What's the buzz

What's the buzz

What makes lions’ roars so fearsome

Lions and tigers make fearsome roars because they have unusual vocal cords, a new study has revealed.

The researchers found that the big cats’ vocal cords have an odd square shape and can withstand strong stretching and shearing.

That shape “makes it easier for the tissue to respond to the passing airflow,” allowing louder roars at lower lung pressure, said University of Utah researcher Tobias Riede, one of the researchers involved in the project. These findings contradict a theory that lions roar deeply because the vocal folds are heavy with fat.

Instead, the researchers speculate that the fat gives the vocal folds their square shape (as opposed to the more traditional triangular vocal folds found in most species), and may cushion the vocal folds and provide repair material when they are damaged.

“If you understand how vocal folds are structured and what effects that structure has on vocal production, then it could help doctors make decisions on how to reconstruct damaged vocal fold tissue” in people such as cancer patients, singers, teachers, coaches and drill sergeants, Riede stated.

City lights could help spot extraterrestrial civilisations 

Avi Loeb from the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics and Edwin Turner from the Princeton University rely on the assumption that aliens would use Earth-like technologies and are likely to have artificial illumination that switches on during hours of darkness.

“Looking for alien cities would be a long shot, but wouldn’t require extra resources. And if we succeed, it would change our perception of our place in the universe,” Loeb said.
As the planet orbits, it goes through phases similar to those of the Moon, so when it’s in a dark phase, more artificial light from the night side would be visible from Earth than reflected light from the dayside.

As a result the total flux from a planet with city lighting will vary in a way that is measurably different from a planet that has no artificial lights.
The researchers also calculate that today’s best telescopes ought to be able to see the light generated by a Tokyo-sized metropolis at the distance of the Kuiper Belt, the region occupied by Pluto, Eris, and thousands of smaller icy bodies.

High blood pressure reduces emotional understanding

People with higher blood pressure have a reduced ability to recognise angry, fearful, sad and happy faces and text passages, a new study has found.
James A. McCubbin and his colleagues from the Clemson University have said that some people have “emotional dampening” that may cause them to respond inappropriately to anger and other emotions in them.

 “It’s like living in a world of email without smiley faces,” McCubbin said.
“We put smiley faces in emails to show when we are just kidding. Otherwise some people may misinterpret our humour and get angry,” he said.

 McCubbin said that the “emotional dampening” may often lead to miscommunication and poor job performance.

“For example, if your work supervisor is angry, you may mistakenly believe that he or she is just kidding.  “This can lead to miscommunication, poor job performance and increased psychosocial distress. “If you have emotional dampening, you may distrust others because you cannot read emotional meaning in their face or their verbal communications.
“You may even take more risks because you cannot fully appraise threats in the environment,” he said.

He also said that the link between dampening of emotions and blood pressure is believed to be involved in the development of hypertension and risk for coronary heart disease, and may also be involved in disorders of emotion regulation, such as bipolar disorders and depression.