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Thursday, April 2, 2020


So, dear listener, a bunch of researchers do a study on the effects of cat-specific music on the felines' stress level when the furry pets go to the veterinary.

And the scientists find that: "cat-specific music can significantly lower stress-related behaviors in cats visiting the veterinary clinic for wellness examinations. Adding cat-specific music to veterinary offices as environmental enrichment could provide great value to the cat’s welfare in the clinic" (see).

The cat-specific music the scientists refers to is "purring and suckling sounds [...] layered into tempos and frequencies used in feline vocalization music" (see). 

But, dear reader, this dumb blog in the following cartoon is showing you the real nature of the "cat-specific music" the cats find so relaxing.

A cat listening to relaxing cat-specific music (by @sciencmeug)
A cat listening to relaxing cat-specific music (by @sciencmeug)

[Cat free pic by Michael Sum (source: Unsplash); iPod free pic by Zhang Kenny (source: Unsplash); headphones free pic by Brett Jordan (source: Unsplash); all pics adapted by @sciencemug]

'Cause, let's admit it pal, cats are fundamentally beautiful jerks...

Thursday, March 26, 2020


Science knows since a while that, in Eastern Europe, there're man (hunters-gatherers) made circlular structures "built" with mammoth' bones associated with "artefact assemblages" (see). These features date back to across the Upper Palaeolithic (i.e. 22 - and more - thousands years ago) (see).

They consist of a ring of mammoth bones with a diameter of various meters usually surrounded by "a series of large pits" thought to have been used for "the storage of food or bone fuel, rubbish disposal or simply as quarries for loess used to construct the [very same] features" (see).

The structures are commonly reckoned as "to be the remains of dwellings that offered shelter during long, full glacial winter seasons or possibly year round" (see).

A recent research on a freshly dug out structure, though, challenges that view in a way supporting alternative hypothesis, like that that sees the mammoth-bones circles being "monumental architecture or possible ceremonial features" (see). 
The studied mammoth-bones circle with a diameter of 12.5 meters (41 feet), indeed, has no obvious entrance and shows a "relative scarcity of minute debitage [that] seems incongruous for a putative dwelling" (see)

The feature is located at the already famous (for this kind of structures) Kostenki 11 site (aka Anosovka 2) which is close to the Don River, near the city of Voronezh, in the European south-western Russia (51°23′08′′ north, 39°03′05′′ east) (see).

Said that, dear reader, this dumb blog has its own hypotesis about how and why the mammoth-bones circles have been made by humans. See the following cartoon.

Two gatherers-hunters and a mammoth-bones circle (by @sciencemug)
Two hunters-gatherers and a circle of mommoth-bones (by @sciencemug)

[Meat pic by Clker-Free-Vector-Images is under Pixabay Licence (source Pixabay); adapted by @sciencemug]

Thursday, March 12, 2020


Soo, dear reader, parrots can understand probabilities, and that's news 'cause so far only great apes (including you, humans) were thought to have such an ability.

A study indeed shows that kea (Nestor notabilis) are capable of "true statistical inference" (see) and this "has important implications not only [to understand] how intelligence evolves, but also for research focused on creating [...] artificial general intelligence" (see).

But, dear reader, this dumb blog has evidence - see the following cartoon - that parrots' porpbabilities reading skills are not at all that good...

Parrots discuss about investments, stock market and probabilities (by @sciencemug)
Parrots and probabilities (by @sciencemug)

[Kea parrot (Nestor notabilis) pic by Murray Dawson is under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International license (source: Wikimedia Commons); adapted by @sciencemug]

Wanna see another cartoon 'bout parrots and the fact that they are altruistic? Check this out!

Sunday, March 8, 2020


Italy's comment about the epidemic of coronavirus SARS-CoV-2:

"I've already kicked out a crown* once, I'll do it again!"
- Italy -

 *Crown, in Italian, means "corona".

[Italy pic by Milenioscuro is under Creative Commons Attribuzione-Condividi allo stesso modo 3.0 Unported; Italy's flag pic is a public domain one; Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 pic by CDC is a public domain one; all pics adapted by @sciencemug]

Thursday, March 5, 2020


Soo, dear reader, a study shows that New York's rats genome changed a lot "from the presumed ancestral range of brown rats in rural north east China [suggesting] a genetic component behind the adaptation of rats in response to human activity" (see).

