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Morning Cup of Links: Mother's Day Prep

The Ten Most Famous Double Agents. Playing for both sides makes a good story, but you might not live to tell it.
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Surrealist animator Cyriak Harris manipulated his own face for his latest video, Because. If you're not familiar with his work, be cautioned that it is weird and may cause disorientation.
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In the movie The Avengers, New York City hosts a battle between good and evil. A disaster-cost prediction and assessment firm calculated the cost of the damage in real-world dollars.
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Come along on the hunt for Pikachu in the real world. And he's adorable!
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A tribute to the illustrations of Maurice Sendak is rendered in characters from The Avengers. Your inner child will thank me.
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Scenes from Finals Week. No, you're not the only one going insane, and it will all be over... eventually.
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Laura had an unusual ring-bearer at her wedding: the Dragon Runner unmanned ground vehicle (UGV). You may recognize the little guy as a bomb-disposal robot.
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The latest issue of TIME magazine features a woman breastfeeding a three-year-old (who looks five) on the cover. Whatever you think about the subject, it's going to sell a lot of magazines.
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Notes on the History of Mother's Day: 5 Things Worth Knowing. Happy Mother's Day to all you Moms!

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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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