STRANGE BUT TRUE- Grieving gnus: Animals feel sorrow too
Q. Along with humans, which other species appear to "respect" their dead with special observances? –G.R. Malkin
Presented with an elephant skull, a piece of ivory, and a piece of wood, the creatures showed strong preference for the ivory, then the skull. "The research team could not corroborate stories that elephants specifically visit the bones of dead relatives," the article says.
Killer whales and dolphin mothers will sometimes carry their dead young around for several days, pushing them to the surface, adds Lance Barrett-Lennard, senior marine mammal research scientist at the Vancouver Aquarium Marine Science Center & University of British Columbia. "Any human parent can relate... it's hard to watch."
Q. It's an ancient human question, one of the toughest ever: How can the material brain, which is an aggregate of nerves, tissues, and whatnot, be capable of subjective experience? Does modern science have an answer? –J. Jane
Q. When is swallowing a 3-inch metal bar that sits in the stomach collecting junk considered good medicine? –D. Flynn
Obviously, these can be "bad moos" a-roaming the digestive tract, causing "hardware disease"– arched back, grunting, etc. Rx: a $5 junk-anchor magnet that may last years before filling up, and is recyclable post-mortem.
Q. Where's the world's biggest collection of dead human brains, and of what use are they, anyway? –Igor
One study of brains of 15 former British boxing champions helped establish the link between the sport and specific brain damage, leading to better headgear for amateurs and reduction from 15 rounds to 12.
If you're a serious researcher, you can even have wafer-thin slices of relevant brains mailed to you– that's probably not you, Igor, however.
Q. What vitamin deficiency has played a bigger role in the history of the world than any other? –L. Pauling
For example, when the Portuguese explorer Vasco de Gama sailed around the tip of Africa in 1497, 100 of his 160-member crew died of scurvy. "Reports exist of the discovery of ships adrift at sea with entire crews dead from the disease." Some 90 percent of the crew of Magellan's 1519-1522 circumnavigation of the globe perished, largely due to scurvy.
Had the value of ascorbic acid been recognized earlier, the world today might be a different place, say Le Couteur and Burreson. With a healthy crew, Magellan might not have bothered to stop in the Philippines for as long, proceeding directly to the Spice Islands to corner the clove and nutmeg markets for Spain.
"Such a monopoly might have thwarted the establishment of the Dutch East India Company and changed modern-day Indonesia... The British, coming later to the South Pacific, would have been left with a much smaller empire and far less influence in the world, even to this day...." they write.
Send Strange questions to brothers Bill and Rich at firstname.lastname@example.org, coauthors of "Can a Guy Get Pregnant? Scientific Answers to Everyday (and Not-So- Everyday Questions)," from Pi Press.