AAAS: Brains, asthma, and bedbug sex
This Fab@Home device, from the Computational Synthesis Laboratory at Cornell University, printed a model of an ear and a pinwheel out of silicon during a press briefing. This technology is capable of printing objects out of cartilage.
February 25th, 2011
01:30 PM ET

AAAS: Brains, asthma, and bedbug sex

It's no wonder journalists come from as far away as Sweden, Uganda and Australia to attend the American Association for the Advancement of Science annual meeting. This year's conference, which took place earlier in the week, was a truly special meeting of minds.

There was so much to learn from the scientific sessions, which showcase leading researchers explaining everything from the neuroscience of stuttering to treatments for obsessive compulsive disorder to oral sex leading to oral cancers.

A bionic arm shown at the conference may offer a novel solution for amputees, as well as other interventions for people with movement problems. Being a lover of learning foreign languages, I was intrigued to learn about the brain advantages associated with being bilingual, and research about the neurobiology of criminal behavior generated thoughtful discussion.

In other panels I learned about the search for distant planets, the progress of the Large Hadron Collider, and the legacy of Marie Curie. I also saw a three-dimensional printer, capable of printing a human ear out of cartilage material, in action.

Of course, there wasn't room to write up all of the insights from all of the presentations. Here are a few interesting facts that didn't make it into my coverage:

* Smell and taste receptors have been found in sperm, indicating that these senses are actually integral to the fertilization process, said Gary Beauchamp of the Monell Chemical Senses Center
* Doctors in different countries strongly disagree about how to diagnose asthma, said David Van Sickle of the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health
* Criminals who haven't offended in four years showed the same brain abnormalities as chronic offenders, indicated in preliminary results by Dustin Pardini of the University of Pittsburgh, who works on the Pittsburgh Youth Study
* Teens use oral sex as a gateway to vaginal sex, with most having vaginal sex within six months of oral sex, said Bonnie Halpern-Felsher of the University of California, San Francisco

And, of course, there's everything that science journalists talk about at networking events. Within the first minute of meeting a new friend, I learned that bedbugs, which continue to wreak havoc in the U.S. and abroad, mate by "traumatic insemination." In other words, the male bedbug stabs the female's abdomen with his genitals and forcibly injects sperm into her, thus perpetuating new generations of pests. How's that for an ice-breaker! Use that one at your next cocktail party.

soundoff (36 Responses)
  1. jerry maguire

    Did you know the human head weighs 8 pounds....

    February 25, 2011 at 18:19 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Iwonder...

      Same as a gallon of water...hmmmm.

      February 25, 2011 at 20:16 | Report abuse |
    • Dreamer

      So does a bowling ball.

      February 25, 2011 at 22:44 | Report abuse |
    • deftone56

      so does an 8lb. weight

      February 25, 2011 at 23:13 | Report abuse |
    • G P

      Water weigh 8.3 lbs per gallon. I played D&D. I know...and am a dork.

      February 26, 2011 at 02:58 | Report abuse |
  2. B Ann

    Asthma can be caused by low thyroid. It's explained here: http://tiredthyroid.com/asthma.html

    February 25, 2011 at 18:39 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Hugo

      No, that does NOT explain it. Did you actually read the article you posted?

      February 26, 2011 at 00:40 | Report abuse |
  3. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    I should have studied science/math because I don't understand any of this, better yet I'll ask my 13 year old grandson.

    February 25, 2011 at 18:40 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Iwonder...

      Just head on down to your local public library and start reading. I'm sure your friendly librarian will be glad to point you to some basic science books written for the general public. One thing about factual information though – it takes more time and effort to become well-versed than simply sitting in a big room on Sunday, having someone tell you the 'answers' to the big questions of life. Have fun!

      February 25, 2011 at 20:20 | Report abuse |
    • Hugo

      @Iwonder..., and what if the man speaking in the big room on Sunday directs people to read, research and then discuss findings with a small group. Wouldn't it be better if "grandpa" not only read the science books but also found others who were reading science books and have discussions?

      February 26, 2011 at 00:43 | Report abuse |
    • Hugo

      @Iwonder..., reminds me of a joke. Man goes to a doctor for help with an unusual medical condition. He tells the doctor "I must admit that before I came here, I asked a pharmacist for advice." The doctor replied "and what stupid advice did he give you?" The man answered "go see a doctor."

      February 26, 2011 at 00:45 | Report abuse |
  4. pegger

    Mostly nerds without a life...the bold print was more than enough for me!

