Field of Science


Cephalopods Not in Space

After 15 days in orbit, the crew of the space shuttle Endeavour will be returning to solid ground tomorrow. Their mission has been notable for several reasons: It's the second-to-last NASA space shuttle mission ever, and the last trip Endeavour will take before heading to its retirement home in a Los Angeles museum. The commander of the mission is Mark Kelly, husband of almost-assassinated Arizona congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords. The shuttle's crew successfully delivered the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer (AMS), an extremely expensive piece of particle physics equipment, to the International Space Station.

And, of course, there are some squid on board. I wrote earlier about Squids in Space, a project to study whether friendly, glowing bacteria that live inside squid behave badly in a low-gravity environment.

I also asked you all to go to YouTube and vote for a question I'd submitted for the PBS News Hour's "You Talk to Endeavour" interview. There were more than 1,800 questions submitted by the public. My question was about the future: What will it mean to be an astronaut in 25 years or so, when today's teen space fanatics have joined the space program? I was hoping to use the answer in my magazine, and I got enough votes to stay near the top of the pack (thank you!). The interview took place on May 19. Hi, astronauts!

I think being in space gives people a slightly jolly appearance, since their cheeks float up into their faces a little bit.

Sadly, PBS science correspondent Miles O'Brien--yes, like the Star Trek character--didn't include my question in his interview with the Endeavour crew. But he did have a nice conversation with the astronauts about the Mississippi River (they could see the floodwaters), Gabby Giffords (she watched the launch), and personal trinkets the astronauts take into space. 

He also asked the astronauts to do a group somersault. Judging by the speed with which they complied--the question was barely out of O'Brien's mouth before Mark Kelly went heels-over-head--I suspect they've practiced.

They may as well live it up now. Gravity returns tomorrow, along with the reality of the shuttle fleet's retirement. But the science experiments the crew helped with will carry on without them, including the AMS's cosmic-ray measuring and whatever happened to those squid. As for NASA, we'll see where it heads next.

Images: Google/PBS NewsHour/YouTube

Keep Your Enemies Closer

If smallpox were still around today, no one would have parties to infect their children, like they do with chickenpox. Smallpox was no joke. The disease used to infect 50 million people a year, and as many as one in three infected people died. Most survivors were scarred with pockmarks, and some were left blind.

Of course, no one gets smallpox today. It's the only infectious disease of humans that we've successfully eradicated. The World Health Organization (WHO) began a serious vaccination campaign against smallpox in 1967 (though vaccination had been possible since around 1800), and in just a decade the disease had been wiped out. The last naturally occurring case of smallpox struck in 1977. Then laboratories set out to destroy their remaining stocks of the virus. By 1984, smallpox had been erased from everywhere on Earth except for two labs--the Centers for Disease Control in the United States, and another site in Russia--that had been designated by the WHO as the disease's last refuges.

Now that we've consigned our longtime killer to custody, do we keep it indefinitely for observation? Or execute it?

The United States and Russia want to keep it for research. A contingent of mostly developing nations, led by Iran, wants the virus destroyed completely. These countries fear that in the event of an accidental--or deliberate--release, they would be most vulnerable. But American and Russian scientists say there's still more to be learned from keeping smallpox around, and that further research could help protect us if the disease somehow does return in the future.

Kathleen Sebelius, the U.S. secretary of health and human services, published an op-ed in the New York Times last month insisting that we should delay destroying our virus stocks. "We fully agree that these samples should--and eventually will--be destroyed," she said. "Although keeping the samples may carry a minuscule risk...the dangers of destroying them now are far greater." Sebelius was working against a deadline: a meeting of the World Health Assembly this month in Geneva, at which the fate of the virus would be reconsidered.

At the meeting, the United States and Russia asked to be allowed to keep the virus for five more years. They were met with strong opposition from the group of developing nations, though Canada, Australia, and the EU supported keeping the virus. Finally, a compromise (proposed by ever-neutral Switzerland) was reached: smallpox will survive for now, and the issue will be reconsidered in 2014.

It may seem foolhardy to hold on to such a deadly weapon. But there are many good reasons to keep smallpox around. Although vaccines exists, better vaccines could be created. Current vaccines can't be taken by individuals with HIV, for example. When smallpox was last prevalent, HIV didn't exist yet. But if smallpox were to reappear now, large numbers of people in Africa couldn't be vaccinated.

