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.





Jan 052017
 
2017 in light painting

I hope that you have all had a lovely Christmas and New Year and have managed to avoid work emails and food poisoning. As universities across the globe start to wake up from their holiday-induced comas, we can look forward to 2017 and hope that we don’t die, so that 2017 will yield a bumper crop of papers and successful grant applications in order to feed the ever hungry supervisor’s CV.

Since nothing is more sciency than making claims about the future that no-one can dispute, here are my science predictions for 2017:

1. Someone will regularly do a massive, humidifying poo in the toilet near your office.

It is inevitable that the smell of fresh turds will waft from toilets, but 2017 will see a resurgence of the anti-flush movement you’ll remember from the late 90’s.

2. Universities will force staff to sit through day-long workshops about personal branding and marketing.

How are you meant to do research without money? You can’t. How are you meant to bring in money if you spend all of your time doing research? You can’t.

Bringing in money isn’t about promising the unachievable, it’s about making the unachievable seem like a promise with fancy marketing words that I don’t know because I haven’t done the workshop yet.

3. Vice Chancellor’s will get smaller to make novelty checks appear larger.

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4. Grant applications will also include an X-factor style panel.

Nothing feels better than laughing at someone with a potential mental illness from the safety of an auditorium full of other people too scared to follow their dreams.
I hope I get to laugh at someone who has spent months writing a grant proposal only have their dreams dashed by Mel B from the spice girls.

5 Desperate for media attention, Universities will start leaking sex tapes of researchers fucking Kayne West.

Obviously…

So there we have it, folks. You heard it here first.

Sep 272016
 
free money falling from the sky

Look, it seems amazing, but there is an actual way to get free money from science. It will take a little bit of effort, but not nearly as much effort as killing your rich uncle and making it look like a natural death. By following my simple guide you’ll be a cool $60k better off – imagine all the shit that you could convince yourself you need with that amount of money!

Let’s start.

First, you’ll need to find a field of science that you feel like you can lie about being passionate about. If you choose something about kids with cancer, or cute animals who aren’t very good at fucking, it’ll be much easier to convince your family that you’ve just given up three years of your life to make the world a better place.

Next, find an academic supervisor who is in the field of study that you have chosen. This choice is going to be the first crucial decision you need to make. The perfect primary supervisor is someone who has the right combination of just wanting to be loved and someone who makes you/people feel uncomfortable – think racist grandparent with an MDMA addiction. This person should regularly say outrageous things like “who’s the brown one in the lab?” and “I thought it was the little Indian fella…”.

This is now were you earn your money – don’t worry it’s as easy as Facebook stalking someone. Collect as much information about this person as humanly possible. You need to find something from their past that they are ashamed of. Something dark. Something they’ll want to keep secret. Because you chose the best “gurning granddad” in the last step, this will be very easy. Everyone has a dark secret, mine is that my first ever music purchase was the Spice Girls – I spent the next few years of my life throwing the peace symbol around and the saying “girl power”, creating the perfect virginity force field.

Once you have found their dark secret. We are ready for the next step.

Approach your prospective PhD supervisor and say that you want to work for them. Use buzz words/phrases that no self respecting PhD supervisor could ignore. Examples include “I live to work” and “I can’t remember the last time I took a day off” and “papers” – you’ll have their undivided attention and the contract will be winging its way to you in no time at all. Sign the contract and ignore all of its contents – it doesn’t apply to you anyway.

Start your PhD. Do it for six months. Don’t worry, nothing will be expected of you, print off some peer-reviewed papers and scatter them all around your desk. Nothing says “I’m busy doing science” like a literature review and coffee stained teeth.

Here comes the fun part: after six months, stop turning up to the lab/office. Do not answer emails. Your goal is to be out of contact long enough that the glassware in the lab – the stuff with your name on it – has collected a thick layer of dust. Because science is so slow, it’ll take about three months before people actually realise that you aren’t there – this is the benefit of the new concept of “hot desks” in wanky open planned offices.

At this point your supervisor will be really mad. Answer their calls and to reveal what you know about them – that in 1986 they smoked crack, put all of their fingers in their friends bum, individually, and set a man on fire. Your supervisor will quickly back off and you shall continue to receive your PhD scholarship whilst traveling around Europe and posting the pictures on Facebook. Be sure to drop secret hints to your supervisor in the photos that you post: medical picture of a finger in a bum

Enjoy your ~$60k and spend it wisely. It’ll only last for three years (the length of a PhD scholarship) and you won’t actually get a PhD at the end. Apparently, quitting isn’t such a bad thing anyway!


Support Andy Matter and feel good without having to clean yourself up.

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Jun 172016
 
Paul willis giving me the finger

This past Wednesday night saw eight, competition ready, academics and clever people debate for their chosen unsung hero of science – someone who deserved more recognition for their scientific career than they received.

The excellent event was organised by The Science Nation and held at RiAus in Adelaide.

The battle was fierce and saw discussion of the topics around LSD, weapons, rats, paleontology and wanking off a dolphin to make sure it concentrated during an experiment. I tried it myself and it just made me tried and sweaty.

I was championing the science and life of the bad arse computer scientist Dr Grace Brewster Murray Hopper and, on the night, I was crowned champion (without at actual crown) of the great debate. I love winning, even more than wanking off animals in the name of science.

I dedicate my win to Simon, my new biggest fan.

For those who like to read competition winning excellence, click below for my speech:

The Science Nation – Unsung Heros

Here are some photos of the event: