Let's (Scientifically) Talk About Sex

Certain anatomical parts, for all human history, have been there but we haven’t asked what are they for. 

Certain anatomical parts, for all human history, have been there but we haven’t asked what are they for. What’s the function of something that we’re so intimately familiar with?  We forget to ask ourselves these things and it’s right in our face.  


Well maybe not right in our face, but sometimes it’s in our face.  And we skip those types of questions because it’s so close to the surface.  It’s only when we sort of get a scientific perspective and step back and ask these sort of objective questions about something as common as the penis or female orgasm or female ejaculation.  These sort of salacious things that people probably wonder about but they don’t necessarily pursue the scientific literature to understand them in any meaningful way.

Here's a good example.  For a long time sexologists thought female ejaculation was a myth.  They didn’t think that women could actually ejaculate.  And I’m not talking about just sort of vaginal lubrication. I’m talking about expelling copious amounts of fluid, very much like a male seminal emission.  But many women do report having these sort of ejaculatory experiences, and they thought they were urinating in bed.  They thought that they were incontinent and the husbands and the boyfriends would get upset.  “Why can’t you go to the bathroom before we have sex?”

They just didn’t understand that this was actually not urine. This was actually a type of sexual fluid that women experience when they’re intensely aroused.  And it saves marriages.  I mean, I think just having those facts and understanding that this is not anomalous, this is normal.  This is not something to be ashamed of and looking at it from a very sort of clinical objective perspective reduces anxiety. It alleviates our sense of shame, and it has practical consequences for how we interact with each other.

In Their Own Words is recorded in Big Think's studio.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock

'Upstreamism': Your zip code affects your health as much as genetics

Upstreamism advocate Rishi Manchanda calls us to understand health not as a "personal responsibility" but a "common good."

Sponsored by Northwell Health
  • Upstreamism tasks health care professionals to combat unhealthy social and cultural influences that exist outside — or upstream — of medical facilities.
  • Patients from low-income neighborhoods are most at risk of negative health impacts.
  • Thankfully, health care professionals are not alone. Upstreamism is increasingly part of our cultural consciousness.
Keep reading Show less

Meet the Bajau sea nomads — they can reportedly hold their breath for 13 minutes

The Bajau people's nomadic lifestyle has given them remarkable adaptions, enabling them to stay underwater for unbelievable periods of time. Their lifestyle, however, is quickly disappearing.

Wikimedia Commons
Culture & Religion
  • The Bajau people travel in small flotillas throughout the Phillipines, Malaysia, and Indonesia, hunting fish underwater for food.
  • Over the years, practicing this lifestyle has given the Bajau unique adaptations to swimming underwater. Many find it straightforward to dive up to 13 minutes 200 feet below the surface of the ocean.
  • Unfortunately, many disparate factors are erasing the traditional Bajau way of life.
Keep reading Show less

Golden blood: The rarest blood in the world

We explore the history of blood types and how they are classified to find out what makes the Rh-null type important to science and dangerous for those who live with it.

Abid Katib/Getty Images
Surprising Science
  • Fewer than 50 people worldwide have 'golden blood' — or Rh-null.
  • Blood is considered Rh-null if it lacks all of the 61 possible antigens in the Rh system.
  • It's also very dangerous to live with this blood type, as so few people have it.
Keep reading Show less

Scientists create a "lifelike" material that has metabolism and can self-reproduce

An innovation may lead to lifelike evolving machines.

Shogo Hamada/Cornell University
Surprising Science
  • Scientists at Cornell University devise a material with 3 key traits of life.
  • The goal for the researchers is not to create life but lifelike machines.
  • The researchers were able to program metabolism into the material's DNA.
Keep reading Show less