Bug Zapping Through Buzzing

To find potential partners, male mosquitoes tune in to the buzz created by the flapping wings of their female counterparts. But a teen researcher just recently found that stereo speakers that mimic such buzz could be used to trick the males. If the male mosquitoes could be lured to the faux buzzing, then they might eventually ignore the females. This could decrease their mating and eventually cut down the population of these bugs.

But aside from distracting male mosquitoes away from potential partners, the fake buzzing might also be used to bait them towards bug zappers. Commercial bug killers currently use light to attract mosquitoes, but sound might turn out to be the more effective way to lure specific bugs.

The researcher is Shantanu Jahkete, a 10th grade student at the South Fork High School in Stuart, Fla. Jahkete shared the particulars of his experiment at the 2015 Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (one of the many events that will often be featured here). The annual fair was created by the Society for Science and the Public (SSP), and this year it brought in 1702 finalists from around 70 different nations.

In his research, Jahkete first coded a plain computer program that made a little speaker vibrate. With the program, the speaker’s frequency or rate of vibration could be adjusted at will. He then positioned the speaker next to a huge box with male mosquitoes (around 100 of them). He observed that frequencies from 350 to 500 hertz were quite effective in attracting the male mosquitoes.

Next, Jahkete tweaked the program so that within 25 seconds, the frequency varied between 350 to 500 hertz. Nonetheless, the male mosquitoes reacted the same way they did in the first test. When he tried it on the females, they showed no interest since they don’t use sound to find a mate. Finally, Jahkete tried it on a box with both female and male mosquitoes. He observed that around 80% of the males left the females behind to go where the buzzing was coming from.

Jahkete’s device could be built under $20, making it a viable technology for zapping bugs. So next time you buy a bug zapper, don’t be surprised if there are speakers on it.

Science And Music

Right now, you are probably listening to music via a pair of headphones. Or maybe on a record player, to songs featured on blogs like the Random Life Music. Or maybe even to music from an acoustic guitar, or any other musical instrument that you are playing yourself.

student band in home recording studio

Regardless to say, music is very much a part of the lives of people — including science students of course. But what part does science play in music and vice versa? Is something subjective like music even relevant to something objective like science? Indeed so, and you’ll realize it yourself by reading below.

Making Music With Science — Literally!

Last year, NASA compiled sound samples that included rocket launches, correspondence between astronauts and “Houston,” and weird space noises. They even threw in a speech from President John F. Kennedy, and they uploaded everything to SoundCloud (who would have thought that they have an account there?)

Then, the samples got remixed and transformed in 80UA, a four-song EP of “space music” that exclusively used NASA’s recordings. During the Creative Commons’ 12th anniversary, Bad Panda Records shared the EP as a downloadable freebie (listen to it below).

80UA is the brainchild of musicians Davide Cairo and Giacomo Muzzacato, who were making an alien documentary soundtrack (that figures!) when they unearthed NASA’s SoundCloud stash.

What Music Says About You — According to Science

If you’re crushing on someone, ask for his or her top 10 favorite songs to see if you are compatible. Seriously.

According to a study of pairs getting to know each other, their top 10 fave songs reliably predicted each other’s personality to good extent. Of course, take this with a grain of salt (or more), because the notion wasn’t tested extensively (but it’s nonetheless interesting).

At the Heriot-Watt University website, there is also an article which correlated music genres with personality. Below are some of the popular genres among students and their corresponding personality:

  • Indie music hipsters are creative, but they have low self-esteem and tend to slack off.
  • EDM fans are outgoing and creative, but they could be selfish or unkind.
  • Pop tarts have high self-esteem and are gentle, but they aren’t creative and comfortable.
  • Rap thugs are outgoing and have high self-esteem. (No negative trait was mentioned!)
  • Metal shredders are comfortable with themselves, yet they don’t socialize very much.

And just for fun, check out Consequence of Sound. It has this obviously whack correlation between intelligence and music.

Will You Learn While Listening?

Speaking of intelligence, should you listen to music while studying?

Some studies show that indulging in music before and while studying can be beneficial and induce what is called the “Mozart Effect.” But then again, how many science students listen to good old Wolfgang Amadeus nowadays?

On the other hand, there are also studies showing that music has negative impacts on studying effectiveness. They say that if you’re trying to memorize something, you can get thrown off by the lyrics and sound of songs.

Anyway, that’s it for now. Check back regularly here for more science articles.