A Camel in the Emirates: Camel Polo has become a favorite pastime in the Gulf. Copyright: Christina Feyerke

Dubai: Ever heard of Camel Polo?

9.11.2019

No extra skills needed!

Have you ever tried to play Camel Polo? If not, perhaps the time has arrived for you to muster all your courage, clamber onto the chosen Camel’s furry back and see what happens. Organisers of this entertaining pastime declare that no prior equestrian or camel riding experience is required and that this activity is nothing but great fun for virtually everyone.

Those who have made the acquaintance of camels before may find them cute or even cuddly, despite their size and their sometimes intimidating grunt issued from the base of their huge lungs. They are tender giants, really. Depending on the outcome of an encounter – and with all due respect – some rate camels (who can close their nostrils) smelly and stubborn – and they slobber. In general, the camel, a mammal, is pleasant to have – but one never knows what it’s up to next. They can be such clowns, camels! Even the classy racing variety – costing as much as a fleet of Rolls’s and trained to keep their aristocratic countenance at all times – could not care less about conventions if caught in a foul mood. Crowds cheering on grandstands have watched priceless camels stop dead in their speedy strides and abruptly turn on all four heels, only to continue their lonely run in the opposite direction, protruding lips flapping. Much to the chagrin of the helpless jockey…

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Reading time: about 4 minutes
TED Talk: Making ears from apples

TED Talk. Andrew Pelling: Making ears from apples

7.11.2019

„My lab is not in the ear-making business. What I’m really curious about is if one day it will be possible to repair, rebuild and augment our own bodies with stuff we make in the kitchen,” says Andrew Pelling who leads a university-based biological research lab. Usually, he likes to rummage through garbage and often digs up discarded hardware he first dismantles and then reassembles into something completely new. Could that also work with a biological system? Creating human ears from apples may be far-fetched, but seems feasible: the lab removed apple cells and DNA and implanted human cells instead. The result was a cellulose scaffold with a structure that could be carved into a human ear!

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Reading time: about 1 minute
Lindau Puppet Opera: Swanlake Pas De Deux. Christian Flemming

Lindau/Germany: Why Opera-goers adore Puppets on Strings

1.11.2019

When shapely legs are swung high during the meticulously rehearsed Swan Lake performance, they are not made of flesh and blood. Nor, in fact, are any of the lissome corporal parts belonging to the remarkable cast exerting themselves on the miniature stage of the Lindau Marionette Opera (House): they are puppets on strings choreographed and directed with an expertise and finesse that leaves every audience open-mouthed with bafflement. And that doesn’t just account for the ballet troupe bobbing their tutus in tune with Tchaikovsky’s legendary piece of distinguished classical music: there’s Mozart, Verdi, Rossini, Strauss, Bizet and Humperdinck on the programme as well.

Yet, how is it accomplished that rigid images sculpted from wood seem to display credible emotions? Carving features adaptable enough to augment the illusion of changing mien is the craftsmanship their creators are excelling at.

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Reading time: about 3 minutes
Longevity in Blue Zones

Longevity: The Blue Zones Methusalem Enigma

7.10.2019

The quality of longevity is being discussed in controversial ways. Whereas the goal set by the ones optimistic of their (ever-)lasting physical and mental stamina is reaching an age of biblical extent, others would rather see themselves passing away at the height of their beauty, wit and grit – just in time, so to say. For them, the outlook on being left helplessly wilting in a forlorn nursery home or as an undead vegetable plugged to the wonders of life-prolonging contraptions, is utterly unbearable. Not to hope for heavenly conditions on earth seems the more realistic approach since, commonly, just-in-time rarely happens.

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A Clown Fish receiving massage by a sea anemone. Photo: Nick Hobgood.

TED Talk. Paul Greenberg: The four fish we are overeating

15.09.2019

“Grinding Nemo”

Overfishing is only half of the story, says Paul Greenberg in his talk. The other half is about the boom in fish farming and aquaculture, which – over the past year or two – has started to exceed the amount of wild fish produced. In America and a great part of the Western World, shrimp is by far the most consumed seafood. 5, 10, 15 pounds of wild fish – deemed trash fish by the fishing industry – are killed to bring one pound of shrimp to the market. Filmmaker Mark Benjamin called the phenomenon “Grinding Nemo“: Shrimp dredgers vacuum up a huge amount of bycatch that is then minced and turned into shrimp feed. An „ecosystem literally eating itself and spitting out shrimp“. A recent study has found that dredging for shrimp represents one of the most carbon-intensive ways of fishing there is.

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Reading time: about 1 minute