Mutant spider bites, exposure to radiation, freakish lab accidents, huge sums of wealth or just innate abilities give rise to figures that young and old adore. Super heroes! Their stories can sound just as fantastic as their powers. What if I were to tell you that some fantastic powers are real and transferable? Would you believe me?
I admit it: The sight of needles gives me the shivers. The moment the doc requests a blood sample, I want to hightail it to the next state over. And I am not alone in this viewpoint. Many people despise needles. This apprehension can be bad enough that people forgo medical treatment just to avoid the poke.
Have you experienced the following scenario? You are at a rock concert (or a team-building exercise at work) and lean back into a mosh pit (or group of your co-workers) with the expectation that they will catch you. If you have faith in people, then you would probably lean back and fall. If they catch you, great. If they let you fall, then an enormous “ouch” awaits you.
What thoughts give you a warm fuzzy feeling? A basket of golden retriever puppies or wriggly mewing kittens? Maybe loved ones or friends? We humans evolved to be social creatures. Without a social network, we could potentially face a lonely existence that wreaks havoc on our mental and physical health (Perissinotto, Stijacic Cenzer, & Covinsky, 2012). We are not alone in our need of social contact: Many creatures from the humble bee to the giants of the sea need connections to thrive.
War movies are full of it. Bullets whizzing past the infantry. Supplies dwindling to the last scrap of shoe leather. The enemy advancing ever closer. Morale falling faster than the apple hitting Sir Isaac Newton’s head. Suddenly, a burst of brilliant light emerges from beyond the hills heralding the arrival of reinforcements. The battered infantry is reinvigorated to make that final push on the enemy’s line and claims victory.
A newborn fawn laying in a flowering meadow takes its first wobbly steps and soon gleefully frolics. Unbeknownst to the little fawn, a mountain lion intently watches the little morsel. Fortunately, the fawn’s mother knows the world is full of danger and guides her little one to safety.
Resistance is futile. These words have become the catch phrase of the Borg, an iconic alien race determined to assimilate all life into their collective. With no regard or any compassion, the aliens do what they want to achieve their objective. Being able to quickly adapt, defeating these foes becomes a herculean challenge for the protagonists of Star Trek. In these fictional scenarios, the writers can easily add a happy ending and give the heroes the means for conquering the infamous aliens until they meet again.
The feverish pace of technological evolution during the twentieth century must have been mind-boggling. My grandparents (one born in the nineteenth century and the others born slightly after the start of the twentieth century) had front row seats to witness the transition from horse carts to automobiles, from hot air balloons to trans-oceanic flights, from communicating via telegrams to watching television and using phones, and from cooking over a wood-burning stove to using microwaves. My grandparents and parents also witnessed the emergence of computers, and people walking on the moon. Compared to the last century, technology may not appear to be evolving as rapidly, but it does.
From the window, I still note the presence of winter. I grab my blanket to avoid the cold draft’s frigid grasp. Low and behold, I start seeing small pops of color piercing the stark white blanket of snow. Crocuses of every shade imaginable herald the long-awaiting news of the winter’s ending reign of tyranny. The crocuses also foretell the ominous arrival of … bunnies!
What do redwoods, quahog clams, Greenland sharks, bowhead whales, and Galapagos tortoises have in common? Although this sounds like a riddle that could keep the greatest of philosophers up at night, the answer is quite simple: These organisms are among the longest-lived on the planet. While these organisms will outlive us by hundreds to thousands of years, we still have many things in common, including the need to regularly replenish the proteins we make (and which make us).