Broken Shells

photo 2 (1)For Spring Break, I took my three year old daughter1 to Holden Beach, NC. It was not warm enough to spend much time splashing in the water. So, we spent a lot of time looking for shells.

Over nearly thirty-five years, I have had the platonic ideal of a “sea shell” crammed into the forefront of my consciousness. I’m supposed to find “perfect” shells, unmarred by the unforgiving motions of the sea that bring the shells within my reach. Shells that will look pretty on the shelf. Shells like this one that used to be a whelk’s home2.

Based on the weight of shell fragments my daughter deposited in my pockets, it is clear that she has a more expansive ideal of beauty than her old man. We collect a lot of “broken” shells, because my daughter sees the innate beauty in these broken things. This may explain why she still likes me3.

You know what? You can learn a lot from broken shells and three year-olds. Continue reading “Broken Shells”

More than just a pretty shell

Researchers at UC Berkley exploited an interesting property of extant species of the mollusk genus Conus. Apparently, the patterns on the shells of these little buggers is a reflection of activity patterns in their neurons.

Continue reading “More than just a pretty shell”

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