Findings — From the October 2011 issue
SIGN IN to access Harper’s Magazine
1. Sign in to Customer Care using your account number or postal address.
2. Select Email/Password Information.
3. Enter your new information and click on Save My Changes.
Subscribers can find additional help here. Not a subscriber? Subscribe today!
A pitcher plant in Somerset ate a great tit; kebabs were blamed for an E. coli outbreak in Wales; and Gary, a giant gourami at Sea Life London Aquarium, was weaned off his diet of Kit Kats. University of Leicester forensic engineers devised a test to ascertain the amount of force used in bottle stabbings. “It is common knowledge that broken glass bottles can be used as an effective stabbing weapon,” said the lead researcher. “The results of the study have reaffirmed this.” Thirty-five male skeletons at Oxford were determined to have been murdered on orders from Ethelred the Unready, and a team of university researchers and experts from the Royal Armouries found it enormously taxing to walk on a treadmill while wearing steel plate armor. Two of the first four brains of former Canadian Football League players to be donated to the Canadian Sports Concussion Project showed signs of chronic traumatic encephalopathy. The Edmonton Obesity Staging System improved on Body Mass Index in predicting morbidity among the fat. Half of Toronto’s homeless were using street drugs to treat their pain, and poor Americans were found no likelier than the rich to borrow prescription medication. One third of the increase in U.S. wage inequity among men since the 1970s was blamed on the decline of unions. Narcissists appear to be good leaders but aren’t.
It was decreed that gravity is stronger and the electromagnetic force weaker than previously thought. Purple bronze was observed to break the Wiedemann–Franz Law. Chemists at Munich’s Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität refined the Suzuki Reaction. Charcot–Marie–Tooth disease was arrested in mice. Mice with monoamine-oxidase-A deficiency are insufficiently afraid of anesthetized rats. German and Spanish mice, in crossbreeding with Algerian mice, had produced a new species resistant to poisons. Israeli rock hyraxes were settling amid the rubble of Galilee. Baby Nazca boobies who are sexually or physically abused by unrelated adults tend, as adults, to abuse baby boobies. The moaning of female moose, in protest of propositioning by small males, incites larger males to violence against all males. Male Houbara bustards who spend more time on courtship displays in their youth experience severe age-related declines in sperm quality. Paleontologists identified a 78-million-year-old fetal plesiosaur as the earliest evidence of live birth. Scientists wanted more children.
Marine biologists hoped to deter lampreys with the smell of death, Scottish authorities erected a barrier to prevent American crayfish in the River Clyde from spreading to the River Annan, and British waterways were fighting off invasive Russian zebra mussels. “The mussels live in the River Ancholme,” said Anglian Water water-supply manager Kevin Fish. Cod tend to return every day to the same location within the same shipwreck. “Maybe,” noted the investigating ichthyologist of her Ph.D. research, “it sounds a bit boring.” The fruit bats of Beit Shemesh travel nightly to the same trees to feed. Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute scientists who fed toucans in Rotterdam one hundred Panamanian nutmeg seeds each and found that the birds regurgitate them after holding them in their crops for an average of 25.5 minutes subsequently concluded that wild Panamanian toucans distribute digested seeds more evenly in the morning than after lunch. Cocaine addicts prefer $500 in cash now to $1,000 worth of cocaine later. Menthol cigarettes make quitting harder. Astronomers declared TrES-2b the blackest planet in the universe.
More from Rafil Kroll-Zaidi: