Dark matter, the insect, and the marriageability of the baritone

Dark matter, the insect, and the marriageability of the baritone

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The first complete deconstruction of the genome of the black-necked fly (Venustoraphidia nigricollis) provides new insights into the evolution of these ‘living fossils’. Credit: Harald Bruckner

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The first complete deconstruction of the genome of the black-necked fly (Venustoraphidia nigricollis) provides new insights into the evolution of these ‘living fossils’. Credit: Harald Bruckner

“Oh, hi. Didn’t see you there. I was just editing a weekly science news report on Saturday morning.” This is the first line of my one-liner in my bio about opening multiple tabs in Firefox.

Among those tabs? News about the viability of the lowly people (meaning Jane Austen), the alien insect and its strange genome, and the first confirmation of dark matter strands.

The pitch is tempting

American entrepreneur and fraudster Elizabeth Holmes famously defrauded investors in her blood-testing company Theranos, but she had one key insight backed by research: people respond to low-pitched sounds more positively than high-pitched sounds.

So, in public speaking encounters, I affected an incredibly distracting low-pitched voice that would have actually worked if I dialed it back about 25%. My door is always open to any potential criminals who need pitch advice.

A cross-cultural study conducted by researchers at Penn State confirms that lower pitch has a significant impact on social perceptions. They played audio clips of two male voices and two female voices to 31,000 participants in 22 countries and then quizzed them about their reactions.

Both women and men prefer low-pitched voices for partners in long-term relationships or marriage. In addition, lower-pitched male voices sounded more cool, especially to younger men, and older men tended to associate lower-pitched voices with higher prestige.

The matter was noticed

Astronomers studying data from the Subaru Telescope have reported spotting filaments of dark matter in the nearby Coma cluster, which extends millions of light-years across, 321 light-years from the solar system.

Dark matter is a hypothetical form of matter that seeks to explain the discrepancy between the amount of matter observed by astronomers and gravitational behaviors that cannot be explained by general relativity unless there is more matter, for example, in the observed rotation of galaxies. Dark matter is invisible and can only be inferred through its effect on baryonic matter that can be observed in phenomena such as gravitational lensing.

Researchers from Yonsei University used extensive data analysis to directly confirm the terminal parts of invisible dark matter filaments associated with the Koma cluster for the first time.

The bug has been decrypted

Scientists in Frankfurt, Mönchberg, and Vienna have sequenced the entire genome of the black-necked fly, an insect I had never heard of before because there are so many insects.

But it turns out that the snake fly is a living fossil, belonging to a genus that includes hundreds of species in the Cretaceous period. After the supposed asteroid impact that ended the Cretaceous period, only those species that could adapt to the cold survived. The new reference genome offers researchers new insights into the specific genetic changes that allowed snake fly ancestors to survive. It’s a really weird look; Click through and check out the neck on this guy.

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