Weird science: You'll need a bigger boat
Wed Jun 24, 5:07 pm ET Of sharks and sinkholes
We didn't think it was possible, but sharks just got even scarier. A study published in the Journal of Zoology found that sharks don't attack prey randomly — they stalk them, like serial killers. (Shudder.) Neil Hammerschlag, who co-wrote the study, told AP about infamous sharks that attacked near South Africa's famous Seal Island:
They were focused. They stalked from a usual base of operations, 100 yards from their victims. It was close enough to see their prey, but not close enough to be seen and scare off their victims. They attacked when the lights were low. They liked their victims young and alone. They tried to attack when no other sharks were around to compete. They learned from previous kills.
In case you missed BBC's extraordinary documentary "Planet Earth," here's a video of a great white shark chomping on a seal... in midair.
Now that you fear going in the water, how about a reason to worry about the banks surrounding it? There may be up to 3,000 sinkholes surrounding Israel's famed Dead Sea, and they're spreading. Fiver years ago, geologist Eli Raz was swallowed up by a 30-foot pit (it took a search party 14 hours to find him), and now he's trying to map all of the known holes. Just to get a mental picture of what we're talking about, AP explains:
These underground craters can open up in an instant, sucking in whatever lies above and leaving the surrounding area looking like an earthquake zone....
Large sections of the coast are fenced off and signposted in Hebrew and English: "danger, open pits" and "sinkhole area ahead." But it's too expensive to inspect every place for danger. Just two months ago an Israeli hiker wandered into an area that had no warning signs and was critically injured when he fell into a sinkhole.
We should add that Dead Sea sinkholes don't swallow up humans very often, so there are plenty of reasons to visit the lowest point on Earth and indulge in the coveted mineral mud. Just be careful where you step.
Listening to your body
If you're one of those people who think that the pain in your leg is a terminal illness instead of a charlie horse, The Wall Street Journal has some helpful clues about what your body may be telling you... and what you should ignore. Some of the more surprising warning signs:
Other signs seem to make no logical biological sense: Eyebrows that no longer extend over the corners of the eyes can indicate an underactive thyroid, and a diagonal crease in the earlobe seems to herald a heightened risk of heart attack.
Think hypnosis can make people cluck like chickens? Scientists say they have the brain scans showing how hypnosis works, at least when it comes to paralyzing someone's hand. The bottom line, according the small study: One part of the brain interrupts the other part of your brain that would tell the hand to move. Dr. Yann Cojan, who wrote the study, explained to AP:
The precuneus is involved in mental imagery and memory about oneself. Cojan suggests it was brimming with the metaphors the participants had heard from the hypnotist: Your hand is very heavy, it is stuck on the table, etc. So, he said, it might have been telling the motor cortex, "Oh, but your hand is too heavy, you can't move your hand."
A loss for science
Dr. Jerri Nielson FitzGerald, who once performed a biopsy on herself after discovering a lump in her breast, has died at 57. In 1999, FitzGerald diagnosed her own cancer when she was the only doctor at the National Science Foundation's Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station in winter. As if more drama were needed, the Air National Guard staged a daring rescue at 58 degrees below zero. FitzGerald's cancer eventually went into remission, but returned in 2005. FitzGerald sent an email to her parents soon after discovering her cancer:
"More and more as I am here and see what life really is, I understand that it is not when or how you die but how and if you truly were ever alive."
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