Category Archives: Discover Magazine

Discover Magazine

Caterpillars Recruit Friends with Anal Scraping

Newly hatched caterpillars look helpless: they’re teensy, soft and juicy, with no parent around for protection. But certain young insects, the masked birch caterpillars, are more capable than they seem. They gather in groups to keep themselves safe. To form those groups, they use a previously undiscovered language of buzzes, vibrations, head banging and butt scraping.

The species, Drepana arcuata, passes through five caterpillar life stages (called instars) on its way to becoming a li

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Duncan Grapefruits and Chemistry Court

The Duncan grapefruit has been described as “the finest, sweetest grapefruit” in the world, but after 187 years as the reigning champion of the American breakfast, the grapefruit inexplicably disappeared from grocery shelves. After only a few decades, it seems like the Duncan is making a comeback in Maitland, Florida.

Meanwhile, a conflict over the essences of sweeteners like Equal and Splenda brings chemistry into the courtrooms.

The Death and Rebirth of the Duncan Grapefruit – The

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The Unique Health Benefits of Winter Produce

Guest post by Earlene Mulyawan

Winter season is when comfort food seems to take priority over fresh produce. But eating local during winter season is easy! There are plenty of produce that are rich in nutrients and flavor during this time of the year. Winter produce can also be just as tasty and nutritious with some creativity and a little twist. Read on to learn about how these three winter vegetables.

Beets are round, little balls of vegetables that grow underground. They taste a lit

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Wasabi Receptors and Smart Sushi Labels

Researchers at UCSF have elucidated the structure of the receptor that makes our sensory nerves tingle when we eat wasabi.

As this receptor is important in our perception of pain, knowing its shape should help in the development of new pain medications. A company called Thinfilm, developed very thin, electronic label that tracks vital information about certain foods at each stage of the supply chain. This way, foods like sashimi salmon can have its temperature monitored from the warehouse

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The Secret in Your Sushi

Dining out or shopping in a grocery store are seemingly straightforward: as the consumer, you make your selection and exchange money for goods. These interactions are based on an implicit trust that you get what you paid for. However, in recent years consumers have begun to demand more transparency with reports of mislabeled seafood at retailers and restaurants being greater than 70% in some instances [1].

Seafood is one of the most traded food items in the world, with approximately 4.5 b

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Cosmic Dopamine: On “Neuroquantum Theories of Psychiatric Genetics”

Back in 2015, I ran a three part post (1,2,3) on Dr Kenneth Blum and his claim to be able to treat what he calls “Reward Deficiency Syndrome” (RDS) with nutritional supplements.

Today my interest was drawn to a 2015 paper from Blum and colleagues, called Neuroquantum Theories of Psychiatric Genetics: Can Physical Forces Induce Epigenetic Influence on Future Genomes?.

In this paper, Blum et al. put forward some novel proposals about possible links between physics, epigenetics, and neuro

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As the weather warms up, watch out for lime disease.

Make no mistake, contact dermatitis is no joke, as this poor woman learned firsthand. The culprit? Squeezing limes and lemons for a large batch of sangria followed by exposure to the sun without sunscreen, which resulted in giant blisters on her hands the next day. Ouch! If you dare, check out the image of the poor woman’s fingers linked to below. It’s… intense.

Phytophotodermatitis from making sangria: a phototoxic reaction to lime and lemon juice.

“A 26-year-old woman presented to

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Calvin the Martian, and the True Meaning of LIFE

LIFE the movie is both predictable and full of surprises, much like…er…life itself. In the broad sense, it is a monster-run-amok genre movie. No spoilers there; you already know that if you’ve seen the trailers or even just the promotional posters. The interesting parts lie in some of the movie’s details, which deviate from expectations in provocative ways.

The setting of LIFE is not far away in a far-off future, as in Alien (an obvious source of inspiration), but aboard the Internati

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The Misuse of Meta-Analysis?

Over at Data Colada, Uri Simonsohn argues that The Funnel Plot is Invalid.

Funnel plots are a form of scatter diagram which are widely used to visualize possible publication bias in the context of a meta-analysis. In a funnel plot, each data point represents one of the studies in the meta-analysis. The x-axis shows the effect size reported by the study, while the y-axis represents the standard error of the effect size, which is usually inversely related to the sample size.

In theory, t

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An Incidental Diagnosis

Today is World TB Day, commemorating Dr. Robert Koch’s groundbreaking 1882 discovery of the organism that causes tuberculosis. At the announcement of his research to the public, he declared, “If the importance of a disease for mankind is measured by the number of fatalities it causes, then tuberculosis must be considered much more important than those most feared infectious diseases, plague, cholera and the like.” Thirteen years later he would be awarded the Noble Prize for his discovery.

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