Student - April 20, 2017

Fragrance wheel

Roelof Kleis

The library of St Paul’s Cathedral smells of a mixture of wood, smoke, earth and vanilla, say visitors. We learn this from a study by University College London. Scientists there also analysed the chemical components of the smell of old books. The result is a kind of classification table, poetically dubbed the Fragrance Wheel for Old Books. The ‘wheel’ is intended to help gauge the age and condition of historic books.

Running away...

In most species it is the female that decides whether mating is going to take place. Portuguese biologists have discovered which region of the fruit fly’s brain is involved in this decision. Deactivating these brain cells causes the female fruit fly to run away from the advances of her would-be mate. And she can’t stop.


...or staying put

The remarkable behaviour of the ‘brainwashed’ fruit fly has nothing to do with a change in its mobility. The female fruit fly only displays this behaviour during the mating season. Nor does the behaviour tell us anything about the relation between sex and running. They think something goes wrong with the fly’s ability to draw the right conclusion from the very obvious mating signals coming from the male.


The use of social media makes children less happy, shows research at the University of Sheffield. Every hour spent on Whatsapp and the like reduces the overall level of happiness by 14 percent. By way of comparison: being part of a single-parent family means a 4.6 percent drop in happiness. The researchers put the effect down to the constant comparing with each other that goes on online. Girls are particularly affected and lose confidence as a result.