Monthly Archives: February 2015

Science determines catchiest hit song of all time

What makes that earworm an earworm? Musicologists at the University of Amsterdam recently set out to find out, collecting data from 12,000 participants who listened to a random selection from 1,000 hit singles in the UK dating back to the 1940s.

The results were unveiled at the Manchester Science Festival over the weekend. While it took most participants an average of 5 seconds to identify a song, the 17 most popular were all detectable in less than 3 seconds, with the top song—1996 hit “Wannabe” by the Spice Girls—averaging just 2.29 seconds, reports the Independent.

“Very strong melodic hooks seem to be the most memorable for people,” the lead researcher said. The interactive game Hooked on Music is online for now, reports the BBC, so see how you compare to the top 10:

  1. Spice Girls, “Wannabe”
  2. Lou Bega, “Mambo No 5”
  3. Survivor, “Eye of the Tiger”
  4. Lady Gaga, “Just Dance”
  5. ABBA, “SOS”
  6. Roy Orbison, “Pretty Woman”
  7. Michael Jackson, “Beat It”
  8. Whitney Houston, “I Will Always Love You”
  9. The Human League, “Don’t You Want Me”
  10. Aerosmith, “I Don’t Want To Miss A Thing”

Click for the full list of 20—Gaga appears again.

This article originally appeared on Newser: Scientific Study Determines Catchiest Hit Song Ever

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Monday Dogs – What do Dogs Think?

A different version of cute dogs for your Monday blues.  What do dogs think?

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‘Vicious’ new praying mantis discovered in Rwanda

female-bush-tiger-mantis

The female wingless “bush tiger mantis” (Dystacta tigrifrutex) from Nyungwe National Park in southwestern Rwanda. (Gavin Svenson)

On a cool and rainy night in a dense, mountainous forest in Rwanda, insect-surveying scientists discovered a new species of praying mantis, one whose wingless females are “vicious hunters” that prowl for prey as if they were marauding tigers.

The researchers have named the newfound praying mantis species which was discovered in Nyungwe National Park Dystacta tigrifrutex, or “bush tiger mantis.”

“The new species is amazing, because the fairly small female prowls through the underbrush searching for prey, while the male flies appear to live higher in the vegetation,” stated Riley Tedrow, a Case Western Reserve University evolutionary biology student who led the research.

Researchers found out about the species after a winged male was attracted to a light trap the scientists had set up to study the local insects. After fortuitously trapping a female from the leaf litter, the scientists got another lucky break: She laid an egg case (called an ootheca). This allowed the scientists to study the nymphs and adults in one three-week field session, which is a rarity in insect science for one field trip.

The researchers compared the new specimens with those found in museums and described in scientific papers; the scientists also looked at various measurements of the bush tiger mantis’ bodies, such as color and length. Through these analyses, the researchers concluded the species belongs to the genus Dystacta; until now, this genus had consisted of just one species, D. alticeps, which is spread all over Africa.

One feature could have provided a big help in identifying the species, the male genitalia. This, however, was missing, as ants had gobbled up these vital parts while the male dried up in the Rwandan heat, the researchers noted.

The scientists also tracked down a dozen species that were previously not known to live in Rwanda, and urged that conservation authorities place the park under protection so as not to endanger the new finds. A follow-up expedition is planned in June to gauge the size of the bush tiger’s habitat.

A study based on the research will be published in the open-access journal ZooKeys.

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Men’s finger length indicates how nice they are to women

Men's finger length indicates how nice they are to women

Finger length may be telling. (AP Photo/Staten Island Advance,Vincent Barone)

A study released earlier this month relied on the “2D:4D” ratio to determine that 57 percent of men are inclined to be promiscuous. Now, a second study says the same ratio—which makes use of the length of the index and ring fingers—can also indicate how nice men are to women.

The study, published in Personality and Individual Differences, notes that a lower ratio “indicates greater androgen exposure”; in less scientific-speak, it means the longer a man’s ring finger compared to his index finger, the more male hormones (chief among them testosterone) he was exposed to in the womb.

As lead author Debbie Moskowitz explains in a McGill University press release, “When with women, men with smaller ratios were more likely to listen attentively, smile and laugh, compromise or compliment the other person.” The results stemmed from 155 participants’ self-reported behavior.

Over the course of 20 days, they selected which behaviors they exhibited in any social interaction of at least five minutes. The researchers mapped those behaviors as agreeable or quarrelsome, and discovered men with lower digit ratios reported roughly a third more agreeable behaviors with women, and also a third fewer quarrelsome ones.

The results went beyond the romantic: They held regardless of who the woman was, from a romantic partner to a co-worker. But in terms of the romantic, Moskowitz noted her findings may support previous research that also linked smaller ratios to having more kids.

“Our research suggests they have more harmonious relationships with women … This might explain why they have more children on average.” Somewhat incongruously though, the smaller-ratio men were the ones who fell into the potentially more promiscuous camp in the previous study.

This article originally appeared on Newser: Finger Length Indicates How Nice a Man Is to Women

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Cosplay Pictures for Your Saturday

Cosplay pictures for your enjoyment…

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Mystery photo unseen for 30 years may show Civil War gunship

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FILE 2015: Divers prepare to descend onto the wreck site of the CSS Georgia near the channel of the Savannah River, Savannah, Ga. The recovery of the Confederate ironclad ship marks the beginning of the construction phase of the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project. (AP Photo/Georgia Port Authority, Stephen Morton)

John Potter says he was browsing for antiques at a yard sale in south Georgia when he came across an old picture frame containing an enigmatic image — the dark silhouette of a person in a hat and coat standing to one side and a long, boxy structure looming in the background.

