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Lettuce Pray

I thought I'd post another installment of fun facts generated by searching a random phrase. Last week, if you recall, our random phrase was "One out of every 200 people" "“ which yielded all this wonderfulness. Today's random phrase is "piece of lettuce" "“ and here's what we learn:

According to this site: "A flight attendant [at Delta Airlines] noticed the piece of lettuce that was used to decorate their food was often wilted and unappetizing. The Airline removed the lettuce leaves and saved over $1 million annually."

Or how about this nugget of news from North Shore News in British Columbia: "A Vancouver woman who slipped and fell on a piece of lettuce while shopping in a grocery store was recently assessed damages for her pain."

And speaking of assessing damages, there's also this tidbit, according to someone at the Atlantic Baptist University: "After Jesus' announcement of his betrayal Judas left the Upper Room (John 13:30). Since Jesus announced his betrayal during the course of appetizers, what they must have dipped together was lettuce (into the dressing), since no bread would have been eaten at this point in the meal. The Gospel of John's version of the foretelling of the betrayal records that Jesus dipped a ywmi,on [sic] (John 13:27), which, if our reconstruction is correct, ought to be translated as a piece of lettuce or other type of bitter herb, not a piece of bread, as it is often translated."

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Stradivarius Violins Get Their Distinctive Sound By Mimicking the Human Voice
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Italian violinist Francesco Geminiani once wrote that a violin's tone should "rival the most perfect human voice." Nearly three centuries later, scientists have confirmed that some of the world's oldest violins do in fact mimic aspects of the human singing voice, a finding which scientists believe proves "the characteristic brilliance of Stradivari violins."

Using speech analysis software, scientists in Taiwan compared the sound produced by 15 antique instruments with recordings of 16 male and female vocalists singing English vowel sounds, The Guardian reports. They discovered that violins made by Andrea Amati and Antonio Stradivari, the pioneers of the instrument, produce similar "formant features" as the singers. The resonance frequencies were similar between Amati violins and bass and baritone singers, while the higher-frequency tones produced by Stradivari instruments were comparable to tenors and contraltos.

Andrea Amati, born in 1505, was the first known violin maker. His design was improved over 100 years later by Antonio Stradivari, whose instruments now sell for several million dollars. "Some Stradivari violins clearly possess female singing qualities, which may contribute to their perceived sweetness and brilliance," Hwan-Ching Tai, an author of the study, told The Guardian.

Their findings were published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. A 2013 study by Dr. Joseph Nagyvary, a professor emeritus at Texas A&M University, also pointed to a link between the sounds produced by 250-year-old violins and those of a female soprano singer.

According to Vox, a blind test revealed that professional violinists couldn't reliably tell the difference between old violins like "Strads" and modern ones, with most even expressing a preference for the newer instruments. However, the value of these antique instruments can be chalked up to their rarity and history, and many violinists still swear by their exceptional quality.

[h/t The Guardian]

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