Jaws-Grinch-Tibetan goat (those goats, they are mean ungulates!) mixed giant outcome of a genetic experiment spiraled out of control of a lunatic owner of a strange hot-dogs factory -breath now- in a pool filled with eggnog expired in the spring of 1963 and nonetheless still very appreciated by Bernard and the jellies for its fresh mango and hot-Mexican-chili aftertaste.

Welcome to the Xmas post of this year, a post about Santa Claus and a bunch of physicians from Switzerland who publish a research paper on the science journal Gait  &  Postureto say how Mr Claus’ old age("[r]eferring to his white beard and deep voice, it seems widely accepted that SC is a more or less old grandpa  above the age of 65" Donath et al, 2015; P)&fatness&heavy carrying the bag full of presents (and, probably, of dozens of some kind of “candy” the bearded grandpa takes to enhance his delivery performance SM’Note)&multi-tasking Xmas eve’s activity make him a perfect candidate to fall and smash his hip/leg/name-a-bone-of-the-icon’s-body and therefore ruin the X day to each and every child (and probably some adult, and for sure Bernard and his/her/its jellies too) of the world (and the universe*).

Soooo, dear dear reader, let’s examine in depth the research of Doctor Donath (whom I’ll call DD from now on, ‘cause, well, c’mon, DD, it’s just a colon away from a super-enthusiastic emoticon and I’m experiencing a shortage of ideas to stretch this part of the post) and five other fellas scientists of the University of Basel who do an experiment to test Santa Claus’ risk factor to fall during his busy Xmas eve of work. 
The researchers -probably after their brains suffered an overload of energy when they broke the European-non-UE-members all time record of dark chocolate group’s intake during a single session of  “Bite-and-Design an Experiment” table game** for people with no family history of acne and gastrointestinal stormy behaviour- select 17 people.

These chosen ones [well, it’s almost an holy mission afterall, like that of the Blues Brothers, AKA BB (so now we just have to find two other almost-holy missions led by somone that can be nicknamed AA and CC and we are done for this post)] are all males with these characteristic: “age:  30+/-10  years;  height: 179 +/-6 centimeters [oooh man up, stop whining and learn to use the SI like the rest of the world for Santa’s sake! SM’sN];  weight:  76+/-7  kilograms [see previous spiteful advise]; […] physical  activity:  12+/-4  h/week(P). Besides, they all "still believe in Santa Claus" (P). 
So, in short, DD and colleagues use healty fit young (gullible?) guys for their very peculiar experiment (which will be referred to, from now on, the “Save Santa’s Neck experiment” or “SSNe”).

The aim of SSNe is to determine wheter and how much a person’s capability to walk or simply stand normally is compromised when that person has precisely to walk or stand but at the same time he has also to carry a bag full of heavy stuff, wear a costume designed for a plump-to-obese magic character, and he also has to do all of that while his mind is involved in same kind of mental exercise.

Merry Xmas by @sciencemug
Merry Xmas by @sciencemug

So, first the 17 Santa’s Dudes (17SDs) are randomly divided in two groups. One, the Santa’s Group (SG), wears the official Santa’s garb, that is “robe,  beard,  hair(P) and carry a  sack which our nice scientists fill with 20 kg of stuff (Dr Donath and colleagues don’t mention the exact nature of the content of the sack, although, well, rumor has it that kittens were involved and that the ethical committee of the university closed one eye in exchange of three of the nine existing infamous Swiss cuckoo clock of the legendary 1887 limited edition, with the chromed birds and even the cuckoo's sound done by the most famous and gifted contralto of that time whose name, unfortunately, can’t be disclosed here ‘cause she was also the most talented Swiss chocolate industry’s spy of the world of the XIX century and her anonymity's still protected as a state secret). 
The other group of volunteers, the non-SC  group, wears  normal  clothing instead.
Moreover, the members of both groups have to take physical tests, and they have to take them either while doing also a mental exercise, and while focusing just on the assigned task instead.

