Antonio Damasio is a neuroscientist who argues that who we are goes beyond simply our brains. He wrote Descartes’ Error in 1994 proposing such, and in his new book The Strange Order of Things, he goes further into the mind-body connection. An excerpt: Why Your Biology Runs on Feelings.
Via BigThink: salmonella from Europe may have killed the Aztecs. This is based on DNA analysis on Aztec remains. The salmonella may have been carried over via livestock. The end result would not have been pretty. Salmonella can cause enteric fever, which leads to high fever and bleeding from the nose, eyes, and mouth. The death toll was 15 million.
China has a proposal to clean up space debris using pulsed lasers. The US is not amused.
Hot in science news today is a recently published paper from Nature about a newly discovered plumed dinosaur with iridescent feathers. In the past few years, we’ve had to rethink our conception of dinosaurs as giant lumbering lizards to nimble, gregarious, and feathered proto-birds.
What’s particularly exciting about this dinosaur, named Caihong (meaning ‘rainbow’), is the range of techniques brought to bear to reconstruct the colors it may have had. The scientists based these on electron microscope readings of imprints on rocks, comparing them with modern extant samples to determine their light absorbing properties.
Structural absorption by barbule microstructures of super black bird of paradise feathers, in which it is revealed that birds of paradise not only have the richest colors but also have the deepest blacks.
Dragonfly is one of the two finalists for the design of a quadcopter that will explore Titan.
So Japanese monkeys hump deer and plants and animals mate. Viable results are rare but it does happen. It’s all about hybridization.
The Chinese Chang’e lunar mission program will be sending plants and insects to the moon. The experiment will see if these will be able to thrive in the moon’s gravity. Likely they will only be in a self-contained biome, but the story possibilities are certainly intriguing.
NASA is planning to send a helicopter to Titan. Faith in Golden Age science fiction restored (somewhat). But this is honestly so cool!
Study compares the number of neurons among carnivorans. Verdict: dogs have more neurons, and this means “…dogs have the biological capability of doing much more complex and flexible things with their lives than cats can.”