50, 100 and 150 Years Ago; December 2002; Scientific American Magazine; by Staff Editor; 1 Page(s)
CURIOUS BEHAVIOR OF STICKLEBACKS-"The sex life of the three-spined stickleback (Gasterosteus aculeatus) is a complicated pattern, purely instinctive and automatic, which can be observed and manipulated almost at will. One result that is now beginning to emerge from the stickleback experiments is the realization that mammals are in many ways a rather exceptional group, specializing in 'plastic' behavior. The simple and more rigid behavior found in our fish seems to be the rule in most of the animal kingdom. One therefore expects to find an innate base beneath the plastic behavior of mammals. Thus the study of conflicting drives in so low an animal as the stickleback may throw light on human conflicts and the nature of neuroses.-N. Tinbergen" [Editors' note: Nikolaas Tinbergen won the 1973 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for research in social behavior.]
POTATO HISTORY-"It is in Ireland, the classic land of the potato, that one finds the clearest evidence of the influence which a cheap, nutritious foodstuff can exercise on a society. The potato reached Ireland around 1588. Through the next centuries, how often we hear the potato spoken of as the lifeline of the people, the trusted bulwark against ever-recurring failures of the cereal crop! In the early 19th century, failures of the potato crop led many to warn the government and the people against undue reliance on the potato. It was too late: in 1845 and 1846 came the total destruction of the potato crop by the previously unknown fungus Phytophthora infestans, and the Great Famine followed.-Redcliffe N. Salaman, author of 'The History and Social Influence of the Potato'"