Creative Commons license icon

science

Today's questions, inventions and discoveries.

What's most surprising about Canada's $75,000 grant to the ARP to study furries?

Furry con surveyed on porn, fantasy, pets, politics & bronies

Your rating: None Average: 3.8 (5 votes)

International Anthropomorphic Research Project logoResults have been released from an Anthropomorphic Research Project survey of 455 furs taken at Furry Fiesta 2013.

  • 78% of females and 96% of males report viewing furry porn. Both groups underestimated both figures by 8-12%.
  • Increasing furriness indicated a tendency to use fantasy for various purposes, including escapism, but didn't indicate blurring of reality, or an inability to have fun, self-motivate, fulfil needs, socialize, or cope with problems without fantasy.
  • Female furs had less sexual roleplay, owned less pornography, viewed it less frequently, and felt it had less influence on their joining the fandom. They also saw pornography as more openly discussed within the fandom.
  • Furries overestimated the positivity of both male and female furs towards furry porn: males tended to be positive or mixed, while over 20% of females had a negative view. 51% of furs preferred porn over general furry artwork; 17% had the opposite view. ~55% saw non-furry pornography in a negative light; some males only view furry porn.
  • Non-brony furs rated bronies less positively (50) than furries (79) or non-furs (61).
  • Furries are very liberal on social matters, but more moderate on economic topics.
  • Therians anthropomorphise animals more than non-therian furs; those strongly identifying as furries gave human characteristics to both regular and stuffed animals.

Around half of those participating chose to join the group's three-year longitudinal study.

On [adjective][species]: JM revisits Dr. Gerbasi's original studyNuka responds

A famous experiment in anthropomorphism and psychology

Your rating: None Average: 4.3 (4 votes)

Harlow's monkey clinging to a terrycloth dollSorry to interrupt fun stories about comics and cartoons, but the Anthropomorphic Research Project story suggests some want to know what furryness means. Let me throw in a topic sharing an abstract concept with the fandom.

Anthropomorphism is often imagined from our human point of view (attaching human characteristics to something non-human). But the concept can exist apart from ourselves, when animals see themselves in objects. The way it works for them can reveal more about us.

Harry Harlow was a psychologist who experimented with monkeys. In the 1950's and 60's, he gave his subjects "surrogate" mothers built from different objects, to see how they would behave, and learn about care-giving and companionship in social and cognitive development. PBS says about his famous experiment:

He took infant monkeys away from their real mothers, giving them instead two artificial mothers, one model made of wire and the other made of cloth. The wire model was outfitted with a bottle to feed the baby monkey. But the babies rarely stayed with the wire model longer than it took to get the necessary food. They clearly preferred cuddling with the softer cloth model, especially if they were scared. (When the cloth model had the bottle, they didn't go to the wire model at all.)

Animation: 'Science Fare'

No votes yet

Cartoon Brew has posted a sample of “Mike Carlo’s Cartoon Madness” to illustrate the Titmouse, Inc. animator’s personal short films. The 3’52” “Science Fare” was pitched to Nickelodeon a year ago. I guess that it did not sell.

The CB’s Jerry Beck says of Carlo's animation,

These are very polished, professional cartoons that look as good – and are just as funny – as anything on Adult Swim or Comedy Central. I predict he’ll be running his own show very soon.

I don’t care for the Adult Swim or Comedy Central style of animation, but “Science Fare” certainly is anthropomorphic.

U.S. government petitioned to drop drug war, create cat girls

Your rating: None Average: 3 (5 votes)

NekoThe U.S. administration created We The People to provide a place for any of its citizens to petition the White House, which has promised to provide an official response to all petitions reaching 25 000 signatures within 30 days. While some cover serious political issues, it's doubtful that they expected Matthew H's petition for domestic cat girls. [Yahoo!]

Matthew contends that the War on Drugs is pointless, and that money would be better spent by genetically engineering cat girls for home services.

While reports by the Global Commission on Drug Policy suggest the war has been a dramatic and costly waste of money, lives and society, and has harmed the fight against HIV/AIDS, it is unlikely that the U.S. will abandon it any time soon. Both Colorado and Washington have legalised non-medicinal marijuana, but its possession is still a federal offence.

'The Boy Who Cried Wolf' updated by automatic sheep collars

Your rating: None Average: 2.7 (3 votes)

Wired reports that Swiss scientists are trying to develop a sheep collar that will notify shepherds when wolves attack their sheep, and will release a chemical deterrent.

