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Brainwaves

Brainwaves


Current thoughts on mind, life and culture
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    Ferris Jabr is an associate editor focusing on neuroscience and psychology. Follow on Twitter @ferrisjabr.
  • Sleuthing The Secrets To A Scrumptious Strawberry

    strawberries

    The other day I went to my local bodega in Brooklyn, New York and bought a 16-ounce plastic carton full of Driscoll’s strawberries. These fruit, the packaging informed me, were grown in Mexico. They looked delicious. I washed them and brought a particularly plump and rosy one to my nose. The aroma, although by no [...]

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    Searching For The Elephant’s Genius Inside the Largest Brain on Land

    African elephant

      Many years ago, while wandering through Amboseli National Park in Kenya, an elephant matriarch named Echo came upon the bones of her former companion Emily. Echo and her family slowed down and began to inspect the remains. They stroked Emily’s skull with their trunks, investigating every crevice; they touched her skeleton gingerly with their [...]

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    The Year Drones Ruined Christmas

    drones

    Kylie ran towards her fallen dragonfly and knelt beside it. One of its four wings had snapped nearly in half. She rummaged through a toolbox until she found a small tube of accelerseal, bit off the cap and squeezed a generous amount onto the wing’s fracture, holding the two pieces together. Above her Mark’s velociropter [...]

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    Leafy Green ‘Solar-Powered’ Sea Slugs Begin to Reveal Their True Colors

    sea-slug

    Nature is full of thieves. Instead of laboriously collecting pollen and nectar from flowers, robber bees raid the hives of other pollinators and steal the honey within. Some ant species routinely kidnap and enslave members of neighboring colonies, taking tens of thousands of pupae in a single season. And massive-winged frigate birds—also called pirate birds—swoop [...]

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    Why Life Does Not Really Exist

    native bee

    I have been fascinated with living things since childhood. Growing up in northern California, I spent a lot of time playing outdoors among plants and animals. Some of my friends and I would sneak up on bees as they pollinated flowers and trap them in Ziploc bags so we could get a close look at [...]

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    Catching Ourselves in the Act of Thinking

    rodin-thinker

    From 1934 to 1970, Louie Mayer worked as a cook and housekeeper for writers Virginia and Leonard Woolf at their home in Rodmell, England. Her very first day on the job, she noticed something strange. As Louie worked in the kitchen, voices poured through the ceiling from the upstairs bathroom, where Virginia was soaking in [...]

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    Are We Too Close to Making Gattaca a Reality?

    baby

    Sometime in the not-too-distant future, Marie and Antonio Freeman step into a doctor’s office to design their next child. “Your extracted eggs, Marie, have been fertilized with Antonio’s sperm,” the doctor says. “After screening we’re left with, as you see, two healthy boys and two very healthy girls.” A monitor displays what looks like soap [...]

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    Film Review: GMO OMG SRSLY? An #EpicFail in Exercising Our Right to Know

    GMO-opponent

    Jeremy Seifert’s new documentary “GMO OMG” opens with a series of maudlin pastoral scenes—sun-dappled forests, kids playing outdoors, a close-up of ants crawling in a line—as a man’s somber voice reads Wendell Berry’s poem “The Peace of Wild Things.” With this subtle Malickian prelude out of the way, the film begins more earnestly. Lately, Seifert [...]

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    Outgrowing the Traditional Grass Lawn

    lawn agenda

    A few weeks ago, I moved into a new apartment in Brooklyn. What I like best about my new home is its garden. For the first time in 10 years I have a private outdoor space in which to read and relax; the option to grill in my own backyard; and the freedom to sculpt [...]

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    Is Sugar Really Toxic? Sifting through the Evidence

    Our very first experience of exceptional sweetness—a dollop of buttercream frosting on a parent’s finger; a spoonful of strawberry ice cream instead of the usual puréed carrots—is a gustatory revelation that generally slips into the lacuna of early childhood. Sometimes, however, the moment of original sweetness is preserved. A YouTube video from February 2011 begins [...]

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