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Anthropology in Practice

Anthropology in Practice


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Editor’s Selections: Adult Brains, Frozen DNA, Stimulating Speech, and Smelly Knights

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.


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Here are my ResearchBlogging.org picks for this past week:

  • It turns out that there is truth to the statement that thirty is the new twenty – well, at least in terms of brain development. Sort of. It turns out that the long held belief that the “adult brain” is in place by the time we hit our twenties is questionable–the Neuroskeptic has the scoop with a new study on brain maturation.
  • At Contagions, Michelle Ziegler highlights the challenges of DNA extraction with a case study involving bodies found in the Siberian permafrost, which one would assume would result in better-than-average samples.
  • Could sexual inhibitions make us quieter? At A Replicated Typo, Sean Roberts discusses the relationship between sonority (loudness of vowels in a language) and sexual behavior, which may provide some interesting insights on linguistic variation.
  • And finally, SciCurious delivers a serious blow to the myth of the knight in shining armor as a suave and cool fellow. Turns out that we overlook how heavy armor was in our nostalgic fits–which means that we overlook how sweaty these guys probably were. At Neurotic Physiology SciCurious also helpfully educates readers on the many types of armor. So perhaps not all armor was equally sweaty.

I’ll be back next week with more from the social sciences.

Krystal D'Costa About the Author: Krystal D'Costa is an anthropologist working in digital media in New York City. You can follow AiP on Facebook. Follow on Twitter @krystaldcosta.

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.



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  1. 1. Hasufin 3:21 pm 08/4/2011

    I think Rugbyologist covered most of my concerns about the armor. I have a few books on the subject; I’d have to dig them out to tell you the titles, but they don’t go into details of when/where a particular set or piece of armor would be worn. However, it seems apparent that throughout history there have always been alternatives to cap a pé (head to foot) armor.

    On the one hand, many self-proclaimed pundits declare truly absurd weights for armor and swords (I recall once on /. seeing someone insist that medieval swords weighed around 2 kilos; never mind that modern swords seldom exceed 2 kilos!). On the other hand, people don’t realize how taxing even a surprisingly light weight can be! I fence, and my epeé, which only weighs maybe 400g, tires out my arm after less than 15 minutes. While I wear armor, it’s all designed to be very lightweight and breathable, but nonetheless that level of activity can be very tiring; in the fencing world, exotic lightweight options are very coveted.

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  2. 2. Hasufin 1:14 pm 08/11/2011

    I’m sorry, the line in which I said “(I recall once on /. seeing someone insist that medieval swords weighed around 2 kilos; never mind that modern swords seldom exceed 2 kilos!)”

    should read

    “(I recall once on /. seeing someone insist that medieval swords weighed around 20 kilos; never mind that modern swords seldom exceed 2 kilos!)”

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