Gem of the Week: Understanding Jellyfish

Walkern/<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/walkn/512848949/sizes/o/in/photostream/">Flickr</a>

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Each week I highlight one Blue Marble-ish story I think covers an underreported issue, or reveals a new side of an old one. Here’s this week’s.

For many years jellyfish have been thought of as dumb, reflex-based creatures with no hunting strategy who simply drifted where the waves took them. This absorbing piece in the New York Times shows otherwise. Author Natalie Angier culls together new scientific reports with interviews and in-person experiences to explore the jellyfish’s true nature. Especially when paired with a beautifully-shot photo essay, it’s one of those articles that makes you feel like an awestruck kid at the science museum.

And it couldn’t have come at a better time. Jellyfish are one of the species that have survived mass extinctions, and they show no sign of slowing. Already adaptive and resourceful by nature, global warming has increased their spread. Jellies haven’t thrived as passive predators though: as Angier’s article details, jellies are actually quite complex. Example: the box jellyfish has 24 eyes, of 4 different types. Jellies have “salinity meters” and go out of their way to avoid fresher waters that come in the spring from melted snow. 

Jellyfish are pretty and elegant, so it’s nice to know there’s some brain behind that beauty, or at least a few “neuronal condensations” where nerves act as brain-like structures.

 

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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