In Curious Behavior: Yawning, Laughing, Hiccupping, and Beyond, which published last week, Robert R. Provine, a professor of psychology and neuroscience at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County sets out to answer some of biology's burning questions: Why are yawns contagious? Why do we cry tears? Why does light make (some of) us sneeze? And my personal favorite: Why don't we talk out of our butts?
By Daniel EngberPosted 08.29.2012 at 5:08 pm 17 Comments
Scientists have isolated the brains of dogs, cats and monkeys and kept them alive for short periods in one way or another. But the most successful "whole-brain preparation" of a mammal was developed in the mid-1980s. A neuroscientist at NYU Langone Medical Center named Rodolfo Llinás came up with a way to keep the brain of a young guinea pig alive in a fluid-filled tank for the length of a standard workday.
Being a mad scientist can be a thankless job, but every once in a while you get a chance to shine—literally. I recently had that opportunity when working with a TV show to film one of the most beautiful of all chemical phenomena, the cold luminosity of white phosphorus.
The private space industry is holding its breath for later this month when SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket will lift off en route to the International Space Station. It will be a milestone for commercial spaceflight — no more will Americans have to rely solely on Russia or other international partners to get stuff into space. It will also enable an entire private space ecosystem, one in which private companies design and build experiments, send them to space and gather data, all with minimal astronaut help. A small company called Nanoracks, which made headlines lately for its plans to send components of Ardbeg single-malt whisky to the ISS, will be the first commercial cargo to fly on SpaceX's Dragon capsule.