Alyson Foster

    Ever heard of oxytocin?  The name of this hormone may not sound warm and fuzzy, but it can have some sweet effects according to research done by scientists at Duke University.  In a recent study, macaques were exposed to oxytocin using a child-sized nebulizer and then given a choice that involved a serving...

    According to new research, having hairy skin may help a person ward off bedbugs.  Participants in a study conducted by scientists at the University of Sheffield released the nighttime bloodsuckers on themselves and observed the bugs’ feeding habits.  Bedbugs placed on shaved arms were more likely to try to feed than those that...

    Like the appendix, wisdom teeth are a somewhat mysterious part of the human anatomy.  They don’t appear to serve much of a purpose — unless you count trips to the doctor and reasons for expensive, unpleasant medical procedures.  According to the New York Times, millions of young people living in the United States...

    The long and spiraling tusk that grows from the center of the narwhal’s forehead has helped make that animal the subject of sailors’ lore and earned it the nickname “unicorn of the sea.”  That nickname may be even more fitting given the narwhal’s almost mythical elusiveness.  For a long time, very little has...

  Guppies and minnows; artwork by Hashime Murayama   Apparently it doesn’t matter what your species is:  the opposite sex causes you nothing but trouble.  The latest evidence of this sad-but-true fact comes from scientists at the University of Exeter who have published a study on female aggression in Trinidadian guppies (Poecilia reticulata).  Researchers observed...

    If you’re the sort of person who turns red at the mere thought of committing a social faux pas, scientists have some reassuring news for you.  A recent study by psychologists at the University of California, Berkeley found that people who are easily embarrassed are more likely to be trusted than individuals who...

    Social networks allow us to connect with those who share common interests – political views, reading preferences, occupations, hobbies.  Now, thanks to scientists in the EU, you can find people who share your bacteria.  MyMicrobes, which opened to the public last week is looking for new members.   The goal of the nonprofit project...

A scientist studying isolated chimps takes notes at night by headlamp; photo by Michael Nichols   For scientists who work out in the field a good set of notes is crucial.  A researcher’s notebook is where data is compiled, discoveries are recorded and where failures, insights and scientific breakthroughs become history . . .  well,...

Thoreau’s hometown of Concord, Mass. in 1920, as seen by National Geographic photographer, Herbert W. Gleason. The ability to observe the ordinary things that everyone else takes for granted is a rare gift.  This may be a trite observation, but that doesn’t make it any less true. The history of science and the arts is...

  Who is who in this picture?  Maybe you can’t tell the difference but your canine friend, Rover, might be able to help you out.  According to recent study conducted by scientists in the Czech Republic, some dogs are able to distinguish between identical twins even when a DNA test cannot.  Dogs in the experiment...

  Stargazing enthusiasts, if you find yourself outside in the dark this weekend taking a peek at Cassiopeia and the Summer Triangle, remember to think about a pioneering scientist who would share your passion for the night sky.   This week marks the 122nd anniversary of the death of accomplished American astronomer and trailblazer, Maria Mitchell....

While acting isn’t exactly brain surgery, Oscar winner Colin Firth can now add “brain researcher” to his resume. BBC News reports that The King’s Speech actor recently urged scientists to explore how political views are reflected in a person’s brain structure. Researchers went on to scan the brains of liberal and conservative politicians and found...

    Want to live a longer life? Be sure to eat well and exercise frequently. Oh, and it wouldn’t hurt to have friendly co-workers. According to a recent study published in the journal Health Psychology, people who have supportive peers at work may live longer than those who don’t. The study rated peer social...

A model showing human brain-cell action is lighted by fiber optics; photo by John Schneeberger and Larry Kinney Being called a brainiac may be a compliment but when it comes to gray matter, a person can have too much of a good thing.  Scientists at University College London recently conducted a study that links high...

Grenadier Guard on duty at Buckingham Palace; photo by Franc Shor, 1953 Do you know who the Baron of Renfrew is? It’s Prince Charles, father of the groom! If you are planning to watch the royal wedding of William and Kate Middleton this Friday it’s time to brush up on London and all things royal. Check out some recent...