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The whale that sunk the Essex

April 7, 2016

spermwhaleleapingDespite first-hand reports over the centuries from sailors, whose vessels were lost when rammed by sperm whales, scientists have remained skeptical. A new study shows that the male sperm whale’s forehead has an architecture suited for ramming. (Cite.)

I cannot resist a series of scattered comments. 1) Given that sperm whales can remember their friends, even after years of absence, maybe they also remember whaling ships? 2) Sailors’ memories shouldn’t be completely disregarded, even when rum adds a bit of color to the tale. 3) Much of the study relies on material physics developed by Richard von Mises, an early 20th c. physicist and mathematician who, unfairly, is less well-known than his older brother Ludwig, the junk economist. 4) Oh, damn. I had intended on finishing this post without any quips about “junk.”

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