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Transcendent Science


June 10th, 2010

Intelligent Design: Among the new species first reported this year are a "nose" leech, a "Dracula" fish, a "psychedelic" frogfish and a "bombardier" worm, according to scientists at the University of ...

Intelligent Design: Among the new species first reported this year are a "nose" leech, a "Dracula" fish, a "psychedelic" frogfish and a "bombardier" worm, according to scientists at the University of Arizona and medical school researchers in Lima, Peru. The Peru-based leech, which is fanged and probably has been around since the time of dinosaurs, prefers nasal mucus as a habitat. The "Dracula" fish of Myanmar, with "canine-like fangs," has an extraordinarily flexible mouth. The multicolored frogfish has apparently adapted to live among the colorful, venomous coral off Bali, Indonesia. The "bombardier" worm, found in California's Monterey Bay, releases glow-in-the-dark projectiles when threatened.

Until recently, researchers were certain that at least one ability separated humans from higher-functioning apes: the creation and use of tools for sex. However, primatologists writing in a recent issue of Science described a male chimpanzee's repetitive use of a dried leaf in the same way that a male human of a certain class might employ a fast car. In the presence of a female chimp, the male carefully crinkles the leaf until she, seemingly accustomed to such leaf-crinkling, notices the male, along with his generous erection, and may then choose to join him.

Too Much Information: British and Australian researchers, writing in a journal article in March, concluded that the world's strongest insect (relative to body weight) is the male dung beetle, which can lift more than 1,100 times its weight (equivalent for an average male human: 80 tons). Since the beetles mate inside dung patties, their every move is a struggle against the resistance posed by the feces. (On the other hand, the researchers also found weaker dung beetles that mated just fine helped not by their strength but by unusually large testicles.)

Sounds like a Joke: University of Michigan computer engineer Wei Lu revealed in April that he and colleagues were working on a new supercomputer design that is a radical departure from current computer architecture. Wei Lu's design breakthrough (which has piqued the interest of the Pentagon's DARPA think-tankers) is to model the operating system like the brain of a cat, he said, even though his supercomputer could never actually outperform the cat's brain.
 
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