Findings — From the May 2011 issue
- Current Issue
SIGN IN to access the Harper’s archive
ALERT: Usernames and passwords from the old Harpers.org will no longer work. To create a new password and add or verify your email address, please sign in to customer care and select Email/Password Information. (To learn about the change, please read our FAQ.)
A study found that French-Canadian girls who make friends with boys early in adolescence are more likely to experience substance-abuse problems later in adolescence; the study’s authors suggested that parents should pay attention to what kind of boys their daughters are spending time with. Canadian avalanche victims die more quickly than Swiss victims, even though Canadians are typically dug out in half the time. Luxembourgish girls show more interest in statistics when the discipline is associated with miscarriages, and more interest in physics when it is associated with cosmetic surgery. Muslim Spanish teenagers are twice as likely as their Christian counterparts to suffer from eating disorders, and the majority of male Andalusian drug addicts abuse their romantic partners. Evolutionary biologists noted a Bateman gradient among nineteenth-century Mormon harems. Swedish researchers found that their nation’s lottery winners are prudent with their winnings and that no single metaphor can make children understand negative numbers. The Japanese were found to be fatalistic about earthquakes.
People whose arms were stroked by a robot nurse named Cody felt more comfortable if they believed Cody was cleaning them than if they believed Cody was attempting to comfort them. People who have low serotonin levels underestimate the intimacy shared by couples they do not know. The children of depressed fathers are four times as likely to be spanked, and the brains of depressed mothers are less responsive to the cries of the mothers’ children. Mental illness was going largely untreated among American babies. Test subjects experienced fear when they were given a third, prosthetic arm and researchers threatened that arm with a knife. A connection between violence and happy hour was noted in Wales, where officials planned to move ahead with a badger cull in Pembrokeshire and to rebeaver the countryside near Furnace. In England, Slimbridge scientists surveyed the fatness of swans’ behinds, and doctors treated a three-year-old for alcoholism. Welsh mountain sheep were deemed capable of following rules. “Sheep have great potential,” said Jenny Morton of Cambridge University. “They’re not as daft as they look.”
Chemists discovered why van Gogh’s yellows were fading; a Dutch ornithologist remained unsure whether the yellow breasts of great tits change with age but found that the offspring of older females are likelier to die young. In Finland, tawny owls were evolving from gray to brown and the sperm quality of humans was deteriorating. Religion was going extinct in the Czech Republic. A sacred soft-shelled turtle in Hanoi, one of only four of its species left in the world, was gravely ill yet continued to evade capture. A female mite preserved in amber with her mate was observed to have been controlling the terms of their copulation. Florida could be up to 50 percent older than previously believed. Astrobiologists hypothesized that the first multicellular animal resembled cancer. Tonsillectomies make children gain weight. Weight-loss surgery makes children lose weight. Doctors touted the benefits of removing the gallbladder through the vagina. Texas scientists cut holes in the hearts of baby mice; the hearts then healed themselves.
More from Rafil Kroll-Zaidi: