Jun 5, 2009 | 22
FULLERTON, CALIF.—If you want to wait by the phone for your next college-aged daughter's call home, you should mark the days of her menstrual cycle on your calendar.
Well, not exactly. But that was one reasonable conclusion of research presented here last week at the 21st annual conference of the Human Behavior and Evolution Society (HBES) at California State University, Fullerton, by Elizabeth Pillsworth, a graduate student in Martie Haselton's lab at the University of California, Los Angeles.
Haselton (pictured at left with David Buss of the University of Texas at Austin) studies sexual attraction, relationships, and how fertility cycles influence mate preferences and choices (for instance, women dress in a more sexually provocative manner during the high fertility phase of the month). In an interesting twist on this body of research, Pillsworth studied the effects of the fertility phase in women on the incest taboo—specifically, how often college-aged women phoned their dads (versus their moms) during the month. Wow. It never ceases to amaze me how clever scientists can be in thinking up new research paradigms: Who would have ever thought of correlating cell phone calls with estrus cycles? Pillsworth and Haselton (and their colleague Debra Lieberman) did! And the results were most revealing.
Nov 11, 2008 | 7
Editor's Note: Last month, we published a review and slide show of Doctor Atomic, the opera about J. Robert Oppenheimer and the development of the atomic bomb at Los Alamos. Today we present a review by Skeptic columnist Michael Shermer.
There are certain characters in science who stand out for their larger-than-science characteristics: Galileo and his conflicts with Papal authorities; Albert Einstein and his political dabblings and pacifist overtures; Richard Feynman and his safecracking, storytelling antics; Stephen Hawking and his ethereal brain trapped in a frozen body. Biographies, documentaries, films, and even plays have attempted to capture the essence of these giants (see QED, for example, the play starring Alan Alda as Feynman). But to my knowledge, none have had an opera produced in their likeness.
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