Coronal and ventral x-rays of the hammerhead shark, Sphyrna mokarran.
The distinguishing feature of this animal is, of course, the highly unusual skull shape. You may once have wondered what exactly this seemingly clumsy structure contributes to this fearsome predator, and biologists still do. However, a number of theories exist to explain this unique adaptation; here are some of the best:
- All the better to see you with: mounting the eyes at either end of the broad skull allows excellent vision in all areas of the vertical plane. Hammerhead sharks, as hunters of bottom-dwelling animals, can use this superior angle of vision to better locate prey.
- Another pair of fins. The head has evolved into the shape of an effective hydrofoil. It is thought that this may provide greater stability to the shark when making sharp turns and hunting.
- Heartbeat sensor. Like many sharks, the hammerhead possesses specialised electrosensory organs called the ampullae of Lorenzini. With these, it can detect the magnetic activity of the Earth and find its heading by means of biological compass. Much more impressively, the hammerhead can detect the minuscule electrical activity emitted by the muscle contractions of its prey, allowing location even when hidden from sight. Almost like a skull-mounted metal detector, the shark may sweep the seabed. All it takes is a heartbeat to give the game away.
Photo credit to Dan Anderson.
What does an atom sound like? Apparently, a D-note
Scientists have captured the sound of an atom for the first time, and it could lead to breakthroughs in quantum computing.
Like a 3-D take on Jackson Pollock, the latest work by the artist Martin Klimas begins with splatters of paint in fuchsia, teal and lime green, positioned on a scrim over the diaphragm of a speaker.
Then the volume is turned up. For each image, Klimas selects music — typically something dynamic and percussive, like Karlheinz Stockhausen, Miles Davis or Kraftwerk — and the vibration of the speaker sends the paint aloft in patterns that reveal themselves through the lens of his Hasselblad. Sonic Sculptures is a synaesthetic interplay of sound, shape and color. For this series, Klimas spent about 1,000 shots to produce the final images from his studio in Düsseldorf, Germany.