Jonathan Eisan, Geneticist
Almost everyone has a favourite colour. But does the choice of wearing that colour give them an edge in terms of the impression it creates on an observer? An article tweeted by geneticist Jonathan Eisan suggests so, citing a list of studies. One study showed that during the Olympics, contestants who wore red were awarded more points in combat sports such as Greco-Roman wrestling, boxing or tae-kwon do. In another study, referees were shown videos of bouts with the colours digitally altered, and even then athletes wearing red got 13% more points than those in other colours. Yet another study found that waitresses who wore red shirts or lipsticks received 14.6 to 26.1% more tips from male customers. However, the same colour does not work well when interacting with animals.
A study found that rhesus macaques (the common monkey in north India) almost constantly refused food from researchers wearing red but gladly accepted food from scientists in blue or green. Blue, on the other hand, performed well in cognitive tests. Researchers gave 600 participants cognitive tests on computers with blue and red backgrounds; those with blue performed twice as well as those with red. Blue also has some physical advantages — test subjects who slept under blue lights woke up better as the colour represses maltonin, an enzyme that regulates the sleep cycle. Blue also improves memory tests by 70%, say scientists.
Great red spotting
Phil Plait, Astronomer
It has been a year since the Juno probe settled into Jupiter’s orbit. Since then it has made several passes and sent back information that have transformed the way scientists have so far seen the gas giant. Today marks a major landmark for Juno’s mission: On July 10 and 11, the probe passes Jupiter’s famous “Great Red Spot” for the first time, according to an article tweeted by astronomer Phil Plait. The Great Red Spot is a 160,000-km-wide storm (wider than Earth itself) that has been raging for centuries and is full of mystery.
The reason it has been going on is what scientists call an “anti-cyclone”. Usually, most vortex-like cyclones tend to dissipate sooner or later due to the turbulence and friction around them. But scientists found that a vortex can be stable if the body it is in, too, rotates with the same speed. They say the Great Red Spot has not stopped for centuries because it is “in sync” with Jupiter’s rotation. Of late, the spot has been shrinking in size — some 4,000 km in diameter since the 1990s, according to calculations based on images provided by Hubble Space Telescope. This is one of the major mysteries scientists hope Juno will help answer. Another mystery is how and why the Great Red Spot changes colour so often (from salmon pink to deep red over time).
Ahead of Juno’s flyby will be at a height of 9,000 km above the Great Red Spot, astronomers have pointed the Gemini North Telescope in Hawaii towards Jupiter and are hoping for the best images from the gas giant.