Findings — From the March 2009 issue

Findings

A British study found that London traders with relatively long ring fingers earn eleven times as much money as do men with short ring fingers, and a survey found that female investors’ portfolios recently lost only one third as much value as those of male investors. African-American women were shrinking, while obese Americans outnumbered overweight Americans for the first time. More Americans were signing up for paid drug trials. Australian researchers were trying to solve the problem of humans outliving their eyes; scientists found that brownsnout spookfish grow mirrors to reflect light into their retinas. Honeybees dance more frequently and vigorously after freebasing cocaine. Two species of whispering bats produce echolocation calls a hundred times louder than biologists had expected, and male Bison bison bison who bellow less loudly mate more often. Ornithologists who spray-painted over Eurasian eagle owls’ white fecal squirts on dark rocks observed that the owls tended to resquirt the rocks within a day. Confused and dead pelicans were turning up far from shore in California, pygmy killer whales were disappearing off Hawaii, and coyotes were encroaching on Detroit. Biologists released blue, green, orange, pink, and yellow mice into the Utah desert. Girls are better than boys at recognizing sweet and sour tastes. Gu Gu, a panda in China, bit his third human.

Harvard researchers found that rich Indians were the most likely among their countrymen to selectively abort female fetuses and that Coca-Cola is not an effective spermicide. The eldest sisters in polysororal families tend to lose their virginity later. Female worker ants who attempt to reproduce via parthenogenesis in the presence of the queen will be attacked by their peers. A survey of squid reproduction found that some species’ males slice open the bodies of females to insert their sperm, whereas other males release flesh- dissolving sperm packets that burrow into their partners. A Canadian study found that lesbian and bisexual girls are between two and seven times likelier than straight girls to get pregnant, and a rise in anal sex among teenagers was noted by researchers at the Bradley Hasbro Children’s Research Center. Kangaroos, said scientists at Australia’s Centre of Excellence for Kangaroo Genomics, are more genetically similar to humans than previously thought.

Giant cave bears were found to have been killed off not by humans but by the last ice age, and scientists studying nanodiamonds concluded that woolly mammoths and early Native American cultures were wiped out in 10,900 b.c. by a swarm of comets. Mars may have been rendered uninhabitable by climate change. Engineers began testing robots that will eventually search for life in the depths of Europa’s ice-covered, moon-encircling sea. Liquid water was spotted shooting from the Saturnian moon Enceladus, and Titan may have cryovolcanoes that spew ammonia and ice. On the dwarf planet Eris, astronomers suspected, it snows methane and nitrogen. The Milky Way and Andromeda galaxies were on course to collide sooner than had been anticipated. Physicists looking for gravitational waves may have discovered instead the noise of space-time breaking down into individual grains; these quantum convulsions, said one physicist, would confirm the theory that the universe is a blurry holographic projection of a distant two-dimensional plane. Another study found that a far-off roar makes the universe surprisingly loud.

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