We round up this week’s most intriguing items from around the Web.
Beauty is in the brain of the beholder, reports BBC News. British researchers discovered that when you make eye contact with an attractive stranger, your brain’s reward center releases a cascade of warm fuzzies. In experiments, the same did not happen with photos of beautiful faces; eye contact was essential. The study not only confirms (again) that people like sex, researchers say; it also has important implications for evolution.
On the Starship Enterprise, computers speak in soft, feminine voices. But according to Nature, this is bad futurology. A study suggests that the voice Kirk would find most compelling is his own. Subjects listening to computer-synthesized book reviews trusted the voices that matched their own personalities-e.g. extroverts believed boisterous, fast-talking reviews. What’s that chafing sound? It’s a few thousand Web marketers rubbing their hands together.
Your Pill or Mine?
Harvard researchers tell Nature they’ve identified a sperm protein that could lead to a unisex contraceptive. Although past promises of a “guy pill” have failed to deliver, the demand is huge. Says one researcher, “I get phone calls every week from people wanting to take part in trials.”
Peeping It Real
The New York Times uncovers “the nettlesome issue of residential zoning and Internet pornography.” A federal court recently upheld the right of “Voyeur Dorm,” an adult Web site, to operate from a… er… bedroom community-a triumph for Web porn businesses over local government. An appeal will be tough, one legal expert explains, unless the plaintiff can prove it causes “guys with bloodshot eyes to tromp around the suburbs of Tampa, looking for naked ladies.”
Pump up the Volume
New Scientist profiles a species that may soon be extinct: the rock-‘n-roll roadie. Several companies are racing to develop inflatable loudspeakers light enough for Lil’ Bow-Wow to lift. No more heavy speakers could mean no more roadies, which could mean fewer ulcers for hotel managers-but still a few, at least until the invention of the inflatable band.