Penn jillette - “if every trace of any single religion were wiped out…”
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Stephen Colbert explains “How hurricanes work”
Call someone a baboon, and you might have to prepare for a fight. But if you called Homo erectus a baboon—and if one were alive today—he or she might say, “Yep.”
That’s because H. erectus probably lived in complex, multilevel societies similar to those of modern hamadryas baboons. At least, that’s the case anthropologists Larissa Swedell and Thomas Plummer, both at Queens College, City University of New York, make in the International Journal of Primatology. Swedell and Plummer argue that a dry environment led both species to evolve intricate social structures.
An unknown number of women may perceive millions of colors invisible to the rest of us. One British scientist is trying to track them down and understand their extraordinary power of sight.
An average human, utterly unremarkable in every way, can perceive a million different colors. Vermilion, puce, cerulean, periwinkle, chartreuse—we have thousands of words for them, but mere language can never capture our extraordinary range of hues. Our powers of color vision derive from cells in our eyes called cones, three types in all, each triggered by different wavelengths of light. Every moment our eyes are open, those three flavors of cone fire off messages to the brain. The brain then combines the signals to produce the sensation we call color.
Vision is complex, but the calculus of color is strangely simple: Each cone confers the ability to distinguish around a hundred shades, so the total number of combinations is at least 1003, or a million. Take one cone away—go from being what scientists call a trichromat to a dichromat—and the number of possible combinations drops a factor of 100, to 10,000. Almost all other mammals, including dogs and New World monkeys, are dichromats. The richness of the world we see is rivaled only by that of birds and some insects, which also perceive the ultraviolet part of the spectrum.
Researchers suspect, though, that some people see even more. Living among us are people with four cones, who might experience a range of colors invisible to the rest. It’s possible these so-called tetrachromats see a hundred million colors, with each familiar hue fracturing into a hundred more subtle shades for which there are no names, no paint swatches. And because perceiving color is a personal experience, they would have no way of knowing they see far beyond what we consider the limits of human vision.
Proof that evolution is on-going!
At the Battle of Shiloh, some wounded soldiers waited days in the chilly rain for medical help. When soldiers usually waited that long, they were prone to deadly infections that doctors at the time couldn’t do anything about, much less understand the cause.
Some of them noticed that their wounds were glowing at night. Were they hallucinating?And those with glowing wounds had better survival rates. 140 years later someone figured out why.
Soil-dwelling worms like the one above are filled with bacteria that they use to eat and protect food they find in the soil. The luminescent bacteria inside the nematodes fight off other bacteria, and the worm and bacteria both get a tasty meal all to themselves.
The soil of the Shiloh battlefield was full of these worms and bacteria, and when they got into the soldier’s wounds they created a glowing, antiseptic worm bandage.
(via Mental Floss image via Nikon’s Small World)
LTMC: this is where I scream “SCIENCE!” and pump my fists in the air, elated at the manifest coolness of this sort of thing.