The research most crazy of the year: how to sex turtles, diyeridús against snoring…

When we think of a scientist we imagine creating new drugs, and discovering subatomic particles, all with the most absolute seriousness. But they also have their particular sense of humor. The only way would be devoted to analyze feces in the zoo to design a diaper astronáutico or they would study the viscoelastic properties of the cats. These are some of the most original, crazy and innovative that have been published in the last twelve months.

The physics of defecation

“The animals defecate in a wide range of sizes and shapes […]. However, the physics by which the faeces are discharged is little understood”. So begins the fascinating paper published this year in the journal Soft Matter with the title of the Hydrodynamics of defecation (Hydrodynamics of defecation).

Researchers from the Georgia Institute of Technology (USA) analyzed the waste of all kinds of animals, from cats to elephants, thanks to mathematical models, samples, and recordings of 34 different species that are captured in their most intimate moment in zoo Atlanta. Their goal: to better understand the physics of the poop.

The results revealed some mysteries of the evacuation animal. For example, that all it takes more or less the same thing in the end: 12 seconds. The study allowed the researchers to design a diaper that would allow the astronauts to spend a week in his suit without setbacks, a project for which they were finalists in the Space Poop Challenge (Challenge of the poop space) Nasa, aimed to solve this problem.

Danger! Egg in the microwave

Legend has it that a restaurant was sued by a customer who claimed that an egg warmed in the microwave had exploded in his mouth, causing burns and hearing damage.


The risk of the food explode in the microwave is not trivial. Two researchers from a consulting firm specializing in acoustics decided to check to see if this urban legend has any scientific basis. To do this, they heated a hundred eggs, and measured their acoustic power. The results were developed at the 174th meeting of the Acoustical Society of America.

The levels covered a wide range that went from 86 to 133 decibels,” explained one of the researchers in the press release. “Only 30% of the eggs survived the warming in the microwave and exploded at the to be perforated with a sharp object. Statistically speaking, the likelihood of damaging the hearing of anyone is very remote. It is a bit like playing roulette egg”.

Finally shows that eating placentas is useless

The placentofagia is common among the rest of the mammals, but no human culture contemporary houses this tradition. This does not preclude that in the US, celebrities like Kim Kardashian, Jennifer Lopez and Tom Cruise have shown their interest in the practice.

Advocates of eating placentas ensure that a cure for postpartum depression, improves lactation and increases energy. Doctors disagree: a review published in the journal American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology refuses to eat placenta, either raw, cooked, dehydrated, encapsulated or added to smoothies to have any effect.

The most common way of ingesting this ephemeral body is in capsules, after being cooked and dehydrated, a process that eliminates any nutrient or hormone that could get to the mother. The problem is that it does not kill the potential pathogens: the Centers for Control and Prevention of USA (CDC) have had to warn against the consumption of the placenta after the newborn suffered a sepsis by streptococcus infected by its mother, due to a few capsules contaminated.

The man who whispered to the goats returns to the attack

Christian Nawroth is a researcher at Queen Mary University of London (Uk) who has focused his work in to know more about animals little known fact: goats. Thanks to him we know today that these beings have an excellent memory and you are even able to solve small puzzles.

Selfie with a goat. | Christian Nawroth

Nawroth also discovered that the goats we analyzed in search of clues and, this year, a study published in the journal Biology Letters in which showed that these mammals know when they are the center of attention and what this entails.

The curious experiment made by two investigators, one attentive to the goat and the other pretending to be distracted. The animals could approach one of them to get food and they knew who was the suitable candidate for this: the person who already was awaiting them.

If you need electricity, cry

Lysozyme is a protein present in egg white and in secretions such as tears, saliva and snot. This year, researchers from the irish discovered that this enzyme generates electricity under pressure. The phenomenon, called piezoelectricity, is well known in materials such as quartz, used in sonar and scanners, ultrasonic.

The work was published in the journal Applied Physics Letters. “The piezoelectricity of the lysozyme is significant and of the same order of magnitude as that of the quartz. However, being a biological material is non-toxic, so that it could be applied to medical implants”, claimed one of the authors in the press release.

Luckily, the structure of lysozyme is known since 1965, and, according to the authors, is easy to manufacture from natural sources.

Cats liquid

The IgNobel is a must-attend event for lovers of science more extravagant and original, a parody of the serious Nobel with whom you want to make people laugh… but also think.

Can a cat be liquid and solid at the same time? A work comes to felines as a viscoelastic material, since these animals have such a flexibility that, according to the researchers, they behave like a fluid. Perhaps that is why they are able to enter in a bottle and move from its interior.

Diyeridús against snoring

The diyeridú is an instrument typical of the australian aborigines, and very popular as a souvenir among the tourists. A study published in BMJ showed that play it regularly before sleeping decreases snoring and sleep apnea, which makes it the ideal gift for this Christmas.

This is a diyeridú. | CC/Tomer T

Researchers discovered that pride does not precede the fall

A famous proverb in the Bible says that “pride precedes the fall”. This suggests that the pride could be a psychological factor able to predict a few accidents that can be fatal to the elderly population.

However, a study published in the holiday issue of the journal BMJ refutes this theory. The researchers took data from more than 10,000 people from more than 60 years ago, which asked what level of pride they had experienced recently, as well as if they had suffered any fall in the previous two years.

The analysis of the results showed that people with a level of pride higher suffering up to 19% less falls. The results, once adjusted to take account of factors such as reduced mobility and visual ability, ceased to have any statistical significance.

The first scientific study on midiclorianos

“The midiclorianos are microscopic life forms that reside in all living beings. Without them life could not exist and we would not have knowledge of the Force. Disorders midiclorianos tend to cause brain diseases such as autism”.

The above snippet is taken from a paper that was published in four magazines this year. No, the midiclorianos of the science fiction movies of Star Wars are not real. All this was an elaborate prank to expose the fraudulent methods they employ some of the publications supposedly scientific.

Magazines top predators are not based on peer review that used Nature or Science as a guarantee of quality, but that anyone willing to pay, you can publish a scientific article to pad your resume. About $ 300 was the only thing that would have been paid to the author of the trap, the blogger Neuroskeptic, for their midiclorianos be published.

The secret to sex turtles with effectiveness

We’ve all been there: we go for a walk and we find a turtle, but we are unable to determine their sex. Sex turtles is not an easy task, even for experts, but a group of researchers has discovered an innovative method to do so: masajearles the queue with a dildo of 18 cm to have an erection.

The new technique, described in the journal Acta herpetologica is as comical as it is effective. Turtles male and female are identical to human eyes, to the point that up until now the only way to distinguish both sexes was with methods very slow and invasive, such as analysis of blood or the insertion of cameras into their genitals. Luckily for the armored reptiles, this is finished.

But not all species are equally impressionable: the researchers were able to sex correctly 100% of the individuals of some… and less than 60% of the other. The next step, the authors conclude, is to try different styles of vibrators to find the key to happiness of every kind.

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