Aug 232017


You’ve seen them. You know, the headlines that claim that scientists are freaking out about some new scientific discovery or that they are clawing at their PPE when they read a new paper about aliens, God or bumholes.

This is what I’m talking about:

scientists freaking out
While these headlines may conjure the images of a room full of lab coat wearing nerds screaming into a fume cupboard or weeping silently behind their face shield I have only seen this once and it had nothing to do with the latest science news – I think it was something to do with their supervisor or whatnot…I can’t remember because I wasn’t really listening.

The real question is what would an actual real-life scientist lose their shit over?

I can tell you that it’s much more trivial than you’d ever feared from fully grown, educationally advanced adults. Here’s my short list of things to induce some awe-inspiring science rage that HR would send you an email about.

1. A dirty balance

This is so inexcusable that the person who does this deserves to have the balance fluctuate wildly while they are using it, forever.
If this is you, I want you to know that everyone bitches about you in the tea room and passive aggressive notes don’t go far enough to express our hatred of you.

2. Improper glove use

Gloves are an important part of the science world. They ensure that your samples stay free from contamination by sticky fingers and nose grease and they keep you safe from all of the nasty chemicals and biohazards in the lab. As always, humans have found a way to fuck up the simple action of using hand condoms.

One of the worst examples of glove use I found was in a vice documentary by US border force. My favourite bit was when they shook his hand, forever incriminating the journalist, and the bit where she wiped her nose – remember kids the best drugs are free drugs.

3. Someone fucking up the good tweezers

Unboxing new tweezers is like receiving oral sex from someone with really nice hair – as exciting as it is a treat for the eyes.

New tweezers represent your hopes and dreams for the future of your scientific research and it takes just one arsehole to drop them to ruin what you had planned for your beautifully engineered piece of hand candy.

4. Being told science requires as much faith as religion

The world outside the lab is just as scary as the piece of high-vacuum equipment from the 1960’s, just without the emergency kill switch.

Scientists spend their lives analysing testing and validating everything – including friends and family. So, when scientists meet a flat earther, anti-vaxxer or crystal healer you’ll have to pardon them because all the tests they’ve done up until that point predict they’re going to be a massive pain in the arse to talk to and a bit of a dickhead about everything.

If the scientists have had less than 2 drinks and managed to stay away from the cocaine tray, they will normally be nice to any non-science type and excuse themselves while rolling their eyes. However, it won’t stop them complaining about opinionated bustards in the car on the way home or dedicating a section of a blog post to them.

5. Donald Trump


Let me know what you would add the the list!

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Aug 152017
Australian Marriage Equality

Australia, I’m talking to you – it’s time to get sexy and serious.

The rest of the western world has entered the 21st century and now it’s your turn to stand up for the rights of same sex-couples.

I know you’re already on board with the idea of two people of the same sex getting all up in each other’s dirty bits. I know this because the most viewed category in Australia on everyone’s favourite heavy breathing aggregator site, PornHub, was Lesbian (the type with more than 2 boobies in shot and no scrotum).

So, you can’t hide it, it’s clear you love lesbians but maybe what you don’t love is when they love each other.

You’re fine with seeing people of the same sex explore each other’s bodies but perhaps you’re offended by the idea of allowing them to explore the perfect table decoration for their wedding.

To feel like I’ve done my part, I’m going to look at the science of same-sex relationships and shed some light on some of the facts that’ll help you decide.

What all the gay animals are doing.

In the natural world, same-sex behaviour occurs in over 450 species and there are many thousands of instances of courtship, pair bonding and copulation.

Bottlenose dolphins have one of the highest rates of same-sex sexual behaviour in any animal.

Males love to put their willies in each other, touch each other up and a little bit of “goosing” (ramming their noses into another dolphin’s dick). Goosing sounds very much like a rugby locker room scenario minus the “no-homo” assertions.

This behaviour strengthens alliances between small groups of males and provides practice for future opposite-sex encounters (as soon as they grow out of the genital punching stage).

In bottle nosed dolphins, female– female sexual behaviour also occurs, but to a much lesser extent. Which is why there’s no specific category for this on PornHub.

Closer to us in our evolutionary ladder, bonobo females spend a considerable amount of time engaged in same-sex sexual behaviour, including genital rubbing that can result in orgasm.

To a much lesser extent, bonobo males engage in kissing, blow-jobs and genital massages. It’s thought that same-sex sexual behaviour might ease social tension and facilitate reconciliation among group members. Remember this top bonobo tip for the next time you piss someone off at work.

But it’s not all about the shagging.

Reducing the marriage equality debate to sexual preferences in animals is clearly not helpful on its own.

Although, I’m sure you’re all animals in the sheets…amirite?

Drawing parallels between human sexual identity and animal behaviour is clearly not the most important factor in this debate and we must address the fact that there’s more to this than just sticky fingers.

As the 2009 album from Barbra Streisand says, Love is the answer. Yeah, that reference made me uncomfortable too.