    February 25, 2011 at 18:48 | Report abuse | Reply
    • earl

      so you're admitting to your stupidity then?

      February 25, 2011 at 18:56 | Report abuse |
    • slipheart

      @earl You're an idiot! Earl probably has an 8th grade education from Monroville, Alabama

      February 25, 2011 at 19:07 | Report abuse |
    • brain2brain

      @earl You are stupid to comment on his remark!!! You have shown your stupidity, stupid!

      February 25, 2011 at 19:10 | Report abuse |
    • steve

      @earl Hey, recess is over...go back to the lunch room and sulk. They might let you play next time darling.

      February 25, 2011 at 19:14 | Report abuse |
    • Cosmicsnoop

      Why is everyone making fun of Earl? He's the one who's right.

      February 25, 2011 at 21:18 | Report abuse |
    • Aezel

      So you are a Republican then? Don't sorry just stick your head in the sand some more it seems to have worked out for you so far.

      February 25, 2011 at 22:27 | Report abuse |
    • T3chsupport

      Now kids...

      February 26, 2011 at 12:09 | Report abuse |
  5. V-ginas.

    How many can this thing print and at what cost per v-gina? I've got eBay orders piling up...

    February 25, 2011 at 19:27 | Report abuse | Reply
    • steve

      Don't forget to market the V-penis! Women spend most of the money.

      February 25, 2011 at 19:45 | Report abuse |
    • Edward Stack Sr

      There is no doubt you are a bedbug................

      February 25, 2011 at 19:46 | Report abuse |
    • slipheart

      @eddie "shortstack" sr. You're dribbling after "bedbug" makes no sense!

      February 25, 2011 at 20:37 | Report abuse |
    • Cosmicsnoop

      Have you never gone to a p0rn shop? You're a little late with the idea. Besides, I'm not playing with one made from cartilage, but go for it. You may need something for the chaffing.

      February 25, 2011 at 21:22 | Report abuse |
  6. Jon

    I had absolutely no idea that my spoims had a sense of smell and taste. I wish they would have used it a little more discretely when I was a kid.....

    February 25, 2011 at 20:38 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Fletch

      why...did you have to get your girlfriend an abortion?

      February 27, 2011 at 13:18 | Report abuse |
  7. Pork Rinds

    Great, now I've got a woody that itches.

    February 25, 2011 at 22:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. In A State Of Stupidity

    You wanna know another ice breaker? A polar bear!

    February 25, 2011 at 22:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. RTZ

    Damn.....I wish I would've read this before I picked this chick up tonight. 20.00 doesn't buy much these days..........

    February 25, 2011 at 23:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. lilly

    Wow to everyone. Grow up!

    February 26, 2011 at 21:15 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. YounanMarketingAndManagementAssociatesInc, Int'l Intst'r

    You guys are so full of crap. If what you say is true you would be measuring organs and diagnosing who is a criminal at infancy and early childhood,which doesn't happen ever. you are all probably the real alcoholics anonymous people
    regarding the cost of oil production stories, on shale oil reserves and such. you've reported that it was costing 90 to 95 to produce the oil, then 70 to 75. For some reason i'm impressed with the idea that it costs what you are pricing a barrel at most of the time, which means there is no profit margin in the sale of oil barrels most of the time. And, from other information it is because the oil industry is owned by national governments working on their own reserves as well as going into other countries to drill and refine oil, which means the industry is subsidized by taxation and newly printed government currency, and electronic currency. I'm pretty sure most of the oil companies are government owned, on the source production side anyway, maybe not all on the processing or refining side. Note if it uses our money and it's government but we again get taxed when we buy it. Plus there are many types of taxes on the gas pump purchase side as well. There are taxes on taxes as well. So i need to know what the real cost of extrusion is, because i don't think you reported true costs. Also in a trickle down affect when station distributors get into price fixing usually taking orders to do so, maybe it is the government bosses doing the price fixing, since barrel prices are fixed as well during petroleum producers meetings in different world regions. Trade and Professional Associations also meet to fix prices when they decide for instance that price per square foot of construction for such and such type buildings is $50.00 a square foot, not that all members subsequently follow the "standard rule"

    February 27, 2011 at 18:34 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Vera

    Take a look at Dr. Kathleen Ruddy's message on the breast cancer vaccine: http://www.breasthealthandhealing.com/socialnetworking/messages/20110101.html

    February 27, 2011 at 22:07 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. abe

    Cartilage huh?

    February 28, 2011 at 05:31 | Report abuse | Reply
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    Aloha man! I really like what you’re providing here. Keep posting that way.

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