If you take the time to look at how most birds walk, such as a chicken or a pigeon, you will notice that they bob their heads. This seems extremely impractical as if we bobbed our heads like that, we would likely become dizzy and vomit quite soon. So why do birds do it and why does it not make them dizzy?
A major difference between birds and human beings is the way our vision works. In humans, our eyes are constantly moving at a rapid rate (saccade) to collate information and stabilise images. Even when we are walking and our head is moving around, our eyes use various sensory information and reflexes to fix our vision at one point, giving us a clear picture. This is such a powerful reflex that one test to check a person’s brainstem function (for example, when they are in a coma) is to move the head and see if the eyes stay fixed on a point or if they follow the head (doll’s eye test). If the brainstem is intact, the eyes will keep looking at a fixed point despite head movement.
Birds on the other hand, cannot fix their vision this way. Instead what they do is they keep their head absolutely still in three-dimensional space when their body is moving. If you hold a chicken in the air and move the body around, you will find that the head stays stationary. This means that when they are walking, the bird’s head will stay still while the body takes a step forwards, then it will move to catch up to the body. From a third person’s point of view, this makes it look like they are bobbing their head, although they are just keeping it very still. In 1978, Dr Barrie J. Frost did an experiment where he put pigeons on a treadmill surrounded by a still backdrop and found that the pigeons did not bob their heads because there was nothing to see.
Cooking without a recipe.
I love cooking. My mum is a super-pro cook and one of my happiest memories of childhood was eating homemade meals (still is). Cooking in general is fun because you get the instant reward of eating it, but what’s even more fun is that you can do whatever the hell you want… within acceptable limits. Cooking by a recipe can be fun, but going by feel and changing around stuff is even better! And best of all, you can make your own recipes.
What I find the most fun regarding cooking is that you can get creative with various ingredients and see how it turns out. It could be you’re making something from scratch, or trying to recreate a meal you had somewhere else. I mean seriously, it’s like Lego that you can EAT. How much better can it get? Sometimes I look at the limited supply of food in my fridge and take it as a challenge.
For example, you can go from easy things like fried rice where you can pretty much dice up whatever and toss it in a pan:
…to more complex things like sweet & sour chicken, which I always have fun experimenting with (it’s really not that complicated tbh…):
But of course nothing beats the joy of making…
One of the most well-known philosophical questions is what came first: the chicken or the egg? A chicken is born from an egg, and an egg is birthed by a chicken. This means that the cause and effect are intertwined in a never-ending cycle. This kind of problem is known as circular cause and consequence or circular reference.
In some ways, this question is extremely easy to answer. In biology, many different creatures lay eggs to give birth to their young, but there are no examples of a chicken being born without an egg being involved. The chicken is most likely a product of a lineage of evolving species that ultimately resulted in the genetic makeup of a chicken. That “proto-chicken” would have laid an egg, which had enough mutations in its genome to be sufficiently different from the proto-chicken to be called a “chicken”. Therefore, the egg must have come before the chicken. Even if we use the strict rule of defining “egg” by as a “chicken egg”, the egg that birthed the first chicken contained the original genetic makeup for chickens; ergo the chicken egg came before the chicken.
Science and philosophy aside, a completely unrelated point about chickens and eggs is that there is a Japanese dish called oyakodon, which is made with chicken and egg over a bowl of rice and vegetables. The name comes from the Japanese for parent (“oya”, 親) and child (“ko”, 子), giving away the cruel nature of the relationship between the main ingredients in the dish.
