The Woman Who Couldn’t Hear Music and the Woman Who Couldn’t Stop
Two strange Oliver Sacks stories about the mind and music from Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain.
It’s not that she was deaf. She could hear normally. It’s just that music made absolutely no sense to her — to her it was “somewhere between unintelligible and excruciating,” according to renowned psychiatrist and neurologist Oliver Sacks. He had never seen anything like it before. And the fact that everyone else could made the woman feel like a freak. That is, until she learned that she had a neurological condition called amusia and was put in touch with others who share it.
And then there was a woman who kept hearing old songs that weren’t there. She heard them so clearly she went looking in vain for their source in the world around her. But that’s not where they were — something in her brain was playing them just for her. (She was better-off, at least, than the man who hallucinated terrifying Nazi marching songs he’d heard during his Jewish childhood in 1930s Germany.)
The late Dr. Sacks was fascinated with music and the brain, and these are just two bizarre stories from one of his bestsellers, Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain.
Here's the science of black holes, from supermassive monsters to ones the size of ping-pong balls.
- There's more than one way to make a black hole, says NASA's Michelle Thaller. They're not always formed from dead stars. For example, there are teeny tiny black holes all around us, the result of high-energy cosmic rays slamming into our atmosphere with enough force to cram matter together so densely that no light can escape.
- CERN is trying to create artificial black holes right now, but don't worry, it's not dangerous. Scientists there are attempting to smash two particles together with such intensity that it creates a black hole that would live for just a millionth of a second.
- Thaller uses a brilliant analogy involving a rubber sheet, a marble, and an elephant to explain why different black holes have varying densities. Watch and learn!
- Bonus fact: If the Earth became a black hole, it would be crushed to the size of a ping-pong ball.
Protected animals are feared to be headed for the black market.
In a breakthrough for nuclear fusion research, scientists at China's Experimental Advanced Superconducting Tokamak (EAST) reactor have produced temperatures necessary for nuclear fusion on Earth.
- The EAST reactor was able to heat hydrogen to temperatures exceeding 100 million degrees Celsius.
- Nuclear fusion could someday provide the planet with a virtually limitless supply of clean energy.
- Still, scientists have many other obstacles to pass before fusion technology becomes a viable energy source.
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