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Physical Mechanisms of a Deep Voice

Study shows how elephants produce their deep 'voices'
Contact: Natasha Pinol, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. , American Association for the Advancement of Science, Public release date: 2-Aug-2012

The same physical mechanism produces vocalizations in elephants and humans

African elephants are known to be great communicators that converse with extremely low-pitched vocalizations, known as infrasounds, over a distance of miles. These infrasounds occupy a very low frequency range—fewer than 20 Hertz, or cycles, per second—that is generally below the threshold of human hearing.

Now, a new study shows that elephants rely on the same mechanism that produces speech in humans (and the vocalizations of many other mammals) to hit those extremely low notes. Christian Herbst from the University of Vienna, along with colleagues from Germany, Austria and the United States, used the larynx of a recently deceased elephant to recreate some elephant infrasounds in a laboratory.


Social Jetlag

Social jetlag is a real health hazard

Contact: Elisabeth (Lisa) Lyons, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. , Cell Press, Public release date: 10-May-2012

Social jetlag—a syndrome related to the mismatch between the body's internal clock and the realities of our daily schedules—does more than make us sleepy. It is also contributing to the growing tide of obesity, according to a large-scale epidemiological study reported online on May 10 in Current Biology, a Cell Press publication.

"We have identified a syndrome in modern society that has not been recognized until recently," said Till Roenneberg of the University of Munich. "It concerns an increasing discrepancy between the daily timing of the physiological clock and the social clock. As a result of this social jetlag, people are chronically sleep-deprived. They are also more likely to smoke and drink more alcohol and caffeine. Now, we show that social jetlag also contributes to obesity; the plot that social jetlag is really bad for our health is thickening."


Obesity and the biological clock

Obesity and the biological clock: When times are out of joint

Contact: Dr. Kathrin Bilgeri, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. , Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München, Public release date: 10-May-2012

Urgent appointments, tight work timetables and hectic social schedules structure modern life, and they very often clash with our intrinsic biological rhythms. The discrepancy results in so-called social jetlag, which can damage one's health. Among other effects, it can contribute to the development of obesity, as a new LMU study shows.

Three temporal cycles shape our lives. Our biological clock ensures that fundamental physiological processes oscillate with a period of approximately 24 hours. This internal timekeeper used the daily succession of light and dark to synchronize to the 24-hour day on our planet. Our social clock, on the other hand, often takes little or no heed of our natural needs and biological rhythms. The beat of the social clock is determined by the demands of our work schedules and other extraneous timetables, and its timekeeper is the trill of the alarm clock.

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