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THE CITY OF NORFOLK’S ANNUAL MEMORIAL DAY CEREMONY WILL TAKE PLACE AT 1000, 29 MAY 2017 IN WISCONSIN SQUARE NEXT TO THE LONE SAILOR STATUE. CONGRESSMAN (FORMER SEAL) SCOTT TAYLOR WILL BE THE FEATURED SPEAKER.

FLUID IDENTITY

When a caterpillar enters the chrysalis stage, it is not merely sprouting wings to become a moth or butterfly. Enzymes inside the chrysalis completely dissolve the entire caterpillar–brain, organs, and all–into a nutrient-rich slurry of protein. Only a few cells remain alive. Once the caterpillar has self-digested, an alternate section of DNA inside the few remaining living cells is expressed, and the cells use the nutrient soup to multiply and develop the new organism. In essence the animal is a chimera; the caterpillar lives and dies, and an entirely new organism emerges from its remains.
Astonishingly, in spite of the radical liquefication of the original organism and its entire nervous system, some memories survive the transition. Researchers at Georgetown University have found that they can train caterpillars to avoid particular odors by associating them with a mild electric
shock. After these trained caterpillars metamorphosized into moths they continued to avoid the shock-associated odors, demonstrating some kind of as-yet-inexplicable memory retention from the larval stage.
Written by Alan Bellows, copyright © 23 February 2017.

TASTES ON A PLANE

Consumption of tomato juice is unusually popular on commercial airline flights. For example, German airline Lufthansa estimates they serve about 53,000 gallons (about 200,000 liters) of the stuff a year, which is not too far off from the 59,000 gallons (223,000 liters) of beer they serve annually on their airplanes. Its popularity has something to do with the history of drink service on airplanes. When commercial flights began, alcohol was complimentary and therefore hugely popular. Because of the expense, airlines eventually began charging for booze, but the mixers remained available free of charge.
However, that’s not the whole story. Studies in chambers that mimic airplane cabins in flight indicate there’s a scientific reason for tomato juice’s airborne popularity. The modern airplane cabin’s combination of low pressure, loud engine noise, and desert-like humidity has an impact on a human’s sense of taste. These factors dull humans’ sensitivity to sweet and salty flavors by about 30%, but do not impact the umami flavors that are important to the taste of tomato juice. As a result, people consistently rate tomato juice as tasting better in conditions observed in an airplane than in conditions normally seen on the ground. These studies also found that sour, bitter, and spicy flavors are mostly unaffected.
The same effects that enhance the flavor of tomato juice seem to be partially to blame for airline food’s infamous lack of appeal. In an effort to circumvent the phenomenon, some airlines conduct taste tests in simulated airplane cabins.
Written by Monica Traphagan, copyright © 12 January 2017.

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