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Oh, Fisher Price... How We Loved You

I saw the above photo posted on reddit today and was suddenly filled with raging, uncontrollable nostalgia. I could smell the little gas pump and feel deep down in my soul how the nozzle fit into the car. I could hear the *ding* *ding* *ding* of the bell as we cranked the car up the elevator and I could imagine turning the car around and around on the little rotating dais thingy on the top floor. If I close my eyes, I can remember racing Hot Wheels on the little track even though they didn't come with the garage. I can remember parking the cars neatly on the roof, and later in life, changing AFX tires, with a little oil, up there.

According to one reseller on eBay, FP released this in 1970, 1985 again in 1990. So it's quite possible many of us had the various versions. [Update: I just discovered this site with the following info about the 1970 version: "When the Garage set was first introduced, it was sold with a cardboard service van to store the accessories into. The van was designed to be like the storage silo used on the #915 Farm, but the cardboard box is nowhere near as sturdy, therefore, discontinued shortly after it was introduced. There is another small rectangular box that was sold with this set...plain cardboard with red print on the sides. Fisher-Price may had replaced the cardboard service van with the smaller cardboard box for a short time. Neither the van nor the small box were ever pictured nor mentioned in the dealer catalogues, but both are quite rare and by far the hardest pieces in this set to find."]

The one pictured is the one I had. Who had this toy? Who misses it? Leave your interesting memories in the comments below. I'd also love to hear if you didn't have this toy, but had some other Fisher Price that, when you see it all these years later, really sends you into a nostalgic tailspin.

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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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