Monthly Archives: April 2011

Men with long ring fingers are more attractive to the ladies, research suggests

Men with long ring fingers are officially more attractive than men with short ring fingers.

It seems weird that we can make such a judgement, but a new study has shown that a male’s “facial attractiveness” directly corresponds to the ratio between the length of his ring finger and his index finger – also known as the “2D:4D” ratio. Simply put: if your ring finger is much longer than your index finger, you should be – in theory – irresistable to women. 

Why should this be? Well, the length of the ring finger (and therefore the ratio) is all decided by hormones, and it all takes place before you are even born. Latest research from the University of Geneva suggests that a male fetus’s 2D:4D ratio will be determined by how much testosterone it is exposed to while its testes are developing.

Consequently, the longer a man’s ring finger, the more testosterone he has. This means he will be more “masculine”, produce better-quality sperm, and – according to the scientists – be more sexy. Study researcher Camille Ferdenzi said: “What we found was that 2D:4D ratio can predict face attractiveness. The more masculine the 2D:4D is, the more attractive is the face. The amount of sex hormones you are exposed to before birth contributes to how your face develops and how attractive it becomes.”

Full story: LiveScience


Space Adventures make “moon tourism” possible

It’s the kind of thing you wouldn’t expect to see in the news for at least another 20 or 30 years. The very idea of having a holiday to the moon seems like a distant, unrealistic idea that won’t happen for an incredibly long time yet.

That’s where you’d be wrong. If you have $150 million and feel like going somewhere completely different for your summer holiday, then you can book a trip around the moon with company Space Adventures. They have mapped a voyage that will take (presumably very rich) toursits on an orbit around the moon. The voyage would take eight or nine days in total, and the company plans to give lift-off to this holiday within the next 5 years.

There has already been one taker on this once-in-a-lifetime adventure (unless they have $300 million, in which case they can afford to do it twice). However, Space Adventures still needs another multi-millionaire to book a seat – otherwise, the trip won’t go ahead.

Full story: POPSCI Popular Science

The internet was made for … Facebook, it seems

We covered a technology news story last week on this blog about Facebook and its new “instant personalisation” feature. Well, apologies if you can’t stand it, but Facebook has made the news again. However, this time, it’s for a different reason – one that will raise a few more eyebrows.

The “news” is simple: Facebook is now more popular than porn.

Well, that’s according to latest figures from online intelligence service Experian Hitwise. They have shown that, for UK internet users, social networking websites account for 12.46% of all online traffic, which eclipses “entertainment” websites (including pornographic ones), which only attract 12.18% of internet traffic. 

This is big news in the world of technology and computing, because it is the first time ever that “social networking” websites have officially become more popular than “entertainment” ones. 

These statistics say a lot about the way our habits, our lifestyle, and our culture are evolving. It not only demonstrates the unprecedented success of Facebook, but also suggests that people are starting to become more sociable, more civilised – and less degrading – in their online behaviour.

Or is it because people are now just using Facebook to leer and ogle at other people’s photos, rather than going to the bother of searching long and hard (no pun intended) across other websites to find something that will arouse them?

Full story: BBC Newsbeat

This blog has changed!

You will have noticed that this blog has undergone a change of design, format, and name. “STARS” has become “UNBELIEVABLE!”

Why has it changed? Well, STARS Magazine was perhaps a misleading title – this is a blog that does not concentrate solely on space or astrophysics. The fact that I always seem to bring you “unusual” science news (i.e. science news that isn’t in the news!) made me think that a name such as “quirky” or “strange” science would be more appropriate. After much thought and agonizing over a snappy title, I decided upon UNBELIEVABLE!, for that is the reaction most readers will produce when they read the articles on this blog – whether it’s a mildly surpried mutter or an incredulous yell.

I’ve also dropped the word “Magazine” from the title. Magazines have regular features, puzzles, and interviews. This is now purely a blog of science news.

Hope you continue to enjoy this blog in its new format. Here’s to a future of bringing you cool, quirky, and extraordinary science news that is guaranteed to be UNBELIEVABLE!

The future of Facebook: Instant Personalisation across the internet

Just when you thought your life revolved around Facebook a little too much, and just when you wondered how it could possibly dominate the internet any further, along has come Instant Personalisation.

It’s Mark Zuckerburg’s latest vision that aims to change your entire internet experience. Facebook has partenered with a number of websites including search engine Bing, music site Pandora, and movie review site Rotten Tomatoes. It works by using your public Facebook information to “personalise” the website for you – for instance, if you wanted to search for a movie online, you will be able to see your friends’ reviews first, or be able to hear your favourite songs automatically when you visit a music site.

Facebook claims that this new feature will “make your experiences across the web more seamlessly social and personal” – although its critics will argue that it is an unnecassary feature for other websites, an exploitation of Facebook users’ information, and just one step further towards Facebook attempting to monopolise the internet.

Einstein’s theory of Relativity gets its own iPhone app

This is Einstein’s equation of Special Relativity. It states that, for any object moving with a velocity of u, the time that seems to elapse according to the moving object (delta t-zero) is different to the time it takes if measured by an observer at rest (delta t).

Simply put: as you travel through space, you stretch time and make it tick just that little bit slower for you. But, of course, unless you are travelling close to the speed of light (c), you won’t notice a difference.

Nevertheless, if you have ever wondered how many nanoseconds you have stretched when you’ve been for a brisk walk or a long journey, you now have a way to find out. A Japanese developer has invented the Einstein Pedometer, which will measure the time it took for your journey to elapse, and then use the necessary calculations to tell you the time it actually took, in your reference frame, allowing for Relativity.

So, for example, the Einstein Pedometer may tell you that a journey has just taken you 15 minutes and 19.999999999827 seconds, as apposed to the 15 minutes 20 seconds that a regular watch would tell you. The app is a must for physicists and pedants everywhere.

Full story: POPSCI Popular Science

Three (frighteningly) realistic robots come face-to-face with their human twins

Imagine if scientists built a humanoid robot that looked just like you. Now imagine meeting that robot, sitting down with it, and spending some time getting to know it. Would that be weird, or would that be … really weird?

Three people were able to have that slightly surreal experience last month, as the Advanced Telecommunications Research Institute hosted a “Geminoid summit” in Nara, Japan.

Below is the video of the meeting. The people didn’t really have an in-depth conversation with the robots – or each other, come to that. It consisted mainly of them giggling, slightly in awe, but mostly because the meeting must have felt so strange and eerie. And who can blame them?

Full story: Plastic Pals