More in detail, brown rats (aka Rattus norvegicus) have been able to conquer urban environments, like the Big Apple, and exploit human resources and by-products by mutating some of their "genes associated with metabolism, diet, organ morphogenesis and locomotory behavior" (see).

In the following cartoon, though, this dumb blog shows you the true reason why brown rats evolved in such a way.

A New York brown rat explains why it genetically adapted to the Big Apple (by @sciencemug)
A New York brown rat explains why it genetically adapted to the Big Apple (by @sciencemug)

[Rat pic by G. Scott Segler is under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license (source: WikiMedia Commons); adapted by @sciencemug]

Thursday, February 27, 2020


Sooo, dear reader, woodpeckers hit trees "up to 20 Hz with speeds up to 7 m/s , undergoing decelerations up to 1200g" (see).

Let's break these numbers down, ok?

20 Hz means that those birds hit the tree up to 20 times per second: an AK-47 - aka Kalashnikov - shoots 10 rounds per second, the Giant Hummingbird's wings beat rate is of 10-15 per second (see).
7m/s means that those birds' head hits the tree at a speed up to 25.2km/h (or 15.5mph). Not much? Well, dear human reader, try to run at your full speed into a tree and see how you like it... Oh, and consider also this: when Usain Bolt smashed the 100 meters world record in 2009 with his astonishing 9.58 seconds, well, he ran at 37.6km/h (23,4mph).
As for the 1200g deceleration, well, just think of this: when astronauts take off for space, they suffer an acceleration of about 3.2g, and on reentry the deceleration is about 1.4g (see), meaning that some of the fittest human beings in the world, while performing one of the most stressful procedure of 'em all, endure a deceleration 857 times lower than the one experimented by woodpeckers' head on a daily basis.

In spite of that, though, this birds' brain doesn't become like a triumph of mashed potatoes.

How come?

Well, researchers say that it depends, among other things, on the fact that woodpeckers skull bones are stiffer than those of other birds, as they've "small but uniform level of closed porosity, a higher degree of mineralization, and a higher cortical to skull bone ratio" (see). Moreover, woodpeckers have an "unusual shape of the elongated tongue, also called the hyoid apparatus" which probably help in absorbing the impacts energy (see).

But this dumb blog has a much simpler and more elegant explanation for all of this: see the following cartoon.

woodpeckers' secret: its brain is a car crash dummy (by @sciencemug)
Woodpeckers' brain secret (by @sciencemug)

[Woodpecker free pic by Bill Pennell (source: Unplash); adapted by @sciencemug]

Wanna see a cool slow-motion vid of a woodpecker banging its beak+head onto a tree? Check this out!

Thursday, February 20, 2020


So, dear reader, a bunch of researchers in Minnesota, USA, for the first time ever observe an adult wolf giving blueberries to pups as food (the wolf regurgitated the berries to feed 'em to the pups).
According to the scientists, their finding "suggests wild berries might be a more valuable food source for wolves in southern boreal ecosystems than previously appreciated" (see).

In this dumb blog's opinion, the following cartoon shows what was actually going on, between the adult wolf and the pups, when they were spotted by the researchers.

Wolves and blueberries (by @sciencemug)
Wolves and blueberries (by @sciencemug)
[Wolves free pic is by M L (source: Unsplash); adapted by @sciencemug]

Wanna see a video of an adult wolf eating blueberries? Check this out.

Thursday, February 13, 2020


Bumblebees face extinction, and one of the main causes is human driven climate change that makes the number of extremely hot days to skyrocket (see).

Three researchers from the University of Ottawa and the University College London, indeed, checked long-term data about 66 species of bumble bees buzzing in North America and Europe. The scientists wanted to find out whether "increasing frequency of hotter temperatures predicts species’ local extinction risk, chances of colonizing a new area, and changing species richness" (see).
Well, dear reader, as just stated, it does.

This dumb blog, on the following cartoon, reports the bumblebees' thoughts on the matter.

Bumblebees talk of climate change pushing them on the verge of extinction (by @sciencemug)
Bumblebees talk of extinction and climate change (by @sciencemug)

[Bumblebee pic by Windslash is under Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0) license (source: flickr); adapted by @sciencemug]

Thursday, February 6, 2020


600 light-years faraway Betelgeuse red supergiant (destined to go supernova in probably some tens of thousands years) keeps "to gradually decrease in brightness" (less 25% since just last September 2019) (see), and astronomers don't exactly know why, but they think it could be due to "changes in the envelop-outer convection atmosphere" (see) of the star, also known as Alpha Orionis.

