The Chorus to Remember

Music can make a huge difference in your workday. Feel free to crank up the volume if noise has you working like a snail, you’ve got a case of the Monday’s, or you’ve got something mundane or familiar to do. Ideally, though, make your playlists out of songs you already know, and if your tasks involve any sort of linguistic processing, focus on lyric-free options. Lastly, if you have something to learn, pump up your mood with music before you get started.


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Death rates in humans increase dramatically in later life, leading to an upsweeping mortality curve (far right, 2009 data from Japanese women). But the mortality curves of plants and animals vary greatly, according to a recent data analysis. Hydra don’t appear to age at all, and the death rates of desert tortoises can actually decline later in life. 

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The Homo sapiens view of our world is all a matter of perspective, and we need to remember that we’re among the larger creatures on Earth. At around 1.7 meters in length, we’re much closer in size to the biggest animals that have ever lived – 30-meter-long blue whales – than the viruses and bacteria that are less than one-millionth our size.


Our relative size and their invisibility to our naked eye makes it easy to forget that there are vastly more of those little guys than us – not just in number, but also in mass and volume. And they’re vital to the health of our planet. For example, every other breath of oxygen you take is courtesy of the photosynthetic bacteria that live in the ocean.


As early microscope pioneer Antony Van Lewenhook discovered approximately 350 years ago, these little “animalcules” are in almost every nook and cranny you can think of on Earth. But until now, we haven’t been able to study most microscopic forms of ocean life in their native marine habitats at sufficient resolution to discern many of their miniature features. This is important, as there are thousands of different millimeter-sized underwater creatures we previously couldn’t study unless they were removed and brought to the lab.


Our new Benthic Underwater Microscope (BUM) changes that. In building our underwater microscopes, we are inspired by oceanographer Victor Smetacek’s question of whether an in situ computerized telemicroscope could “do for microbial ecology what Galileo’s telescope did for astronomy.” Simply put, we hope so. Underwater microscopy can help scientists tackle research questions in new ways. Using the BUM, we’ve already seen some amazing new coral behaviors.

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