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Symphony of Science: "Children of Africa"

In the most recent installment of the Symphony of Science series, composer John Boswell uses clips from various BBC shows, Quest for Fire (!), and the words of: Jacob Bronowski, Alice Roberts, Carolyn Porco, Jane Goodall, Robert Sapolsky, Neil deGrasse Tyson, and David Attenborough. The song is about human origins in Africa, and draws a line from the first humans to modern humans who now go to space. It's worth a look if you've followed the series; the auto-tuning is relatively tasteful, though there is a repetitive quality to this particular song.

This is the tenth installment in Boswell's series. For more _floss coverage, search the site. I still think the first song, "A Glorious Dawn," is the best.

After the jump, check out a transcript of the lyrics.

[Jacob Bronowski]
Man is a singular creature;
He has a set of gifts which make him unique among the animals
So that unlike them, he is not a figure in the landscape
He is the shaper of the landscape

[Alice Roberts]
We are all children of Africa
They say this is where it all began

[Bronowski]
In a parched African landscape
Man first put his foot to the ground

[Roberts]
Africa was our only home
for tens of thousands of years
until a small handful of people made their way
out of Africa

[Carolyn Porco]
These beings with soaring imagination
Eventually flung themselves and their machines
Into interplanetary space

[Roberts]
We are all children of africa
This landscape has been home to humans
Two hundred thousand years

[Porco]
We have come so far
All of this is cause for great celebration
We have come so far
This is a story about us

[Roberts]
Those early Europeans
Were people like you and me
But it is humbling
When you see the challenges they faced

People like you and me
Overcame the Neaderthals
People like you and me
Made it through the ice age

[Refrain]

[Jane Goodall]
We are not the only beings
With personalities, minds, and feelings
Chimpanzees have very clear personalities

[Robert Sapolsky]
Take a chimp brain foetally
And let it go two or three more rounds of division
And out comes symphonies and ideology

[Neil deGrasse Tyson]
Everything that we are
That distinguishes us from chimps
Emerges from that one percent
Difference in DNA

[Roberts]
People like you and me
Overcame the Neaderthals
People like you and me
Made it through the ice age

[Refrain]

[David Attenborough]
Using his burgeoning intelligence,
This most successful of all mammals
Has exploited the environment to produce food
For an ever increasing population.

Instead of controlling the environment
For the benefit of the population
Perhaps it's time we controlled the population
To allow the survival of the environment

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What Pop Culture Gets Wrong About Dissociative Identity Disorder
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From the characters in Fight Club to Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, popular culture is filled with "split" personalities. These dramatic figures might be entertaining, but they're rarely (if ever) scientifically accurate, SciShow Psych's Hank Green explains in the channel's latest video. Most representations contribute to a collective misunderstanding of dissociative identity disorder, or DID, which was once known as multiple personality disorder.

Experts often disagree about DID's diagnostic criteria, what causes it, and in some cases, whether it exists at all. Many, however, agree that people with DID don't have multiple figures living inside their heads, all clamoring to take over their body at a moment's notice. Those with DID do have fragmented personalities, which can cause lapses of memory, psychological distress, and impaired daily function, among other side effects.

Learn more about DID (and what the media gets wrong about mental illness) by watching the video below.

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History
Scientists Reveal Long-Hidden Text in Alexander Hamilton Letter
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Age, deterioration, and water damage are just a few of the reasons historians can be short on information that was once readily available on paper. Sometimes, it’s simply a case of missing pages. Other times, researchers can see “lost” text right under their noses.

One example: a letter written by Alexander Hamilton to his future wife, Elizabeth Schuyler, on September 6, 1780. On the surface, it looked very much like a rant about a Revolutionary War skirmish in Camden, South Carolina. But Hamilton scholars were excited by the 14 lines of writing in the first paragraph that had been crossed out. If they could be read, they might reveal some new dimension to one of the better-known Founding Fathers.

Using the practice of multispectral imaging—sometimes called hyperspectral imaging—conservationists at the Library of Congress were recently able to shine a new light on what someone had attempted to scrub out. In multispectral imaging, different wavelengths of light are “bounced” off the paper to reveal (or hide) different ink pigments. By examining a document through these different wavelengths, investigators can tune in to faded or obscured handwriting and make it visible to the naked eye.

A hyperspectral image of Alexander Hamilton's handwriting
Hyperspectral imaging of Hamilton's handwriting, from being obscured (top) to isolated and revealed (bottom).
Library of Congress

The text revealed a more emotional and romantic side to Hamilton, who had used the lines to woo Elizabeth. Technicians uncovered most of what he had written, with words in brackets still obscured and inferred:

Do you know my sensations when I see the
sweet characters from your hand? Yes you do,
by comparing [them] with your [own]
for my Betsey [loves] me and is [acquainted]
with all the joys of fondness. [Would] you
[exchange] them my dear for any other worthy
blessings? Is there any thing you would put
in competition[,] with one glowing [kiss] of
[unreadable], anticipate the delights we [unreadable]
in the unrestrained intercourses of wedded love,
and bet your heart joins mine in [fervent]
[wishes] to heaven that [all obstacles] and [interruptions]
May [be] speedily [removed].

Hamilton and Elizabeth Schuyler married on December 14, 1780. So why did Hamilton try and hide such romantic words during or after their courtship? He probably didn’t. Historians believe that his son, John Church Hamilton, crossed them out before publishing the letter as a part of a book of his father’s correspondence. He may have considered the passage a little too sexy for mass consumption.

[h/t Library of Congress]

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