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Head In Your Hands

Monday, May 19, 2014

Maybe you’re like me and you’re not exactly sure what to make of 3D printers. Sometimes they feel straight out of sci-fi (home print yourself a gun!), at other times they seem like a frivolous way to procure something you could buy at the dollar store. Only ...

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Intriguing Lime-Green Blobs Appear In The Andes Mountains. Are They Alive?

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Oops.

Someone dropped lime sherbet on the desert — and it's melting. Who's going to clean this up?

Courtesy of Terrace Lodge

Nobody. Because this — believe it or not — is a plant. It may look like a glob of goo, but it's ...

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When Numbers Bleed, Freeze, Starve And Die On A Battlefield: The Dark Poetry Of Data

Friday, May 16, 2014

Vasily Vereshchagin/Wikimedia Commons 

I once read that when Napoleon invaded Russia, he lost most of his army not to the horrible Russian winter, horrible though it was. No, says this legend, Napoleon's army suffered from "button failure." The company that provided the army with ...

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Did Homer Simpson Actually Solve Fermat's Last Theorem? Take A Look

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

You don't have to notice, but if you do, it's like a hidden kiss. There have always been popular television shows that sneak bits of arcane learning into their storylines. Star Trek did this. Dr. Who (in Britain) did this. So, back in the day, did Rocky and Bullwinkle, and before them, a cartoon show called Crusader Rabbit. You'd be watching the program, and — hiding in a tossed-off bit of dialogue, a detail on the set, or some signage in the background — there would be a sly reference to a math problem or to a philosopher.

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A Question Of Biggitude: What's The Largest Creature On Earth?

Thursday, May 08, 2014

What's the biggest living thing on Earth? I can think of two. I'm not sure which is biggest, but neither of them is a blue whale. These are weirder. Much, much weirder.

One is a tree. The other eats trees.

This is the tree.

J. ...

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Draw My Left! No, No, My Other Left! A Hidden Bias In Art History Revealed

Wednesday, May 07, 2014

Look at this guy.

He is half-smiley, half-frowny. I drew the mouth carefully to make it equal parts sad and happy.

But when you look at him — take him in whole — would you say he's having a good day or a bad day?

...
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Listen To These Lovely Cats. No, Actually, Don't

Sunday, May 04, 2014

John Pitcher /iStockphoto

"Oh, evolution," writes Mara Grunbaum in her new, about-to-come-out bookWTF Evolution, "You were doing so well with the lynx. You made it a fierce and graceful hunter, you gave it a luxurious spotted coat, you gave it pretty yellow eyes and tufted ears — and ...

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'Wassup, Sheep?' He Asked

Friday, May 02, 2014

One man is facing a few hundred sheep. He has questions. When he shouts to them, the sheep — surprisingly — answer back. It's a very lively back and forth, with one obvious problem. I don't trust these sheep. Their answer to his "Are you happy?" question seemed oddly, even ...

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Plants Talk. Plants Listen. Here's How

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

They don't have eyes. Or ears. Or what we would call a nervous system. But plants can talk. And they listen. Let me show you how.

First, we'll need a plant eater. This one's perfect: It's an aphid, a hungry little critter who loves to munch on fresh, green leaves ...

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'Don't Touch Me,' Said Canada. 'I Won't!' Said The USA. So They Moved 20 Feet Apart

Friday, April 25, 2014

Canada and the USA agreed to create a 20-foot-wide corridor between them that runs for 5,500 continuous miles. Cartographers drew the line straight, but engineers built it crooked. Take a look.

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Fluffier, Brighter, Weirder Dinosaurs

Thursday, April 24, 2014

John Conway paints pictures of old dead things. But he doesn't paint them like they're old and dead—he paints them like maybe they’re outside your window right now, looking at you.
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Music That Burns, Literally

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Take Beyonce. Take Sinatra. Take whomever you love and set them on fire — with a "Pyro Board." It plays music by pulsing the beats in flame, and when the singer hits a high note — stand back.

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Introducing A Divorce Rate For Birds, And Guess Which Bird Never, Ever Divorces?

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Correction: April 22, 2014

 

...
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So This Is How They Do It! Zebras Getting Stripes

Saturday, April 19, 2014

 

How did it happen? How'd the zebra get its stripes?

In Rudyard Kipling's version, a gray, horsey-looking beast went into "a great forest 'sclusively full of trees and bushes and stripy, speckly, patchy-batchy shadows," stayed there awhile, and after a "long time"... got stripy.

OK. Not bad.

...
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'Why Am I Dead?' He Never Asked. Here's The Answer He Never Heard

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Robert Krulwich/NPR

Shara Yurkiewicz is a med student. She's doing rounds now, moving from department to department. Much of what she sees, she's seeing for the first time. Not yet a doctor, there are moments, many moments when she has the eyes of a ...

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The Ultimate Animal Experience? Losing A Memory Quiz To A Chimp

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Time to be embarrassed. You're about to be bested by a young chimpanzee in a memory test.

Many have tried to outperform Ayumu (that's the chimp's name), but when you see how easy it is for him, how matter-of-factly he gets things right, it's clear he's got a talent that's ...

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Can It Be? Parrots Name Their Children, And Those Names, Like Ours, Stick For Life

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

"Oh Romeo, oh Romeo," cried Juliet. Being human, she and her boyfriend had names. Is there any other animal that does this? Has names for each other? Oddly enough, yes!

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The List Of Animals Who Can Truly, Really Dance Is Very Short. Who's On It?

Monday, April 07, 2014

Remember Snowball, the dancing cockatoo? The parrot-like bird who became famous nodding and stamping to the Backstreet Boys tune, "Everybody (Backstreet's Back)" ? This is him ...

 

BirdLoversOnly/YouTube

 

More than 5.6 million people have watched Snowball dance, but only one, Aniruddh Patel, made ...

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The Power Of Poop: A Whale Story

Saturday, April 05, 2014

This, I would think, should be self-evident: Generally speaking, big creatures eat smaller creatures that, in turn, eat even smaller creatures, like this ...

Robert Krulwich/NPR

And just as obviously, one would expect the food chain to be pyramid-shaped: a few big creatures at ...

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