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Categorized | Science

Lab Letters Issue #13: Longer Lives, Sexy Voices, and the Rose

Hey there! Come join me for this week’s Lab Letters. It’s FF’s weekly science micro-post!


Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Yeast can ferment sugar, turning it into alcohols and carbon dioxide. It is used to brew beer and make dough rise. (source: yeast


800 Year Lifespans Now Possible? Not Quite.

Definitely an eye-catcher and an interest-pique-er. But one must be wary whenever reports come in of scientists curing cancer or prolonging lifespans. When the title sounds a little too science-fictiony, it probably is. In this case, it turns out that the experiment was done on baker’s yeast – a type of unicellular fungus that is a well-studied model organism for geneticists. Using a combination of a calorie restricted diet and gene deletions, researchers at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles have demonstrated a tenfold increase in the yeast’s lifespan. So, assuming that the average lifespan is ~80 years old, you kinda get how the fantastic headline came to be. While yeast shares a lot of genes and cellular pathways with humans (there’s a reason it’s a model organism, after all), it is important to note that cellular signaling is a very complex phenomenon and that the exact mechanisms of aging are still being worked out (both in humans and yeasts). So for those of you who are thinking of saying hello to their great great great great grandkids in the future, I’d recommend reading past science news titles and actually reading the contents. This PhD comic explains it all:




I owe you a yo-yo, Mr. Sheffield! You totally read that in her voice. (source:

These Voices Will Get You Pregnant

Oops. See what I mean with the titles? Anyway, it has been shown that women prefer deeper voices while men go for voices with a higher pitch. But why? Researchers at the University College London decided to investigate. According to previous research, different voice pitches (and other vocal characteristics) can indicate different body sizes. The hypothesis is that men prefer a high-pitched female voice because it indicates a small bodied-female. Women, on the other hand, prefer a deeper voice because that suggests a large guy. Not only that, but “breathiness” also helps: perhaps it makes the voice seem happier and less aggressive.

To be able to control every vocal characteristic and ensure uniformity, the researchers used a speech synthesizer. They made it say “I owe you a yoyo,” and let their test subjects decide which voice is sexiest.

Here are the most attractive voices:

Most attractive female voice by Jmstrom

Most attractive male voice by Jmstrom


And the least:

Least attractive female voice by Jmstrom

Least attractive male voice by Jmstrom


My only criticisms of the study are the small sample size and the surprising absence of Don Draper’s smooth dulcet ad pitch.


And finally…


(source: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SSI)

The Rose is what NASA calls Saturn’s north polar storm, measuring 2000 km across, whirling at 530 kilometers per hour, and following a hexagon-shaped weather pattern. This is a false-color image; the green areas indicate high clouds while the red areas indicate low clouds. In contrast, this is what it would look like without the color enhancement:

(source: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SSI)

The Cassini spacecraft took these snapshots from 419,000 km away. It has travelled 3.54 billion kilometers to get to Saturn and has been hanging out in the Saturnian system since 2004.


Wasn’t that neat? That’s all for today though. I’ll see you next week right here on FF LL!




DISCLAIMER: The opinions in this post do not necessarily represent the position of the Filipino Freethinkers.