On a hot summer’s day, one tends to drink cold drinks and eat cold foods to try cool their body down. But an old Korean proverb states that one should control fire with fire (yiyul-chiyul, 이열치열, 以熱治熱). In other words, instead of drinking cold drinks, it is better for your health if you eat hot soup to combat the heat. When the temperature becomes hot, the body redirects blood flow to the skin to cool itself, meaning there is less blood flow to the organs and causing the internal temperature to drop. Although cooling yourself is good, having a cold drink rapidly on a hot day can suddenly cause a large temperature difference between the surface and the organs, leading to digestive problems. In severe cases, it can cause abdominal pain and diarrhoea, with a vicious cycle where the heat is trapped on the surface and you feel even hotter. Ergo, having a hot food like samgyetang (a Korean chicken soup with many nutritious foods to revitalise your health in the summer) warms the organs and allows for better communication between the organs and the skin to effectively overcome the heat.
The philosophy of yiyul-chiyul can be extended beyond the scopes of medicine. Just as the proverb defeat savages with savages (yiyi-jeyi, 이이제이, 以夷制夷) says, one can control a certain force by using the same force on it. A great example is backfires. A forest fire tends to be too large in area to be extinguished with water. But if you deliberately start a fire just beyond its trajectory, it will burn everything as it moves towards the forest fire. Eventually the two fires will meet and without any fuel to consume, both will be extinguished.
Although it may be unhealthy, it cannot be denied that fried chicken is one of the most delicious foods in existence. The following is a simple recipe for fried chicken without using a deep frying machine.
Chicken drumsticks x 4 (although any piece can be used)
Egg x 1
Cajun spice or paprika 1t
- Wash the chicken then season it with salt and cajun spice. It is good to rub oil on the chicken as well to keep it moist.
- Let the seasoning set in for about 10~15 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 180°C and line an oven tray with tin foil.
- Pour the flour into a plastic zip-lock back. Place the chicken in the bag, seal it, then shake it to coat the chicken with the flour.
- Beat the egg then dip the chicken in the egg to coat it.
- Coat the chicken with breadcrumbs. You can sprinkle some thyme, oregano or parsley on top as well.
- Rub or spray some oil on the tin foil to prevent the chicken from sticking.
- Use a knife to make 2~3 deep gashes in the chicken. This helps it cook through.
- Arrange the chicken on the tray then put it in the oven for about 15 minutes until the top is golden.
- Flip the chicken over to make sure both sides are thoroughly cooked. Cook for another 10 minutes.
- When the outside is crisp and golden, take out the chicken and check that the inside is cooked well.
- Serve with some potato fries and vegetables.
Animals can be hypnotised just like humans. Strictly speaking, it is not hypnotism per se but more of a trance or putting the animal to “sleep”. An animal in trance is in a state of complete relaxation and is immobile, staying still as if it is sleeping as its heart rate and breathing slows. After a certain amount of time, the animal wakes up and acts as if nothing happened.
For example, flipping a rabbit on its back causes it to stay still. It merely twitches its nose but its limbs are completely stiffened. An alligator shows the same response when flipped.
A pheasant can be put into trance if its stomach is rubbed and an iguana falls asleep when stroked on the head as the heat sensing organs are activated and they feel relaxed.
When stroked on its most sensitive part, the nose, a shark freezes from the intense sensation (considering a shark dies if it stops swimming, this must be quite a pleasurable feeling for the shark).
If you turn a lizard on its back and rub its stomach, its diaphragm and respiratory organs are compressed and oxygen supply is limited. This causes the lizard to “turn off”, falling into a trance.
These strange responses are most likely a survival instinct. For example, if a rubber hose with a knot on the end is held in front of a mouse, it will stay absolutely still. This is because it mistakes it for a snake and is frozen from fear. Also, predators such as snakes focus their vision around movement sensing and thus are blind to immobile objects. Similarly, rabbits and alligators mentioned above are playing dead to avoid danger.
Unfortunately, this instinct produces the opposite effects sometimes. Chickens are a good example.
When you press a chicken’s head against the ground and draw straight lines in front of it, it suddenly goes quiet as if possessed. Even after taking off the hand, it stays still. This technique was devised to make the process of cutting off the chicken’s head an easier task. Also, a chicken can be put into trance by gently tucking its head under its wing and then swinging the whole chicken side to side about 10 times. A turkey can be put to sleep the same way.