Additionally, there's no proof that these stocks of smallpox are really the last ones in the world. And as Sebelius points out, the virus's genome is freely available online. Someone with advanced equipment (or perhaps, in future years and as synthetic biology technology advances, average equipment) could hypothetically create the virus from scratch.

So destroying the American and Russian viruses wouldn't guarantee that the virus never reappears--only that we couldn't study it any further. The issue may have eerie echoes of a nuclear arms race, but this race is really between us and one of nature's worst weapons.

Our Killing Cousins

If you're feeling any guilt about belonging to the one species that encroaches on other animals' habitats, hunts them for sport, and drives them to extinction, consider this: we're not alone. There's another species capable of hunting its neighbor to near annihilation. Of course, it's our closest relative.

Chimpanzees eat mostly fruit and other plant matter. They were believed to be complete vegetarians until Jane Goodall first witnessed a chimpanzee hunt in the 1960s. An organized hunting party may chase a young monkey through the treetops, some chimpanzees blocking its escape routes while others wait in ambush. Meat is not only a nutritional resource for a chimpanzee community, but a social and political tool.

One of chimps' favorite animals to prey on is the red colobus monkey. And a new paper says that in Uganda's Kibale National Park, chimps are taking more than their fair share of monkeys. The red colobus population has declined sharply over the past few decades, and if they don't rebound soon, they could be wiped out entirely.

Previous studies had suggested that the red colobus monkey population in the park was declining, and that chimps might be to blame. So an international group of researchers set out to settle the question. They gathered data in the park for nine years, then added it to data from several previous studies to produce almost 33 years' worth of observations.

Rather than trying to find and count every primate in the forest, researchers took a kind of cross-section by walking along a predetermined route and recording what monkeys and apes they crossed paths with.

What they found was quite pronounced: between 1975 and 2007, the population of red colobus monkeys decreased by 89%. Their decline was tied to a significant, though less dramatic, increase in the chimpanzee population. The researchers ruled out various other explanations for the apparent red colobus loss, including disease, lack of food, shyness around strolling scientists, and being eaten by eagles. Habitat loss and poaching, the usual human-based causes of species loss, were ruled out by the national park's protections. The chimpanzees, with their suspiciously expanding population, were the only remaining culprits.

This is the first time scientists have observed one species eating another species into a serious population slump. Usually, non-human species are forced to maintain a balance with one another. But the chimps at Kibale are managing an eerily human overuse of resources.

Of further concern is the fact that both species are already endangered, thanks to humans. The red colobus population might not be so fragile if we hadn't driven its numbers down to begin with. Or perhaps overhunting is a new chimpanzee behavior, an adaptation that would have appeared without our interference. Either way, now that one endangered species is threatening the survival of another, can conservationists afford to stay out of the animals' business?

The authors of the study think there's hope for the red colobus in Uganda, because their population's plummeting seemed to slow or stop near the end of the study period. Observations by other scientists suggest that the monkeys in the park have dramatically expanded their ranges since the 1970s; that is, individual monkeys seem to roam over a much wider area of land than they used to. This may be their attempt to avoid hunting chimpanzees. If it works, the monkeys will have saved their species from not one, but two primate threats.

Images: Thomas Lersch/Wikimedia Commons, Olivier Lejade/Wikimedia Commons

Shine for the Camera!

Images of the earth at night may strike you as beautiful (if you're someone with a penchant for satellite photos) or distressing (if you're concerned about the effect of light pollution on migrating animals and/or you're a sea turtle). Some economists look at these photos and see tools for gathering data about other countries.

Previous research has found that luminosity--how much light a geographic area gives off at night--is a kind of shorthand for that area's economic productivity. Countries with a higher GDP (gross domestic product) have more stores that stay open at night, more cars on the road, and more electric lights guiding their citizens. More light means more business.

A new study by Yale economists Xi Chen and William Nordhaus asks just how useful this shorthand is. Can we use satellite photos to estimate the GDP of countries that don't collect or give out economic data? Haiti is one such country, lacking the resources for things like census collection. (You can see the clear dividing line in luminosity between Haiti and the Dominican Republic in the picture below. Puerto Rico is the well-lit island all the way to the east.)

The researchers used satellite images taken between 1992 and 2008. One benefit of these data is that they consist of very high-resolution images, even though the satellites that took the pictures were actually studying cloud cover.

