There's a Reason Babies Respond To High-Pitched Baby Talk

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There's a Reason Babies Respond To High-Pitched Baby Talk

Ever noticed how your voice shoots up a couple of octaves when you see a baby? For most of us, this change in tone is seemingly involuntary. While research varies on whether or not using a baby voice when speaking to your baby is beneficial, they do agree that babies prefer to listen to these high-pitched tones. Let the peekaboos commence!In a 2015 study by McGill University, Canadian researchers discovered that 6-month-old infants were much more attracted to their own speech patterns than those of adults. The infants listened to "a repeating vowel sound that mimicked those made by an adult woman or those by a baby" using a synthesis tool. Researchers measured the length of each infant's attention span. On average, the infants listened to a fellow baby's vowels 40 percent longer than the adult woman's vowels. It's important to note that the "infant-like vowel sounds that they heard were not yet part of their everyday listening experience." Meaning, the babies weren't partial to their own kind simply out of familiarity. Knowing infants' speech preferences can help us design more effective tools in developing their speech.

The Liar Paradox Is A Self-Referential Conundrum

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The Liar Paradox Is A Self-Referential Conundrum

The liar paradox, also known as the liar sentence, states "this sentence is false." If that statement makes you go a little crazy, you're not the first one. The liar paradox first came about in ancient Greece, and philosophers have been puzzling over it ever since. It's even said that the gravestone of scholar Philetas of Cos, from the third century B.C.E., is engraved with the words "'Twas the Liar who made me die, And the bad nights caused thereby."

Wi-Fi Doesn't Actually Stand For Anything

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Wi-Fi Doesn't Actually Stand For Anything

Considering how much you probably use Wi-Fi, it might be pretty shocking to realize you don't even have a clue what it means. It's wireless internet, sure, but where did that term come from? Surely the "Wi" part means wireless, and the "Fi" then must mean... err... Finternet? Surprise: Wi-Fi is a nonsense word that doesn't mean anything and doesn't stand for anything.

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Key Facts to Know

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    The term Wi-Fi doesn't mean or stand for anything, it is a made-up phrase. 0:24

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    Wi-Fi was almost called Trapeze instead. 1:26

The Internet's Filter Bubble Isn't As Strong As You Think

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The Internet's Filter Bubble Isn't As Strong As You Think

Thomas Jefferson once said, "The cornerstone of democracy rests on the foundation of an educated electorate." Part of being an educated citizen includes exposing yourself to ideas you disagree with, since they give you the chance to change your mind, or at least understand the other side. But in a world where everyone gets their news and information from an internet that's becoming more and more personalized, there's a fear that we're seeing fewer things we disagree with. That digital echo chamber has been dubbed the "filter bubble" by internet activist Eli Pariser. But how strong is the filter bubble, really? Are computer algorithms really to blame for political polarization?

The Verb "Unfriended" Is Way Older Than Facebook

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The Verb "Unfriended" Is Way Older Than Facebook

After one too many rants on your Facebook feed, you may decide to unfriend your annoying aunt Helen once and for all. Unfriend, which means "to remove (someone) from a list of friends or contacts on a social networking website," has become a commonly used verb in our vocabulary. But where did the term come from? According to Interesting Literature, the Middle English poem "Brut" by Layamon is the first known usage of both "muggle" and a form of "unfriend": "We sollen ... slean houre onfrendes and King Learwenden after Brenne." Here, the noun form of unfriend (though spelled slightly differently) delineates someone who is not a friend, but not necessarily an enemy either. It wasn't until the 17th century that "unfriend" was first used as a verb. Mark Zuckerberg can thank the late, great William Shakespeare.