Potter says he didn’t have the $175 the owner in Waycross wanted for the photograph, a hazy image further blurred by stains from water or chemicals. He also recalls finding a written clue to decoding the image on back of the frame. The inscription read: “CSS Georgia.”

“I knew exactly what it was,” said Potter, a Savannah native now living in North Carolina. “I thought, `This belongs in a museum.”‘

That was roughly 30 years ago. The only evidence of the mystery image are photographs snapped of the original to share with historian friends back in Savannah. Civil War experts say the image, if authenticated, would be the only known photograph of the CSS Georgia, an armored Confederate warship that was scuttled by its own crew 150 years ago as Gen. William T. Sherman’s Union troops captured Savannah.

“Believe me, if I had thought that the image was the CSS Georgia, I would have moved mountains to make sure we got it.”- Paul Blatner, museum curator

Experts still have many questions about the sunken ironclad, and they think the original photo could help them find answers.

“The photo is just as much a mystery as the CSS Georgia, because nobody has seen it in years,” said Julie Morgan, an archaeologist for the Army Corps of Engineers.

The federal agency is spending $14 million to raise the Confederate ship’s wreckage from the bottom of the Savannah River. Divers have been in the water since January and work is expected to wrap up this fall.

In a military sense, the CSS Georgia was an ironclad flop that never fired a shot in battle. The Civil War ushered in the era of armored warships. In Savannah, a Ladies Gunboat Association raised $115,000 to build such a ship to protect the city. But the 120-foot-long CSS Georgia’s engines proved too weak to propel its 1,200-ton frame against river currents. It stayed anchored off Fort Jackson as a floating gun battery before it was scuttled in December 1864.

No photographs of the ironclad have been confirmed. Neither have blueprints or construction plans. Several artists drew renderings of the CSS Georgia, but they differ in their details.

If the image Potter found the 1980s could be authenticated, would it necessarily be the CSS Georgia?

Robert Holcombe, former curator of the National Civil War Naval Museum in Columbus, dug up archival information on the CSS Georgia for a report to the Army Corps in 2003. Holcombe said the shape in the photo conforms with known aspects of the CSS Georga’s design that made it unique among ironclads — namely an armored casemate that covered the ship’s entire deck with sides sloped at 45-degree angles.

“If it’s an original, it’s certainly the Georgia, just by process of elimination,” Holcombe said. If the photo isn’t authentic, he said, “it’s an awfully good fake.”

The Army Corps is spreading word that it’s seeking the original photograph through its website and by using social media. Morgan said she hopes the owner may have other relics related to the ironclad.

Potter said he tried unsuccessfully to reconnect with the photo’s owner, who soon moved away from Waycross. He donated a photo of the original image to the Georgia Historical Society, which confirmed it received Potter’s gift in March 1986.

A couple of years later, Potter said, he got a letter from a family member of the original image’s owner. He said the letter, which he no longer has, claimed the original photograph had been donated to the Savannah History Museum.

Paul Blatner, the museum’s curator and director from 1984 to 1990, said he never saw a photograph of any Confederate ironclad during his tenure.

“Believe me,” Blatner said, “if I had thought that the image was the CSS Georgia, I would have moved mountains to make sure we got it.”

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Largest trove of gold coins in Israel unearthed from ancient harbor

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 (Israel Antiquities Authority)

A group of divers in Israel has stumbled upon the largest hoard of gold coins ever discovered in the country. The divers reported the find to the Israel Antiquities Authority, and nearly 2,000 coins dating back to the Fatimid period, or the eleventh century, were salvaged by the authority’s Marine Archaeology Unit. The find was unearthed from the seabed of the ancient harbor in Caesarea National Park, according to a press release from the Israel Antiquities Authority.

“The discovery of such a large hoard of coins that had such tremendous economic power in antiquity raises several possibilities regarding its presence on the seabed,” said Kobi Sharvit, director of the Marine Archaeology Unit of the Israel Antiquities Authority, in the release. “There is probably a shipwreck there of an official treasury boat which was on its way to the central government in Egypt with taxes that had been collected.”

Sharvit suggested that the treasure trove of coins might have been intended to pay the members of the Fatimid military garrison stationed at Caesarea, Israel. There are also other theories as the origins of the coins. Sharvit said that the coins could have belonged to a sunken merchant ship.

“The coins are in excellent state of preservation, and despite the fact they were at the bottom of the sea for about a thousand years, they did not require any cleaning or conservation intervention,” said Robert Cole, an expert numismaticist – someone who studies currency – with the antiquities authority.

The five divers have been called “model citizens” by the antiquities organization. Had the divers removed the objects from their location or tried to sell them, they could have faced a sentence of up to five years in prison.

The oldest of the coins is a quarter dinar that was minted in Palermo, Sicily during the second half of the ninth century. The majority of the coins can be traced back to the Faimid caliphs, Al-Ḥākim and his son Al-Ẓāhir who were alive in during the eleventh century. These coins were minted in Egypt and North Africa.

“There is no doubt that the discovery of the impressive treasure highlights the uniqueness of Caesarea as an ancient port city with rich history and cultural heritage,” stated the Caesarea Development Company and Nature and Parks Authority in the release. “After 2,000 years it is still capable of captivating its many visitors … when other parts of its mysterious past are revealed in the ground and in the sea.”

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