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Science: Why We Love Repetition in Music

How many times does the chorus repeat in your favorite song? How many times have you listened to that chorus? Repetition in music isn’t just a feature of Western pop songs, either; it’s a global phenomenon. Why?

Elizabeth Hellmuth Margulis walks us through the basic principles of the ‘exposure effect,’ detailing how repetition invites us into music as active participants, rather than passive listeners.

Watch full lesson here.

Infographic: The Changing Face of Marvel’s Thor

Many people are surprised that Thor, one of the mainstays of the Marvel comic book empire, will be a woman in the next edition of the comic. But Thor hasn’t always been male, muscle-bound, blonde… or even human.

Thor’s mighty hammer has been wielded twice by a woman before. Once by a frog and once by an alien horse!

(story from ampp3d)

Science: Why Are Stars Star-Shaped??!?

As we all know, stars are big hot balls of plasma, so why do we draw stars that have points?

"Shape of stars and optical quality of the human eye"

-Rafael Navarro and M. Angeles Losada, Vol. 14, No. 2/February 1997/J. Opt. Soc. Am. A

Science: What Happens If You Insert a Coin Into a Dry Ice Block?

Dry ice, sometimes referred to as “cardice” (chiefly British chemists), is the solid form of carbon dioxide. It is used primarily as a cooling agent.

Its advantages include lower temperature than that of water ice and not leaving any residue (other than incidental frost from moisture in the atmosphere). It is useful for preserving frozen foods, ice cream, etc., where mechanical cooling is unavailable.

Science: Why Does Your Voice Sound Different on a Recording?

Greg Foot tells us exactly why we hate the sound of our own voice on answering machines and such like in this science video.

When we make a recording of our own voice then play it back, we are hearing it more or less as other people do. The sound waves travel as a series of vibrations through the air and meet our ear drum. The ear drum in turn sets three tiny bones vibrating - the incus, malleus and the stapes and they send vibrations into the cochlea. The cochlea translates the vibrations into nerve signals and those are sent to the brain. Why then does that sound so different to what we perceive as our own voice?

When you speak you hear your own voice in two different ways. The first is as above, vibrating sound waves hitting your ear drum. The second way is via vibrations inside your skull actually set off by your vocal chords. Those vibrations travel up through your bony skull and again set the ear drum vibrating. However as they travel through the bone they spread out and lower in pitch, giving you a false sense of bass. Then when you hear a recording of your voice, it sounds distinctly higher and the comparison can be quite surprising.