A selection of “Findings” from the back page of Harper’s Magazine, June 2008.
Scottish scientists found that women are instinctively attracted to the faces of men who want long-term relationships, whereas men are instinctively attracted to the faces of women who want one-night stands; French bio-statisticians declared Caucasian women to be more attractive than Caucasian men; a computer learned to identify beauty in Caucasian women; and a team of European sexologists reported that 40 percent of Italian couples were not having sex, due in part to Italian men’s declining sex drive and growing predilection for prostitutes and cybersex. (The Bar-Kays, “Sexomatic [12″ Mix]” [download])
Students exposed to subliminal Apple logos were found to answer questions more creatively than subjects exposed to subliminal IBM logos.
Marine biologists revealed that male Abdopus aculeatus octopuses may strangle to death rivals in defending the females whom they have seduced by swimming in a feminine manner, and paleontologists discovered that sexual reproduction first appeared about 600 million years ago among tube-shaped creatures living in spats on the seafloor. The gonorrhea bacterium was determined to be the strongest organism in existence. (Yeasayer, “Germs” [download])
It was suggested that a pack of black squirrels in Russia had killed and eaten a dog because of a shortage of pine cones. Israeli researchers claimed to have identified a ruthlessness gene.
A California neurologist suggested that transgender men are born with neural structures that result in their experiencing a phantom penis, much as penile amputees sometimes experience phantom erections and phantom orgasms. (The Shins, “Phantom Limb” [download])
A 2,000-year-old ghost forest on the coast of Oregon was uncovered by rough seas. Eight-thousand-year-old Norwegian spruces in Sweden were growing rapidly due to a warming climate, scientists warned that melting ice sheets may trigger massive earthquakes (as seems to have happened at the end of the last ice age in Scandinavia), and geologists detected an unusual swarm of undersea earthquakes that could not be blamed on a tectonic fault.
Astronomers recorded footage of a tsunami traveling across the surface of the sun at a million miles an hour and deduced that the Saturnian moon Titan harbors an underground ocean of water and ammonia. (Guster, “The New Underground” [download])
As much as one-quarter of Earth’s beach sand is now made of plastic.
Goldfish were found to have reasonably good memories. (Daryl Hall & John Oates, “Melody for a Memory” [download])