Category Archives: Animals

October 04

The ethics of human brain surrogacy

“Creepy ‘brain in a bucket’ study spurs medical, ethical debates” … “Yale experiment to reanimate dead brains promises ‘living hell’ for humans” … “Scientists have managed to reanimate disembodied pigs’ brains – but for a human mind, it could be a living hell” … These are just a few of the sensational headlines that came […]

August 02

Snake Eyes: The Fear That Built Your Brain

Indiana Jones is a quintessential American hero, his fedora, satchel, and whip instantly recognizable around the world. He lives a double life, a scholarly professor of anthropology in public and a globetrotting treasure hunter in private. He defeats the Nazis and always gets the girl, displaying daring and fearlessness, with one notable exception. He has […]

May 31

The Rise and Fall and Rise of Genetic Memory

We are all products of our past, for better or for worse. At first glance, such a statement seems so obvious it hardly bears mentioning; our earlier experiences, both our successes and our failures, shape our current behavior.  But dig just a bit deeper, and it becomes far murkier. What can you call your past? […]

March 29

The animals snakes have nightmares about

The Box Jellyfish has venom so powerful that its human victims go straight into shock. The bite of a king cobra can result in the death of a healthy human adult within fifteen minutes. One drop of venom from a cone snail is capable of killing more than twenty humans. We live in fear of […]

January 18

I Feel Your Pain – The Social Transmission of Pain in Mice

We all know that emotions are contagious.  Your trip to the DMV might see you infected with that peculiar emotion – something halfway between apathy and misanthropy – that is endemic to the DMV.  On the other hand, your ray-of-sunshine coworker just may brighten up your day (unless you happen to work at the DMV). […]

December 07

Ancient Aliens Among Us

  First contact. The prospect of intelligent extraterrestrial life has tantalized us Earthbound humans throughout our history. In relatively recent times, artists such as H.G. Wells, Ursula Le Guin, and Gene Roddenberry have created wide-eyed fantasies full of violent invasions, fraught coexistence, and delicate peace between humanity and the Other. As early as the second […]

August 24

Paint me like one of your mantis shrimps

Sunsets, wildflower superblooms, unicorn frappuccinos. None of these phenomena would have nearly the same allure if we lost our ability to see different colors. But what if we could have an even greater ability to discriminate between colors – would these phenomena be that much more spectacular? In the case of the frappuccino, probably not, […]

July 20

Genomes, Circuits, and the Roundworm: C. Elegans as a Model Organism

A nematode can do much to help our understanding of human biology.

June 01

Highs and Lows

Have you ever heard about the distinction between Type 1 and Type 2 fun?  Don’t worry, this isn’t some scientific attempt to quantify fun and render it anything but.  Type 1 fun is basically anything you do that is actually fun.  Playing with puppies, hanging out with friends, annoying your significant other – that sort […]

April 27

Half Asleep

Sleep, though one of my greatest joys in life, is frustratingly unproductive. As much as I love to curl up in bed, close my eyes and flip the off-switch on my consciousness, the realization that I spend 24-33% of my day just staring at the backs of my eyelids is exasperating. Imagine the possibilities if […]