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The Biggest Changes On This Year’s Baby Name List

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The Social Security Administration has released its list of the top 1000 baby names of 2014. At first glance it seems that not much changed from the previous year. Sophia, Emma, and Olivia are still in the top 3 for girls. Abigail, Ava, Emily, Isabella, Madison, and Mia are still in the top 10. Noah is still number 1 for boys while Liam, William, Jacob, Michael, Mason, Alexander, Ethan, and Daniel all remain in the top 10. But if you dig a little deeper, through the whole top 1000, 2014 starts to distinguish itself in all kinds of ways.

For example, several names made the list this year for the first time ever. Axl (no ‘e’) never cracked the top 1000 before, not even in the Axl Rose Guns N’ Roses era, but this year it came in at 850. Was it because Fergie and Josh Duhamel named their baby Axl?

Henrik, the Scandinavian version of Henry, entered the list this year for the first time. Is it because of characters on Orphan Black or Vampire Diaries? Or perhaps because of New York Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist?

Also, as excitement began to build after the announcement of a new Star Wars movie in the works, Anakin made the list at 957.

New girls’ names included Aranza, debuting at an amazingly high rank for a first-timer—607—apparently because of a namesake character on the Mexican telenovela Por Siempre Mi Amor.

Another telenovela, of the dramatic name Lo Que La Vida Me Robó (What Life Took From Me) is probably responsible for the introduction of Monserrat (591) and Montserrat (571).

Zendaya, name of the teen actress, singer, and Dancing with the Stars competitor, debuted at 892. Other popular first timers were Remington (685), Naya (778), and—moving on from old standbys Brooklyn and London to entire countries—Holland (891).

Some names that had been on the list for years finally fell off. While Isaiah is still going strong, Isiah didn’t make it this year. Same for Rihanna and Gwyneth. While Khloe (88) and Kendall (131) are doing fine, Kourtney is no longer in the top 1000.

Some names that hadn’t been seen in a while made a comeback. Ford, which hadn’t made the list since 1951, came back at 883. Bonnie, which had its heyday in the 1940s, came in at 866, and Thea, which hadn’t cracked the top 1000 since 1965, came back at an impressive 776.

A number of names weren’t new, but had a big increase in popularity. For boys, Gannon rose by 426 places. Other big jumps were Royal, Killian, Ronin, Langston, Hendrix, Clyde, Legend, and Apollo. The biggest fall off in rank was for Amare, which has been on the list since 2005, when basketball player Amar’e Stoudemire had a great year. Kale, which debuted in the pre green-smoothie 1980s, also took a hit this year, as a name anyway.

For girls the biggest jump in popularity was for Daleyza. That’s the name of the oldest daughter on the Spanish-language TV reality show Larrymania, Freya, Henley, Amia, Paislee, Elsa, Nova, Lennon, Meadow, Everly and Everleigh also moved up the list considerably. The biggest drop in rank was for Miley.

But Miley Cyrus wasn’t the only pop star to take a namesake hit. After a 33 year run, peaking in 2000, Britney finally dropped off the list. It’s a sign of the end of the aughts, and a taking hold of a new generation.

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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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