Australian Bird Makes Camera Shutter Sounds

By Anupum Pant

Until now I hadn’t even heard about, probably the most well-known bird of Australia, the Lyrebird. These birds are there on the 10 cents coins in Australia. Their feathers are beautiful, but what these birds can do is truly astonishing – The R2D2s of the real world.

The Lyrebird has been seen mimicking the sounds of at least twenty other birds. That’s not all. Some of these captive Lyrebirds have been seen mimicking sounds of human technology like a camera shutter, car alarm and a chainsaw too – as seen in the video below.

In 1969, as observed by an ornithologist in New England National Park, these birds were able to reproduce sounds of a flute, singing two famous songs of the 30s “The Keel Row” and “Mosquito’s Dance.”  They had learnt it from a farmer who used to play these tunes on a flute.

A word of caution

Although the video would lead you to believe that wild birds have started mimicking sounds of human technology, it isn’t totally true. The birds that has been shown in the video, in reality, are captive birds from Healesville Wildlife Sanctuary and from the Adelaide Zoo. While Attenborough makes it seem like the bird is mimicking “sounds of the forest”. these clips are not typically what these wild birds do in the wild.

Maybe it happens in the wild too, but it’s highly unlikely because the human technology sounds are usually lost amidst the forest sounds. Moreover, never in the past has there been a recording of this bird mimicking human technology sounds in the wild. Maybe they do, but science requires evidence.

The Sixth Sense, Seventh Sense and More…

By Anupum Pant

Do this. Close your eyes and try to touch the tip of your nose with an index finger. If there’s nothing wrong with you, you’ll do it right. Even with no lights on, when you can see nothing at all, you’ll be able to put food exactly in your mouth. What explains this ability. None of the 5 senses are primarily involved here. There are a couple of other senses too which justify the amount of fantastic things our bodies can do.

At school I was taught, “there are five senses” – Sight, hearing, taste, smell, touch. No one ever mentioned anything more than that. Five was the number, and since it could get you demoted, scared, I never dared to question the traditional textbook science. Turns out, just like I was lied about the tallest mountain, carrots, taste areas and several other things, I just discovered that, for all my life, I had been lied about one more thing. About the number of senses.

Let’s keep aside animal senses today and see what we’ve missed in school that has to do with just human senses. Beyond the five senses we were taught about, there are at least 10 more senses that every healthy human being has. Ten, or at least a handful of them should probably be mentioned somewhere in the school textbooks to give kids the picture of what a sense exactly is. In fact, some put the number of senses humans have to as high as 21.

Kinesthesia: The one sense that I was talking at the start of this article allows you to remain precisely aware of every little muscle and joint movement. As a result, you are able to locate parts of your body without seeing or involving any of the 5 traditional senses. Let’s call it the 6th sense.

Skin Sensors: Our skins are responsible to make us feel the touch. But, the skin is in fact, much more complicated than that. The skin has at least five different kinds of specialized nerve endings. Taken one at a time, these allow you to feel pain, heat (temperature), cold (temperature), itch and pressure. So, you can count each one of them as a different kind of sensor. Consequently adding 4-5 more senses to our list.

Balance: In the presence of good amount of gravity, our bodies are naturally able to tell “Up” from “Down”. In simple words, on the earth, we are able to stand up and balance ourselves. The inner ear makes this possible. That is another sensor. You’d count it as one when you put it in a robot, but not when it is present in the human body?

Just to add, being able to perceive time is another beautifully complex sense.

And there are a couple of others too. That said, clearly, humans don’t just have 5 senses. There are more.

[Wikipedia]

Did a Teacher Ever Scold You for Yawning in Class?

By Anupum Pant

Background

I always found school interesting. I wasn’t one of those kids who felt bored and sleepy during the class. And yet, during the classes, I yawned often. I remember being sent out of the class a couple of times because I had yawned. This happened again, and again at college. However, lecturers never cared to send me out in college. And then there were no more classes.

Then, when I started working, at a meeting one day, a friend yawned in a board room where the head of the company was present. The head saw this happen. Being a fresher, the guy got scolded very badly by the head. I felt sad for him. I knew, he wasn’t really sleepy when he yawned; clearly he wasn’t bored too. There could have been a different reason for it. The head should have known this.

Yawning is universally considered as a sign of sleepiness or boredom. I however, am pretty sure that a yawn doesn’t necessarily comes when someone is bored or sleepy. I do have a theory to back my belief that I discuss below. Also, yawning has a lot to do with empathy too. But that is not what I’m discussing today. To educate yourself about the empathy side of it, you could watch the following video.

No one knows for sure why we yawn. In addition to that there might be several different reasons that could explain why we yawn. Like a couple of reasons that explain why we sleep (may be there are more). Most definitely, it isn’t a single reason.

A study shows that yawning could be the body’s way of cooling down the brain and it makes perfect sense to me!

The Study

Scientists from the Princeton University say that people yawn more during the winters. That is because during the winter the air outside is colder and the body knows that. So, it makes us yawn to take in the cold air to cool the brain by exchanging heat.

There’s also this other explanation which breaks down the process of yawning into two parts – 1. stretching of your jaw muscles and 2. air entering your mouth after you do that.

When you stretch the jaw muscles in the first step, blood flow increases in your face, brain and sinus area. Now the cool air enters and cools down the blood vessels in the nasal cavity and sinus area. These blood vessels in turn cool the blood and circulate cooler blood to your brain, to cool it down.

Teacher’s theory

Now, it’s a well-known human rhythm that bodies get heated up just before we fall asleep. As a result, we yawn more. So, teachers were not completely wrong. However, sleep is not the direct reason. The reason we yawn is because the brain gets heated up, and it may as well get heated up due to other reasons; not always due to sleepiness or tiredness. Plus the yawn tries to correct the heated-sleepy-brain by circulating cooler blood.

The body does this to cool down the over-heated brain – which obviously gets heated due to extra information processing – like a computer processor. Why would the brain heat up when I’m not actively processing information better. So, yawning doesn’t mean I’m bored, or I’m not actively listening to the teacher when they’re speaking. Teachers need to know this.

Even if yawning is a sign of boredom to some extent. A yawn actually helps you cool down and helps you to process information better. So, teachers should be happy when you yawn in their class. You are trying to be a better listener than people who aren’t yawning in the class!

Hit like if you learnt something interesting today.