Though early hominids may have made sweet sounds by banging sticks and stones together, the oldest distinguishable instrument dates to 40,000 years ago.
A flute made from vulture bone (shown) and others made from mammoth ivory have been found in Hohle Fels cave near Ulm, Germany, and date from 35,000 to 40,000 years ago. Holes in other bones dating to about 43,000 years ago were dismissed as bite marks from cave bears.
Gudi, literally “bone flutes,” found in Jiahu in Henan Province, China, date to 9,000 years ago. Made from the wing bones of red-cro...
The Earth is going silent. Digital television signals delivered by cable and satellite are quickly replacing analog broadcasts and reducing the number and power of radio waves leaking into space. For viewers at home, it means more channels and pictures of unsurpassed clarity. But for scientists seeking signs of advanced civilizations beyond the solar system, this sudden radio silence makes the search fuzzier.
Since traditional searches for extraterrestrial intelligence, collectively dubbed SETI, have assumed that the path to intelligence proceeds similarly throughout the galaxy, SETI resea... (p. 22)
Found in: Astronomy
Talk leaves journalists flossing for details on oral health.
Found in: Body & Brain
Brain imaging studies show teens with aggressive conduct disorder display greater brain activity while viewing video of others in pain.
Found in: Behavior, Body & Brain and Humans
Eye candy might more appropriately be called brain candy.
Seeing a pretty face is like eating a piece of oh-so-sweet chocolate — for the
brain, if not for the stomach. In fact, attractive faces activate the same
reward circuitry in the brain as food, drugs and money. For humans, there is
something captivating and unforgettable about the arrangement of two balls, a
point and a horizontal slit on the front of the head.
The power of faces isn’t lost on psychologists. “Faces are
interesting because they impart so much information — expression, attention — and
these interact... (p. 24)
People like to think
they understand their world. They seek explanations for things that go well and
excuses for failures. “To swim against the current of human intuition is a
difficult task,” Mlodinow notes.
In this guide to
randomness, he explores how people misunderstand the power of praise and
punishment, hot and cold career streaks, and the luck in the lottery, all
because of a misunderstanding of the influence of chance.
But not to worry.
Mlodinow provides lessons on what he calls “a field of subtlety,” from the
basic laws of probability, to regression toward the m...
Found in: Numbers
In 1964, Paul Colinvaux began his life’s work—trying to
understand the ice-age climate of the Amazon through mud cores and the pollen
found within. Having sharpened his drill in the Arctic,
the ecologist looked south to “terra incognita.” When he began his effort, no
ice-age deposit or site in the Amazon had been identified.
Then in 1969, ornithologist Jurgen Haffer proposed a
hypothesis to explain the Amazon’s vast biodiversity. During the last ice age
(which peaked about 21,000 years ago), he suggested, most of the forest became
arid grassland. In pockets of surviving gr...
Found in: Life
When science writer Carl Zimmer
looks into a petri dish teeming with E.
coli, he sees himself, humanity and all life. In Microcosm, Zimmer traces the lessons biologists have learned from
the microbe, which calls our guts its home. He also uses it to discuss some of
the most fundamental questions in biology: What is life? How does it persist?
Why must it end?
“I look at life through a lens made
of E. coli,” Zimmer writes, and many
biologists are doing the same. E. coli
was the species scientists first used to decipher the genetic code, and later
to understand how genes switch on...
Found in: Biology, Biomedicine, Genes & Cells and Science & Society