Why Are Girls' Voices Usually Higher Than Boys' Voices?

Chloe Effron
Chloe Effron

WHY? is our attempt to answer all the questions every little kid asks. Have a question? Send it to why@mentalfloss.com.

It’s all thanks to your vocal cords. These are muscles that stretch like rubber bands across your voice box, or larynx (LAIR-inks), which is located at the back of your throat. Whenever you say hello to a friend or answer a question in class, you’re using your vocal cords to speak. The size of your vocal cords is what determines your voice’s pitch, which is its level of highness or lowness.

When you speak, air pushes from your lungs through your vocal cords and out of your mouth. The air makes the vocal cords vibrate, or move back and forth really fast. Picture the strings on a guitar. The vocal cords' vibration makes sound, just like a strummed guitar does. And like guitar strings, smaller cords create a higher sound. Girls' vocal cords are usually shorter and thinner than most boys’, which is why their voices sound higher. This difference in pitch is even more noticeable in grown-up men and women.

When you get a little older, you'll experience something called puberty (PYOO-bur-tee). It's your first step towards being an adult. Boys' bodies start producing a lot of testosterone (tes-TOSS-tuh-rone). This is a hormone. It acts like a chemical messenger to different parts of the body. Testosterone tells the body to change in all sorts of ways, like making bigger muscles and growing hair in new places. It also makes a boy's vocal cords grow thicker and longer. That makes his voice sound deeper. Girls' bodies produce testosterone too, but not as much as boys' do. Their bodies also produce another hormone called estrogen (ESS-tro-jen). These hormones make girls' vocal cords get bigger during puberty, but they don't grow as big as boys'. So girls' voices sound higher.

Have you experimented with making your voice sound different? When you speak in a really low voice you’re contracting your vocal cords to make them thicker. When you talk in a really high voice you're stretching them to make them thin. Do you want to see what this looks like? Stretch a thick rubber band and pluck it. What does it sound like? Now stretch a thin rubber band. I bet it sounds different! 

For further reading on your voice and how it changes, visit Kids Health

Amazon's Under-the-Radar Coupon Page Features Deals on Home Goods, Electronics, and Groceries

Stock Catalog, Flickr // CC BY 2.0
Stock Catalog, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

This article contains affiliate links to products selected by our editors. Mental Floss may receive a commission for purchases made through these links.

Now that Prime Day is over, and with Black Friday and Cyber Monday still a few weeks away, online deals may seem harder to come by. And while it can be a hassle to scour the internet for promo codes, buy-one-get-one deals, and flash sales, Amazon actually has an extensive coupon page you might not know about that features deals to look through every day.

As pointed out by People, the coupon page breaks deals down by categories, like electronics, home & kitchen, and groceries (the coupons even work with SNAP benefits). Since most of the deals revolve around the essentials, it's easy to stock up on items like Cottonelle toilet paper, Tide Pods, Cascade dishwasher detergent, and a 50 pack of surgical masks whenever you're running low.

But the low prices don't just stop at necessities. If you’re looking for the best deal on headphones, all you have to do is go to the electronics coupon page and it will bring up a deal on these COWIN E7 PRO noise-canceling headphones, which are now $80, thanks to a $10 coupon you could have missed.

Alternatively, if you are looking for deals on specific brands, you can search for their coupons from the page. So if you've had your eye on the Homall S-Racer gaming chair, you’ll find there's currently a coupon that saves you 5 percent, thanks to a simple search.

To discover all the deals you have been missing out on, head over to the Amazon Coupons page.

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The Northern Lights Storms Are Getting Names—and You Can Offer Up Your Suggestions

A nameless northern lights show in Ylläs, Finland.
A nameless northern lights show in Ylläs, Finland.
Heikki Holstila, Flickr // CC BY-ND 2.0

While all northern lights are spectacular, they’re not all spectacular in the same way. Aurora borealis, or “northern dawn,” occurs when electrons in the magnetic field surrounding Earth transfer energy to oxygen and nitrogen molecules in the atmosphere. The molecules then emit the excess energy as light particles, which create scintillating displays whose colors and shapes depend on many known and unknown factors [PDF]—type of molecule, amount of energy transferred, location in the magnetosphere, etc.

Though the “storms” are extremely distinct from each other, they haven’t been named in the past the way hurricanes and other storms are christened. That’s now changing, courtesy of a tourism organization called Visit Arctic Europe. As Travel + Leisure reports, the organization will now christen the strongest storms with Nordic names to make it easier to keep track of them.

“There are so many northern lights visible in Arctic Europe from autumn to early spring that we started giving them names the same way other storms are named. This way, they get their own identities and it’s easier to communicate about them,” Visit Arctic Europe’s program director Rauno Posio explained in a statement.

Scientists will be able to reference the names in their studies, much like they do with hurricanes. And if you’re a tourist hoping to check out other people’s footage of the specific sky show you just witnessed, searching by name on social media will likely turn up better results than a broad “#auroraborealis.”

Visit Arctic Europe has already given names to recent northern lights storms, including Freya, after the Norse goddess of love, beauty, and fertility, and Sampo, after “the miracle machine and magic mill in the Finnish national epic poem, ‘Kalevala.’” A few other monikers pay tribute to some of the organization’s resident “aurora hunters.”

But you don’t have to be a goddess or an aurora hunter in order to get in on the action. Anybody can submit a name (along with an optional explanation for your suggestion) through the “Naming Auroras” page here. It’s probably safe to assume that submissions related to Nordic history or culture have a better chance of being chosen, but there’s technically nothing to stop you from asking Visit Arctic Europe to name a northern lights show after your dog.

[h/t Travel + Leisure]