Augury is an ancient Roman method of prophecy by studying the flight of birds. Signs from birds were divided into “alites” from the flight, and “oscines” from the voice. The alites included region of sky, height and type of flight, behaviour of the bird and place where it would rest. The oscines included the pitch and direction of the sound.
The augur was a priest and official in ancient Rome. His main role was to interpret the will of the gods by studying the flight of birds, whether they are flying in groups or alone, what noises they make as they fly, direction of flight and what kind of birds they are. This was known as “taking the auspices”.
Observation conditions were rigorous and required absolute silence for validity of the operation. The effectiveness of augury could only be judged retrospectively. The divinely ordained condition of peace was an outcome of successful augury.
The individual that best represents augury is Attus Navius. One day he lost one of his pigs and promised the gods that if he found it he would offer them the biggest grapes growing in his vineyard. After recovering his pig he stood in the middle of his vineyard facing south. He divided the sky into four sections and observed birds. When they appeared he walked in that direction and found an extraordinarily large grape.
The Jackson’s Chameleon is an African chameleon belonging to the family Chamaeleonidae. They are native to the humid, cooler regions of Kenya and Tanzania, East Africa, found in great numbers at altitudes over 9000 feet.
They are sometimes called Three-horned Chameleons because males possess three brown horns, one on the nose and one above each superior orbital ridge above the eyes, somewhat reminiscent of Triceratops. Their adult size is 12 inches in total length.
The subspecies xantholophus was introduced to Hawaii in the 1970s and has since established populations on all main islands. This population was the primary source of Jackson’s Chameleons for the exotic pet trade. However, the exportation of these animals has been made illegal to prevent opportunists from willfully establishing feral animal populations in order to capture and sell them.
Jackson’s chameleons live primarily on a diet of small insects. They are less territorial than most species of chameleons. Males will generally assert dominance over each other through color displays and posturing in an attempt to secure mating rights, but usually not to the point of physical fights.
Frangipani, or Plumeria, is a genus of flowering plants in the family which includes Dogbane. They are native to Mexico, Central America, the Caribbean and South America, and have been spread throughout the world’s tropics. Indian incenses containing Frangipani have “Champa” in their name, for example Nag Champa.
Frangipani flowers are most fragrant at night in order to lure sphinx moths to pollinate them. The flowers have no nectar, and simply dupe their pollinators. The moths inadvertently pollinate them by transferring pollen from flower to flower in their fruitless search for nectar.
They are associated with temples in both Hindu and Buddhist cultures. In local Asian folk beliefs, the plants provide shelter to ghosts. Frangipani are often planted on cemetery grounds Indonesia. Balinese Hindus use the flowers in their temple offerings.
In Hindu mythology there is a saying “The beauty of Champa is compared to Radhika, who is wife of lord Krishna and honey bees are servants of Lord Krishna. This is the reason honey bees don’t sit on the champa flower.”
Musical memory refers to the ability to remember music-related information, such as melodic content and other progressions of tones or pitches. The differences found between linguistic memory and musical memory have led researchers to theorize that musical memory is encoded differently from language.
Recent research has demonstrated that the normal right hemisphere of the brain responds to melody holistically, whereas the left hemisphere of the brain evaluates melodic passages in a more analytic fashion.
For instance, while listening to the melody of the popular carol “Silent Night”, the right hemisphere thinks, “Ah, yes, Silent Night”, while the left hemisphere thinks, “two sequences: the first a literal repetition, the second a repetition at different pitch levels… ah, yes, Silent Night by Franz Gruber, typical pastorate folk style.”
The brain for the most part works well when each hemisphere performs its own function while solving a task or problem, and the two hemispheres are quite complementary. However, situations arise musical memory when the two modes are in conflict, resulting in one hemisphere interfering with the operation of the other hemisphere.
The Lombard effect is the involuntary tendency of a speaker to increase the intensity of the voice when speaking in loud noise to enhance audibility. This change includes not only loudness but also other acoustic features such as pitch, rate and duration of sound syllables.
Choral singers experience reduced feedback due to the sound of other singers upon their own voice. This results in a tendency for people in choruses to sing at a louder level if it is not controlled by a conductor. Trained soloists can control this effect but it has been suggested that after a concert they might speak more loudly in noisy surrounding as in after-concert parties.
Noise has been found to effect the vocalizations of animals that vocalize against a background of human noise pollution. Birds sing with a higher frequency than those in quieter area to overcome the masking effect of the low frequency background noise pollution of cities. Beluga whales in the St. Lawrence River estuary adjust their whale song so it can be heard against shipping barge noise.
Sleep timing is controlled by the circadian clock, sleep-wake homeostasis, and in humans, willed behavior. The circadian clock is an inner timekeeping, temperature-fluctuating, enzyme-controlling mechanism that works in tandem with adenosine, a neurotransmitter that inhibits many of the bodily processes associated with wakefulness.
Adenosine is created over the course of the day, with high levels of adenosine leading to sleepiness. In diurnal animals, sleepiness occurs as the circadian element causes the release of the hormone melatonin and a gradual decrease in core body temperature.
The timing is affected by one’s chronotype, yet it is the circadian rhythm that determines the ideal timing of a correctly structured and restorative sleep episode. The need for sleep as a function of the amount of time elapsed since the last adequate sleep episode must be balanced against the circadian element for satisfactory sleep.
Along with corresponding messages from the circadian clock, this tells the body it needs to sleep. Sleep offset, or awakening, is primarily determined by circadian rhythm. A person who regularly awakens at an early hour will generally not be able to sleep much later than his or her normal waking time, even if moderately sleep-deprived.
The lovebug, also known as the honeymoon fly or kissingbug (Plecia nearctica), is a member of the family of march flies. It is a small flying insect common to parts of Central America and the southeastern United States, especially along the Gulf Coast.
During and after mating, adult pairs remain coupled, even in flight, for several days. Lovebug flights can number in the hundreds of thousands. The slow, drifting movement of the insects is almost reminiscent of snow fall except the flies also rise up into the air reaching altitudes of over one thousand feet. Two major flights occur each year, first in late spring, then again in late summer.
The species’ reputation as a public nuisance is due not to any bite or sting but to its slightly acidic body chemistry. Because airborne lovebugs can exist in enormous numbers near highways, they die en masse on automobile windshields, hoods, and radiator grills when the vehicles travel at high speeds. If left for more than an hour or two, the remains become dried and extremely difficult to remove.
The lovebug was first described in 1940. At that time, the incidence of lovebugs was most common in Texas and Louisiana. However, by the end of the 20th century the species had spread heavily to all areas bordering the Gulf of Mexico. Urban legend holds that love bugs are the result of a University of Florida genetics experiment gone wrong,