Bats: a History of Hearing

We’ve been frightened, enchanted, and confused by bats for centuries. Unique in the animal kingdom, the story of bats has been complicated throughout history, and human interaction with them has been part of the complications. Once thought to have extra-sensory abilities, scientists later attributed the bat’s remarkable ability to fly accurately through darkness (without bumping into objects, even when blinded or eyeless) to an extraordinary sense of touch.

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We now know that the reason bats are so adept at flying through darkness is their incredible sense of hearing, paired with a unique system of sending and receiving sound signals called “biosonar.” Many bats, while flying in pitch dark, emit a low-level sound wave that functions almost like “acoustic” vision: the waves bounce off objects in the vicinity, and the bats listen for audible feedback from the objects around them in order to determine the “shape” of their surroundings. This accounts for their accuracy in spacial understanding, despite their lack-luster vision capabilities.

No comments, Elise Anderson, December 3, 2016

Birches

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Birches

When I see birches bend to left and right
Across the lines of straighter darker trees,
I like to think some boy’s been swinging them.
But swinging doesn’t bend them down to stay.
Ice-storms do that. Often you must have seen them
Loaded with ice a sunny winter morning
After a rain. They click upon themselves
As the breeze rises, and turn many-colored
As the stir cracks and crazes their enamel.
Soon the sun’s warmth makes them shed crystal shells
Shattering and avalanching on the snow-crust–
Such heaps of broken glass to sweep away
You’d think the inner dome of heaven had fallen.
They are dragged to the withered bracken by the load,
And they seem not to break; though once they are bowed
So low for long, they never right themselves:
You may see their trunks arching in the woods
Years afterwards, trailing their leaves on the ground
Like girls on hands and knees that throw their hair
Before them over their heads to dry in the sun.
But I was going to say when Truth broke in
With all her matter-of-fact about the ice-storm
(Now am I free to be poetical?)
I should prefer to have some boy bend them
As he went out and in to fetch the cows–
Some boy too far from town to learn baseball,
Whose only play was what he found himself,
Summer or winter, and could play alone.
One by one he subdued his father’s trees
By riding them down over and over again
Until he took the stiffness out of them,
And not one but hung limp, not one was left
For him to conquer. He learned all there was
To learn about not launching out too soon
And so not carrying the tree away
Clear to the ground. He always kept his poise
To the top branches, climbing carefully
With the same pains you use to fill a cup
Up to the brim, and even above the brim.
Then he flung outward, feet first, with a swish,
Kicking his way down through the air to the ground.
So was I once myself a swinger of birches.
And so I dream of going back to be.
It’s when I’m weary of considerations,
And life is too much like a pathless wood
Where your face burns and tickles with the cobwebs
Broken across it, and one eye is weeping
From a twig’s having lashed across it open.
I’d like to get away from earth awhile
And then come back to it and begin over.
May no fate willfully misunderstand me
And half grant what I wish and snatch me away
Not to return. Earth’s the right place for love:
I don’t know where it’s likely to go better.
I’d like to go by climbing a birch tree,
And climb black branches up a snow-white trunk
Toward heaven, till the tree could bear no more,
But dipped its top and set me down again.
That would be good both going and coming back.
One could do worse than be a swinger of birches.

– ROBERT FROST

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A favorite tree of poets, artists, and nature-lovers, the birch is a deciduous hardwood tree known for its characteristic cream-colored trunk pock-marked with dark knots shaped a bit like the human eye. The fragile appearance of the thin trunks may be deceptive, though – this tree is hearty, strong, and thrives in a wide range of climates across the world.

Birch Vase

No comments, Elise Anderson, November 25, 2016

Trending Now : Octopus Obsession

Known for its intelligence, ingenuity, and strange physical abilities, the octopus has long been surrounded by a spirit of mystery and awe. It’s no wonder this amazing creature has become a popular emblem for home decor and remained a beloved subject in painting and sculpture.

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A symbol of both magic and reason, will and flexibility, the octopus brings the spirit of the ocean to your home. The Wildlife Wonders Octopus Collection features hand-picked art, home decor, and jewelry embellished or otherwise modeled/inspired by the octopus form and personality.

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No comments, Elise Anderson, August 21, 2016

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