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Blue eyes: the allure and the science

Do blue-eyed men truly prefer blue-eyed women? And do brown-eyed men really have no preference? As you might expect, this alleged inclination has to do with securing visible proof of paternity: it's rare for two blue-eyed parents to produce a child with a phenotype of brown eyes (though it can happen). A study published in Norway in 2006 says men with blue-eyes do indeed unconsciously seek out women whose irises are lacking melanin, and explains:

A group of 443 young adults of both sexes and different eye colors were asked to report the eye color of their romantic partners. Blue-eyed men were the group with the largest proportion of partners of the same eye color.

According to Bruno Laeng and colleagues, "It is remarkable that blue-eyed men showed such a clear preference for women with the same eye color, given that the present experiment did not request participants to choose prospective sexual mates, but only to provide their aesthetic or attractiveness responses"¦based on face close-up photographs." Blue-eyed men may have unconsciously learned to value a physical trait that can facilitate recognition of own kin.

Makes enough sense. But what of people with aniridia, or people with heterochromia (like Kate Bosworth, David Bowie, and Christopher Walken)? Might have to resort to Level 4 background checks and straight-up pedigree...In the meantime, here's a fun eye color calculator.

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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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Orange-Themed Trivia
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