Findings — From the March 2014 issue
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A compromised refrigerator was sending out spam, and electronic tongues tasted the grapes of Valencia, where engineers created yogurt from the milk of nuts. Cashew cheese from Sacramento was recalled because of Salmonella, and fears of hop stunt viroid led to a British hop quarantine. Cucumber green mottle mosaic virus was found in a Yolo County melon seed field, New Delhi virus was detected among the zucchini of Murcia, and victims of ciguatera poisoning in the Canary Islands reported paradoxical sensations. Pediatric leprosy was rising in southeastern India. “The situation,” said a leprosy advocate, “is pathetic.” The street drug krokodil destroyed the genitals of a seventeen-year-old Texas girl, two English babies’ heads became floppy from botulinal honey, and Rhode Island officials discouraged students from snorting Smarties lest they invite nose maggots. Nearly 200 Sudanese camels had died of heartwater. Porcine epidemic diarrhea continued to ravage America’s Hog Belt. A plague struck Israeli crayfish, a wasting disease struck Californian sea stars, hematopoietic necrosis struck Croatian trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss), lumpy skin disease struck Kurdistani cows, pecan scab struck Georgian pecans, a mystery disease struck Sri Lankan tea, goat pox struck Bulgaria and sheep pox struck Greece, stripe rust struck Indian wheat and stem rust struck Ethiopian wheat, warrior stripe rust struck English winter wheat, and heatstroke struck the flying foxes of Queensland. “They just fall in heaps at the base of trees,” said a bat conservationist. “It’s like dripping chocolate.” In the suburbs of Chicago, a peacock froze to a pine tree.
Fat young American women exposed to weight stigma eat more Goldfish, M&M’s, and Skittles, and this higher caloric consumption correlates closely with such expressions of shame as slouching and gaze aversion. Old Taiwanese mothers but not fathers are depressed by the deaths of adult sons, while the death of an adult daughter depresses neither. American university students inaccurately remembered a black man as having lighter skin when they were subliminally primed with the word “educated,” whereas their skin-tone memory was accurate when they were primed with the word “ignorant”; the same students exhibited no such bias toward red foxes. Forensic scientists developed a test to differentiate poppy-seed consumption from heroin use, and genomicists developed a test to determine which identical twin is a rapist. Most British clubs will serve drama students pretending to be drunk. Junk DNA is plentiful in the brains of schizophrenics. Thirty-eight percent of injured orthopedic surgeons feel they have no institutional support. Women who smoke while pregnant may be likelier to have gay sons, according to the Dutch neurobiologist Dick Swaab.
Dogs prefer, when they are off leash and Earth’s magnetic field is calm, to urinate and defecate with their bodies aligned on a north–south axis. Viennese veterinarians published a paper on the most effective method of castrating hippopotamuses, whose testicles hide in a range of locations behind the frontal abdominal wall and sometimes retreat after incision. Karnatakan veterinarians hunted a man-eating tiger on elephantback. Conjoined gray-whale twins washed up in the lagoon of Ojo de Liebre and died. Rising oceanic CO2 levels will discourage jumping snails from jumping. Waves of contagious jump-yipping keep prairie dogs alert. Female bearded capuchins (Sapajus libidinosus) seduce males by throwing stones, and communities of female banded mongooses (Mungos mungo) synchronize their childbearing to the same day in order to deter infanticide by dominant females. Freek Vonk identified the venom gene of the king cobra. Indian urologists described megalourethra in a “six-year-old child who presented with ballooning of the phallus on micturition and post-void dribbling.” Statistical stylometrists noted that unsuccessful novels tend to use adverbs unneccessarily.
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