biology zoology blog benno meyer rochow experiments science tet


Experiments that shouldn’t be done, can’t be done or can but won’t be done

I remember a part of that hilariously silly Monty Python series, in which someone wanted to jump across the Channel and dig a tunnel from England to Australia. And of course my children asked me if that was really possible. Well, they were children, but even now I sometimes get unusual questions, but they’re from adults. One of the more common ones is whether humans can mate with chimps and produce offspring. The interest in that probably stems from the suggestion by someone that the original source of the HIV-infection (i.e., AIDS) in humans were chimps. Let’s examine then.



Can Animals Count?

Probably no better than humans can

You can play this game with children or with adults: the result would be the same. If you have, 15 cards, each with a different and randomly placed amount of black spots, ranging from 1 to 15, and then ever so briefly showed a card to the audience letting them guess how many spots they’d see, chances are they’d only give the right answer if there are no more than 6 or 7 spots to be seen. Of course, there mustn’t be time to start counting the spots. You can also randomly place some items on a table, covering them with a sheet and ever so briefly exposing the objects to the onlookers. Again, with more than 6 or 7 items, mistakes increase and amounts in excess of 10 will almost always be estimated wrongly. —>

pothole biology april jamaica

Pothole Biology

A study of the toughest survivers

When I was living in Jamaica and had a series of science articles similar to this blog in the country’s largest newspaper, “The Gleaner”, I once planned to write a column for April 1st : I intended to explain how excellent the facilities for pothole researchers were in Jamaica. However, as I found out during stays in numerous other countries, it is not just the nation of reggae, Bob Marley, Blue Mountain coffee and Usain Bolt that offers opportunities for pothole research. Continue reading