Now, I know you reader are wondering how the DD’s research band manage to  lure 17 young lucid men into such an odd experiment. Have they bribed them with chocolate? Naa, too obvious. Have they blackmailed them with the threat to post on PronounTube compromising videos of each "volunteer" while he tries to open a Swiss knife for more than three hours in a row without success and then hysterically bursts into tears and desperately calls for mommy and eventually finds comfort in a tasty piece of cheese and the tale of some cliché about his own homeland? Naa, too complicated. “Then how?” you are now screaming to the screen of your –eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeh big breath now too- laptop/iSomethingveryexpensievemaybeevennotfullyusefulsinceyoualreadyownthepreviousmodelbut”Imusthaveit’causeithasafruitasalogosoitistheholygrailofcoolnessplusitiszeropointhalfahairprobablyfullofdandruffthehairnottheelectroniciDevicethinnerwiderlightersmallerbiggerbrighterthenever/pc?
Well, dear reader, it’s simple: DD and colleagues lie to the 17SDs.

The researchers… Oh well, I think it’s worthy you read their own words: “[w]hilst  the  investigator  constantly  giggled  about  the genuine  study  purpose,  the  included  volunteers  were  unaware of  the  study  aim.  By  incorporating  a  dummy  camera  system,  we claimed  to  be  conducting  a  ‘‘shame  study’’  in  order  to  measure neuromuscular  performance  when  dressed  in  a  humiliating  SC outfit  so  as  to  maintain  unbiased  participant  testing.(P) Ah, those canny evil scientists…

Soo, to recap, DD and his lab accomplices want to understand how big is Santa Claus’ actual risk to fall and possibly injury himself while doing it’s job on Xmas eve.
To do that, the researchers plan a very peculiar experiment and trick 17 dudes (the 17SDs) into taking part to it.
The sly scientists randomly divide the 17 volunteers into two groups: some of the guys wear a Santa's suite, heavy sack included (SC group); the other guys, instead, are dressed normally and have no sack (non-SC group).
DD and colleagues then make the volunteers of both groups take physical tests while they do also a mental exercise and while they don’t

Sooo, dear reader, what are, in detail, the tests and the mental exercises? Well, let’s start with the mental task and let the DD’s wild bunch explain it to you: “the names  of  two reindeer [***] were  briefly  displayed  to  the  participant  on  a sheet  of  paper  which  the  participant  was  asked  to  memorize.  Then, the  participant  was  asked  to  spell  backwards  every  3rd  letter  of  the reindeer  names  in  a  loop  until  completing  the  trial.  The  number  of successful  completion  of  the  names  and  mistakes  were  counted.(P) [Well, I am a brainless cheap blog, ok, but I think it’s cruelty to force someone’s brain to try something like that SM’sN].

As for the physical tests, well, they are three. The 17SCd, indeed, walk on a walkway sprinkled of sensors (the “[s]patiotemporal  gait  analysis”  (P)); they walk on a treadmill full of sensors (the “[t]readmill  gait  analysis(P)) ; they stand on a plate loaded with sensors (the “[s]tatic  standing  balance  testing”, (P)). 

With these three tests DD&co, besides satisfying their obvious fetish for sensors, can measure the 117SDs’ “[s]patiotemporal  gait  parameters  (walking velocity,  gait  variability  and  stride  time,  length  and  width),  ground  reaction  forces  (GRF)  (left-  and  right-sided heel  strike  and  push  off)  and  postural  sway(P).

Sooo, let’s understand better the three tests, ok? Ok.

But not now. Naaa. Next time. Now there’s a url about the pasticcio di lasagne, the ganasetta, the Refosco and the panettone waiting for me. Till next time, then, dear English reading-thinking-speaking visitor!

The paper this post is about (P)
- Donath, L., Roth, R., Lichtenstein, E., Elliot, C., Zahner, L., and Faude, O. (2015). Jeopardizing Christmas: Why spoiled kids and a tight schedule could make Santa Claus fall? Gait Posture 41, 745-749.

Bernard’s whereabouts are not known, so, to say “and the galaxy” might have been a colossal mistake. So, to let the sleeping William Will Whatever lie, the extent of the hypothetical disappointment has been classified as universal (although it could be even overstrecthed to “multiversal”… You never know, right?)

The table game is available in every toy-store with a symbol of a limping unicorn with a Betty Boop disguised as Darth Vader that has to pee badly tattooed on its hind left leg (just above the nail) drawn with an ink which is visible only on the 13th hour of the winter solstice of an odd year when flashed with the light of a candle made of wax mixed with lemon juice and cashews powder on the top right angle of the wall of the store that faces the south east corner of the second to biggest building of the nearest town with a population of exactly one million seventy three people.

