Bee Seeing You

By Scott LaFee

February 10, 2010 4 min read

You would think bees would be too busy to remember faces, but apparently they can.

Experiments in 2005 suggested bees were able to learn to associate tasty sugar snacks with pictures of human faces, though some scientists suspected the bees weren't actually discriminating between human faces. "The insects were rewarded with a drop of sugar when they chose human photographs," said Martin Giurfa of the University of Toulouse in France. "What they really saw were strange flowers."

Giurfa teamed up with the 2005 researchers. Tests revealed that bees not only learn what constitutes a face but also differentiate between faces. The scientists tinkered with the relative positions of the eyes, nose and mouth in pictures of faces the bees came to know. Afterward, the bees no longer recognized the image.

BRAIN SWEAT

When the day before yesterday was referred to as the day after tomorrow, the day that was then called yesterday was as far away from the day we now call tomorrow as yesterday is from the day, which we shall now be able to speak of last Monday as a week ago yesterday. What day is it?

'TRUE FACTS'

Scientists have determined that female leatherback turtles are "right-flippered."

BRAIN SWEAT ANSWER

Thursday.

Let the day number be D3 (arbitrary). The day before yesterday is D1, so the day after tomorrow is D6 and "the day then called yesterday" is D5, which is as far away from the day we now call D4, i.e. the day ahead. This is the same as yesterday, D2, is from Tuesday. So D2 is one day ahead of Tuesday, making it Wednesday. We seek the identity of the following day or D3, which can only be Thursday.

Now go take the rest of the week off and let your brain recover.

VERBATIM

Light thinks it travels faster than anything, but it is wrong. No matter how fast light travels, it finds that darkness has always got there first and is waiting for it.

— English sci-fi novelist Terry Pratchett in "Reaper Man" (1991)

WHAT IS IT? ANSWER

The Arecibo message (in graphical form here) was a radio transmission beamed into space from the Arecibo radio telescope in Puerto Rico on 1974. It consists of seven stacked sections encoding information about humanity and its home planet. Reading from top to bottom, the sections describe the numbers 1 through 10; the atomic numbers of elements hydrogen, carbon, nitrogen, oxygen and phosphorus that make up DNA; the formulas for the sugars and bases of DNA nucleotides; the number of nucleotides in DNA and the double helix structure; a human figure; the solar system; and the structure and dimensions of the Arecibo transmitting dish.

The message was aimed at the globular star cluster M13, 25,000 light-years away, which means the message won't arrive there for another 24,964 years. Any reply, assuming E.T. writes quickly, will take another 25,000 years to get back to us.

To find out more about Scott LaFee and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.

Like it? Share it!

  • 0

Eureka!
About Scott LaFee
Read More | RSS | Subscribe

YOU MAY ALSO LIKE...