Well, pal, this dumb blog has a different explanation for that. See the following cartoon.

Betelgeuse red supergiant wears sunglasses (by @sciencemug)
Betelgeuse red supergiant wears sunglasses (by @sciencemug)

[Betelgeuse pic by Dave Jarvis is under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license; the sunglasses pic by Donald Trung Quoc Don is under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license; (source of both pics: Wikimedia Commons); all pics adapted by @sciencemug]

Thursday, January 30, 2020


Keywords: Christmas, Xmas, Black Friday, charity, economics, experimental economics

Ooooh, hello dear English speaking-reading-hearing listener, welcome back to me, @sciencemug, the blog/podcast/twitter&instagram accounts/entity behind the unsuccessful e-shop stuffngo on which can hold its breath for 55 straight hours since it has neither lungs nor cardiovascular system (let alone a brain in need of oxygen), aaand which talks to you thanks to the voice, kidnapped via a voodoo-wireless trick, from a veeery very very dumb human.
Aaand which does all of this in Eng?ish, a language that is to proper English what to publish the second part of a Xmas episode closer to Valentine’s day than to Christmas itself is to something belonging to the realm of the things that make even a pale imitation of sense...

Soo dear listener, in the previous episode I told you the first of two studies (study 1 and study 2) about seasonal effects on people’s propensity to donate to charity and ‘bout its surprising findings: on Christmas time donations are less than on summer time, and this is a trend unexpectedly driven by prosocial individuals (i.e. people with a predisposition to generosity), who donate less frequently and less money during winter Holidays.
The studies are performed by two researchers of the German University of Gottingen, Dr. Stephan Muller and Professor of Experimental Economics Holger A. Rau (aka the Rau's Duo, or the RDs) and are published on a paper (P) on the open access scientific journal PLOSONE.

In this episode, dear listener, I’ll tell you what the RDs do to understand why is that people, especially prosocials, are less generous on Xmas time than on summer, in other words, what are the “[d]rivers of the lower donations (P).

Listen to the podcast episode
on iTunes

So, the Rau’s Duo performs its second study (study 2) the week after the Black Friday, that is in November. The researchers recruit again subjects from the Gottingen University, but none of those already involved in the previous study (study 1) or in other similar studies.

The RDs pick 72 persons (42 females and 30 males) between 18 and 50 years old with an average age of 22 and a half.

The first part of study 2 is identical to study 1 (do you remember dear reader? Semi fake money called Talers that can be donated to the German Red Cross, Social Value Orientation (SVO) evaluation of prosocials, individualistics, competitives, and so on and on (if you don’t remember, dear listener, well, don’t worry, just check the previous post/episode and maybe consider implementing your diet with some phosphorus, but hurry up mate, since world’s irreplaceable reserves of this essential stuff are depleting at an alarming rate (see)).

Anyway, dear listener, of the 72 individuals initially selected for study 2, only 66 are eventually tested (of which fifty are prosocials, and sixteen individualistics). The competitives and the “none of the above” are indeed, as happened in study 1, discharged.

So, dear listener, surprise surprise, the results of this first part of study 2 are basically the same of study 1: meaning those sneaky prosocials are the ones responsible for sinking the donations rate on Xmas season, while individualistics are steady cheap lads both in summer and winter holiday time.

At this point the second phase of study 2 starts. Unlike in study 1,

Thursday, January 23, 2020


The European Space Agency (ESA) has now a prototype plant that produces oxygen out of simulated moondust, i.e. out of stuff similar to the actual regolith, "a layer of loose, heterogeneous material, composed of mostly dust and rock fragments" [quote] that covers almost all Moon's surface and is made up of "40–45% oxygen by weight" [quote].

ESA's final goal is to have a working plant "that could operate sustainably on the Moon, with the first technology demonstration targeted for the mid-2020s" [quote].   

ESA's new prototype facility is in the Materials and Electrical Components Laboratory of the European Space Research and Technology Centre (ESTEC) in Noordwijk, in the Netherlands.

The following cartoon reports the Moon's comment on this news.

Moon's comment on ESA making oxygen out of moondust! (by @sciencemug)
Moon's comment on ESA producing oxygen out of moondust (by @sciencemug)

[Moon's free pic by Neven Krcmarek (source: Unsplash); adapted by @sciencemug]