The researchers, on their paper, write the names of all the reindeers, and I know, dear reader, that you are already trying to remember all of ‘em… But I am not posting the names. Buahahahahaha… Not now at least… Buhahahahahahahaha… You have to wait for the second and final part of this post to know them. And you’ll have to read all of it, because I am randomly dropping the names in the post, and not listing them all together... Buhahahahah… Or, well, you just can google them… Right. Right… Damn! My marketing strategy is weaker than I thought...

giovedì 17 dicembre 2015


First flight of the Flyer piloted by Orville Wright, 1903 (by @sciencemug)
Orville pilots, Wilbur watches (this time), the Flyer flights (by @sciencemug)
[The image above is a Public Domain pic adapted by @sciencemug (source:] 

17 Dec 1903
Meet Orville and Wilbur, AKA the Wright brothers,
 the day

domenica 8 novembre 2015


PiPs on vid (by @sciencemug)
PiPs on vid (by sciencemug)
the video
(and also here)

Aaand this is what it says (in Eng?ish)

Hi guys! I am PiPs, the first post of my boss, here, sciencemug, the living blog and podcast whose motto is: “sip science & laugh!”. Me, and Bernard, the Camel, Don, WilliamWill Whatever and many other characters, posts, comics and episodes of sciencemug, well, we are full of spirit, comedy, nonsense, and fun, and we are born to share with you clear, accurate, beautiful science stories.

So guys, you are all invited at my boss place, the comfy url, and if you like it, well, please make a donation and help sciencemug to become a real pro in the great world of fun&science communication!

Thank you guys, have a great life! Ciao!

venerdì 30 ottobre 2015


China and Beijing (map)
Pub Dom Img adapted by SM
Beijing's urban extent quadrupled in the first decade of 2000, and this created a  "ring of impact" around China's capital. The ring causes meteorological changes which, in turn, lead to an increase of urban temperature and pollution. The discovery has been published on the "Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres" by a team of scientists from Stanford, Cal Tech and the University of Southampton.

Listen to the podcast in Eng?ish here

here (on iTunes)
here (on SoundCloud)
here (on Podcast Machine)

The following text is that of the podcast
in Eng?ish

Ooooh, hallo dear English thinking-speaking-hearing listener, welcome to the podcast number five of me, @sciencemug , the twitter account/ blog that talks about science aaand at the same time dives into the warm ocean of its own inconsistency while duelling with karma in punta di fioretto.
Aaand that does all of this in Eng?ish that is English-question mark, the kind of language that is to real English what “The Martian” is to plausibility and a frappuccino to a good idea. (And a Martian sipping a frappuccino to something I never want to witness. Never.)

Sooo, right now, with the voice of the dumb human I control via a wireless-voodoo trick, I’m gonna tell you the tale of China’s capital megacity Beijing which stubbornly wears a powerful ring of pollution -ooh, my precioussss!- in spite of risking, like that, its own demise…

Mark Z. Jacobson, Son V. Nghiem, Alessandro Sorichetta and Natasha Whitney are four scientists from Stanford, Cal Tech and the University of Southampton who decide to investigate Beijing, the Chinese mega-capital city and the extent and consequences of its tumultuous urban expansion in the new millennium’s first decade.

Sooo, the four science pals, spearheaded by professor Mark Jacobson, who I’m gonna refer to MJ from now on, ‘cause, you know, I’m a big fan of Micheal Jordan and I’m sure he does like that a Stanford’s brain have the same initials of his, well prof MJ and his science buddies do two things.

One, they collect and analyze satellite and geo-located crowd-sourced data about the explosive urbanization of Beijing. Two they then evaluate the effects of such an expansion via a very sophisticated state of the art computer model.
And what they find, dear listener, it’s kinda eerie, ‘cause the Chinese city’s growth has created what the researcher call a ring of impact
(P) that surrounds the city and it’s strangling it with environmental problems of all sort.

Ring of impact (by sciencemug)
Ring of impact (by sciencemug)
 [The ring's pic is a Pub Dom Img adapted by sciencemug; source Wikimedia Commons]

But let’s start with phase one of our researchers’ study: the “collect and analyze data”.

