Did you know?

What are you interested about? What gets your intellectual juices flowing?

One of the best-known scientists ever, Francis Crick, of DNA fame, once came up with a deceptively simple method for people to find out where their true interest lies.

He called it “the gossip test”. He outlined it in his short, yet delightful book “What Mad Pursuit”, a pseudo biographical book about the science experience.

The gossip test as applied to science basically works by figuring out what do you want to tell the people around you. He provided us with an example based on his own life; it is well-known that he first wrote about his ideas on DNA replication not to a colleague, not to a professor, but to his son, in a handwritten letter.

I understand the feeling. It is the urge that you have to go to the hallway, grab (figuratively) the very first person that crosses your path and ask “did you know…? I have done it, but this type of behavior is usually excused when coming from known academics. It is tolerated like an endearing excentricity of the gentle, kind, yet weird uncle.

But this is no mere excentricity, as this is an all important urge. It is the proverbial spark that triggers the most important tool in the scientist’s arsenal.

This “did you know?” phrase can lead to this weapon: further questions.

For example…

Did you know that certain dolphin species use pufferfish (a known source of the lethal substance tetrodotoxin) to self- intoxicate with it? It seems that the dolphins get “high” by ingesting the substances secreted by the pufferfish. There is video evidence seeming to show that young dolphins even pass the fish around!

You can find more information on pufferfish-high dolphins here.

There are some who do not buy this drugged dolphins idea, and that it all right. The point is that I am sure that someone is already actively researching this matter and asking new, unthought questions about it already… Who knows? There may be some practical implications and application based on these observations.

When I am thinking (which is most of the time when in a good mood), I usually wonders about all the many things that can be initially thought of by a “did you know?” Nature is deeply mysterious, even more than we have a right to think. The single lifetime of a single person will never, ever be enough to even scratch the surface or true reality, of what fundamentally sustains the universe, and that frustrates me to no end.

Why, oh why, is life so short?

Carl Sagan once stated that he would welcome the possibility of an afterlife provided that he could keep learning. I can relate to this feeling.

If there is a heaven (and I am allowed to get in), would you, dear reader blame me for wishing that at least part of it would be dedicated to keep learning about nature? Remember my “biodiversity of the universe” post?

So, what “did you know?” questions do you have? What curious, strange, or weird little piece of knowledge about the universe makes your mind wander (and wonder)?

Let’s have a conversation!

All the best,

~Oné

~~~
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One Comment

  1. Great blog! But I wonder if it really applies most to those with a scientific inclination. I’ve been thinking lately about how scientists are strange that way. Most people don’t search for knowledge in this way, and really have other concerns.

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