Findings — From the November 2015 issue

Findings

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The universe is still dying but Earth is not, after all, about to run out of helium. The planet was found to have 3 trillion trees, not 400 billion; humanity was found to have killed another 3 trillion. Evolutionary biologists published the first full draft of the tree of life. Pregnant woodland caribou of the Klinse-Za herd were being airlifted out of the South Peace to avoid extinction. Snowpack in the Sierra Nevada was at a 500-year low. Scans confirmed the presence of lungs in living coelacanths, of a river under Chichén Itzá, and of a superhenge next to Stonehenge. The Philistines brought opium to Israel. China planned to send a probe to the dark side of the moon. Tons of microplastic waste from shower gels washed into the seas around Britain. Climate scientists determined that a “burn it all” approach to fossil fuels would cause sea levels to rise nearly 200 feet. California sea stars continued to melt, and scientists prepared to release the COTSBOT, which will roam the Great Barrier Reef killing crown-of-thorns starfish by lethal injection. When eating carcasses, white-tailed eagles ignore bullet fragments smaller than 8 millimeters. A Texan was wounded by his own bullet after it ricocheted off an armadillo. A crow rode an eagle. A red-winged blackbird rode a red-tailed hawk. A seal rode a whale off New South Wales. Scientists in Wales recovered memories from rats in whom they had induced complete amnesia. Black holes remember.

Leicester women instructed to drink beakers of vodka and tonic accurately recalled a role-playing scenario of being raped by an average-looking man. Black Baltimore women who binge drink report unexpected and unwanted sexual experiences. Female Trinidadian guppies exposed to high levels of male sexual coercion become faster swimmers. Women in Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, and Zimbabwe who are married to polygamous or alcoholic husbands are at high risk of domestic violence. A study of 1,078 female Burmese timber elephants born between 1941 and 1999 found that stressed elephants gave birth to offspring who aged faster and reproduced less. Among the 14,676 Bristolians who were enrolled as fetuses in the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children in 1991 and 1992, those who became goths were the most depressed at age eighteen, ahead of those who became bimbos, chavs, keeners, loners, populars, skaters, and the sporty. Australian PE teachers don’t like fat kids.

Parasitic male fig wasps behead the males of species with which they do not compete, possibly because it is too dark to recognize one’s enemies inside a fig. The racism of the blind is not visual. The presence of a white man increases the generosity of Sierra Leoneans pretending to be dictators. Sociologists found that dark skin tone lowers employment opportunities for male U.S. immigrants within a given racial group, but not for female immigrants. Men who feel unmasculine and insecure are more likely to assault and injure other people with weapons, while contentedly unmasculine men tend not to be violent. The brains of newly psychotic Finns showed unusual activity in the precuneus during a screening of Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland. The right anterior insula is consistently shrunken among Japanese, Chinese, and British schizophrenics. The throats of schizophrenics were found to have peculiar microbiomes. Psychopaths are less prone to contagious yawning, and roughness gives human screams their alarming quality. Spontaneous domestic murderers are less intelligent and more mentally ill than premeditated nondomestic murderers. A ten-year study found that punching glass is very dangerous. Researchers were pleased with their vomiting machine, and Viennese giraffes hum to one another in the nighttime.

“Three Attached Lava Trees, East Rift Zone, Hawai’i, 2003” and “Lava Tree, East Rift Zone, Hawai’i, 2007,” photographs by Allan Macintyre. Courtesy the artist

“Three Attached Lava Trees, East Rift Zone, Hawai’i, 2003” and “Lava Tree, East Rift Zone, Hawai’i, 2007,” photographs by Allan Macintyre. Courtesy the artist

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