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Brainwaves

Brainwaves

Current thoughts on mind, life and culture

  • Sleuthing The Secrets To A Scrumptious Strawberry

    By Ferris Jabr | March 18, 2014 |

    Photo courtesy of USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service 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. […]

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

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

    By Ferris Jabr | February 26, 2014 |

      A male African elephant in Tanzania (Credit: Ferris Jabr) 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. […]

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  • The Year Drones Ruined Christmas

    The Year Drones Ruined Christmas

    By Ferris Jabr | December 23, 2013 |

    (Credit: U.S. Navy photo by Photographer’s Mate 2nd Class Daniel J. McLain, via Wikimedia Commons) 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. […]

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

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

    By Ferris Jabr | December 16, 2013 |

    The emerald sea slug, Elysia chlorotica (Credit: EOL Learning and Education Group, via Flickr) 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. […]

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  • Why Life Does Not Really Exist

    Why Life Does Not Really Exist

    By Ferris Jabr | December 2, 2013 |

    A native bee in my backyard (Credit: Ferris Jabr) 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 their obsidian eyes and golden hairs before returning the insects to their daily routines. […]

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  • Catching Ourselves in the Act of Thinking

    Catching Ourselves in the Act of Thinking

    By Ferris Jabr | November 18, 2013 |

    (Credit: edmenendez via Flickr) 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 the tub. […]

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  • Are We Too Close to Making Gattaca a Reality?

    Are We Too Close to Making Gattaca a Reality?

    By Ferris Jabr | October 28, 2013 |

    (Credit: Katie Tegtmeyer, Flickr) 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. […]

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

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

    By Ferris Jabr | September 9, 2013 |

    Credit: Daniel Goehring, via Wikimedia Commons 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. […]

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  • Outgrowing the Traditional Grass Lawn

    Outgrowing the Traditional Grass Lawn

    By Ferris Jabr | July 29, 2013 |

    My garden (Credit: Ferris Jabr) 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 a plot of land—to decide which plants grow where. […]

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  • Is Sugar Really Toxic? Sifting through the Evidence

    By Ferris Jabr | July 15, 2013 |

    Credit: Lauri Andler (Phantom), via Wikimedia Commons 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. […]

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