Discover the most talked about and latest scientific content & concepts.

Journal: PloS one


This paper studies differences in the effect of temperature on cognitive performance by gender in a large controlled lab experiment (N = 543). We study performance in math, verbal and cognitive reflection tasks and find that the effects of temperature vary significantly across men and women. At higher temperatures, women perform better on a math and verbal task while the reverse effect is observed for men. The increase in female performance in response to higher temperature is significantly larger and more precisely estimated than the corresponding decrease in male performance. In contrast to math and verbal tasks, temperature has no impact on a measure of cognitive reflection for either gender. Our findings suggest that gender mixed workplaces may be able to increase productivity by setting the thermostat higher than current standards.


Several past studies have found that media reports of suicides and homicides appear to subsequently increase the incidence of similar events in the community, apparently due to the coverage planting the seeds of ideation in at-risk individuals to commit similar acts.

Concepts: Suicide, Mass murder


It is often suggested that coffee causes dehydration and its consumption should be avoided or significantly reduced to maintain fluid balance. The aim of this study was to directly compare the effects of coffee consumption against water ingestion across a range of validated hydration assessment techniques. In a counterbalanced cross-over design, 50 male coffee drinkers (habitually consuming 3-6 cups per day) participated in two trials, each lasting three consecutive days. In addition to controlled physical activity, food and fluid intake, participants consumed either 4×200 mL of coffee containing 4 mg/kg caffeine © or water (W). Total body water (TBW) was calculated pre- and post-trial via ingestion of Deuterium Oxide. Urinary and haematological hydration markers were recorded daily in addition to nude body mass measurement (BM). Plasma was analysed for caffeine to confirm compliance. There were no significant changes in TBW from beginning to end of either trial and no differences between trials (51.5±1.4 vs. 51.4±1.3 kg, for C and W, respectively). No differences were observed between trials across any haematological markers or in 24 h urine volume (2409±660 vs. 2428±669 mL, for C and W, respectively), USG, osmolality or creatinine. Mean urinary Na(+) excretion was higher in C than W (p = 0.02). No significant differences in BM were found between conditions, although a small progressive daily fall was observed within both trials (0.4±0.5 kg; p<0.05). Our data show that there were no significant differences across a wide range of haematological and urinary markers of hydration status between trials. These data suggest that coffee, when consumed in moderation by caffeine habituated males provides similar hydrating qualities to water.

Concepts: Urine, Water, Hydrogen, Coffee, Dehydration, Caffeine, Deuterium, Drink


We analyzed 700 million words, phrases, and topic instances collected from the Facebook messages of 75,000 volunteers, who also took standard personality tests, and found striking variations in language with personality, gender, and age. In our open-vocabulary technique, the data itself drives a comprehensive exploration of language that distinguishes people, finding connections that are not captured with traditional closed-vocabulary word-category analyses. Our analyses shed new light on psychosocial processes yielding results that are face valid (e.g., subjects living in high elevations talk about the mountains), tie in with other research (e.g., neurotic people disproportionately use the phrase ‘sick of’ and the word ‘depressed’), suggest new hypotheses (e.g., an active life implies emotional stability), and give detailed insights (males use the possessive ‘my’ when mentioning their ‘wife’ or ‘girlfriend’ more often than females use ‘my’ with ‘husband’ or ‘boyfriend’). To date, this represents the largest study, by an order of magnitude, of language and personality.

Concepts: Male, Female, Gender, Sex, Word, Phrase, Social media, Facebook


Conspiratorial ideation is the tendency of individuals to believe that events and power relations are secretly manipulated by certain clandestine groups and organisations. Many of these ostensibly explanatory conjectures are non-falsifiable, lacking in evidence or demonstrably false, yet public acceptance remains high. Efforts to convince the general public of the validity of medical and scientific findings can be hampered by such narratives, which can create the impression of doubt or disagreement in areas where the science is well established. Conversely, historical examples of exposed conspiracies do exist and it may be difficult for people to differentiate between reasonable and dubious assertions. In this work, we establish a simple mathematical model for conspiracies involving multiple actors with time, which yields failure probability for any given conspiracy. Parameters for the model are estimated from literature examples of known scandals, and the factors influencing conspiracy success and failure are explored. The model is also used to estimate the likelihood of claims from some commonly-held conspiratorial beliefs; these are namely that the moon-landings were faked, climate-change is a hoax, vaccination is dangerous and that a cure for cancer is being suppressed by vested interests. Simulations of these claims predict that intrinsic failure would be imminent even with the most generous estimates for the secret-keeping ability of active participants-the results of this model suggest that large conspiracies (≥1000 agents) quickly become untenable and prone to failure. The theory presented here might be useful in counteracting the potentially deleterious consequences of bogus and anti-science narratives, and examining the hypothetical conditions under which sustainable conspiracy might be possible.

