Biology Genetics 

Most of the Human Genome Isn’t Being Actively Studied

By Katherine Lindemann Career incentives drive researchers away from understudied genes that could be important to human health. There are around 20,000 human protein-coding genes, but recent studies have suggested scientists actively study only about 2,000 of them. New research investigates why some genes are studied over and over again, while others are neglected. Its authors found that a genes’ medical significance—how likely it is they play a role in human disease—doesn’t explain the discrepancy. Instead, while many researchers are interested in understudied genes, career incentives encourage scientists to focus on genes…

Read More
Animals Biology Health 

How Does Tissue Regenerate?

By Noeline Subramaniam (@spicy_scientist) Regeneration often sounds like science fiction—Wolverine’s healing superpowers probably spring to mind. But you don’t have to be a mutant to be able to regenerate. In fact, humans have the ability to regenerate in utero until the beginning of the third trimester. With the exception of our liver and digit tips, we largely lose this capacity as adults—but why? Let’s turn to the animal kingdom for answers. Is regeneration lost through evolution? Before we get to the species that, for the most part, are unable to…

Read More
Biology Videos 

It’s Okay To Fart

Farting is hilarious and gross and everyone is doing it so why can’t we talk about the science of it?! Flatulence, passing gas, cutting the cheese, toots… whatever you call it, it’s natural. Humans pass gas about 20 times a day on average, and collectively, we fart about 7 billion liters of gas each day! Here’s how it works. Farts are either the result of trapped, swallowed air being expelled from the body, or as byproducts of the microbes living in your gut. In this episode of It’s Okay to Be Smart,…

Read More
Biology Health Technology 

Ultrafast Camera Freezes Time

By Kate Stone (@GotScienceOrg) A new camera technology is making it possible to see extremely fast phenomena, even light, in slow motion. Called T-CUP, the world’s fastest camera can capture ten trillion (10 exp 13) frames per second. To put that into perspective, high-speed cameras capture around 250 to 1,000 frames per second. Let’s think about that for a moment. CUP stands for compressed ultrafast photography. The operative word here is ultrafast. This new camera technology is so fast and so precise that it operates on a scale far beyond…

Read More
Archaeology Biology 

Do Mummies Decompose?

By Shayna Keyles (@shaynakeyles) As long as life has existed, so has death—and decomposition. Many cultures throughout history sought to prevent that ugly part of passing with mummification. But is it possible to actually prevent decomposition, or does mummification just slow things down? To find out, we’ll explore different methods of mummification by examining mummies from around the world. But first, we’ll learn a bit more about what happens after we die. What is mummification trying to prevent, anway? How Humans Decompose There are two main chemical stages of decomposition:…

Read More
Biology 

Facial Recognition: How Many Faces Do You Know?

By Kate Stone (@GotScienceOrg) It turns out that many of us are better at facial recognition than we realize. For the first time, science has put a number on how many faces people remember and recognize—a staggering 5,000 on average. Researchers from the University of York tested how many individual faces people could recall from among those they knew personally as well as from popular media. And while 5,000 faces is the average number that people seem to know, Dr. Rob Jenkins, one of the researchers, quickly points out, “Our…

Read More
Biology Environment Health 

Why Plastics Are Dangerous to Our Health

By Emily Folk (@EmilySFolk) It is almost impossible to avoid plastics today. They’re used to package our food, hold the water we drink, and even print our receipts at the grocery store. Though plastics have made life more convenient than ever before, could there be a downside to their prevalence in our world? Scientists are trying to find out. One area of research focuses on how regular contact with plastic might harm the human body, especially because people unknowingly ingest plastic practically every day. To quote the Graduate, “I just…

Read More
Biology Botany Physics 

How Do Plants Know Which Way to Grow?

By Shayna Keyles (@shaynakeyles) How do plants know which way is up and which way is down? No matter which way you put a seed in the soil, it will always send its roots down and its shoots up. (Unless you’re in space–we’ll get back to that later.) The answer lies in tropism: motion in response to external stimulus. This is pretty amazing, considering that in the traditional sense, plants can’t move. Specifically, plants are affected by geotropism, phototropism, and hydrotropism. In other words, plants move toward gravity, light, and water,…

Read More
Biology Videos 

Is Height All In Our Genes?

Dr. Joe Hanson is tall. Most of the people in his family are tall. Does that mean his son will be tall? Turns out the inheritance of height is a lot more complicated than we thought. Scientists know that nature (genes) and nurture (environment) both play a role, but after more than a century of questions, we’re only just now starting to get some answers. In this episode of It’s Okay to Be Smart, learn how the average height of humans changed over time due to agriculture, migration, and industry.…

Read More
Animals Biology 

How Spiders Weave the Perfect Web

By Shayna Keyles (@shaynakeyles). Are you afraid of spiders? I don’t blame you. The spider “embodies the Terrible Mother’s gruesome mysteries of death and dissolution . . . . [I]mages of her terrors are reinforced by the spider’s killing or paralyzing its victims with venom from hollow fangs, and the female’s habitual devouring of the typically smaller male after mating” (Ronnberg, 2010). Despite their reputation as killers and creeps, spiders are often more friendly than fearsome. While it’s true that there are a few species that pose a real danger…

Read More
error: