February 22, 2017

10 Questions Science Can't Answer (Yet): A Guide to the by Michael Hanlon

By Michael Hanlon

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Extra info for 10 Questions Science Can't Answer (Yet): A Guide to the Scientific Wilderness

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The stem will conduct a bit of current, enough to show Kola the fence is turned on, but not enough to give him a shock. Not all humans would be able to do this. The fact that apes, our closest relatives, can be this bright is perhaps not surprising, but what has taken more than a few scientists aback is just how intelligent some birds, a group whose very name was previously a byword for stupidity, are turning out to be. In the BBC television series Life of Birds, shown in 1998, some extraordinary footage was shown in which crows in Japan dropped hard-shelled nuts onto the road at a pedestrian crossing.

In November 2006, the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences1 reported that three elephants, Happy, Maxine and Patty, who live at the Bronx Zoo in New York City, had spots painted on their foreheads and were then shown a mirror. All reacted in a way that indicated that they realized that the animals in the reflections were themselves. They poked their trunks into their mouths and watched the reflection in fascination. One, Happy, passed the spot test – she tried to wipe off the mark on her face with her trunk after spotting it in the mirror.

The strange and elastic nature of perceived time is well illustrated by a quote from Albert Einstein: ‘When a man sits with a pretty girl for an hour, it seems like a minute. But let him sit on a hot stove for a minute and it’s longer than any hour. That’s relativity’. This quote is lifted from the abstract for a short article Einstein wrote for the Journal of Exothermic Science and Technology in 1938 (he went on to detail the difficulties of obtaining a hot stove and a pretty girl – ‘I live in New Jersey’).

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