Memory without the brain


A compelling case that plants and animals without brains have memories.

“The neuron is not a miracle cell,” says Stefano Mancuso, a University of Florence botanist who has written several books on plant intelligence. “It's a normal cell that is able to produce an electric signal. In plants almost every cell is able to do that.”

On one plant, the touch-me-not, feathery leaves normally fold and wilt when touched (a defense mechanism against being eaten), but when a team of scientists at the University of Western Australia and the University of Firenze in Italy conditioned the plant by jostling it throughout the day without harming it, it quickly learned to ignore the stimulus. Most remarkably, when the scientists left the plant alone for a month and then retested it, it remembered the experience.

Found via The Browser.

The imagined history of Ellis Island


Via Marginal Revolution:

The explanation for this is pretty obvious when you think about it. Just as today, people bought tickets and their names were written on the tickets.

I never get tired of the "you were taught this in school, but it probably didn't happen" type of thing.

Indirect driving deaths caused by 9/11


Gaissmaier and Gigerenzer found that Americans flew less and drove more in the year after 9/11, which led to 1,600 more traffic deaths over that period than would otherwise have been expected.

From Range Widely by David Epstein

Disparity in divorce


I saw this yesterday afternoon and it caught my eye:

It reminded me of #49 in my list of 52 things I learned in 2022: If a married woman is diagnosed with a brain tumor, there is a 21% chance that the couple will divorce; if the husband has a tumor, there is only a 3% chance they will divorce, which I found via Rob Henderson.

Based on some googling, I don't think this is the exact same study, but in the spirit of intellectual honesty, I figured I should post it.

There is some nuance, but the general relationship between illness and husbands divorcing their wives no longer holds.

Congratulations to I-Fen Lin and Susan Brown, who found the error, and Amelia Karraker who handled the correction with dignity.