Getty Images
Getty Images

Scientists Claim to Have Confirmed Banksy's Identity With Geoprofiling

Getty Images
Getty Images

For years, there have been claims that the elusive British street artist known as Banksy is really a man named Robin Gunningham—but there was never enough evidence to prove it. Now, the BBC reports that scientists at the Queen Mary University of London have published a study that uses a geographical profiling to suggest that Gunningham and Banksy could be one and the same.

Biologist Steve Le Comber told BBC that the purpose of the study—titled "Tagging Banksy: Using Geographic Profiling to Investigate a Modern Art Mystery"—was to show how geoprofiling, a technique used primarily in criminology to locate concentrated areas of activity, could be used more broadly for other purposes. Using Banksy as a test was supposed to show how the technique finds matches based on the given data, which in this case included the locations of his murals in London and Bristol, as well as what the BBC says is "publicly available information" about Gunningham's addresses and locations he has frequented. "What I thought I would do is pull out the 10 most likely suspects, evaluate all of them and not name any," Le Comber said, "but it rapidly became apparent that there is only one serious suspect, and everyone knows who it is."

According to The Independent, the release of study was delayed by Banksy's lawyers, who contacted the school with "concerns over how the study ... would be promoted." Now that the study has been published, reactions to it and to the ongoing search for Banksy have been swift. "The #media just don't get it," street artist Plastic Jesus wrote on Instagram. "No one (apart from them) gives a f*** who Banksy is. His genius is in his work and not his persona. Why the witch hunt for an artist who is adding to culture, society and art."

[h/t BBC]

nextArticle.image_alt|e
iStock
Whale Sharks Can Live for More Than a Century, Study Finds
iStock
iStock

Some whale sharks alive today have been swimming around since the Gilded Age. The animals—the largest fish in the ocean—can live as long as 130 years, according to a new study in the journal Marine and Freshwater Research. To give you an idea of how long that is, in 1888, Grover Cleveland was finishing up his first presidential term, Thomas Edison had just started selling his first light bulbs, and the U.S. only had 38 states.

To determine whale sharks' longevity, researchers from the Nova Southeastern University in Florida and the Maldives Whale Shark Research Program tracked male sharks around South Ari Atoll in the Maldives over the course of 10 years, calculating their sizes as they came back to the area over and over again. The scientists identified sharks that returned to the atoll every few years by their distinctive spot patterns, estimating their body lengths with lasers, tape, and visually to try to get the most accurate idea of their sizes.

Using these measurements and data on whale shark growth patterns, the researchers were able to determine that male whale sharks tend to reach maturity around 25 years old and live until they’re about 130 years old. During those decades, they reach an average length of 61.7 feet—about as long as a bowling lane.

While whale sharks are known as gentle giants, they’re difficult to study, and scientists still don’t know a ton about them. They’re considered endangered, making any information we can gather about them important. And this is the first time scientists have been able to accurately measure live, swimming whale sharks.

“Up to now, such aging and growth research has required obtaining vertebrae from dead whale sharks and counting growth rings, analogous to counting tree rings, to determine age,” first author Cameron Perry said in a press statement. ”Our work shows that we can obtain age and growth information without relying on dead sharks captured in fisheries. That is a big deal.”

Though whale sharks appear to be quite long-lived, their lifespan is short compared to the Greenland shark's—in 2016, researchers reported they may live for 400 years. 

nextArticle.image_alt|e
iStock
Scientists Find a Possible Link Between Beef Jerky and Mania
iStock
iStock

Scientist have discovered a surprising new factor that may contribute to mania: meat sticks. As NBC News reports, processed meats containing nitrates, like jerky and some cold cuts, may provoke symptoms of mental illness.

For a new study, published in the journal Molecular Psychiatry, scientists surveyed roughly 1100 people with psychiatric disorders who were admitted into the Sheppard Pratt Health System in Baltimore between 2007 and 2017. They had initially set out to find whether there was any connection between certain infectious diseases and mania, a common symptom of bipolar disorder that can include racing thoughts, intense euphoria, and irritability.

While questioning participants about their diet, the researchers discovered that a significant number of them had eaten cured meats before their manic episodes. Patients who had recently consumed products like salami, jerky, and dried meat sticks were more likely to be hospitalized for mania than subjects in the control group.

The link can be narrowed down to nitrates, which are preservatives added to many types of cured meats. In a later part of the study, rats that were fed nitrate-free jerky acted less hyperactive than those who were given meat with nitrates.

Numerous studies have been published on the risks of consuming foods pumped full of nitrates: The ingredient can lead to the formation of carcinogens, and it can react in the gut in a way that promotes inflammation. It's possible that inflammation from nitrates can trigger mania in people who are already susceptible to it, but scientists aren't sure how this process might work. More research still needs to be done on the relationship between gut health and mental health before people with psychiatric disorders are told to avoid beef jerky altogether.

[h/t NBC News]

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER
More from mental floss studios