Findings — From the June 2011 issue

Findings

Being poor in America, being a young Mexican migrant in America, and being an Iraqi refugee in Jordan were all correlated with an increased risk of mental disorder. It was found that unemployment in the developed world raises a man’s risk of early death by 78 percent and a woman’s by 37 percent. Flatheadedness among babies in Dallas increased twenty-threefold between 1999 and 2007. Bioethicists found substantial variation in the way different U.S. states deal with the leftover blood of newborns. Early menarche was correlated with asthma and obesity. Existential anxiety was found to make people dislike Richard Dawkins. Americans who believe in the transformational power of material goods are more likely to abuse credit, and Americans who have just ridden an up escalator are twice as likely to donate to charity as those who have just ridden a down escalator. Gang members are twelve times as likely as non-members to experience drive-by shootings. Scientists could not say why some Australian women felt sad after otherwise satisfactory sex. Women in the U.S. military may be developing an immunity to sexual harassment.

Noise pollution was giving lesions to octopodes. Ornithologists were concerned about featherlessness among penguins, and yawning was found to be contagious among chimps. Asian ladybugs were outbreeding and also eating native British ladybugs. It was determined that whereas flying female fireflies receive “nuptial gifts” of food and sperm from males, flightless females receive only sperm. The sperm of mallards with more colorful bills has stronger antibacterial properties. Mares are more likely to intentionally miscarry when they have mated with foreign stallions. Southeast Asian orb web spider males who lose their genitals during mating fight more fiercely to defend their mates, said arachnologists, because they “have nothing to lose.” The worst-tasting and most colorful tree frogs are the most aerobically fit. An anteater at a Swedish zoo massacred a stand of flamingos. The rattling cisticola has become sufficiently adept at varying the appearance of its eggs and at detecting impostor eggs that it is no longer parasitized by the cuckoo. New trends in the song of male humpback whales spread from west to east across the Pacific.

The faculty of embarrassment was located in the pregenual anterior cingulate cortex by neurologists who made brain-damaged subjects sing along to “My Girl” and then listen to their own singing played back without musical accompaniment. Agricultural development in Ethiopia was being crippled by envy. Maasai who because of drought had abandoned cattle herding for apiculture were worried about competition from honey-loving mongooses, whom the Maasai suspect of using flatulence to force bees from their hives. The number of phonemes in a given language is inversely proportional to its distance from Africa. Scientists may have discovered a failed star with a surface temperature of only 86º Fahrenheit, which would allow the star to have its own atmosphere. The world was getting windier. The bloody mary was deemed “highly unstable.” Engineers had trapped red through green and were optimistic about trapping the whole rainbow. Researchers reported progress toward making the custard apple seedless. “This,” said one plant biologist, “could be the next banana.”

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