Zebras Have Stripes to Shoo Away Flies.

by Ed Yong
Joren Brugginkof and Jai Lake with a horse that’s pretending to be a zebra.
Are you sure this is a zebra?
it was surprisingly easy to dress horses like zebras.
Several vendors were already selling coats with black-and-white stripes, often as fun gimmicks.
But, as Tim Caro learned, such coverings have an unexpectedly serious effect. “There are enormous benefits to having a striped coat for a horse,” he told me.
Caro, a biologist at the University of California at Davis, has spent years thinking about why zebras are striped, and has even written a book about this mystery.
In his latest bid to get clear answers, he and his colleagues traveled to Hill Livery, a stable in southwest England that keeps several captive zebras alongside domestic horses.
By comparing these two species, as well as horses that were comically cloaked in zebra-striped coats, the team found fresh evidence for what Caro thinks is the only plausible explanation for the striking stripes:
They evolved to deter bloodsucking flies.
Source: Why Do Zebras Have Stripes? To Shoo Away Flies. – The Atlantic

Early Patients of Brain Surgery.

0(Photo: Cushing Tumor Registry – Cushing/Whitney Medical Library/Yale University)
For more than three decades, two amazing relics of medical history lay rotting underneath a Yale University dorm—Dr. Harvey Cushing’s collection of brains, and his collection of patient photography.
The former has been given its own exhibition space in Harvey Cushing/John Hay Whitney Medical Library, Yale University, open to the public since 2010.
About 500 brains sit in the $1.4 million-dollar Cushing Center, carefully preserved in the leaden glass jars in which they arrived.
The 10,000 glass plates, though, have only just begun their journey to public consumption.
Its contents are finally beginning to be seen—the pictures in this story have only been digitized in the past year and they are published here for the first time. The images are staggering.
Babies with distended skulls sit on a mother’s knee.
Neat scars form patterns on patient skulls, like farmland seen from an airplane window. Often, the photos are taken in profile, or are a close-up of hands.
Some of the most bewitching pictures involve a patient staring at the camera head-on, with a directness rare in today’s selfie-strewn world.


“They just keep revealing themselves,” says Terry Dagradi, Cushing Center Coordinator, “
They are amazing not because they were shot to be amazing.
See more Images via See These Stunning Photos Of Brain Surgery’s Earliest Patients | Atlas Obscura.

Coca-Cola and Cocaine, 1886-1903.

There’s nothing quite like the sugary rush that accompanies a cold glass of Coca-Cola — but did you know that the aptly named Coke used to deliver an even bigger kick?
Until 1903, the world-famous soft drink contained a significant dose of cocaine.
While the Coca-Cola Company officially denies the presence of cocaine in any of its products — past or present — historical evidence suggests that the original Coca-Cola did, in fact, contain cocaine.
Coca-Cola was first created in 1886 by Atlanta pharmacist John Pemberton, who modelled his beverage after a then-popular French refreshment, coca wine, made by mixing coca-leaf extract with Bordeaux wine.
To avoid liquor regulations, Pemberton chose to mix his coca-leaf extract with sugar syrup instead of wine. He also added kola-nut extract, lending Coca-Cola the second half of its name, as well as an extra jolt of caffeine.
While cocaine-infused beverages may seem far-fetched to modern readers, these drinks were quite common in the late 19th century. Cocaine was not made illegal in the United States until 1914, and until then, the substance had a variety of (sometimes questionable) medical uses.
Cocaine tonics, powders and pills were popularly believed to cure a variety of ailments, from headache and fatigue to constipation, nausea, asthma and impotence.
But by 1903, the tide of public opinion had turned against the widely used and abused narcotic, leading the Coca-Cola Company’s then-manager, Asa Griggs Candler, to remove nearly all cocaine from the company’s beverages.
But Coke wouldn’t become completely cocaine-free until 1929, when scientists perfected the process of removing all psychoactive elements from coca-leaf extract.
Source: Does Coca-Cola Contain Cocaine? | Cocaine in Coke

Louis Pasteur’s Germ Theory of Disease.

Louis Pasteur was born in Dole France, married to Marie Laurent and had five children.
Three of his children died of typhoid fever, maybe leading to Pasteur’s drive to save people from disease.
He graduated in 1842 from Besancon College Royal de la Franche with honors in physics, mathematics, Latin, and drawing. Louis Pasteur later attended Ecole Normale to study physics and chemistry, specializing in crystals.
In his early research Pasteur worked with the wine growers of France, helping with the fermentation process to develop a way to pasteurize and kill germs.
He was granted U.S. patent 135,245 for “Improvement in Brewing Beer and Ale Pasteurization.”
Pasteur then worked within the textile industry finding a cure for a disease affecting silk worms.
He also found cures for chicken cholera, anthrax and rabies.
The Pasteur Institute
The Pasteur Institute was opened in 1888. During Louis Pasteur’s lifetime it was not easy for him to convince others of his ideas, controversial in their time but considered absolutely correct today.
Pasteur fought to convince surgeons that germs existed and carried diseases, and dirty instruments and hands spread germs and therefore disease. Pasteur’s pasteurization process killed germs and prevented the spread of disease.
The Germ Theory of Disease
Louis Pasteur’s main contributions to microbiology and medicine were; instituting changes in hospital/medical practices to minimize the spread of disease by microbes or germs, discovering that weak forms of disease could be used as an immunization against stronger forms and that rabies was transmitted by viruses too small to be seen under the microscopes of the time, introducing the medical world to the concept of viruses.
via Louis Pasteur – Germ Theory of Disease.

My Struggle by Brooke Shaden.

brookeshaden01Though, year after year, we’ve featured her surreal photos on My Modern Met we had no idea that for the last 14 years of her life, photographer Brooke Shaden has been suffering from fibromyalgia.
Over 5 million Americans are affected by this condition that causes chronic muscle pain, fatigue, insomnia, headaches and tender pressure points on the body.
“When I was 13, I started having pain in my left knee. I got a knee brace, but soon the pain shifted to both knees,” she said. “When I started alternating how I wore my knee brace, people at school began to wonder if I really had any pain at all.
That was my first experience with this ‘invisible’ disorder, and I was diagnosed a year later.
It manifests itself in joint pain, fatigue, and overall sensitivity, but in the end it has taught me invaluable lessons about just how much one can overcome if given the right mindset.”
To raise awareness for the cause, Brooke has created a beautiful set of images featuring a swarm of blue butterflies. What does each image mean?
“I wanted to show three different stages of pain, and the frailty, acceptance and power that can come from it,” she tells us. “The close-up image shows weakness and vulnerability.
The image with butterflies coming out of my chest shows power. The image of the butterflies holding me up shows acceptance. Butterflies are an incredible universal symbol.
They represent change, beauty, and grace. In a way that is what people with pain go through, and especially pain that does not manifest in any obvious way.”
What does she hope others will come to understand about this disorder? “That it does not represent one concrete set of symptoms,” she said. “It is hard to identify and hard to live with.
Many people have different experiences of the disorder.
If anything, it has taught me never to judge someone because you never know what their internal struggle is. I have spent half my life making sure no one knew what my experience was in suffering internally.
I learned strength and power partially through dealing with pain, and so I have counted it as a life lesson.”
via Beautiful Triptych Shows Photographer’s 14 Year Struggle with Fibromyalgia – My Modern Met.