Concepts: Scientific method, Mathematics, Epistemology, Hypothesis, Theory, Logic, Social psychology, Conspiracy theory


Birds still share many traits with their dinosaur ancestors, making them the best living group to reconstruct certain aspects of non-avian theropod biology. Bipedal, digitigrade locomotion and parasagittal hindlimb movement are some of those inherited traits. Living birds, however, maintain an unusually crouched hindlimb posture and locomotion powered by knee flexion, in contrast to the inferred primitive condition of non-avian theropods: more upright posture and limb movement powered by femur retraction. Such functional differences, which are associated with a gradual, anterior shift of the centre of mass in theropods along the bird line, make the use of extant birds to study non-avian theropod locomotion problematic. Here we show that, by experimentally manipulating the location of the centre of mass in living birds, it is possible to recreate limb posture and kinematics inferred for extinct bipedal dinosaurs. Chickens raised wearing artificial tails, and consequently with more posteriorly located centre of mass, showed a more vertical orientation of the femur during standing and increased femoral displacement during locomotion. Our results support the hypothesis that gradual changes in the location of the centre of mass resulted in more crouched hindlimb postures and a shift from hip-driven to knee-driven limb movements through theropod evolution. This study suggests that, through careful experimental manipulations during the growth phase of ontogeny, extant birds can potentially be used to gain important insights into previously unexplored aspects of bipedal non-avian theropod locomotion.

Concepts: Bird, Knee, Extinction, Locomotion, Dinosaur, Theropoda, Bipedalism, Archosaur


Arguments that abortion causes women emotional harm are used to regulate abortion, particularly later procedures, in the United States. However, existing research is inconclusive. We examined women’s emotions and reports of whether the abortion decision was the right one for them over the three years after having an induced abortion.

Concepts: Longitudinal study, Causality, United States, Poverty in the United States, Metaphysics, Emotion, Roe v. Wade, Ideology


Hand coordination can allow humans to have dexterous control with many degrees of freedom to perform various tasks in daily living. An important contributing factor to this important ability is the complex biomechanical architecture of the human hand. However, drawing a clear functional link between biomechanical architecture and hand coordination is challenging. It is not understood which biomechanical characteristics are responsible for hand coordination and what specific effect each biomechanical characteristic has. To explore this link, we first inspected the characteristics of hand coordination during daily tasks through a statistical analysis of the kinematic data, which were collected from thirty right-handed subjects during a multitude of grasping tasks. Then, the functional link between biomechanical architecture and hand coordination was drawn by establishing the clear corresponding causality between the tendinous connective characteristics of the human hand and the coordinated characteristics during daily grasping activities. The explicit functional link indicates that the biomechanical characteristic of tendinous connective architecture between muscles and articulations is the proper design by the Creator to perform a multitude of daily tasks in a comfortable way. The clear link between the structure and the function of the human hand also suggests that the design of a multifunctional robotic hand should be able to better imitate such basic architecture.

Concepts: Statistics, Motor control, Task, Hand, Characteristic, Hand strength, Fine motor skill


Combating climate change requires unified action across all sectors of society. However, this collective action is precluded by the ‘consensus gap’ between scientific knowledge and public opinion. Here, we test the extent to which the iconic cities around the world are likely to shift in response to climate change. By analyzing city pairs for 520 major cities of the world, we test if their climate in 2050 will resemble more closely to their own current climate conditions or to the current conditions of other cities in different bioclimatic regions. Even under an optimistic climate scenario (RCP 4.5), we found that 77% of future cities are very likely to experience a climate that is closer to that of another existing city than to its own current climate. In addition, 22% of cities will experience climate conditions that are not currently experienced by any existing major cities. As a general trend, we found that all the cities tend to shift towards the sub-tropics, with cities from the Northern hemisphere shifting to warmer conditions, on average ~1000 km south (velocity ~20 km.year-1), and cities from the tropics shifting to drier conditions. We notably predict that Madrid’s climate in 2050 will resemble Marrakech’s climate today, Stockholm will resemble Budapest, London to Barcelona, Moscow to Sofia, Seattle to San Francisco, Tokyo to Changsha. Our approach illustrates how complex climate data can be packaged to provide tangible information. The global assessment of city analogues can facilitate the understanding of climate change at a global level but also help land managers and city planners to visualize the climate futures of their respective cities, which can facilitate effective decision-making in response to on-going climate change.


Dietary guidelines recommend avoiding foods high in saturated fat. Yet, emerging evidence suggests cardiometabolic benefits of dairy products and dairy fat. Evidence on the role of butter, with high saturated dairy fat content, for total mortality, cardiovascular disease, and type 2 diabetes remains unclear. We aimed to systematically review and meta-analyze the association of butter consumption with all-cause mortality, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes in general populations.

Concepts: Nutrition, Diabetes mellitus type 2, Systematic review, Milk, Fat, Butter, Saturated fat, Dairy product