Findings — From the February 2012 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.)
Studies found that pediatricians’ warnings about obesity may easily be forgotten by the parents of fat American children, that Swedish children who eat fish before the age of nine months are less likely to suffer from pre-school wheeze, and that anemia would increase threefold among Malagasy forest children denied the opportunity to eat lemurs and fruit bats. Babies as young as eight months enjoy seeing bad puppets punished. Genome regulation was found to be altered in Russian orphans, and the armpit sweat of gonorrhean young Russian men smells putrid to young Russian women. Neuroscientists tested the brains of human subjects who can at will hallucinate colors where none exist. Evidence suggested that some criminals deemed psychopathic are in fact emotionally disturbed rather than emotionally detached. Wisconsin researchers found weaker connections between the ventromedial prefrontal cortex and the amygdala in the brains of psychopaths but could not explain what caused them. “We have a chicken and an egg,” said an experimental psychologist who was not involved in the study. “In a sense.”
University of Chicago scientists found that for rats “the value of freeing a trapped cagemate is on par with that of accessing chocolate chips”; Duke University’s Bilbo Lab found that ratlings who are intensively touched by their mothers are better able to resist morphine later in life. Mice genetically engineered to suffer cleft palates were genetically cured, mice bred into alcoholism for forty generations were found to be three times too drunk to drive, mice deprived of the H3R gene were found to be less likely than wild mice to drink alcohol in the dark, mice deprived of the FoxC1 gene were found to grow blood vessels in their corneas, and pregnant female mice given heart attacks were healed by the fetal stem cells of their pups. Mice who lack SIRT1, one of a class of proteins associated with aging, spend less time floating and more time fighting when about to drown, and are unaffected by Prozac. Scientists vaccinated mice against HIV and Ebola. Infrared-spectrometer analysis implied that an emulsion of casein and microbial transglutaminase may cause toughness through its entrapment in the meat matrix of a hot dog.
Three quarters of British oysters were found to contain the winter vomiting virus, and Scottish scientists asked the public to assist in the categorization of pilot whales’ dialects. Heavily pregnant dolphins swim at half speed, with a 13 percent reduction in the arc of their tail strokes. Emperor penguins time their dives to an average of 237 wingbeats before ascending. Paleontologists discovered twenty whales in a Chilean desert and guessed at the purpose of the skin-bones of rapetosaurs unearthed in Madagascar. Ornithologists found that, contrary to what was previously believed, the erections of ostriches are bloodless. The tiny bodies of spiderlings cause their brains to be squeezed out into their appendages. Australian river-turtle eggs confer on when to hatch. Lungfish were observed walking underwater. Hummingbirds who were X-rayed in flight with platinum beads glued to the skin of their wrists were observed to flap their wings like insects. The Schumann Resonances were leaking into outer space. Tree scientists feared for the future of the walnut. Engineers simulated primary rainbows, double rainbows, rainbows with single and multiple supernumerary arcs, twin rainbows, red bows, and cloud bows.
More from Rafil Kroll-Zaidi: