Discovered: Researchers confirm Ötzi's ancestry; weight hatred withers with visibility of body type diversity; compliments inspire better work; a machine that speaks Mandarin for you.
The Iceman came from Europe. When scientists unearthed a Neolithic mummy dubbed Ötzi the Iceman from the Italian Alps in 1991, the question on everyone's mind was where he came from. It's taken 21 years to get to the bottom of that question, but a team of geneticists led by Stanford University's Martin Sikora has now ruled out a leading theory that he was genetically linked to the first batch of migrants from the island of Sardinia to the European continent. Their new study concludes that 5,000-year-old Ötzi was part of a band of roaming farmers who covered terrain all the way from the Middle East up to Finland. Though Ötzi did indeed have Sardinian blood, he did not personally come from the island. "Maybe Ötzi was just a tourist, maybe his parents were Sardinian and he decided to move to the Alps," says Sikora. [Scientific American]
Cues affect body type prejudice. It's a strange paradox, that most Americans are overweight yet fatism remains a commonly held prejudice. Maybe the conflict stems from the fact that we tend to only see trim and muscular in the media. Durham University's Lynda Boothroyd was able to show that experimental subjects who looked at photos of overweight women in neutral clothing for long periods of time became more tolerant of their body types. The converse was also true—when the subjects looked at photos of similarly attired anorexic women, they tended to favor thinner body types. "All you have to do is watch five minutes of TV and you see more thin bodies than you would all day on the street," says Boothroyd, who thinks her research implicates the media in our perceptions of body type. [NPR]