Looking both at entire countries and at smaller regions within countries, the authors created detailed measurements of luminosity and compared them to economic data. They found that looking at nighttime lights was, in fact, useful--under certain circumstances.

For countries that already provide plenty of economic data, luminosity doesn't add much to our understanding. And for countries with extremely low luminosity, there's not enough data to go on. But in general, for countries that don't share much information with us, nighttime lights can serve as a consistent proxy for economic productivity.

(North Korea, a country that certainly doesn't share much information with the outside world, is on the west side of the picture. It's the almost shockingly black space below China and above South Korea. Japan, all the way on the east, is bustling and bright.)

The study is a neat example of how much can be learned just by looking. It also demonstrates how resourceful researchers can use already-existing data sets to generate new information. When economists can use pictures from a cloud-measuring satellite to gather GDP data about other countries--instead of starting a new research project--it means we can save a bit of our own GDP for something else. 

UPDATE: In the comments, Shelby asked about those swirling lights between Korea and Japan. They didn't seem to be related to shipping, since the lights don't follow direct paths. I took a quick spin around the globe on Google Earth and didn't find the same light patterns anywhere else. But an internet search turned up the answer: squid fishing (the link is a PDF), which is an especially large industry in Japan. Fishermen work at night and use powerful lights to attract the squid. It all comes back to inkfish!

Images: Google Earth

10 Billion R Us?

How many humans can fit on Earth?

It's not a logistical question (heel-toe, or nose-to-nose?). It's a question of resources. Every other species on the planet lives with a natural limitation. Say you're a snail that lives in a scummy pond and eats algae. There's plenty of algae available, and soon there are snails everywhere. But as your population booms, and you start bumping shoulders with other snails more often, you find there's not enough algae to go around. A lot of snails die or fail to reproduce. The algae population rebounds while the snail population fades, and the cycle continues.

Humans have beaten this system--for now. We clear forests, irrigate deserts, and blow the tops off of mountains to get the resources we need. This means we've stretched our upper limit. And according to a new report from the United Nations, there's no end in sight.

Previously, the UN had predicted that the world's population would reach 9 billion during this century, then level off. The projected upper limit wasn't because we were due to run out of food or space, though. Demographer John Bongaarts says in an interview with ScienceInsider that the UN's projection, which they revisit every two years, comes from a combination of mortality rate and fertility rate: how quickly are people dying, and how many babies are they having?

As nations invest money in family planning and women gain access to birth control, the fertility rate (how many children the average woman has) tends to decline. Bongaarts says that in Africa, where most of the world's "high-fertility" countries are, there has been a lack of investment in family planning programs recently. The Bush administration, for example, cut funding for contraceptives to African nations. Additionally, Bongaarts says AIDS hasn't affected population growth in Africa quite as researchers expected it to.

The result is that the UN now expects the world's population, rather than peaking around 9 billion, to continue on to 10 billion by the end of this century. And there's no peak--the population will still be increasing in 2100.

To come up with their projections, the UN says, "Account is taken of past fertility trends in a given country plus the past experience of all other countries in the world. The model was used to generate 100,000 trajectories for future fertility for each country." Out of those 100,000 projections for each country, they used the median values to make an overall projection.

The UN's model assumes that over time, the low-fertility and medium-fertility countries will level out to their "replacement rate"--that is, each generation will have enough children to exactly replace itself. For a country where most people make it to adulthood, that means 2.1 kids per mom. Low-fertility countries include most of Europe, as well as Iran, Brazil, and (by design) China. Countries with intermediate fertility include India, Mexico, Egypt, and the United States. High-fertility countries include 39 African nations.

A small wobble away from the predicted fertility rates could have a huge impact on the global population. The UN report points out that if they've overestimated global fertility by half a child per woman, the population will peak at 8 billion and swing downward again to 6 billion by the end of the century. But if they've underestimated by a half a child, we could hit almost 16 billion by the year 2100.

Mortality is important, too. It's assumed that life expectancy will continue to increase globally. The highest-fertility countries also happen to be some of those with the lowest life expectancy, thanks to killers such as HIV and malaria. Currently, life expectancy among all high-fertility countries is just 56 years. (Low-fertility countries, where people presumably have the best access to health care, have the highest life span: 74 years, compared to 68 years for those of us in the middle group.)

All these projections, too, hinge on there not being a global cataclysm in this century that removes a large portion of our population, as the Black Death or the 1918 flu pandemic did. Just because it's the twenty-first century doesn't mean this risk is gone. Viruses are mutating all the time, bacteria are developing resistances to most of our antibiotics, climate change is altering the life cycles and habitats of animals that carry diseases--and, of course, people are getting closer together.

What's the lowest global population you remember? The world reached 3 billion people in 1959, and 4 billion in 1974. In 1987 we reached 5 billion. I remember hearing from Bill Nye (the Science Guy) that the population was almost at 6 billion; it reached that number in 1998. We're currently expected to hit 7 billion this fall, 8 billion in 2025, and 9 billion in the 2040s. Get ready to bump some shoulders.

Does. Not. Compute.

If you live in a city, you're familiar with the verbal ramblings of schizophrenics. You may have heard their speeches directed to no one while they're walking down the street toward you or waiting for the train. I used to occasionally share my afternoon commute with a man who liked to stand near the back of the bus and deliver a continuous and incoherent Shakespearean-style monologue, complete with accent and extravagant hand gestures.

One distinguishing feature of schizophrenic speech is disorganization. A sentence might start out normally enough but veer into nonsense. Phrases don't follow one another. Schizophrenia is also characterized by delusions--patients may believe that they're being persecuted, or that they have special powers. The causes of schizophrenia are still mysterious. But researchers at the University of Texas, Austin, have used computers to model several theories of the disease. And one of these models produced computers that talk like a schizophrenic person.

The "computational patients" studied were different iterations of a computer model called DISCERN, designed by professor Risto Miikkulainen. The model is a "neural network" that's meant to simulate how a human learns and recalls a story. Different parts of the network mimic the tasks our brain performs to understand, store, and remember words and sentences.

Miikkulainen and his graduate student Uli Grasemann fed very 28 simple stories into their computer model. Half the stories were in the first person; for example, "I was a doctor. I worked in New York. I liked my job." (I told you they were simple.) The other half were crime stories told in the third person; for example, "Tony was a gangster. Tony worked in Chicago." (Hey now...) It took thousands of repetitions to teach the computer network the stories.

They also taught three slightly less simple stories to actual human subjects, both healthy and schizophrenic. A week later, they asked the subjects to recall those three stories, and recorded the types of errors they made.

To create mentally ill computer patients, the researchers introduced a variety of errors into the DISCERN network. They modeled eight different cognitive problems that have been suggested as factors in schizophrenia. After teaching their impaired computer patients the set of simple stories, it was quiz time. The network was prompted with the first part of a story and asked to complete it. The researchers analyzed the types of errors the computer patients made, then compared them to the human patients.

Out of the eight schizophrenia models, just one had caused the computer to tell stories that sounded like the schizophrenic patients'. The computer got derailed, starting one story and drifting into another story, as did the schizophrenics. The computer had a similar tendency to mix up the characters in the stories, including confusion between first-person and third-person stories. A story about Tony the Chicago mob boss, for example, might become a story about Mary the mob boss.

The underlying error in this pseudo-schizophrenic computer simulation was what the authors called "hyperlearning." Ordinarily, scientists believe, we use a technique called prediction error to help us learn new information. We constantly make predictions, and whenever those predictions don't come true--that is, when reality doesn't match up with what we expected--we take notice and form new associations. This process is thought to involve the neurotransmitter (brain signaling chemical) dopamine. If our brains aren't prudent about this process, though, they assign too much importance to every new piece of information, and we create irrelevant associations. This is why the process is thought to be involved in schizophrenia; every detail may become meaningful to schizophrenics, and connections may appear everywhere in their speech. When the researchers adjusted the computer network's settings so that it relied too heavily on prediction error--it learned too much and ignored too little--the computer's stories sounded the most like the schizophrenic patients'.

In addition to matching the disorganization of the schizophrenic patients' stories, the computer network also provided a tantalizing hint of delusion. Swapping first-person narratives for third-person ones, it put itself at the center of scenarios it didn't belong in: "I was a mob boss."

Computers are, of course, not people. A human brain, no matter how ill, is unspeakably more complicated than a computer model. And while this computer simulation successfully modeled some speech-related symptoms of schizophrenia, it didn't address other symptoms. Still, it gave intriguing hints about prediction error and dopamine that can be used for further study in humans. That information might even lead to new treatments for the people riding your bus.

Happy Blogday!

A year ago today, I started this blog so I would have a place to vent my excitement about happenings in the science world. It's been a fun trip so far--I've learned how relativity affects your body, faced off with climate change deniers, debunked Shape-Ups, and found out why eating dirt might prevent depression. Every day brings fresh science news to my inbox, which means new stories to share and titles to pun. (I really am sorry about the puns. I work in children's publishing; it's hard to turn off.)

If you want to get me a birthday gift, you could add yourself to this blog's list of followers so my eight friends down there in the corner don't look so lonely. Or use the email button to share an Inkfish story with a friend. Comments and tips are always welcome, too.

Meanwhile, I got you a little something: Four of my favorite inkfish-related videos. Thank you for reading!


At the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico (before the oil), a camera at a Shell oil-drilling site captured this alarming visitor. It's a Magnapinna squid, observing the drilling equipment with a posture that's hard not to imagine as menacing. 

It's said that an octopus can squeeze through any hole bigger than its eyeball. You can almost hear this one go Mmmrff! 

Cuttlefish are masters of disguise, for real. At the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, researcher Roger Hanlon shows off some pretty impressive cuttlefish tricks. The best part is when one cuttlefish holds out its tentacles in a valiant, but unsuccessful, effort to imitate a striped background.

This video is also from Roger Hanlon. Can you spot the octopus before it sees you? That's a trick question because I know you can't.

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Slug

In a creature much simpler than a human, scientists have figured out how to erase a memory. Sea slugs that had received repeated electrical shocks learned to expect them again--until researchers gave the slugs an injection that returned them to blissful ignorance.

The fellow above is Aplysia californica, a hefty sea slug that's shown here releasing its mysterious magenta ink. (I suppose that makes it an honorary inkfish?) Researchers at UCLA used a tankful of these quarter-pound slugs to test the hypothesis that a certain molecule allows the slugs to store long-term memories.

At the beginning of the experiment, researchers tested the slugs' baseline sensitivity by poking them in the hind end with a broom bristle. This causes a slug to retract its siphon, a straw-like structure near the tail, for a second or two. Then they "trained" the slugs by giving them five sets of electrical shocks to the tail over the course of 80 minutes. Afterward, the slugs had learned the lesson that touches near the tail are bad. (Come to think of it, that may have been the title of a movie we watched in my fourth-grade health class). Twenty-four hours after their training session, the slugs still remembered; they retracted their siphons for 40 or 50 seconds when poked with a broom bristle. The reaction was almost as strong 48 hours after the training session.

(Two days may not seem like a very "long term" over which to remember that you were recently tormented by scientists. But short-term memory only refers to the items that we hold in our minds on the order of seconds. Anything we hang on to for longer than that is considered to be in our long-term memory.)

And then it was time for some Men in Black mind-erasing action. The molecule the researchers were interested in is called protein kinase M (PKM). A few minutes after the 24-hour test, they injected some of the sensitized slugs with a molecule that interferes with PKM and prevents it from doing its normal job--which is, in case you asked, adding phosphate groups to other proteins.

The results were straightforward and striking. At 48 hours, when the other slugs were still extremely reactive to being poked in the tail, those that had been injected with the PKM blocker were completely back to normal. Their siphon-retracting reflex was exactly what it had been before their training. The memory of the electric shocks they'd received seemed to be gone.

The scientists even tried reminding some of the slugs of their training. At 96 hours, they gave them one more set of shocks (as opposed to the five sets in the initial trial). The slugs seemed unimpressed, showing no change to their reaction.

In another experiment, the researchers left the slugs alone for a whole week after their initial shock training. On day 7, the slugs were still sensitized from their training, withdrawing their siphons for around 40 seconds when poked. Some of the slugs were injected with a PKM blocker at this point, a whole week after the training session. The next day, those slugs' reactions were right back down to zero. The un-injected slugs, though, still remembered their shocks.

The researchers also experimented on individual slug neurons--one sensory neuron and one siphon-moving neuron--that they removed from the slugs and kept in a dish. Again, they found that blocking PKM prevented the siphon neuron from retaining its "memory."

