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Now, violin strings made of spider silk

A Japanese researcher has spun thousands of strands of spider silk to create a set of violin strings.

The strings apparently have a “soft and profound timbre” compared to the traditional gut or steel strings.

That may arise from the way the strings are twisted, resulting in a “packing structure” that leaves practically no space between any of the strands, the BBC reported.

“Bowed string instruments such as the violin have been the subject of many scientific studies,” Dr Shigeyoshi Osaki of Japan’s Nara Medical University said.

“However, not all of the details have been clarified, as most players have been interested in the violin body rather than the properties of the bow or strings.” Dr Osaki used 300 female Nephila maculata spiders - one of the species of “golden orb-weavers” known for their complex webs - to provide the dragline silk that spiders dangle from. For every string, Dr Osaki twisted between 3,000 and 5,000 individual strands of silk in one direction to form a bundle.

The strings were then primed from three of these bundles twisted together in the opposite direction. He then measured their tensile strength - a vital factor for violinists wishing to avoid breaking a string in the middle of a concerto.

The spider-silk strings endured less tension before breaking than a traditional but infrequently used gut string, but more than an aluminium-coated, nylon-core string.

Eating mom-made food prevents childhood obesity

 A new study has confirmed that the nutritional status of children strongly relies on the person who prepares their meal. University of Granada researchers found that children who eat at home present a better nutritional status and are at a lower risk of suffering obesity than children whose meal is prepared by a person other than their mother.

At present, “the mother is the family member who best knows the nutritional needs of children and has the strongest nutritional knowledge for the preparation of children’s meals,” the researchers stated. For the study, the researchers sampled 718 school children aged between 9-17 years from 13 public and private schools located in the province of Granada, Spain.

By using anthropometric measurements, the researchers assessed children’s weight, size and body mass index (BMI) by age and sex. Skinfold measurements were performed at six sites: biceps, triceps, subscapular, supraspinale, calf and thigh, in other words: waist, hips, arms and thighs. Researches found that there is a relationship between sedentary leisure habits and BMI. Statistically significant differences were found in BMI between children with sedentary habits and children with good physical exercise habits. Thus, the more time devoted to watching TV, playing video games and Internet surfing, the higher the BMI.

The researchers concluded that, “it is extremely important” that healthy habits are promoted and encouraged within the family; children should play “traditional games”, which usually involve physical exercise.

Listening to music daily may improve health

Listening to music everyday could be a simple and effective way to enhance well-being and health as it may evoke positive emotions and reduce the listener’s stress levels, a new study has revealed.

The new doctoral thesis in psychology from the University of Gothenburg is based partly on a survey study involving 207 individuals, partly on an intervention study where an experiment group consisting of 21 persons listened to self-chosen music for 30 minutes per day for two weeks while an equally sized control group got to relax without music.

The results of the studies show that positive emotions were experienced both more often and more intensively in connection with music listening.

The experiment group did also perceive less stress and had lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol. The more the participants in the survey study liked the music, the less stress they experienced.

“But it should be pointed out that when studying emotional responses to music it is important to remember that all people do not respond in the exact same way to a piece of music and that one individual can respond differently to the same piece of music at different times, depending on both individual and situational factors,” said the author of the thesis Marie Helsing.

“To get the positive effects of music, you have to listen to music that you like,” Helsing added.

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