Whatever happened on Easter Island, it wasn't good. Polynesians landed there, farmed, thrived, built their famous statues, and then things went very bad, very fast. Sixteen million trees vanished. What happened? Was this a case of ecological collapse? Not exactly, say two anthropologists. It was, arguably, worse than that.
When bees disappeared from central China years ago, Chinese apple farmers had to pollinate by hand. Embarrassing — people doing bees' work, but then came the big discovery –- a surprise that still haunts the conservation movement. What if people outperform bees?
Look inside most machines today and what do you find? Computer chips functioning mysteriously. Gaze at a 1920's Rube Goldberg cartoon and what do you find? Machines powered by hungry parrots and angry ladies. Will future tools stay inscrutable or become more Rube-like? Here's a guess.
Reporter Emily Graslie explores natural history museums, showing us what's going on behind the scenes. Her viewers write her, of course, and in this video, she reads some of those letters. They're not about science. Or Museums. They're about Emily. And it's embarrassing.
Today's a day to share, so that's why I want to share this moment: Two girls are on a city street, trying to figure out who's going to be friends with the nastiest person they can think of. Not an easy problem, but they solve it. Gorgeously.
A fresh tomato is 93.5 percent water. A fresh baby girl or boy is 75 percent water. A banana, 74 percent. We all start wet, and then, inevitably, dry. A 1-year-old baby carries 10 percent less water; a male adult 15 percent less. Life is a slow evaporation, with some curious exceptions.
Something strange happens when you slosh wine in a wineglass. The wine doesn't just settle. Some of it starts to "cry." That is, little droplets of wine slide down and then mysteriously creep up again, dripping, then climbing, dripping, climbing, over and over, pushed by some force that doesn't seem to end. What's going on?
You're high, high up. You lean over and look way, way down. Then you leap. Meet my favorite leapers: An Austrian who falls for 24 continuous miles, a medieval musician who leaps off a tower, a movie stuntman who lands on a chain of cardboard boxes, and my favorite, a man who almost falls into the sky.
When we first released Famous Tumors, Rebecca Skloot's book about the life and legacy of Henrietta Lacks (and her famous cells) had just hit the shelves. Since then, some interesting things have happened to both Henrietta's cells and her family. So, 4 years later, we have a newly updated show!
In the 1960s, Americans lived very long lives — among the longest in the world. Since then, we've improved our lot, but not as fast as the French, the Australians, the Swedes, the British, the Canadians, the Dutch, the Germans and the Japanese. They are galloping away from us. What happened?
Writer Malcolm Gladwell calls them "eminent orphans" — an intriguingly large number of successful politicians, statesmen, poets, scientists who lost a parent when they were young. Why the pattern? Is it just coincidence? Or is it something more?