Wonder on the Web

Issue 32: Links to amazing stuff. /

What Does the Giraffe Say?

The answer to that question has long been “nothing.” Giraffes, besides the occasional snort, were considered effectively mute (an anatomical limitation perhaps connected to their long necks). It might be time to update our children’s books. New recordings from three European zoos capture audio of giraffes that spent their evenings humming to each other (you can listen here). The throaty, vibrating tone almost recalls a yogic Om, but it may not be a sign of peace; another scientist has observed similar vocalization by a giraffe in distress. We look forward to seeing how this research on a mysterious, majestic animal progresses.

Lady Mystics of Eras Past

One way to stir up fire in your soul towards God might be to read the accounts of his passionate followers in ages past. This unique compilation, 13 Powerful Women Mystics Who Helped Shape Christianity, is not a bad place to start. These ladies followed orders—well, the Almighty sort, at least (many of them in direct visions): founding monastic orders, abandoning high rankings, living in poverty, defying societal norms.

As a writer, I (Andie) found the account of Mechthild of Magdeburg particularly moving:

The German mystic decided at age 22 to devote her life to God and authored a text entitled The Flowing Light of the Godhead. She entered the convent of Helfta in 1270 and used poetry to express her divine revelations. On the first page of The Flowing Light, Mechthild wrote: “I have been put on my guard about this book, and certain people have warned me that, unless I have it buried, it will be burnt. Yet, I in my weakness have written it, because I dared not hide the gift that is in it.”

Family Photos, Zoomed Way Out

The Atlantic’s photo channel once again wows us with “a recent photo album of our solar system—a set of family portraits, of sorts.”

What’s Really Behind the Pumpkin Spice Craze

Writer Rachel Marie Stone suggests that our love of the blend of cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, allspice, and cloves comes down to the comfort we take in our senses—as God intended. We are indeed #blessed to drink our #PSLs. (But really, read this essay for more about the science of smell, and get a dose of theology and pop culture along the way.)

Finally, Squid Skin

This issue’s poem looks at the built-in iridescence of a hummingbird’s feathers. On a similar note, a new video from Deep Look examines how squid can actually adjust their own iridescence—how light bounces off of their skin—to camouflage themselves. (In case you missed it, we looked at this a bit in our invisibility article a few months back.)

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Also in this Issue

Issue 32 / October 1, 2015
  1. Editor's Note from October 01, 2015

    Issue 32: Sloths’ splendid slowness, Lilias Trotter’s gambit, and a cross-eyed view of God. /

  2. Who Are You Calling a Deadly Sin?

    The sloth’s slowness is its virtue. /

  3. ‘I Cannot Give Myself to Painting’

    Why one of the greatest Victorian artists walked away. /

  4. The Cross Alone Is Our Theology

    What must God be like? Jesus’ death upsets every simple answer. /

  5. The Basics of Iridescence

    ‘the bare bones of that fleeting / soap-bubble sheen’ /

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