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Posts Tagged ‘science’

 

It’s not adrenaline after all,

but the bones that tell the body

to fight, to freeze, to flee.

The bones send the hormone

that tells the heart to beat faster,

tells lungs to breathe quicker, tells glucose

to pump through the body as fuel.

The odd gift: the same bones

that tell us to run away

help us stand and see it through.

 

 

 

*

 

 

Check it out: https://phys.org/news/2019-09-bone-adrenaline-flight-response.html?fbclid=IwAR1FsGbaAaoLL5jB1esEouhf7E0SMLnSWwQDjh3hANvvqRNbXmhKGtDPmFw

 

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Priscilla the visayan warty pig

has learned to dig with a tool.

She digs with her nose, like all

 

other pigs, but then she’ll pick

up a stick or a scrap of bark

and use it to dig a hole.

 

It’s unprecedented—a pig

using a tool. And it gives me hope

that I, too, might evolve to acquire

 

something new—for instance,

an ability to understand sarcasm—

without which, studies say, I seem naïve.

 

Sarcasm, experts say, is most used

amongst people we love, despite the fact

that it comes from the Greek,
“to tear off flesh like dogs.”

Even a computer can comprehend

that sarcasm’s a tool for telling

 

true lies. So why am I so sincere?

Why does my right hemisphere not know

when “yeah, right” really means, “no way?”

 

Oh Priscilla, you inspiring visayan warty pig,

if you can evolve beyond your nature,

do you think perhaps I might? Yeah, right.

 

 

For more information about Priscilla and her science-tool-using prowess, visit https://www.cnn.com/2019/10/06/us/pigs-use-tools-study-scn-trnd/index.html

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Slowly Learning

 

 

 

Most days I wake with hope,

which is to say a willingness

to keep trying. Just tonight

I read the study about rats

where they put them in glass jars

full of water. Most of them quickly

stopped swimming and drowned,

even the wild rats renowned

for being good swimmers.

But with the next round of rats,

the researcher from time to time

would put his hand in the jar

and lift the rats out. Just knowing

such a lift were possible was enough

to make the rats continue to swim

and they survived. And I wonder,

then, whose hand is lifting me these days,

reaching just often enough into my jar?

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The pencil, it turns out,

has never contained lead.

It’s always been graphite—

a form of solid carbon.

How much of what we think

 

we know is just a mistaken story

passed on for centuries?

And the human body, it turns out,

contains enough carbon

for 9,000 pencils—

 

that is a fact of the world,

a fact like the distance

from earth to the moon,

a fact like 99 percent of all human DNA

is the same. I’d like to think I will use up

 

my pencils, one every three days,

writing the story of what it is

to be alive here, to fall in love,

to disagree, to fail, to try again.

I want to write of healing,

 

write of the autumn air,

how it touches everything

with its cool transparency.

Write of how we are here

to revel in beauty, to find ourselves

 

in each other, to serve a story greater

than the one we know how to write,

serve the story that even now

is writing us.

 

 

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They know that birds see many more colors

than humans can—and they know that

their plumage has become, over millions of years,

more colorful, more dazzling, more bright.

But why, they wonder, can the birds see

colors they do not have in their feathers?

Why haven’t they developed the ability

to produce ultraviolet yellow or ultraviolet red?

 

I know that there is beauty I see in others

that I do not yet see in myself: People

who leave bottles of water in the desert

of west Texas. A 94-year-old man in Iowa

who has given away 6,000 Hershey’s

milk chocolate bars to connect

with the people in his changing hometown.

A 13-year-old girl who has raised $80,000

to save dogs from being euthanized.

A woman who chooses forgiveness.

 

I want to believe that to see is to invite evolution.
I want to believe that through sight, my own heart will develop

the way plumage might, more dazzling, more bright.

