Findings — From the July 2014 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!
Four new carnivorous sponges, fourteen new dancing frogs, twenty-four new caterpillar-mummifying wasps, and one new nickel-hyperaccumulator plant were described. Three subspecies of yellow-shouldered bat were elevated to species. Hawfinches (Coccothraustes coccothraustes), thrush nightingales (Luscinia luscinia), mistle thrushes (Turdus viscivorus), tree pipits (Anthus trivialis), black redstarts (Phoenicurus ochruros), common whitethroats (Sylvia communis), and wood warblers (Phylloscopus sibilatrix) were found to have adapted to the ionizing radiation of the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone. Czech and German deer still do not cross the Iron Curtain. Evolutionary anthropologists determined that individuals’ allegiances in the Gombe chimpanzee war of 1974–1977 could have been predicted. A Brazilian marmoset was observed guarding, hugging, caressing, and attempting to copulate with his partner as she lay dying from a head injury. A bee and a butterfly were observed drinking the tears of a crocodilian. The Trail of Tears shortened the skulls of the Cherokee.
Tour guides with easily pronounced names (Chung Jung-hee, Bodo Wallmeyer, Amira El-Naggar, Andrian Babeshko, Putali Angami) are perceived to be less risky and adventuresome, and more truthful, than those with difficult names (Hur Hye-seong, Svea Gelowicz, Mahbobeh Mir-Ma’soum, Yevgeny Dherzhinsky, Shagnik Ravunniarath). Moral dilemmas posed in foreign languages lead to more utilitarian choices. College students listening to fake laughter can tell that the sounds are human, whereas those listening to real laughter cannot. Fifteen-month-old babies prefer the fair distribution of toys unless unfairness benefits playmates of the same race. People in China’s rice-growing regions are more cooperative than those in wheat-growing regions. Whiteflies (Trialeurodes vaporariorum) are confused by the commingled odors of tomato, watermelon, watercress, zucchini, cucumber, Savoy cabbage, and dwarf French beans. The smoke of Ulaanbaatar’s indoor coal stoves causes spontaneous abortions to peak in December. Therapeutic horsemanship reduces stress hormones in fifth through eighth graders, and horseplay increases the risk of vehicular crashes in teenage drivers. Americans who come of age during periods of high unemployment are less narcissistic, and those who enter the job market in recessions experience higher long-term job satisfaction. Rude sales staff increase the desirability of luxury goods. Men cannot make their voices sound sexy, whereas women can do so easily. Gender-nonconforming boys and girls are less likely to smoke cigars and use tanning beds, respectively; Brazilian cave beetles were discovered whose females possess penises, whose males possess vaginas, and who mate for forty to seventy hours at a time. Women with wider hips have more one-night stands.
Danish doctors unveiled an antidepressant helmet, and the U.S. Navy was working with scientists to develop ethical reasoning in robots. “To design a morally competent robot that interacts with humans,” said a cognitive scientist, “we need to first get clear on how moral competence functions in humans.” Multiplicitously perverse hemihelices were accidentally discovered by materials scientists using dichromatic rubber bands to imitate the color-changing abilities of cephalopods. Local anesthesia prevents injured squid who are pursued by black sea bass from practicing necessary vigilance. The failure of researchers to replicate numerous experimental results was explained by the discovery that lab rodents are highly stressed by male humans. Only 33 percent of female fathead minnows survive mating with males who have been exposed to Prozac. Low blood sugar predicts crepuscular interspousal aggression. Americans whom researchers scared by insinuating the potential deceit of their romantic partners considered themselves closer to God. “The nice thing about God,” said Kristin Laurin of the Stanford Graduate School of Business, “is that there is never any solid evidence that God has rejected you.” Two crew members from 90210 were diagnosed with valley fever.
More from Rafil Kroll-Zaidi: