The human brain is one of the most complex and misunderstood brains when it comes to brains.  We know that the human brain is special, how could it not be?  But in what ways is it truly special?

Neuroscience is here to debunk some popular myths about the human brain and what makes it so unique when compared to the brains of other animals.  

Here are four myths about the human brain and the truth behind them:

The human brain contains 100 billion neurons

100 billion neurons might sound like a lot to you or it might sound like not so much.  Either way, this number gets tossed around quite often when it comes to trying to measure the power of the human brain.  

Neurons are at the core of the nervous system.  They are cells that have tendrils extending out of them every which way, sort of like tree branches.  They are what the brain uses to process information, coordinate actions, and control our bodily functions that operate subconsciously.

Throughout different textbooks and scientific articles, journals, and magazines, the number of neurons in the human brain often gets cited as being 100 billion.  

In actuality, the human brain contains close to 86 billion neurons.  And while a difference of 14 billion neurons might not seem like a lot, it is the same number of neurons that a baboon brain has, or about half of what a gorilla has, so it’s actually quite significant.

Bigger is better

The size of a brain in any animal is not particularly useful for trying to determine the actual power of the brain.  Related species might have correlations between brain size and functional cognitive capacity, but when comparing different species, this argument doesn’t stand on its own.

For example, a cow’s brain is much larger than any type of monkey’s brain, but they show much less cognitive capability than practically any sort of primate.  

When it comes to humans, the best way to compare brain size to brain power is by looking at the brains of larger mammalian species, like the whale or the elephant.  On average, a human brain weighs about three pounds, while a sperm whale’s brain can weigh up to 17 pounds.  Which begs the question, if size determines brain power, then why are whales not cognitively superior to us?

The human brain is the largest brain relative to body size

This myth has been around for quite some time, as Aristotle wrote in 335 BC: “Of all the animals, man has the brain largest in proportion to his size.”  While this might seem to make sense because of our perceived brain power compared to other species, the human brain-to-body ratio is actually quite similar to other species.

At 1/40, our ratio is much larger than the elephant’s, which comes in at 1/560.  But when compared to a mouse, it’s about the same, and when compared to most birds, it’s even less, as they sit around 1/12.

Bigger brains contain more neurons than smaller brains

While it’s quite obvious that brain size changes from species to species, density of neurons was thought to be constant across different orders of mammals.  This notion is actually quite far from the truth; it was found that the brains of different mammals scale differently when it comes to size and neuronal density.

Primate brains increase in size at the same rate as they gain neurons.  Rodent brains increase in size faster than they gain neurons.  And when it comes to insectivores, their cerebral cortex and cerebellum grow faster than they gain neurons.

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This Unique Spanish Home Was Built Under a Rolling Hill and Is Completely Eco-Friendly

You wouldn’t know there was a home resting inside of this rolling hillside were it not for the roof sloping downward over a parked car and bicycles. Known as the Live Garden House, this vaulted home was built into a hillside and features traditional construction techniques practiced in Zaragoza, Spain.

Spanish designers sought to create a fully sustainable home that used locally-sourced materials for its construction. They achieve their vision with this zero-energy structure that lets in natural sunlight, has a natural ventilation system and features a rainwater collection system.

All of its sustainable features are made even better by placing them underneath an undulating green roof (which has plants and vegetation growing on top of it). Not only does the home look beautiful inside, it fits in perfectly with the surrounding landscape.

And the inside is just as welcoming and serene as the outside. Take a look for yourself!

h/t Inhabitat

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The REAL Reason Barns Are Usually Red

Almost every barn I’ve ever seen has been red, and I never knew why. I mean, I love red as a color, but it never really made any sense why every single barn I’ve ever come across had to be red. There are so many other colors to choose from!

The real reason barns are painted red actually has nothing to do with color preference, and everything to do with practicality.

When the very first New England settlers were building farms, many of them lacked the necessary funds to paint their buildings. However, they still needed a way to protect their barns’ wood from the elements, so they came up with their own solution to the problem: by mixing skim milk, lime, and red iron oxide, they successfully created a plastic-like substance that they could coat their farm buildings with to protect them.

Eventually, paint manufacturers would mix in chemical pigment and red was the favorite due to how cheap it was. And, as with many things in this world, people never sought to change it. So, red was how it began and red is how it has stayed.

h/t Business Insider

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Professor Who Predicted Donald Trump Becoming President Has a New Prediction: Impeachment

Image via: Max Goldberg from USA - Trump CAUCUS

Allan Lichtman, a professor at American University, has gained quite a bit of notoriety over the years as he’s successfully predicted the outcome of every presidential election to date, starting in 1984. He correctly predicted the Donald Trump would win the 2016 election and is now making another prediction: Donald Trump will be impeached.

"Now, he focuses on the 45th President of the United States and his next forecast, that it is not a question of if President Trump will be impeached, but a question of when," said Shelby Meizlik, spokesperson for HarperCollins.

In fact, Lichtman has written a book stating his argument for why Trump should be impeached. The Case for Impeachment is being published by Dey Street Books and will release to the public on April 18th.

Lichtman made the prediction that Trump would be impeached alongside his prediction that he would be elected and his book will go into detail as to why.

Lichtman told the Washington Post this past September:

"I'm going to make another prediction. This one is not based on a system; it's just my gut. They don't want Trump as president, because they can't control him. He's unpredictable. They'd love to have Pence — an absolutely down-the-line, conservative, controllable Republican. And I'm quite certain Trump will give someone grounds for impeachment, either by doing something that endangers national security or because it helps his pocketbook."

It certainly seems as though there is a strong case for impeachment, especially when considering Trump's Russian connections and the multitude of conflicts of interests surrounding his businesses, as Lichtman argues.

Do you think Lichtman’s fortune-telling capabilities will ring true once again?

h/t Time

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6 Bizarrely Beautiful Houseplants You've Probably Never Heard Of

Houseplants are a great addition to any home as not only do they bring a clean, fresh aesthetic to the space, they also help improve air quality. If you’ve ever wanted to bring plants into your home, but think that they’re kind of boring or not worth the effort, try out one of these bizarre houseplants that are anything but boring.

Mix it up a little with these six houseplants that are beautiful, but also a little strange.

Euphorbia Caput-Medusae
Succulents a great option for everyone who’s looking for a low-maintenance plant. They only need watering about once a week and even just once a month during the winter months. The type of succulent shown here is referred to as “Medusa’s Head,” a moniker taken on because of its likeness to the Greek monster with snakes for hair. It is native to South Africa.

The Trachyandra also looks as if it’s some type of snake plant, or maybe silly-string growing out of the ground. This plant is real and you can find it in Eastern and Southern Africa.

If you’ve ever wanted a plant that looks somewhat like it has antlers, grab a Platycerium. This plant, which is often called the “Staghorn Fern”, can even grow on the side of things, such as trees or walls.

Gentiana Urnula
These beautifully-patterned succulents are known as “Starfish Succulents” and are at home in the rocks. These are also a perfect option for those seeking low-maintenance plants.

Sedum Morganianum
These crazy looking plant is often called “Donkey Tail” and its stems regularly grow up to two feet in length. Its leaves are normally a bluish-green and it is native to Mexico and Honduras.

Haworthia Cooperi
This plant looks like some type of glass flower or maybe even some type of gelatin, but these clumps you see here are actually green leaves that simply look as though they’re something else.

h/t Woman's Day

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