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Why Certain British Women Don't Wear Coats

Evidently, a major stereotype among people of the British Isles is how young ladies from the Northeast part of the country are seemingly impervious to the cold. "Geordies," as the lasses are called round hereabouts, are wont to line up for clubs and pubs skimpily attired in naught but their "glad rags," totally inappropriate for the frigid Northeast elements.

And I thought it was just American teenagers.

In any case, scientists at Newcastle, UK's International Centre for Life have decided to get to the bottom of this mystery "“ they've designed an experiment to determine whether or not there's a genetic basis for the apparent thick-skinned nature of the Northern ladies, or if its simply a deeply ingrained cultural habit. Local ladies will be asked to fill out a survey on their habits of cold-weather attiring, including what it would take, weather-wise, to force a Geordie lady to wear a coat. Scientists will also be perusing the clubs, attempting to quantify the coatless.

Other studies have shown that people in the north of the British Isles consume greater percentages of fat in their diets than those in the South "“ could more insulation possibly be the source of their apparent ability to laugh in the face of frigid temperatures? Trust science to sort it out.

Linda Rodriguez is a regular contributor to mental_floss. She just moved to London, so you can look forward to more dispatches like this.

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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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