Tag Archives: Scishow

Animals in Love

It’s Valentine’s Day again. I got something for you.

No kisses. No chocolates. No flowers this year. Just a few of my other favorite things: poetry, animal trivia, and science. Really, they make the best gifts.

Offering #1: A fabulous poem by Tony Hoagland.
Rose read it at our wedding because, on principle, I’m always in favor of squeezing talk of penguin vomit and peacock butts into a formal occasion.

Romantic Moment
By Tony Hoagland

After the nature documentary we walk down,
into the plaza of art galleries and high end clothing stores

where the mock orange is fragrant in the summer night
and the smooth adobe walls glow fleshlike in the dark.

It is just our second date, and we sit down on a rock,
holding hands, not looking at each other,

and if I were a bull penguin right now I would lean over
and vomit softly into the mouth of my beloved

and if I were a peacock I’d flex my gluteal muscles to
erect and spread the quills of my cinemax tail.

If she were a female walkingstick bug she might
insert her hypodermic proboscis delicately into my neck

and inject me with a rich hormonal sedative
before attaching her egg sac to my thoracic undercarriage,

and if I were a young chimpanzee I would break off a nearby tree limb
and smash all the windows in the plaza jewelry stores.

And if she was a Brazilian leopard frog she would wrap her impressive
tongue three times around my right thigh and

pummel me lightly against the surface of our pond
and I would know her feelings were sincere.

Instead we sit awhile in silence, until
she remarks that in the relative context of tortoises and iguanas,

human males seem to be actually rather expressive.
And I say that female crocodiles really don’t receive

enough credit for their gentleness.
Then she suggests that it is time for us to go

to get some ice cream cones and eat them.

Offering #2: A trifecta of Valentine-related scripts I wrote for SciShow this week. Here I bestow upon you the science of pheromones and love brain, and offer a gentle reminder that no matter how bad your dating scene might be, you are still 100 times better off than a poor lady bed bug.

 



 

Science is Taking Over the World!

Well, okay, science has been running the world, or at least a good bit of it, since the beginning, but for the next two weeks SciShow, one of the programs I write for, is taking over the country.

We’ve got ads running on actual television, billboards plastered on buses and in subways, and we’re running a special episode-a-day series for the next two weeks, answering the world’s most asked questions.

I wrote today’s installment: What is Love? (Baby don’t hurt me.)

Yeah, kinda like the meaning of life . . . not the easiest topic to attempt to explain in three minutes. Shoot, I didn’t even get to quote Shakespeare or Marvin Gaye. I did successfully get Haddaway stuck in my head for a few days though.

Anyway, it’s nice to see SciShow getting some more national attention and love from Google and YouTube. We work hard to produce a wealth of original, fun, and educational content, all available for free. I mean, I work in a bubble — from home in the woods, usually in slippers and sweatpants. But knowing curious people all over the world are watching our episodes, learning something, hopefully chuckling, occasionally correcting us, and in general getting psyched about science . . . well, that means everything.

Attack of the Super Bugs!

I’m not talking about Shelob and her eight-legged cronies, or Capitol-engineered tracker jackers, or killer bees… I’m talking about something much more terrifying — antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

Credit: Mariana Ruiz / Public Domain

Credit: Mariana Ruiz / Public Domain

I’ve recently been reading a lot about how we humans are kinda wired to fear the wrong things. I’ll save the psychology behind this for a different day, but suffice to say, we tend to worry more about being bitten in half by sharks, mauled by bears, shot by snipers, or dying in a fiery plane crash than the things that will in reality most likely kill us — car accidents (in the US, at least), poor health, cancer, and to my mind, the various and inevitable manifestations of climate change.

Super bugs are easy to put out of your fear-mongering mind because they won’t knock on your door at night or snatch you out of the woods… which is interesting, because they do have the potential to just, you know, wipe out half the humans in the world if they get a solid run, Plague-style.

Anyway, check out my latest long-form SciShow episode to add another horror to your fear bank, and hear all about how crafty bacteria can be, how we fight it, how it fights back, and how it could ultimately rock our world again and again.

 

 

 

BRAINS!

psych books

Did you know that the average adult brain weighs about three pounds and is the consistency of soft tofu? And though it only accounts for about 2 percent of your body weight, it gobbles up 25 percent of your sugars and 20 percent of your oxygen? Greedy brain.

For weeks now I have spent many an hour reading, writing, and thinking about brains. My brain. Your brain. Teenage brain. Baby brain. Freud’s brain. Sacks’ brain. Dolphin brain. Hallucinating brain. Broken brain. Not in a jonesing zombie kind of way. It’s more personal than that. And professional.

Why? Well, aside from general neuro-fascination, I have a new gig writing for SciShow’s sister YouTube channel, Crash Course. Whereas SciShow manifests in single-topic bite-sized episodes, Crash Course takes a long haul comprehensive look at a topic. They’ve done series on biology, ecology, chemistry, U.S. and world history, and this year, you can catch about thirty episodes on psychology, written by yours truly. The lessons build like a semester-long class would, with some extra humor (hopefully!) and sweet little sometimes irreverent animations.

Here is the first one:

It’s definitely interesting delving so deeply into a single topic–especially one that I have limited experience with beyond general interest. Luckily I have a sweet textbook (Myers’ Psychology, tenth edition) and a badass adviser named Ranjit to help out. I’m still on the look out for a Chaise lounge, but I do have a few cigars handy, should I need one.

So if you like brains, or have a brain, I hope you’ll tune in from time to time. New episodes air every Monday afternoon.