You order a lobster and the waiter shows you an animal that is, he says, older than you are. It's had more birthdays than you. For some people, this is a meal-stopper. Especially, if you are on in years, and what's on the plate is just as elderly (and just as wise?) as you are.
The idea seemed sensible: Send young elephants from a crowded national park in South Africa to an emptier one, where they could form a new herd and thrive. The problem? Elephants need elders. Without them, all hell breaks loose.
They look, at first, like dangerously protruding rocks on this towering, almost vertical wall in the Italian Alps. But then, uncannily, they move. What are they? And why don't they fall off? What are they doing?
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.
Whenever you look at the teeming, rich and oh-so-various world, if you've got the right eyes, if you've got the eyes of a mathematician, you will find patterns — simple, elegant forms hiding in everything you see.
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?
Daniela Rus' lab at MIT is inventing new, ever more remarkable "reconfigurable robots." Don't know what they are? Well, take a look at what her grad students have made and prepare to be frightened — or delighted. Me? I'm kinda delighted.
Zoos are where you go to look at "them," the animals. But not in this video of a zoo in Amsterdam. Here, differences melt away, and all the animals, including the ones with hats, coats and strollers, are just as curious, just as odd, just as silly as the monkeys, hippos and tigers.
Ready, get set, go! Let's compare a sperm whale plowing through the ocean to a human sperm plowing through a glass of water: The whale barely notices the water it's in; the sperm — oh, gee — it's got a problem. How it solves that problem — being much closer to the size of the water molecules around it — is ... well, masterful.
In the book "Arabian Nights," Prince Husain, the eldest son the Sultan, buys a magic carpet which comes with these instructions: Think of a far away place and "Whoever sitteth on this carpet ... will, in the twinkling of an eye ... be borne thither." We're updating that tale, with a real magic carpet — but this time with feathers.
It's been frustrating, this 100-year search by physicists all over the world for a Unified Theory of Everything, and Tim Blais, physics grad student, a capella singer, Queen fan, feels their collective pain in this — his Bohemian Rhapsody on String Theory. Don't miss the Albert Einstein hand puppet in a hail storm, crying his heart out.
Two short tales: One about bad guys in a fishing village in Pakistan, the other about good guys in Baghdad. And the question is posed: in the long arc of time, which side prevails, those with the impulse to take or those with the impulse to give?