May 18, 2018

Weekend reads: Need more 'Yanny' vs. 'Laurel' in your life? NYT's tool lets you hear both.

Daily Briefing

    Ben Palmer's reads

    You probably don't want to know what kind of germs are in a hotel swimming pool. Health officials are urging Americans to be cautious of the germs in hotel swimming pools, Ashley Welch writes for CBS News. According to a new CDC report, 493 outbreaks associated with treated recreational water—such as hotel swimming pools—were linked to at least 27,219 illnesses and eight fatalities. CDC added that 58% of "the 363 outbreaks with a confirmed infectious etiology" and 89% of the illnesses linked to those 363 outbreaks were caused by cryptosporidium—or "crypto"—a parasite that can survive even in well-maintained pools. To stay healthy in the pool, CDC recommends not swimming if you have diarrhea, not swallowing pool water, taking kids on hourly bathroom breaks, and using a test strip to see if the pool's pH and bromine levels are correct before getting in.

    Want smarter offspring? Study suggests exercise may be key. Regular exercise may alter the sperm of male animals in a way that benefits their offsprings' brains and cognitive skills, according to a study on mice published in Cell Reports. For the study, researchers raised a group of genetically identical male mice with a sedentary lifestyle to adulthood, at which point half of the mice were moved to cages that had toys and games designed to stimulate both their bodies and brains. The researchers found that after 10 weeks, when compared with the mice who remained sedentary, some of the mice in the activity-focused cages had developed stronger neuronal connections in their brains. In addition, the researchers found that when the active mice mated with sedentary female mice, their offspring were born with brains that had stronger neuronal connections than the brains of offspring born to sedentary male mice—a finding the researchers attribute to exercise-related changes observed in the microRNA of the paternal sperm. The researchers are currently planning a study to see if the findings are consistent in humans.

    Rachel Schulze's reads

    In case you haven't heard enough. The New York Times built a tool that lets users adjust the frequency in the viral audio clip that sparked the Yanny-Laurel debate the nearly broke the internet earlier this week. With the Times tool, individual users can mark where on the frequency spectrum, for them, that the audio clip goes from sounding like one of the terms to the other. Go wild.

    Speaking of sounds. New research shows about 20% to 30% of people experience auditory sensation when they view silent but energetic images, such as GIFs. The lead author of the study, psychologist Chris Fassnidge, dubs the phenomenon "visually evoked auditory response," or vEAR for short. The study authors think vEAR may be a new form of synesthesia, when the activation of one sense results in the perception of another. A common example is people who see letters of the alphabet in certain colors. According to Vox, vEAR "may be a window onto a better way to understand how all our senses are complexly connected."

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