MJ and colleagues need to build a data set that take into consideration the changes of Beijing’s urban coverage in space and time, the time being the 2000-2009 period. To do that, prof MJ’s science squad needs, over the Beijing area, a large high-resolution coverage over a long time, and this need rules out the possibility for the researchers to count on visual satellite data. Visual satellites in fact usually collects high-res data only sporadically in time and space, while they provide wide coverage data only at a low-resolution, that is not precise enough for a reliable study about urban and suburban environments’ changes.

Sooo, professor Jacobson starts asking himself: “Who I gonna call?” while hearing in his head a catchy pop song from the eighties and seeing, always in his head that must be a very intriguing place by the way, a little green blob bouncing around till he, the professor not the little green bouncing blob, and the science bunch have an epiphany and find a solution: they call NASA.

Well, indeed the story it’s not that epic but I think that dropping the space agency’s name is a good way to get your attention back, isn’t it true dear listener? Eh? Eh? Booobs! See that? Ryan Gosling’s abs! See that? NASA! See that? Eh? Aaanyway, dear listener, here’s the real story: prof MJ’s team decides to use NASA’s QuikSCAT satellite’s SeaWinds scatterometer data; then, to make sense of these data, the team processes them with “the dense sampling method” (aka DSM)
(P) (1), an innovative method that can estimate urban extent and monitor urban changes over time; finally, done all of this, the researchers can eventually map Beijing’s urban and intraurban area with a resolution of about 1 km.

Wooa wooa wooa, my hyper geeky me, wait a minute wait-a-minute, slow down a bit and restate the last sentences of yours, please. In simple words. With calm. No rush. Make it clear.
Ok! Ok, my so called normal me, ok! So, there was this NASA’s spaceprobe, the QuickSCAT. QuickSCAT was a satellite orbiting Earth at about 800 kilometers of height, launched in 1999 and died of an age-related mechanical failure in 2009. QuickSCAT mission was to check the whole globe and measure near-surface wind speed and direction under all weather and cloud conditions over Earth's oceans. So, NASA’s satellite QuickSCAT, to do its job, mounted an instrument, called SeaWinds. This SeaWinds instrument was a scatterometer, that is a microwave radar, hence it measured its own backscatter, that is the reflection of signals back to the direction from which they come, meaning the radar itself. Which, in the case of SeaWinds, as you know already, was in orbit.

Beijing and QuickSCAT (by sciencemug)
by sciencemug
[Beijing's pic is a Pub Dom Img adapted by sciencemug;
source Wikimedia Commons]

So, Jacobson’s group choose to use the data collected between 2000 and 2009 by QuickSCAT satellite and its scatterometer, ‘cause when this flying radar was beaming lands and cities, its backscatters depended on the size and the number of the buildings on the ground and even on the materials within the buildings themselves. And no, to answer your question, dear so called normal me, a scatterometer, even a flying NASA one, is not able to discriminate also the actual content of an hot-dog in Brooklyn…

Anyway, we are done with the satellite and the radar stuff. Now let’s go to the the dense sampling method” (aka DSM) which prof MJ and colleagues use to make sense of these satellite and radar data. DMS is math stuff, so I’m not even

lunedì 19 ottobre 2015

mercoledì 30 settembre 2015


 An (audio) promo - for SM's next podcast - that is as sensible as a pizza topped with pineapples and würstels (yeah yeah, I know it exists and yet, J'ACCUSE!)

The text in Eng?ish

Oooh-oh hallo dear English thinking-speaking-hearing listener, welcome back to me sciencemug the blog that speaks about science, fights for the right of the coconuts to be equipped with working parachutes in order to soften their landings, and that, incidentally, sews your “Charlie Brown-meets-a snail on meths” Halloween costume in that cold dark damp little space under your stairs, and which does all of this in Eng?ish, that is English-question mark, a language that is to proper English what an oxidised and partially shrunken half lime is to an incredible one month all inclusive free holiday in a 7 stars resort of the Caribbeans.

Anyway, I am sciencemug, the blog, but the annoying voice you’re hearing is that of the dumb human I control via a wireless-voodoo trick, aaand this is the promo of my next podcast, the number 5, which will be: or about the spooky global conspiracy behind the dawns and sunsets, or about the unsettling mystery of the eggshells that are constantly found wrapping the egg’s yolks in Nevada and in other glorious states and nations of the free world, or about the horrifying dystopian prediction of a future when people will walk around without constantly staring at their smartphones!
Ooor, maybe my next podcast will deal with a scientific topic.
Who knows!

