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How Barbra Streisand Inspired the “Streisand Effect”

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It’s common sense: If you make a big deal over something, it’s going to attract attention. And if you’re an international superstar, like, say, Barbra Streisand, the tantrum is going to draw even more attention.

Hence, the Streisand Effect, which, according to The Economist, occurs when “efforts to suppress a juicy piece of online information can backfire and end up making things worse for the would-be censor.” See also: Beyonce Hulking Out Super Bowl Fiasco.

In 2003, Streisand sued photographer Kenneth Adelman for distributing aerial pictures of her mansion in Malibu. But Adelman was no paparazzo—he operated the California Coastal Records Project, a resource providing more than 12,000 pictures of the California coast for scientists and researchers to use to study coastal erosion. At the time Streisand sued Adelman for $50 million, the picture in question had been accessed a whopping total of six times—twice by Streisand’s lawyers. Nonetheless, her lawsuit stated that the photos explicitly showed people how to gain access to her private residence.

Of course, news outlets around the world reported on Streisand’s outrage, and before long, the photo on Adelman’s website (below) had received well over a million views. The photo was also picked up by the Associated Press and was reprinted countless times.

Kenneth and Gabrielle Adelman via Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 3.0

As if single-handedly causing the exact thing she didn’t want to happen wasn’t bad enough, Streisand also lost the lawsuit; the judge ordered her to cover the $155,567.04 Adelman incurred in legal fees.

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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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