The shark’s role in our oceans is almost entirely a mystery. Because scientists typically track sharks for only a few months and because sharks live for decades, the gaps in our knowledge are immense. We don’t know—with much detail—their migration patterns or where they mate and give birth. More important, we don’t understand their contribution to the health of the oceans, though it’s almost certainly significant.
Researchers examine newly released photos of Einstein’s brain to understand what physical features might have been behind his genius.
After Einstein’s death, pathologist Thomas Harvey removed his brain, preserved it in formalin, and took dozens of black-and-white photos of it before cutting it up into 240 blocks. He then took tissue samples from each block, mounted them onto microscope slides, and distributed the slides to some of the world’s best neuropathologists.
Tokyo eclipse (via @tamegoeswild).
The Periodic Table of Rejected Elements
Poor Fahrvergnügen. I totally agree with the rejection of Celinedion, though.
(via The Atlantic)
How? Very carefully.
Aquatic mammals have a unique challenge when it comes to sleeping. They have a voluntary respiratory system (as opposed to our mostly involuntary one), meaning that they have to come to the surface, actively open the flap of skin covering their blowhole, and then take a breath. But they also need to sleep. How do they do it?
Observations of dolphins have shown biologists that they sleep either floating still at the surface (called “logging”, a deeper sleep) or by swimming very slowly, usually with another dolphin around. You might be wondering “But Joe, how can they swim if they are asleep?”, to which I say “Nice to see you’re paying attention …”
Dolphin sleep is not like human sleep. I couldn’t find any examples of them reaching anything like our deep REM sleep. Instead they seem to do something that resembles napping. They are able to “shut off” one half of their brain and the opposing eye, with the other half staying awake to watch for danger and to control the voluntary breathing. Infant dolphins get pushed along in their mothers’ slipstream while resting, since their lack of buoyancy means that they have to swim or sink. And all whales have the ability to tolerate much more carbon dioxide in their blood than we can, allowing this sleep/breathe trade-off to work.
So while dolphins spend about as much time per day as we do in a sleep-like state, they space it out throughout the day, and can be more active at night when there’s lots of squiddy snacks to be had. Every animal needs rest, especially one with the brain energy demands of a dolphin. They’ve just evolved a very unique and useful way to get that rest.
Creativity is not a trait that we inherit in our genes or a blessing bestowed by the angels. It’s a skill. Anyone can learn to be creative and to get better at it. New research is shedding light on what allows people to develop world-changing products and to solve the toughest problems. A surprisingly concrete set of lessons has emerged about what creativity is and how to spark it in ourselves and our work.
Seung’s new book, Connectome: How the Brain’s Wiring Makes Us Who We Are, explains how mapping out our neural connections in our brains might be the key to understanding the basis of things like personality, memory, perception and ideas, as well as illnesses that happen in the brain, like autism and schizophrenia.
Each year, more than two million live animals travel on commercial aircraft in the United States.
This collection of endangered seahorses was part of an exhibition at the London Zoo of animals seized by Metropolitan Police from smugglers. According to a roundup of the illegal pet trade in 2006 from LiveScience, up to 21.6 million seahorses are captured and traded illegally each year, some of which belong to endangered species, for use in Chinese medicine.
These otters made it through airport security without issue because the TSA knew they were coming. But there are travelers who try to smuggle animals without permission through the air across state or international borders.
Now that it’s conquered all seven continents, mapped the Amazon, some rivers in the United States, caves, the ruins of Pompeii and captured snapshots of naked women, Google Street View’s next expedition will turn its lens on the mysteries of the deep when it goes under the sea.