Ever wonder how the heart symbol came to stand for the actual heart? And why do we speak of the heart as the seat of love, when love really happens in our brains? Is it true that animals only get a billion heartbeats? This week, we give you enough cool cardiac science to make your heart skip a beat.
Why do we sleep? We spend a third of our lives in slumber, but science has yet to determine exactly why we have do it. Here’s a look at how sleep works, why we’re not getting enough sleep, what happens if you DON’T sleep, and an idea about where sleep came from in the first place.
2015 • Health
This crowded continent hides the most surprising animals in pockets of wilderness. Above Gibraltar, Europe’s only primate lives a life of kidnapping and high drama, whilst in the cemeteries of Vienna grave robbing European hamsters do battle with each other. Come nightfall, the Italian mountain villages are the hunting grounds for rarely seen wolves, whilst lynx lurk in the forests of Spain. Deep underground in Slovenia’s caves, baby dragons live for up to a hundred years. Meanwhile, on the surface the continent has been developed beyond recognition.
Watch as birds solve puzzles and challenge our basic notions of intelligence. Call somebody a “bird brain,” and you’re not delivering them a compliment. But as NOVA shows, birds turn out to have advanced problem-solving skills that we usually assume are unique to humans. Watch astonishing tests of avian aptitude: parrots that can plan for the future, jackdaws that can “read” human faces, and crows that can solve multi-step puzzles with tools like pebbles, sticks, and hooks. Could these just be clever tricks based on instinct or triggered by subtle cues from their human handlers? To rule out any doubts, NOVA puts feathered Einsteins through their paces and reveals skills that even three- or four-year-old children have a hard time mastering—such as putting off one reward now to get a bigger one later. From this revolution in thinking about our feathered friends, the conclusion seems irresistible that bird brains see the world in ways that aren’t so different from our own.
In the vast South Atlantic, huge pods of dolphins, massive penguin colonies and the largest gathering of marine mammals on earth pack chains of extraordinary islands, created by powerful volcanic forces far below them. Nutrient-rich upwellings create profusions of life in some areas, whilst extreme isolation and abyssal depths host a world of bizarre creatures in others.