Take care buddies, I’ll get back to y’all soon!

martedì 29 settembre 2015


Water on Mars: the truth! (by sciencemug)
by sciencemug
[The image of Mars' surface is a Public Domain pic adapted by sciencemug (source:] 

Sooo, NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter peeped, and this is what it found!

[Curious about Bernard (who/which doesn't really drink beer, nope, "Beer Me!" is actually "!eM reeB" -Berny's just wearing his/her/its shirt reversed- that, in his/her/its language, means something like: "I love to hear juggernauts screaming on the brink of pink abysses", well, at least according to you-know-what free on-line translator...)? Go here!]

martedì 18 agosto 2015


(in Eng?ish)

Hello dear English-thinking-speaking-reading visitor! Welcome back to this obscure blog usually frequented only by ghosts of ancient mariners looking for a safe heaven where to chill out and finally digest in peace that gristly bird in company of their mascot, Tom Cat, which has found here a perfect hideout even if it is not necessary anymore given the fact that it's arch-enemy, Curiosity, has been sent no less than to another planet (NASA is in fact ruled by a secret congregation devoted to cartoon cats. And smart paillettes. Whatever they be.)

by sciencemug
by sciencemug

Sooo once upon a time, like... now, there were and are two species of hylid frogs named Corythomantis greeningi and Aparasphenodon brunoi. They live happily ever always in Brazil and they don't want to be grabbed (they are less than ten centimeters big indeed and therefore their size fits perfectly that of the shaky hands of the corny dreamers I’m talking about in four words) and kissed (two…) by any sloppy fairy tales junkie to become some Prince Charming who spends all his time running away from the paparazzi and all his considerable PC’s fortune (he's one of the biggest shareholder of Packard Bell) on H75 Chardonnay hair dyes and long expensive trips to his dermatologist (an Inuk who receives exclusively on his personal iceberg off Uummannaq) to nurse a chronic rash caused by too tight cheap long johns.

To protect themselves from the serial-kissers, the two anti-monarchist amphibians have flat heads full of tiny (not even half of a millimeter) bony spines concentrated in the rear part of their skulls and in the nasal and jaw zones where these pointy little things form a sort of provocative lusty stinging upper lip (yeah, those frogs are leaping saucepots...). But it's not this that make these couple of Brazilian Kermits so special to become the main characters of a report just published on the science journal Current Biology (and of such a useless post like this). Nope.

lipstick frog (by sciencemug)
C. greeningi (sort of)'s maquillage (by sciencemug)

The fact is that the frogs’ heads’ pointy little bony thingies are associated with minuscule (about 1/10 to 3/10 of a millimeter in size) skin glands. The spines indeed “pierce the epidermis in areas of the skin well supplied with […] glands(Carlos et al, 2015 aka P) and end up all poulticed with these glands’ secretion which is – X-Files-the reboot (by the way HELL YEEEEEEESSS!)-suspence-generating-like music- toxic stuff.
Actually it is stuff made of stuff (enzymes) that cripple the normal process of coagulation of the blood (the kind of stuff that used to freak out Buffy and her gang in other words) and crumble proteins. In the secreted stuff, besides, there's other stuff (the name is hyaluronidase, and it’s an enzyme too) which enhances the transport and delivery of those above mentioned toxic stuff. So, well, the glands' stuff is bad stuff (is it discreet and dissimulated enough the sponsorship I got form “Stuff” the auto-repair and dental prosthesis shop?). At least for a wanna-be frog predator (and for the serial-kissers running dry).

by sciencemug
“Stuff” the auto-repair and dental prosthesis shop (by sciencemug)

Soooooo, that’s the reason why Carlos Jared and other six biologists and zoologists from US and Brazilian universities take their science clever lab time to study 15 frogs of both C. greeningi and A. brunoi.
They do it ‘cause toxic stuff+stinging stuff+animal-equal-venomous thug. Aaand the Brazilian leapers are the first frogs, and amphibians, to be classified as venomous and not poisonous.

That’s the scientific scoop!

