Many great minds have sought proof for God's existence. For French philosopher and scientist, Blaise Pascal, God's existence was beside the point. He conceded that nobody knows whether or not God exists, but because it's in our own best interests to behave as if He does, that's the most rational choice.
This is what's known as Pascal's Wager, since it argues that it's your best bet to believe in God. (Pascal wrote of the Christian God, but this same argument could apply to any god). If God doesn't exist and you behave as if he does, you haven't lost much - just some sleep on Sunday and a few opportunities for sin. But if God does exist, you have everything to lose or gain: act as if he does exist and you spend eternity in heaven; act as if h [ ... ]
The hairy frogfish (Antennarius striatus) is a marine fish with spines resembling strands of hair - and it can change color. This small fish grows up to 22 cm (8.7 in) long, and has a rounded, extensible body. Its large mouth is forwardly extensible, allowing it to swallow prey as large as itself! The coloring of its body is extremely variable because individual fish tend to match their living environments.
Frogfishes have the capacity to change coloration and pigment pattern, taking only a few weeks to adapt. The dominant coloration varies from yellow to brownish-orange, passing through a range of shades, but it can also be green, gray, brown, almost white, or even completely black without any pattern. Body and fins can be marked with roug [ ... ]
Nearly 80% of U.S. dairy cows have their horns removed each year to protect their handlers and fellow cattle. But the practice, which is both painful and expensive, has come under increasing scrutiny from animal rights activists. Now, science may be coming to the rescue: A group of researchers announced last week that they successfully edited the genomes of dairy cows to make them hornless. The scientists used the transcription activator-like effector nucleases DNA editing technique to introduce a natural allele linked to hornlessness into dairy cow embryos. Five healthy calves were born, all without horns (above, left), the researchers report in a letter in Nature Biotechnology. The allele - called POLLED - is much more common in beef catt [ ... ]
Nearly one-third of women experience heavy periods each month. This means that unlike normal periods where women lose up to 40 mL of blood per cycle, some women lose as much as 80 mL (more than a quarter of a cup) in at least one cycle throughout their life. Scientists think they might have found the answer as to why this happens, and they are blaming it on a non-hormonal protein. A new small study suggests that low levels of a specific protein known as hypoxia-inducible factor 1 (HIF1, right) might be to blame.
HIF1 is a pretty handy healing molecule. When oxygen levels drop in parts of the body, a condition known as hypoxia, HIF1 activates more than 60 genes linked to tissue regeneration, and has already been shown to play a role in repai [ ... ]
The northern bald ibis (Geronticus eremita) was thought to be extinct until it was rediscovered in the Syrian desert near Palmyra in 2002. Habitat disturbance and hunting are the main drivers behind the bird's decline in its Middle Eastern habitat.
This glossy black ibis ranges in size from 70 to 80 cm (28 to 31 inches) glossy black ibis, has an unfeathered red face and head, and a long, curved red bill. It breeds colonially on coastal or mountain cliff ledges, where it typically lays two to three eggs in a stick nest, and feeds on lizards, insects, and other small animals.
According to a Turkish legend, the northern bald ibis was one of the first birds that Noah released from the ark, as a symbol of fertility. [ ... ]
This species, known as the bobbit worm (Eunice aphroditois), is a carnivorous worm that usually makes it home by digging a vertical burrow in the sand between rocks or corals in a tropical reef. The burrow is barely wider than the creature's body, but must be as deep as the worm is long. The bobbit worm finds prey with five long antennae on the top of its "head". These antennae wave in the current, picking up scents of possible prey in the water as they flow by and letting the worm know a meal might be near. Not only does it strike at its prey with sharpened jaws, it injects a toxin, which stuns or kills it. The worm can grow up to ten feet in length and eats mostly crustaceans and mollusks.
Gnathiids are a family of isopod crustaceans whose larvae feed on the blood of fish. During the day, infected parrotfish seek out cleaner fish to consume the parasites; however, at night they are relatively vulnerable to attack. Parrotfish overcome this vulnerability by secreting a mucus cocoon before sleeping which envelopes their bodies with a protective biopolymer that functions similar to a mosquito net. The mucus is secreted from large glands in the gill cavity and is composed of small glycoproteins which are extensively cross-linked through pyrosulfate bonds. This exopolymer net allows small molecules to permeate but prevents the parasitic gnathiids from entering. The process is thought to involve a combination of blocking odorants [ ... ]
Unlike most bees, which hibernate during colder months, honey bees remain active all winter long despite the freezing temperatures.