So what is PKM doing to neurons that makes it so critical to long-term memory? New memories involve the growth of connections between neurons, and the authors think the ongoing activity of PKM might be necessary to maintain these structural changes. Without housekeeping by PKM molecules, the connections are lost.

Researcher David Glanzman, who led the study, believes that understanding these processes could lead, in the future, to targeting and erasing specific memories in humans. "Almost all of the processes that are involved in memory in the snail [or sea slug] also have been shown to be involved in memory in the brains of mammals," he said in a press release.

It's a spooky idea, but erasing memories might be of help in treating post-traumatic stress disorder or drug addiction. The process might even be reversed to treat Alzheimer's disease, which is currently incurable. Let's hope that when that day arrives, someone remembers to thank the humble sea slugs.

Image: Genny Anderson/Wikimedia Commons

Do Boys Drool?

Researchers in Austria have discovered that females are much better than males at noticing when a tennis ball rolling behind a wall appears to change size. In fact, males don't seem to notice at all. Don't worry, guys--I'm talking about dogs.

Corsin Müller and his colleagues studied 25 male dogs and 25 female dogs. Each dog was led into a room by its owner and allowed to play with a large and a small blue tennis ball; this let the dogs get familiar with the objects in the experiment. Then the owners walked the dogs out of the room and back in again. Owners sat in a chair--blindfolded, so as not to give any inadvertent clues to their pets--and sat their dogs between their knees. Meanwhile, a hidden experimenter watched the dog with a camera. When the dog was calmly looking in the direction of a low wall, the experiment began. The experimenter tugged on hidden strings so that a blue tennis ball rolled behind the wall. A moment later, a second ball rolled out from the opposite side of the wall. For half the dogs, the second ball was the same size as the first. For the other half, it was different (either a big ball changing to a small ball or vice versa). The male and female dogs were evenly divided between the same-size and different-size groups.

As the second ball rolled out, cameras around the room recorded the dog's reaction. The experiment used a principle that's common in psychology experiments done with baby humans. If a baby sees something it doesn't expect to see, the assumption goes, the baby will stare at that object for longer that it would otherwise. Infants learn "size constancy," the rule that things should stay the same size from one moment to the next, during the first year of their lives. If they see an object appear to change size, they stare at it.

Since dogs are kind of like infants, I guess, the principle can be transferred. So the researchers studied videos of the dogs' reactions to see how long they stared at the second blue ball. The result was striking: Male dogs looked at the ball for the same amount of time, no matter what. Size constancy, schmize constancy. But female dogs stared for significantly longer when the ball appeared to change size.

(I won't tell anyone if you want to take a couple seconds and secretly cheer for the female dogs. But be aware that a girl dog is going to look dumb later on in this story.)

Why might this be? It's always tempting to invoke an evolutionary explanation. A scientist interviewed by ScienceNOW (and not involved in the study) takes the bait, suggesting that female dogs have evolved to pay more attention to visual cues so they can keep track of their puppies. The problem with such an explanation is that you can never really know whether it's true. And in the case of human sex differences--say, a difference in innate math ability that hasn't been convincingly shown to exist--some people use them as excuses to cling to outmoded generalizations such as "men like things, women like people." (Yes, I'm talking about John Tierney.)

Müller doesn't speculate about an evolutionary basis for the difference he found between male and female dogs. Instead, he writes that the most likely explanation is a "by-product of other sex differences." In other words, male and female brains are sculpted differently by the hormones they receive during development, and affected differently by hormones throughout life--but not all of these differences have to be evolutionary adaptations.

The uninvolved dog expert in the ScienceNOW story does add, interestingly, that male dogs tend to be more scent oriented than female dogs, and are preferred for tracking. Could it be that male dogs, for whatever reason, depend more on their noses, while females depend more on their eyes?

One dog doesn't make for much of a sample size, but can still be (I think) an entertaining example: In this MythBusters video, the two hosts of the show wear highly detailed masks of each other's faces. They also swap clothes. Host Jamie Hyneman's dog, who is trained to run to her owner when asked, "Where's Jamie?" demonstrates her trick--and runs straight to Adam, who's wearing the Jamie mask. Pretty embarrassing for an animal with such a sensitive nose. To her credit, she then turns around, shakes herself and barks. "She's very confused," Adam observes. Tennis balls changing size is one thing, but humans changing faces is a challenge she's not equipped for.