MI weekly selection #28


Violence against women at epidemic proportions

Three in ten women worldwide have been punched, shoved, dragged, threatened with weapons, raped, or subjected to other violence from a current or former partner. Close to one in ten have been sexually assaulted by someone other than a partner. Of women who are murdered, more than one in three were killed by an intimate partner.

Nature News

Hints of a sophisticated pre-hispanic civilization in Panama

The excavation of ancient graves at the El Caño site near Panama City has revealed a possibly genetic line of tribal chiefs who ruled before Spaniards arrived in the 1500s. Researchers say gold artifacts buried with young boys meant they were of a ruling class from birth. Archaeologist Julia Mayo says the find also means there was a sophisticated pre-Hispanic civilization living in the region.

National Geographic News

Insect embryos use waterproof membrane in egg to survive

A study of insect embryos’ waterproof membrane, the serosa, reveals that the membrane is crucial to the process of preventing eggs from drying out or absorbing too much water. The experiments involved blocking the serosa production gene in red flour beetles and found that only 6% of the eggs hatched in a dry environment; in extremely humid environments, embryos failed to develop at all. The serosa may have evolved to allow ancient insects to lay eggs on land, rather than having to rely on water, speculates Chris Jacobs, one author of the study.

Nature News

The cabbage in your fridge still runs on a daily clock

The vegetables in your fridge are still very much alive, even though they’ve been separated from their parent plants. Simple cycles of light and shade were enough to control the levels of substances called glucosinolates in cabbages, even when they were sitting in the fridge. These naturally produced chemicals protect the vegetables from pests and might be good for our health, which suggests that the way we store our produce could affect its shelf life and nutritional value.

Not Exactly Rocket Science

Do geography and altitude shape the sounds of a language?

Linguists have long assumed that the incorporation of different sounds into various languages is an entirely random process. But recently, Caleb Everett, a linguist at the University of Miami, made a surprising discovery that suggests the assortment of sounds in human languages is not so random after all. he found that those that originally developed at higher elevations are significantly more likely to include ejective consonants.

Smithsonian magazine

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