Science and scientists are really bad at measuring love. There’s no love spectrometer or probe that measures love specifically. Sure, we can measure physiological effects like heart rate, pupil dilation, oxytocin concentration in the blood and how much you grit your teeth when you see a cute puppy, but we cannot come up with a real value for love.

For me, love is like gravity: we can observe its effects but we can’t see it.

Let’s have a look at loves effects:

First of all, a study from the Open University found that couples in same sex relationships are likely to be happier than straight couples. It also found that childless men and women are more satisfied with their relationship than their sleepless and food stained counterparts.

The study asked 5000 people questions about their relationships and found that it was “hard to pin down” what is meant by love in a relationship, adding: “The act of saying ‘I love you’ is identified as important by men and women alike but a loving gesture is far more highly valued”.

What’s the secret sauce of a happy relationship?

Well, actions speak louder than words as far as loving relationships are concerned. The people surveyed said it was the things that their partners did for them that made them feel most appreciated.

These included:

  1. Says thank you and notices my achievements.
  2. Buys thoughtful gifts and shows kind gestures – a cup of tea in bed was especially appreciated by mothers.
  3. Talks with me and listens.
  4. Physical affection, with cuddles and foot massages featuring prominently.
  5. Shares the household chores and/or child care.

Note what was not on the list: having different genitals as me…

Won’t someone please think of the children!

The science is clear on this one.

Scientists agree that children raised by same-sex couples are no worse off than children raised by parents of the opposite sex, according to a study of studies.

The research looked at 19,000 studies and articles related to same-sex parenting from 1977 to 2013.

The studies showed some disagreement among scientists on the outcome of same-sex parenting in the 1980s but it largely subsided in the 1990s, and a clear consensus had formed by 2000 that there is no difference between same-sex and different-sex parenting in the psychological, behavioural or educational outcomes of children.

There it is in all its peer-reviewed glory.

If you are sitting on the fence or you feel trapped in the marriage equality closet science is here to help.

But there’s one thing that we can all agree on without the need for an ARC funded, double-blind study: If you vote ‘No’ to marriage equality you’re probably a massive fuckwit.

Aug 082017
Anthrax Suit

An international team of scientists have found that a mutant form of Anthrax is coming for you and your family. So you probably should have sex with that cute co-worker and/or feel instant regret for all the things you’ve haven’t done…like having sex with that cute co-worker.

Or at least that was the subtext of their study.

An international team of scientists have found that there is a messed up new strain of Anthrax on the loose in Africa and it’s killed more than half of the dead chimps on the Ivory coast.

And the bad news doesn’t stop there, the sad team also found that it’s killing other animals too.

“To our surprise, almost 40 percent of all animal deaths in Taï National Park we investigated were attributable to anthrax,” says virologist Emmanuel Couacy-Hymann from the Ivorian Animal Health Institute.

Anthrax is an infection caused by the bacterium B. anthracis. You may remember it because it was popular in the early 2000’s when terror groups sent it around the US in the post. Luckily for us, just like man-buns, the trend didn’t last long so we didn’t have to hear about a small group of wankers on the news for any more than a couple of months.

The new bacterial strain has acquired two bits of DNA, possibly from B. anthracis, that make anthrax a better killer than Ted Bundy.

So, I guess it’s time to scream into the air “why God, WHYYYYYYYY?!!!!!!!!!”.

The scientists examined bones from 20 different species that had been collected from a forest in Africa for over 26 years. They detected the anthrax pathogen in 81 of the 204 carcases and in 26 of the 75 bones they sampled.

Hunting and deforestation of the region had already brought chimps to the brink of extinction and diseases like Anthrax and Ebola could be the nail in the coffin for the chimps.

Computer simulations, performed by the friend zoned members of the team, showed that anthrax could wipe out the Taï Forest’s population of roughly 400 chimps within the next 150 years.

Protecting the chimpanzees will be difficult – can’t we just take them into our homes and allow them to serve us tea like we used to?

The standard Anthrax vaccine protects against B. cereus; the team vaccinated about 100 animals in 2012 and 2013 and is now monitoring them. But researchers can only reach the few animals that have been habituated to humans. And protection may only last a year, so the chimps would require regular shots. “Vaccinating them too often is a problem since they get shy and they tend to rip your face and hands off,” Leendertz says.

The team think that what the monkeys eat may be playing an important role in spreading the disease.

One candidate is carrion flies. Leendertz’s team found traces of B. cereus DNA in 17 flies; if they help spread the disease, that might explain how some monkey species that only live in trees become infected. The team found the pathogen’s DNA in 12 out of 103 flies living in the canopy.

There are other more important questions to be answered here: Are humans somehow protected from infection? How far has this pathogen spread? And why shouldn’t I go on a looting spree?

Human infections with the new strain of anthrax bacterium have so far not been reported. But the probability that it also poses a threat to humans, just like Bacillus anthracis, is high, since both types are related.

In light of this new study, I encourage you to move to Alaska, join the camo wearing preppers movement, buy a gun and some freeze dried food.

The less than optimistic research has been reported in Nature.