A series of new studies has revealed that jellyfish are far more than mindless blobs that can spoil your day at the beach. On today’s Please Explain, Steve Bailey, Curator of Fishes at the New England Aquarium, and Marine Biologist and Chief Aquarist at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Michael Howard discuss why jellyfish are much more complex and interesting than scientists once thought.
Also huffduffed as…
Mr. Dr. Greg Bole is back with Toren, Joe, and Kevin to discuss sea jellies and their amazing gelatinous friends! Immortal jellyfish, the intense pain of some jellyfish stings, and a live tasting of jellyfish!
Bioluminescence: A Bright and Shy Fish — Science has a handle on fireflies and glowworms, but most bioluminescent animals live in the ocean and are tough to study. Today, researchers are still figuring out why some animals produce light. Dive with Josh and Chuck into this illuminating topic.
Episode 2 - Inside the Whale
I’m interested in flotation tanks because I’m kind of obsessed with an idea called the Umwelt. Umwelt is a German word that means environment, but it also has a specific meaning in the world of consciousness studies.
It was coined back in 1930 by a romantic German biologist named Jacob Von Uexkull. Von Uexkull was fed up with the era’s dominant behaviorist view of animals, which considered only how animals acted - their behavior. He was more interested in what animals experienced, in the texture and quality of their felt sensory worlds. In an attempt to address this question, he published a curious monograph called A Stroll Through the Worlds of Animals and Men.
The book begins in a meadow, teaming with animal life. To get a glimpse into how these animals may experience the meadow, Von Uexkull writes "we must first blow, in fancy, a soap bubble around each creature to represent its own world, filled with the perceptions which it alone knows."
As we step into each of these bubbles, von Uexkull goes on, "a new world comes into being." Each "new world" Von Uexkull called an Umwelt, a richly-detailed self-world which corresponds to the unique senses and environments of each animal. In this way, he was able to imaginatively position himself inside the heads - inside the Umwelt bubbles - of different species.
The isolation tank is a kind of Umwelt. It puts you into a unique, sensory bubble that’s very different from everyday experience.
You’re removed from gravity. You can’t see anything, but you can hear all kinds of strange clicks and creaks coming from your body. The slightest sound is amplified. Thoughts drift in unexpected directions.
This episode is about the limits of human knowledge. It’s about imagination and empathy - and science - and how we may be able use all of these things to get insights into the fantastic alien world of the great whales.