The Third Eye Comes First

But where is the third eye and what does it do?

My colleague swears by melatonin for alleviating jet lag and recommended I take a dose before departing on a flight across several time zones. The French 17th century philosopher and mathematician Rene Descartes was convinced he had at last found it: the soul. Hindi and Jain women wear a “bindi” (a small red spot on the forehead between their eyes) as a “third eye” to fend off evil (and to look pretty). What do these three statements have to do with each other? Well, we shall see. The organ Descartes regarded as the soul was the “pineal”, also called “epiphysis” – a tiny appendage on the upper side of the brain, located between fore- and midbrain. Though we no longer believe it is the seat of the soul, we still don’t have all the answers regarding its function. In humans and other mammals this small glandular structure appears to be involved in suppressing the maturation of the sex organs, for a pineal tumour or the surgical removal of the structure can result in precocious puberty. —>


Preferences’ Origins

Taste for garlic from the womb on

When it became obvious that I was going to become a father for the first time, well-meaning people were quick with all kinds of advice like: “Be nice to the foetus; if you want your child to be a music lover later in life, play music to the unborn child or sing songs to it while it’s still in its mother’s womb.” Although nonsense, because the unborn in its watery environment with ears and acoustic centres of the brain still not fully developed wouldn’t hear much of the muffled sounds that might or might not get there at all, but all the advice was, of course, given in the best intention. To be honest, I did not follow any of those suggestions and my children still turned out to be music lovers. Continue reading


Nature’s Naked Queens of Slime

Can there be anything more beautiful?

The most exquisitely coloured creatures on Earth, which are they? Ask someone and you will hear parakeets mentioned, birds-of-paradise, certain butterflies perhaps, or even coral reef fishes. But slugs? Just to mention that word causes some people to cringe. Slugs and beautiful, that doesn’t seem to match at all and most people associate these animals with the pest that is nibbling at their lettuces or cabbages in their vegetable gardens at night or after the rain. Continue reading