Corvids reveal highly-developed communication abilities

Your rating: None Average: 4 (2 votes)

When people think of the most intelligent animals other than humans, the first contenders are the dolphins and great apes. A less-obvious one may be birds of the family Corvidae, containing both crows and ravens. This was suggested when researchers at Oxford found crows are able to make specific tools, a feat never before seen in other animals.

More recently, ravens have been shown to direct other individuals' attention through gestural communication; the first time this has been seen outside of the primates. In primates, such gestures are rarely seen in the wild. Why wild ravens show this behaviour more commonly is unknown, but it is thought by some to be the foundation of language.

UK researchers urge limits on human-animal research

Your rating: None Average: 3 (2 votes)

British medical researchers are calling for tighter regulation on research involving animals with human tissue or genes, while cautiously approving some experiments, the BBC reports.

Professor Christopher Shaw highlighted objectionable 'category three' experiments such as:

  • the mixing of non-human primate and human cells to make an embryo
  • the mixing of human and non-human gametes (reproductive cells)
  • the replacement of monkey brain cells with human ones to gain human characteristics

Dr Robin Lovell-Badge suggested a gap between fantasy and reality:

Everyone laughs at talking meerkats and cats with opposable thumbs, but if we were actually doing that in the labs I don't think people would be so happy.

Read: Animals containing human material (synopsis) – Exploring the boundaries (evaluation)

Dolphins show both tool use and culture

Your rating: None Average: 3 (1 vote)
Dolphin tool use
A: Basket sponge
B: Dolphin wearing sponge
C: Debris on the sea bed
D: Hidden fish

Researchers in Shark Bay, Australia have identified tool use and cultural transmission of the tool use in dolphins.

The scientists observed some dolphins occasionally pulling basket sponges from the sea bed and using them to cover their snouts as they foraged for food on the sea bed. The sponges presumably provided them protection from the rocks and shells on the sea bed. However, it wasn't known why the dolphins bothered to forage there.

The research team now report that dolphins perform this activity to catch fish living under the sand's surface.

Are snow leopards more populous than tigers?

Your rating: None Average: 2.5 (2 votes)

A photoarticle in Wired.com says there are an estimated 4,500 to 7,500 wild snow leopards left in the Central Asian mountains. This is more than the number of tigers left in the wild, which is estimated to be only about 3,200.

See also: BBC tracks down tigers in the Himalayas - Chinese wineries farm tigers for bones

Polar bears have Irish ancestors

Your rating: None Average: 3.7 (3 votes)

Wired UK and BBC News report that the mitochondrial DNA in all polar bears today descends from a single Irish female brown bear who lived 20,000 to 50,000 years ago.

Read more: Ancient Hybridization and an Irish Origin for the Modern Polar Bear Matriline

Honeybees show emotions of pessimism, maybe happiness

Your rating: None Average: 2.6 (7 votes)

Wired.com reports researchers at Newcastle University are studying honeybees to determine whether they exhibit human-like emotions. They are known to act pessimistic in some situations (as do rats, dogs and starlings). Next the researchers will test for the emotion of happiness.

London parakeets intimidate native British songbirds

Your rating: None Average: 3 (2 votes)

In a followup to the recent report on escaped and released Himalayan rose-ringed parakeets in London, BBC News reports that a new study shows that the parakeets stake out backyard bird feeders and intimidate traditional native British songbirds away from them.

The wild parakeet population in Southern England is growing at an estimated 23% per year. This has led to new demands that the parakeets be culled as an invasive pest.

Egyptian Jackal is actually a wolf

Your rating: None Average: 3.7 (3 votes)

North African jackalResearchers have found that Egyptian Jackal is actually a member of the Grey Wolf species complex. [thesaprophelite/a.f.f]

Phylogenetic testing confirmed that the species – previously classified as a sub-species of the Golden Jackal – is most closely related to the Indian and Himalayan Wolf, confirming long-held suspicions over its heriatige.

The paper also notes discovery of individuals in the Ethiopian highlands, and suggests the taxon be renamed the African Wolf.

Researchers argue for dolphin personhood

Your rating: None Average: 3.7 (3 votes)

Should dolphins be treated as 'non-human people'? That's the argument of some scientists and ethical researchers, who claim their sense of self, social talents, relative brain size, and ability to perform complex tasks put them second only to humans. [Soulskill/Slashdot]

The point was also made last year at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science – publishers of the well-known journal Science.

Page traffic