I mean, yes, it is commonly known that most of amphibians are poisonous, ‘cause they have their skin covered with toxic glands-spitted whatever to protect themselves from predators. But till our Carlitos labcoated bunch’s discover, well, no species of this class of animals had been found to be venomous, that is not only to be able to produce toxic compounds, but to be also equipped with a delivery mechanism that can shoot the toxins straight into another animal.
I mean, that’s usually snakes’ (especially on a plane) weaponry, like the fangs.

So now, to recap, thanks to Jared and colleagues, the world is aware of the fact that there’re at least two venomous species of frogs which have a venom delivery system consisting of spines which are covered with toxins produced by skin glands, placed in correspondence of the spines. Spines that cover the frogs’ head. Head that is therefore, as a matter of fact, well, the ultimate Kermit’s weapon.

by sciencemug
by sciencemug

C. greeningi and A. brunoi defense strategy is indeed based on their ability, unusual in amphibians, to flex a lot the head both laterally and vertically. Once grabbed or constrained, the Brazilian Kermits release their stiky venom and move “the head, jabbing and rubbing the spines” (P) so to sting/cut the predator and deliver, like this, their toxic secretion into the wound.

And Jared is positive that the strategy works. He himself accidentally ends up with a hand injured by the spines of one C. greeningi frog, and feels an “intense pain radiating up the arm, lasting about 5 hr.(P) So, the sore researcher and his probably still mercilessly laughing colleagues think that their frogs’ “jubbing and rubbing the flexible venomous stinging head” defense strategy that impairs the arm of a human being for hours “should be even more effective on the mouth lining of an attacking predator”.(P)

Moreover the researchers test the lethality of the frogs' venoms in the lab, on some mouses, and they find that just a hint of them (about 3 to 50 millionths of a gram) is sufficient to kill the rodents.

Basically, the Carlitos say, the frogs’ from Brazil venoms are 2 (C. greeningi) to 25 (A. brunoi) times more lethal than the Central and South American vipers’ (genus Bothrops) one.

Good news for the frogs, bad news for the "Union of serial-kissers&predators&fried frogs’ French (and also other non French individuals of the world) eaters".

To sum up Jared and colleagues close their report (and I this post useless as a pair of sneakers for Jabba the Hutt) with these lines: “There are other amphibians that probably should be considered as venomous, including salamanders with ribs that pierce through the skin […] and frogs with spines in the head region […], but information on the toxicity of their skin secretions is lacking. […] It is likely that venomous amphibians are more toxic and common than previously assumed.

- Jared, C., Mailho-Fontana, P. L., Antoniazzi, M. M., Mendes, V. A., Barbaro, K. C., Rodrigues, M. T., and Brodie, E. D., Jr. (2015). Venomous Frogs Use Heads as Weapons. Curr Biol 25, 2166–2170.

venerdì 14 agosto 2015


Ohhh, well well, dear English thinking-speaking-hearing listener, welcome back to me, sciencemug, the blog which tells 'bout science and, at the same time, chats with that tickle of yours, that one yeah, right there, under the thin skin of your wonder. And that do all this in Eng?ish, a language that is to real English what the '80s have been to a decent haircut. 

Soo, now, dear visitor, let’s talk about bacon, soppressa and speck, ok*? And of how the scent of sizzling pork can trigger a wide range of dopaminergic deliciousnergic gnamgnamminergic effects on humans’ brains. And lead you munching bipeds to mechanically gulp chunks of meat and emit various modulated and complex more or less loud sounds which are used to communicate, to your same species pals: satisfaction, emotion, the culinary equivalent of the Stendhal’s Syndrome aaand, at the same time (ah, the utterly fascinating complexity & plasticity of animals’ vocalizations!) an awfully original scary threat of whatever sort against everyone only give a sign of entering your present biting territory.

