Top Stories: Pain on the Brain, Obama's 2014 Science Budget, and the Final Word on Penis Size

Obama's 2014 Science Budget

President Barack Obama released his spending plan for the 2014 fiscal year this week, and the science budget isn't faring too badly. Some of the big winners include the National Science Foundation, the U.S. Geological Survey, and the National Institute of Standards and Technology. Climate change research also got a warm reception—a 6% spending increase spread out over 13 agencies—and NASA was excited to find a plan to kidnap a small asteroid in its budget proposal. To find out more, check out our complete budget coverage, as well as reactions from notable interest groups, and the science and research community.

Brain Signature Reveals Our Level of Pain

When it comes to assessing how much it hurts, there's not much that doctors can do other than take your word for it. That may be about to change—researchers have managed to identify a particular pattern of brain waves, visible on a functional magnetic resonance imaging scan, which indicates the presence and intensity of physical pain. Their results should help doctors treat patient pain better and could assist researchers in developing experimental pain drugs.

A New Reason Why Red Meat, and Some Energy Drinks, May Be Bad for Our Heart

If you want to be kind to your heart, step away from the steak and Red Bull. A common ingredient in red meat and energy drinks, L-carnitine, appears to interact with microbes in our gut to negatively affect heart health. Stomach bacteria turn L-carnitine into a compound called TMAO, which is thought to promote the risk of heart disease.

Why Your Brain Loves That New Song

We've all got one—a song that sends chills down our spines or makes us shudder with excitement. But why do sounds make us feel so good? It turns out that music that we like triggers a part of the brain's reward system, called the nucleus accumbens. Activity in the region shows much we value a particular song and can even predict how much we're willing to pay for it.

The Final Word on Penis Size?

It's a question science has tried long and hard to answer: Does size matter? Sort of, Australian researchers say. When it comes to overall attraction, women prefer men with bigger penises, but it's not the only thing that counts. To really reap the benefits of large genitalia, a man needs to be relatively tall and fit to begin with. For shorter, dumpier men, a big member won't do much boost attractiveness—no matter how large it is.

Posted in Scientific Community