It could have been a scene from a sequel to Jurassic Park: Peering down at the tiny worms wriggling under the lens of her microscope, biologist Alexandra Bely witnessed a performance that hadn’t been played in nature in millions of years. The beastie was sprouting a second head.
Actually, two-headed worms are common in Bely’s lab at the University of Maryland in College Park. But this specimen belongs to a species that had long ago lost the unusual regenerative ability.
That species, Paranais litoralis, is part of an ancient family of worms called naidids that settle in the soft sedi... (p. 22)
One afternoon while participating in studies in a University of Oxford lab, Abel snatched a hook away from Betty, leaving her without a tool to complete a task. Spying a piece of straight wire nearby, she picked it up, bent one end into a hook and used it to finish the job. Nothing about this story was remarkable, except for the fact that Betty was a New Caledonian crow.
Betty isn’t the only crow with such conceptual ingenuity. Nor are crows the only members of the animal kingdom to exhibit similar mental powers. Animals can do all sorts of clever things: Studies of chimpanzees, gorillas... (p. 22)
Psychologist combs through “behavioral residue” to assess personalities.
Found in: Humans and Psychology
Scientists are unveiling how the brain works when hypnotized (p. 26)
Found in: Behavior, Body & Brain, Humans and Psychology
It started as a quiet dinner conversation, punctuated with laughter. Soon, the rapid-fire “ha-ha-has” took on the tone of gunfire. Convinced it was directed at him, the young man got up to confront the noisy diners.
Naturally, the guests at the next table had no idea what the problem was. They were simply enjoying themselves and … laughing. Embarrassed by his outburst, the young man left the restaurant and never returned.
By most accounts, laughter is good medicine, the best even. But for some, such as the embarrassed diner, a good-natured chuckle isn’t funny at all. Morbidly a... (p. 18)
Found in: Behavior
Humans aren’t the only animals that endure the awkward transition to maturity
Found in: Body & Brain, Life and Zoology
Until a century or so ago, nobody had any idea that there even was such a thing as quantum physics. But while humans operated for millennia in quantum darkness, it seems that plants, bacteria and birds may have been in the know all along.
Quantum effects, human researchers have only recently discovered, may explain how the first steps of photosynthesis convert light to chemical energy with such high efficiency. Other studies suggest that quantum tricks may enable migratory birds to navigate using Earth’s magnetic field lines.
Through studies like these, scientists are beginning to un... (p. 26)
Found in: Agriculture, Biology, Botany, Earth Science, Ecology, Environment and Physics
The circle of life continues thanks to the carbon cycle.
Found in: Botany, Climate Change, Earth, Ecology, Environment, Life and Science News For Kids
There’s an air of excitement in the astrophysics community, created by a surplus of particles from space invading Earth’s atmosphere.
Balloon flights high in the stratosphere over Antarctica detected electrons in numbers and energies much higher than what usually pours in from space, scientists on a project called ATIC reported in November.
About the same time, a separate report from Milagro, a ground-based detector near Los Alamos, N.M., described two unexpected patches of high-energy protons in the sky. A review of seven years of Milagro data revealed an unusual distribution in th... (p. 16)
Found in: Astronomy, Atom & Cosmos, Earth and Planetary Science
Your brain is more complex than a computer, but the two are similar.
Found in: Body & Brain and Science News For Kids