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Perhaps one day they will find the way

to take all the empty space out of our atoms—

condense us to our essence. Then

the whole of the human race would fit

inside a sugar cube. It would serve us right,

expansive buggers that we are, we who stamp

our atoms all over the earth, we who now

leave our footprints in space.

Like our electrons, we exist too many

places at once. Or, perhaps one day,

we’ll learn to embrace all that space within us,

and instead of plundering, conquering, developing out,

we’ll go in, travel in, enter grace.

 

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On Earth, just a teaspoon of neutron star

would weigh six billion tons. Six billion tons.

The equivalent weight of how much railway

it would take to get a third of the way to the sun.

It’s the collective weight of every animal

on earth. Times three.

 

Six billion tons sounds impossible

until I consider how it is to swallow grief—

just a teaspoon and one might as well have consumed

a neutron star. How dense it is,

how it carries inside it the memory of collapse.

How difficult it is to move then.

How impossible to believe that anything

could lift that weight.

 

There are many reasons to treat each other

with great tenderness. One is

the sheer miracle that we are here together

on a planet surrounded by dying stars.

One is that we cannot see what

anyone else has swallowed.

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Redefinition

 

 

 

Darling, they’ve redefined the kilogram.

Once it was a thing. A real thing:

a platinum-iridium cylinder

weighing 2.2 pounds. A thing they kept

in France in a high-security vault. A thing

they could compare to other such weights

kept in vaults all around the world.

As if to lock a thing up is to keep it

from changing. Forever.

 

Now we know better.

Every thing changes. It’s the nature

of things. Even prototypes lose atoms,

no matter how sterile the room

in which they’re kept.

The loss may be only the weight

of a single eyelash that no longer

bats itself at time.

Over time, it matters.

 

Now, understanding the volatile nature of things,

they’ve made the kilogram an idea—

a simple truth—by tying its definition

to Planck’s constant. How the world loves

a constant.

 

Darling, know that I am a thing.

I have wanted to be constant,

unwavering, true, but I lose things.

I gain things. I change innumerable

times a day. I am never the same woman

as I was yesterday. Each time we speak,

I swell, I leak. I will always love you

not the same. There is more at work than gravity.

It’s the way the heart is made.

 

I want to make you promises.

Like constancy. Like forever.

I promise that I’ll change.

Like the old kilogram. Like weather.

 

https://www.cnn.com/2018/11/13/world/kilo-measurement-scli-intl/index.html

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Invitation

 

I’d like to teach the world to sing in perfect harmony.

            —The New Seekers

 

 

The earth, say the scientists,

is more bell than we thought,

imperceptibly ringing beneath

 

our feet. Just because we can’t

hear it doesn’t mean it’s not

being played ceaselessly,

 

an ultralow hum thousands

of times below what the human ear

can hear. And the hum, they say,

 

is everywhere, uniting the globe

in a common tone. Perhaps,

they say, it’s ocean waves

 

that bang on the sea floor

or waves that crash into each other.

Perhaps, they say, the sound

 

goes all the way to the core.

Just because we don’t know why it rings

doesn’t mean we can’t sing along.

 

 

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/speaking-of-science/wp/2017/12/08/scientists-are-slowly-unlocking-the-secrets-of-the-earths-mysterious-hum/?utm_term=.93f97c1ef02f&wpisrc=nl_rainbow&wpmm=1

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Stubborn is another word for it,
like water beaded on a leaf,
like red wine that clings to the side of a glass,
like milk poured just beyond the volume
of a cup that does not spill, rather
builds itself up. Surface tension, the scientists say,
is the force along a line of unit length, where
the force is parallel to the surface but perpendicular
to the line. But you and I, not trained
to speak of life this way, might call it
cohesion or contraction. Or stubbornness—
resistance to an external force. Like when
the missionaries come to knock. Like when
your lover says you’re wrong. Like how when we
feel the tears rising we hold them in, let them well
in our ducts and then pull them back.
Sometimes I wish I were better
at letting things in. Life resists that.

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