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Betty 11 and Betty 10, knit installations by Mulyana, whose work was on view in April at the USC Fisher Museum of Art, in Los Angeles © The artist. Courtesy Sapar Contemporary, New York City

Betty 11 and Betty 10, knit installations by Mulyana, whose work was on view in April at the USC Fisher Museum of Art, in Los Angeles © The artist. Courtesy Sapar Contemporary, New York City

The threshold at which money no longer buys significant happiness may not be $75,000, as previously posited, but closer to $500,000; the rise of household debt in industrialized countries since 1970 has correlated with a decrease in strikes; and American IQ scores, after climbing in the last seven decades of the twentieth century, fell consistently in three of four cognitive domains between 2006 and 2018. Psychologists studied the facial muscles activated when adults ponder whether it’s worth solving complex problems for money. The blind are better than the sighted at counting their heartbeats. Speakers of tonal languages have better melody but worse rhythm. Two dying patients, on being removed from ventilator support, exhibited surges of gamma-wave activity within the temporo–parieto–occipital junctions, as well as between the TPO zones and the contralateral prefrontal areas. A new, non-invasive brain decoder can translate semantic thoughts into streams of text. Laccaria bicolor mushrooms talk to one another more after it rains. Africa is not underrepresented in terrestrial radio-signal leakage detectable by alien civilizations.

Artificial light does not attract insects but disorients them. Spiny sunflower pollen shells may dislodge bees’ gut parasites and increase the production of queen bees. African Queens can still breed normally if parasites kill most of the male population. Fish that were thought to help clean reefs have feces that may be deadly to corals, whereas fish who eat corals have feces that nurture them. Embryonic exposure to shrimp-infused water causes Mexican spadefoot tadpoles to be born with bigger, stronger jaws. The bite force and neck flexibility of male California sea lions have been increasing. Humpback whales use fine sand and rubble to scrub off dead skin cells and parasites. Dead wolves frighten wild boars. Sleeping elephant seals form corkscrew spirals as they sink toward the seafloor.

Larger moon jellyfish contain a higher proportion of healthy fats, surgeries for acute type A aortic dissection are overrepresented during full moons, and spherical hearts are particularly prone to trouble. Pre-conception drinking by fathers is more strongly associated with certain infant craniofacial defects than is drinking during pregnancy by mothers. Acetaminophen has overtaken ibuprofen as the preferred self-poisoning agent among American tweens, poisoning of major machine-learning datasets could be achieved for $60, assigning ChatGPT a specific persona (such as Molly Ivins, Steve Jobs, or “Gustavo from Brazil”) sextuples its toxicity, and stir-frying was found to be one of the toxicity-remediating techniques used by China’s minorities in preparing their ethnomedicines. The DNA of a wapiti deer as well as that of a woman was extracted from a Denisova Cave deer-tooth pendant. Temporal testosterone patterns in woolly mammoth tusks conclusively demonstrated that mature bulls experienced musth, whose occurrence was previously suggested by skeletal injuries and broken tusk tips of other extinct elephantimorphs. The carcasses of prey devoured by Yellowstone pumas create nitrogen-rich “kill gardens” that attract future prey. The blood serum of white-tailed deer kills Lyme bacteria. Whooper swans grow much faster in nature reserves. The earliest domesticated chickens in the Japanese archipelago were dated to the Yayoi-period Karako-Kagi site, and Japanese scientists named three species of bioluminescent worms after a deceitful demon-fire yokai, a horned, sharp-toothed lantern yokai, and a former aquarium director.

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August 2023

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