Ok? Weeell, nope. Eheh, sorry. The post ain’t about this. Pigs are still involved in the plot though. Today’s post is in fact about pigs, aaand pheromones aaaand barking dogs


here (on iTunes)
here (on SoundCloud)
here (on Podcast Machine)

 The pigs’ and dogs’ sounds are under Creative Commons license.
They have all been modified by
The original sound files have been downloaded from
The sound files have been created by:
(in order of usage)

A pig’s pheromone, the androstenone, can calm excessively anxious dogs when sprayed on them. The discovery, made by a group of researchers of the Texas Tech University, has been published in the journal The Professional Animal Scientist.

the barking dog and the bacon (by sciencemug)
by sciencemug
[The dog image is a Public Domain pic adapted by sciencemug (source:]

John J. McGlone and other two researchers study dogs affected by the barking and jumpin jack flash syndrome”, meaning that the McGlones study dogs that think to be Mick Jagger with an awful laryngitis… Ok, ok, just kidding, there’s not such a syndrome (which I’m sure would be the coolest to diagnose for the vets though). Indeed the actual syndrome is the barking and jumping syndrome(McGlone et al., 2014, aka P), meaning that the McGlones study dogs that are hyper anxious and excitable, jump and bark as hell, and are as pleasant to deal with as a giant pneumatic drill that sings A-aloud the Slipknot’s top fifty hits to your worst-hangover-of-the-Saros**’s ears can be.

So the happy researchers do an experiment

mercoledì 5 agosto 2015


a guppy
Sig. Guppy (Pub Dom img)
Avere un cervello grande aumenta la capacità di sopravvivere ai predatori nelle femmine, ma non nei maschi, di Poecilia reticulata, una specie di piccoli pesci tropicali detti guppy. La scoperta, fatta da un gruppo di scienziati delle università di Stoccolma e Vienna, è riportata sulla rivista scientifica Ecology letters

Clicca qui sotto per ascoltare il podcast in italiano

ascoltalo/scaricalo anche
QUI (su iTunes)
o QUI (su SoundCloud)
o QUI (su Podcast Machine)


a guppy
Mr. Guppy (Pub Dom img)
Size does matter. At least when it comes to brain and the ability of surviving predators' attacks and when you are a female of Poecilia reticulata, a species of small tropical fishes called guppies. The discovery, made by a group of scientists from the universities of Stockholm and Vienna, is reported in the journal Ecology letters.

 Listen to the podcast in Eng?ish here

listen to/download it also
here (iTunes)
or here (Podbean)
or here (SoundCloud)
or here (Podcast Machine) 

The following text is that of the podcast
in Eng?ish

O-oooooh hallo dear English-hearing-speaking-thinking listener, welcome to the third of my podcasts in Engmark, that is English-question mark, a language that is to real English what “spaghetti bolognese” is to an actual Italian dish and the combination of a piece of evil chalk scraping a blackboard with Marge Simpson’s voice is to velvet.
Speaking of voices, the one you’re hearing is that of my avatar, a dumb human controlled via a wireless-voodoo trick by me, “sciencemug”, the blog which tells you about science, sings the song of love but scrambles all the words while skipping the rope of summer in company of ice creams in a blue mood aaand while shutting down the alien conspiracy which aims to take over the world production of donuts in order to change the recipe and make them taste like deep space tofu, that is as saaaad as the Earth’s one, but colder and with a bit of a Haggis aftertaste.
Soooo, what am I telling you this time? Weeell, I’m telling you a science story about dimensions, brains, little tropical fishes, predators and evolution! 

guppies meet jaws_ by sciencemug
by sciencemug
[The guppies pic is a Public Domain image adapted by sciencemug (source:]

Size does matter, as usual. At least when it comes to brains and the ability of surviving predators' attacks and when you are a female, hence not a male, of Poecilia reticulata, a species of small tropical fishes called guppies. The discovery, made by a group of scientists from the universities of Stockholm and Vienna, is reported in the journal Ecology letters.

Ooooh, well well, doctor Alexander Kotrschal (which I’m gonna call Alex, from now on, to avoid to plead guilty of consonant slaughter in a trial for mass murder of the poor people of the alphabet and then face the wrath of the ghosts of those innocents letters for the rest of my blog-life, and, by the way, according to the usual reliable sources of the internet, 1 blog’s year is equal to 5 leap years of a sloth), so, doctor Alex, I was saying, and other 5 scientists form Sweden and Austria (and I‘m gonna call this science bunch “the Alexanders”, ‘cause, well, I think it’s really really cool) they decide to try to understand whether and how evolution kisses the kiss of blessing to the bigger brains. To do that the Alexanders decide to study little tropical fishes, the guppies, and to analyze the relationship