Eleanor Sarasohn

Eleanor Sarasohn is a graduate of Washington University in St. Louis with a degree in English, and a Kentucky native.

Posts by Eleanor Sarasohn

The Mellow Season

Human civilization tends to gravitate toward extremes in many realms. When it comes to weather, that is for good reason. No reminder is needed that, aside from a pick-ax to the eye, too much hot or cold is the very definition of discomfort. That is why, in our age of increasing climate extremes, and when […]

Hunter And Hunted

Big game hunting implies that a hunter is in pursuit of the most dangerous “big game” in the area. Africa’s “Big Five” are elephant, rhinoceros, Cape buffalo, lion, and leopard. American big game animals are bears, moose, and bison. Tigers and rhinos are the big game hunted on the Indian subcontinent. People seek the thrill […]

Bikel Remembered, And Linked

Theodore Meir Bikel was born in Vienna, Austria, on May 2, 1924. His family fled to Palestine after the Nazi Anschluss in 1938. After a lifetime of accomplishments, he died of natural causes in Los Angeles on July 21, 2015. He was 91 years of age. Broadway and Hollywood: Theodore Bikel was a lecturer, author, […]

Mosquitoes. What Are They Good For?

Not much. In fact, the mosquito has long been extremely annoying and extremely deadly, with one half of all human deaths since the Stone Age being attributed to mosquitoes. They are vectors of several human diseases, including encephalitis, filariasis, yellow fever, dengue, and malaria. They also spread West Nile virus from birds to horses and […]

Animal, Vegetable, Intelligence

Plant neurobiologists argue the ways in which plants demonstrate behaviors that look very much like intelligence, memory, learning, and decision-making. Rather than relying on a brain and neurons, plants use a decentralized network, but both plants and animals can respond adaptively to circumstances. This list of the 10 smartest animals includes anoles and cockatoos, in […]

Let It Bee

Honeybees are sophisticated creatures. They are one of the few nonhuman animals to communicate symbolically, using a waggle dance and excreting pheromones to recruit and direct others in the hive to a new food source. The honeybee waggle dance is a unique animal signal that exhibits several characteristics of true language. Bees have a phenomenal […]

Faking It

La Bella Principessa is a painting worth somewhere between $19,000 and $150 million dollars. In 1998, Christie’s listed the chalk-and-ink drawing on vellum dated as early 19th century and Germanic in provenance. (Oops!) It was sold to Kate Ganz for $21,850. The portrait was sold a few years later to Peter Silverman for a similar amount. […]

Alone Again, Or

Scientists have been studying the calls of a whale dubbed “the loneliest whale in the world” for more than 20 years. Its calls are unusually high pitched—52 hertz, versus the typical 15-20 hertz range of blue whales. No one has ever seen the 52-hertz whale, but scientists believe he has been swimming alone for decades, […]

See Journeys

There is a long-standing puzzle about the wiring of the human eye: why was it wired backwards? The inside-out vertebrate retina has always been presented as an example of inefficient structure locked in by development and evolutionary history. Some recent research has shown that the retina of the eye has been optimized so that the sizes […]

Congo vs. Bonobo

In terms of untapped mineral reserves, The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is arguably the richest country in the world, with its estimated $24 trillion worth of natural resources. The DRC is a country of superlatives, with vast reserves of coltan, gold, cassiterite, and tin mined in eastern Congo, and reserves of diamonds, copper, […]

Cracking The Cod(ex)

The Voynich Manuscript has been called the world’s most mysterious medieval manuscript. It is an illustrated codex made of vellum, carbon-dated to the early 15th century. The manuscript is written in an unknown script and almost every page has a colorful drawing or diagram. Countless cryptographers, linguists, botanists, astronomers and historians have studied its text […]

Nothing Like The Sun

“There is not a single ‘should give’ or ‘guess’ about it. Sun power is now a fact, and is no longer in the ‘beautiful possibility’ stage. It can compete profitably with coal in the true tropics now.”   —Frank Shuman, American engineer and solar energy pioneer, 1913   In 1515, Leonardo da Vinci made sketches of […]

Notes From Underground

What can possibly compare to the joys, frustrations and, above all, costs of home renovation? How about the discovery of an ancient underground city after knocking down one of your home’s walls? Archaeologists think there may be hundreds of underground cities in Cappadocia (central Turkey), but only six excavated. Our lucky homeowner discovered Derinkuyu (which translates as “deep […]

Web Time

1. Never mind jokes about changing light bulbs. When spiders put their collective mind to it, they can pull down 8-foot long fluorescent light fixtures. In Baltimore, at least.   2. That’s not surprising when we consider spider silk as a prototype for synthetic muscle.   3. In fact, it turns out that the screenwriters […]