Another Use For Breasts in Humans

Being a post-pubescent male, I have an appreciation–an affinity even–for female breasts.  Perfectly natural and normal for me to feel this way.  Breasts in humans have the function of providing nourishment to young, as is the case in all mammals.  But unlike other mammals, human female breasts stay engorged full-time after puberty.  Other mammals’ breasts simply enlarge for the benefit of their young.

Scientists aren’t completely sure of why humans are different.  A female human’s breast size is not indicative of their ability to produce milk.  One very popular theory is that breasts evolved as humans began to walk upright.  Instead of having, say an engorged or colored butt like some primates, a bipedal woman’s breasts would be more noticeable to an upright man.

You may say, “but I like big butts.”  And while that may be the only thing you have in common with Sir Mix-a-Lot, there’s no arguing that in a face to face situation, no matter how much “junk in the trunk” she has, you’re going to notice a woman’s breasts before her butt.

And while women like Kim Kardashian and Jennifer Lopez are popular, in part, due to their posteriors, it turns out that men are willing to go above and beyond for a woman with large breasts that needs something.

courtesy Simon Howden

In a study published in 2007, a woman was put on a French road and stuck her thumb out.  Scientists recorded how many people stopped.  They did this and adjusted her apparent breast size.  As her breast size went up, so did the number of men who stopped to offer a ride (A cup to C cup went from 15% to 24%). –hat tip

Some may think that’s an obvious result, but just like they don’t play football games in the papers, it takes real observation to make science.  Somewhat surprisingly, the rate at which woman stopped stayed more or less consistent.  We’d expect that in a show of competition, women would be less likely to help if the hitcher had larger breasts.

In another study, the same scientist also found that hair color of the hitchhiker affects frequency of stops in cars–turns out, smiling also does.

In the unfair world we live in, if you ever need help with something your best luck is if you are blonde, smiling, and have large breasts.

Just please don’t take it as far as Heidi Montag.

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Sex(ism) in Science

‘Round the blogosphere the past few days there has been an interesting dialogue about sex in science and more to the point, sexism in society.

Seems a guy named Luke who runs an atheism blog, put together a list of “sexy scientists.”  I first heard about it when wellknown, respected–and yes, beautiful–scientist Sheril Kirshenbaum tweeted, “Should I be offended? Would you be? Hmmmm…” when she was included on the list.

Ms. Kirshenbaum promised a response on Monday (today) and over the weekend hundreds of comments were made on various blogs and via twitter about the sexy scientist list.  In the meantime, I asked or read the thoughts of a few other women.

The only other woman on the list I heard from, commented on the original post.  Abigail Smith, who blogs over at scienceblogs, only had 1 unapproving remark to make, “thats a crappy pic of me, LOL!” Continue reading

The Roundup

I got a lot of great links quickly after the last The Roundup post, but I wanted to get that post on plant and prokaryote cells out first.  So now that it’s out of the way, here’s what I found for you:

How do you feel about jumping out of an airplane without a parachute? Some guys are working on it, and if you don’t see the science connection yet, it’s only because you haven’t taken physics.

Going really green, literally: using algae oil for fuel.

$9 million hack turns out to be not so profitable after all.

Heart disease isn’t just a modern problem because of Big Macs and 2000 calorie drinks.  Turns out it’s a little older than fast food.

They’ve quantified a lot with regards to attraction.  Now scientists claim to have found an ideal amount of exposed skin.

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