A honey bee colony’s ability to survive the winter depends on their food stores of honey. Once the colony begins to run out of honey, the worker bees force the useless drones from the hive, to maintain the food store.
As temperatures drop, the honey bee workers form a cluster around the queen and brood, keeping them warm. Bees on the inside of the cluster can feed on the stored honey. If surrounding temperatures rise, the bees on the outside of the group separate a bit, to allow more air flow. As temperatures fall, the cluster tightens, and the outer bees pull together.
As it gets colder, the worker bees actively [ ... ]
Before I begin telling you about this fascinating new glue (adhesive), there's a thing or two you need to know about the animal that inspired it all, the gecko. Geckos are small lizards that have the ability to run up walls and scurry across ceilings with the help of tiny rows of hairs on their feet known as setae. Setae generate a multitude of weak attractions (called Van der Waals forces) between molecules on the two surfaces that add up to a secure foothold. Unlike glue or tape, a gecko’s sticky feet attach and detach effortlessly, which made it a perfect case study for engineers to model.
To create their artificial gecko adhesive, a Stanford team of scientists started by making silicone micro-wedges, which imitated gecko hair. They asse [ ... ]
At some point in your life, you've probably played this game of logic known as the missing square puzzle, or Curry's paradox - named after its inventor Paul Curry. This optical illusion is commonly used in mathematics classes to help students reason about geometrical figures, or rather to teach them to not reason using figures, but only using the textual description thereof and the axioms of geometry. It depicts two arrangements made of similar shapes in slightly different configurations. Each apparently forms a 13×5 right-angled triangle, but one has a 1×1 hole in it.
As depicted in the animation, the illusion works because the diagonal of the two internal triangles is not a continuous slope from corner to corner. The overall connected shap [ ... ]
These tiny water bears, called Tardigrades (meaning "slow stepper"), are water-dwelling, eight-legged, segmented micro-animals. They have been sighted from mountaintops to the deep sea, from tropical rain forests to the Antarctic.
Tardigrades are notable for being perhaps the most durable of known organisms; they are able to survive extreme conditions that would be rapidly fatal to nearly all other known life forms. They can withstand temperature ranges from 1 K (−458 °F; −272 °C) to about 420 K (300 °F; 150 °C), pressures about six times greater than those found in the deepest ocean trenches, ionizing radiation at doses hundreds of times higher than the lethal dose for a human, and the vacuum of outer space. They can go without foo [ ... ]
In December 2013, four captive chimpanzees in the state of New York became the first nonhuman primates in history to sue their human captors in an attempt to gain their freedom. The chimps' lawyers, members of a recently formed organization known as the Nonhuman Rights Project, were asking a judge to grant their clients the basic right to not be imprisoned illegally. The judges of the New York lawsuits ultimately dismissed them all on the grounds that the plaintiffs aren't people. The appeals are ongoing. [ ... ]
Nearly 11 kilometers deep, the ocean is still a noisy place, according to scientists that have eavesdropped on the deepest part of the world's ocean, and instead of finding a sea of silence, discovered a cacophony of sounds both natural and caused by humans.
For three weeks, a titanium-encased hydrophone recorded constant ambient noise from the ocean floor at a depth of more than 36,000 feet, or 7 miles, in the Challenger Deep trough in the Mariana Trench near Micronesia. The ambient sound field is dominated by the sound of earthquakes, both near and far, as well as distinct moans of baleen whales, and the clamor of a category 4 typhoon that just happened to pass overhead.
The hydrophone also picked up sound from ship propellers. Challenge [ ... ]
Remember Ms. Frizzle (from The Magic School Bus)? Now you can be just like her with these science-themed dresses from the fashion company, Shenova. These dresses come in prints that celebrate the Fibonacci sequence, the DNA double-helix, printed circuit boards, retinal cells, the periodic table, aerospace engineering, and space-time warps. [ ... ]
There’s an innovative new light technology that's trying to change the way people think about "artificial light." In Italian company called CoeLux has developed a new light source that recreates the look of sunlight through a skylight so well that it can trick both human brains and cameras.
It’s a high tech LED skylight that’s designed to provide "sunlight" for interior spaces cut off from the outdoors. One of the main ideas behind it is that to create realistic sunlight, you can’t just simulate the sun… you need to recreate the atmosphere as well.
The scientists who invented the light figured out how to use a thin coating of nanoparticles to accurately simulate sunlight through Earth’s atmosphere and the effect known as Rayleigh scattering[ ... ]