We look at some of the weirdest things in our wild, wonderful world, from the singing fish of Seattle to the fractal cats of imaginary mathematical space. First we check out an African shrub with berries that sparkle like ornaments: how could a Christmas tree evolve in the wild? Then we explore the strangely fuzzy boundary between plants and animals: bugs that use sunlight to create energy, salamanders that use photosynthesis, and sea slugs that look and act remarkably like leaves. Our parade of weirdness continues with birds that are hooked on ant baths, triple-gendered singing toadfish, the ultrasonic songs of mice, LOLcats that improve productivity, Julia’s infinite mathematical cats, and — now it can be revealed! The astounding truth about dog people vs. cat people. Finally, in our Pro Extension, we check out a real-life Jedi master, the Buddha from Space, exotic exoplanets, and the stunning beauty of the world’s largest mirror.
We check out the many amazing ways that people all over the world are embracing “green space” through architecture, infrastructure and landscaping, inviting the natural world back into our homes and businesses as a vital part of our efforts to live sustainably. From street-side city gardens to snail-inspired biomimicry, from a real-life Hobbit Hotel to a table lamp that runs on moss — we explore what it means to approach the process of “placemaking” as a way of connecting to nature and restoring our sense of sacred space. In our Pro Extension, we ponder the implications of granting legal rights to rivers and forests; plus, we examine the “religious” aspect of the debate over hydro-fracking.
This week we look at our most intimate and daily relationship with nature: the plants and animals we eat. We look at how incorporating native and invasive species into our diets can impact our health and our planet, we share some ways that art and technology challenge us to think about our food in new ways, we delve into greenwashing and how to spot it, and ask the tough question: does eating organic help the planet but hinder our sympathy for our fellow humans? In our Pro extension, we explore the relationship between diet and religious belief, and talk about the ways the Slow Food Movement can enlighten us about the interconnection between food, self and community.
We share an appreciation for our flora kin and explore how welcoming plants into our everyday lives and environments can improve our quality of life in many different — and sometimes unexpected — ways. We learn about how ordinary herbs might help treat cancer and calm nerves; we look at innovative new designs in art and technology that draw their inspiration from our green-leafed friends; and we ponder what plants can teach us about intelligence and cooperation in flourishing communities. In our Pro extension, we visit with the mighty giants of the forest and discover what lessons trees can teach us about faith and spiritual relationship.
We probe a little more deeply into the spiritual side of our relationship with the animals and plants who share the planet with us by exploring the role of familiars, fetishes and totems in cultures from all over the world. Is there a way to enlist the help of these beings to reconnect the natural and the spiritual, or maybe even rediscover how they’ve been connected all along?