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April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review July 6, 2011 / 4 Tammuz, 5771

Lightening bugs and other things make us glow

By Sharon Randall




http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | It's not often that I dare to expound on scientific research. At least, not in public. I have my opinions, just as you have yours, but I generally try to keep mine to myself (or give them to my kids, if I can get them to listen), especially with regard to matters about which I know little or zip. I figure: If you aren't willing to serve on the refreshment committee, you don't have the right to show up late at the party and get picky about what's in the punch.

On the other hand, you don't necessarily need a degree in neurobiology to speak with some authority on things that have long been part of your life.

Take, for example, the firefly, a tiny beetle with yellow-striped wings that is flat-out ugly until it lights up. And then it will take your breath away with a beauty that lingers and a smell that won't wash off your hands.

They're called lightning bugs in the South, where I chased them every summer of my childhood, and still do, every chance I get.

I once read about a research team at Tufts University that announced a finding in bioluminescence, the process by which fireflies light up their little bellies like lanterns in the dark to attract mates and charm the socks off humans.

The discovery was not that the bugs light up (we already knew that) but rather, how they seem to control it, turning it off and on like a tiny electric switch. What the researchers found was the role that is played by nitric oxide, a gas that acts as a messenger in carrying out certain tasks.

In humans, for instance, it helps control blood flow to, well, various parts of the body. And in fireflies, it apparently allows oxygen to be used as fuel for tiny flashes of light.

In other words, it's magic -- both in beetles and humans. But it's not always about sex.

I can't speak for lightning bugs, but I can tell you from personal experience, humans light up for lots of reasons.

I don't think it was sex that lit my grandparents up. Not that they didn't like sex. They had 12 children, so they must have liked something. In their latter years, they slept in separate rooms because one snored like a sailor and the other kicked like a mule. But she was forever lit up by his corny jokes, just as he was lit up by the sound of her laughter.

They also slow danced in the kitchen, and kissed a lot for old people with false teeth, which very possibly fanned the flames.

My children, when they were babies, lit up every time they looked at me. Whether it was about me or the food supply I represented, I don't know. But they lit up, time and again, and it lit me up, too.

My old dog, Tuffy, who was not the brightest bulb on four legs, would turn absolutely incandescent at the mention of one word: Walk.

I know people -- so do you -- who light up for the pure joy of discovery, whether it's an answer to a clue in a crossword puzzle, or an odd sock that was missing from the dryer or the ring you inherited from your mother-in-law and accidentally dropped down the sink.

I bet the researchers at Tufts lit up like a pack of Chihuahuas at a Christmas party when they looked into the belly of a lightning bug and figured out what makes it flash.

I hope so. That is how life should be, like a forest full of fireflies on a sultry summer night, all lit up and sparkling and ready for love.

Why do bioluminescent beetles glow in the dark? Joy? Delight? Discovery? Sex? All of the above? Who knows? Maybe it's because they know we're watching and they just love to light us up.

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