Christmas Island is a unique natural habitat located in the Indian Ocean with many endemic species. The national park covers two-thirds of the island, which has been referred to as the Galapagos of the Indian Ocean.
Many people are aware of the red crabs whose mass migration to the sea has been described as one of the wonders of the natural world. Christmas Island has many other species of crabs, including the impressive robber crabs (Gecarcoidea natalis). These may be the largest land-dwelling arthropod on Earth.
Together these abundant land crabs clear the forests of leaf litter and maintain burrows that prevent soil becoming compacted, creating an open and diverse forest.
This thriving natural system, however, was disrupted by an invasive [ ... ]
Brain freeze is the name used to describe the sensation you get when you consume something really cold, really fast. The scientific name for this temporary cold-stimulus headache is sphenopalatine ganglioneuralgia.
When something extremely cold touches the upper-palate (roof of the mouth), blood vessels in this region dilate to increase blood flow to counter the cold. The homeostatic triggers in your body perceive the cold as a threat to the brain, thinking the brain is in danger from the cold. As the warm blood rushes to your brain, this build-up of blood pressure causes the pain you feel. While brain freezes are not dangerous, they are slightly uncomfortable, so the best way to make it quickly go away is to rub or press your tongue against [ ... ]
Anyone who has ever taken a shot of hard liquor (tequila, brandy) can tell you: it burns on the way down. But it's not the alcohol itself that's burning your throat. Instead, the ethanol in the liquid is making your throat's VR1 heat receptors (left) more sensitive, prompting them to perceive your own body temperature as hot.
Normally, the VR1 receptors activate at 42° Celsius, but alcohol lowers this threshold to around 34° C, which is 4° C less than your bodies regulated temperature.
Lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) is a recreational, psychedelic drug that alter awareness of the surroundings, perceptions, and feelings, as well as sensations and images that seem real though they are not.
LSD works by binding primarily to the dopamine receptors and adrenal receptors in the brain. It also binds to most of the serotonin receptors. The binding process is believed to overstimulate the natural neurotransmission process, activating the receptors and altering thought and perceptions.
Though medical researchers have not scientifically proven how this process alters consciousness, they are certain about the binding process which links hallucinogenic chemicals to receptors and disrupts neurotransmission between receptors and parts of [ ... ]
A living, swimming ghost fish has been seen live for the first time ever.
The fish, part of the family Aphyonidae, was caught on camera during an ongoing National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) exploration by the ship Okeanos Explorer. The exploration centers on the deep ocean at Mariana Trench Marine National Monument, a protected area spanning 95,216 square miles (246,608 square kilometers) east of the Philippines.
The secretive fish was swimming along a ridge 8,202 feet (2,500 meters) down, according to NOAA. The animal is about 4 inches (10 centimeters) long, with translucent, scale-less skin and eerie, colorless eyes. No fish in the family Aphyonidae has ever been seen alive before.
Stan Larkin (pictured on the right), who's now 25, was diagnosed with familial cardiomyopathy. This form of disease results in the heart having difficulty pumping enough blood through the body. Faced with a lack of compatible heart donors, Stan underwent an operation in 2014 to remove his failing heart and replace it with an external total artificial heart, dubbed the Freedom portable driver.
This battery-powered device uses compressed air to pump blood around the body in the same way a heart does, and as the name suggests, it is portable and only weighs 6 kilograms (13 pounds). The device does an incredible job at keeping the patient in a healthy condition while a donor heart becomes available, but it isn’t considered a long-term option. [ ... ]
To tap into scarce water supplies, most desert plants have extensive root systems that burrow deep or spread wide. But one desert moss has a different trick up its sleeve: a thirst-quenching structure called an awn. Awns are tiny, hairlike structures that project from the end of each leaf to capture water (above). For the first time, scientists have examined in detail how this moss (Syntrichia caninervis) pulls water right from the air using its awns. At the smallest scale, the awns are covered with grooves about 100 nanometers deep and 200 nanometers wide, the perfect size for dew to condense within them when conditions are right. Those nanogrooves lie within larger troughs that measure about 1.5 micrometers deep and 3 micrometers wide, a [ ... ]
After two years of work, Martin Molin of the Swedish band Wintergatan debuted a fully custom-made machine that plays music using 2,000 marbles. The marble machine features multiple instruments including a bass guitar, cymbals, and a vibraphone all played by falling marbles. Apart from the 11 mm steel ball bearing marbles, he made all the gears powering the machine by hand.
After a broken neck left him quadriplegic, Ian Burkhart was told he would never be able to use his hands. Now he can grasp a bottle and pick up a credit card by using a computer plugged directly into his brain. Special software is able to decode his thoughts and convert them into electrical signals in his hand, bypassing the damaged nerves in his spine. Now Ian has regained an amazing degree of control over his hand, each movement stimulated by his own thoughts.
The rare Iranian spider-tailed viper (Pseudocerastes urarachnoides) waggles a fake "spider" - actually a fleshy lure with leg-like scales at the tip of its tail - to tempt birds within striking distance. Until 2001, the viper was known only from a single misidentified specimen collected during a U.S. expedition to Iran in 1968. The weird structure on its tail was so unlike anything documented in other snakes that it was written off as a birth defect or an abnormal growth. While scientists had suspected its unique tail was used for luring prey, new observations of the dramatic bird captures now confirm this. The new study also revealed the viper starts growing its tail lure after birth, and that it isn’t complete until adulthood.
A French photographer has conducted an interesting experiment in Gabon by installing mirrors in several locations in the wilds and observing the way the animals reacted to their own reflections. The result was most amusing, to say the least.
As soon as we're born, we're destined to age. Some of us age gracefully - we enjoy years of youthfulness - while others experience hair loss, wrinkles, and greying earlier than expected.
Found in the core of each hair, a pigment known as melanin gives rise to a person's hair color. This universal pigment is also found in our skin and eyes, giving use our unique physical traits. Dark and light versions of melanin - eumelanin and phaeomelanin, respectively - combine in various combinations to create all natural hair colors.
Melanin itself is the product of a specialized cell, the melanocyte, which is found in each hair follicle, from which the hair grows. As hair grows, the melanocyte injects melanin into the hair cells, which contain the s [ ... ]
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