From the August 2012 issue
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Studies suggested that the elderly overestimate their driving abilities, possess a distinctive smell whose disagreeable properties do not originate in the underarms, and sometimes die of loneliness. Following research that found people underestimate the length of their fingers when their hands are hidden, a volunteer amputee was found to underestimate the length of her hidden phantom fingers. The children of older fathers may live longer and have longer telomeres, children exposed to open cooking fires exhibit impaired social and block-building skills, and sleepier professional athletes are less likely to stay with the teams that draft them. Some adults with sleep problems may simply be afraid of the dark. 40,800,000,000 pounds of total adult human biomass is due to excessive fatness. Hereditary inequality arose by 5,000 b.c. High social status accelerates the healing of male baboons’ wounds. Nations with a more prevalent belief in Heaven have higher crime rates, and those with a more prevalent belief in Hell have lower rates. Archaeologists in Bulgaria were increasingly confident that they had found part of the head of John the Baptist. In Israel, the bushy-tailed jird was seen spitting out sweet mignonette seeds. Neuroscientists blocked the pathological rage of mice. The Very Large Telescope produced new images of the War and Peace Nebula.
Arkansan goose 50 Cent survived being shot seven times. The male club-winged manakin (Machaeropterus deliciosus), who sings by knocking together his heavy wing bones more than one hundred times per second, was found to possess unusually robust wing bones. Peacocks were suspected of communicating via the infrasonic rumblings of their trains, and of issuing copulatory hoots even when alone, in hopes of enticing females. Inbreeding threatened the meerkats of the Kalahari. Genetic testing confirmed that the sequestration of Dogon wives in menstruation huts helps Dogon husbands ensure paternity. The transmission of HIV to infants via breastfeeding was, in light of evidence of the intrinsic antiviral properties of breast milk, now more plausibly blamed on cracked nipples. Surgeons at France’s Poissy–Saint-Germain-en-Laye hospital reported success in building new clitorises for victims of clitoridectomy. A dolphin in the Ionian Sea freed its genitals from an octopus. Scotland was increasingly sown with rape.
Marine biologists, by failing to clean their submersible, accidentally introduced Californian mollusks to the deep seas off Washington, and possibly also introduced copepods who prey on mollusk gonads. “It’s really embarrassing,” said a team member. “But it didn’t seem like a clear and present danger.” Researchers turned a snail into a 7-milliwatt battery that can be recharged by feeding the snail or by allowing it thirty minutes’ rest. Fathead minnows exposed to low levels of SSRI antidepressants become somewhat autistic. Dolphins downwind of power plants are more mercurial. The dolphins of Cardigan Bay had learned to anticipate discharges of whelk waste from a seafood factory. Young scallops were unusually numerous in the Mid-Atlantic. Brittle stars locomote bilaterally. Hundreds of starving crown-of-thorns starfish killed themselves in Japan. The Dumfries and Galloway Constabulary concluded that a koi theft in the village of Heck had been committed by an otter, and archaeologists announced the discovery of Scotland’s first cursing stone. Nine turtle couples were found to have been fossilized 47 million years ago while having sex.
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