Named for the Gila River basin where it once abounded, the Gila monster is one of only two known species of venomous lizard. Found in the southwestern US and northwestern Mexico, it averages 18 in (45 cm) in length, feeds on birds, mammals, and eggs, and uses its thick tail as a food reservoir. Though the Gila monster's neurotoxic venom can be fatal, the lizard moves too slowly to present a serious threat to humans. A synthetic version of one of its salivary proteins may help treat what disease?
Back in the day
In the early 1960s, the policies of South Vietnamese President Ngo Dinh Diem, a member of the Catholic minority, generated claims of religious bias against the vast Buddhist majority. In 1963, Duc, a Buddhist monk, protested by dousing himself with gasoline and burning himself to death at a Saigon intersection. Photos of his self-immolation quickly spread around the world and the event is widely seen as the turning point that led to a regime change. Which of Duc's organs has been preserved?
Born on a day like today
One of the greatest 19th-century British landscape painters, Constable is known primarily for his renditions of Dedham Vale, the area surrounding his home. Constable's free use of broken color and his direct observations of nature—including his detailed study of the formation of clouds, the color of meadows and trees, and the effect of light glistening on leaves and water—have influenced countless artists. On the backs of his sketches of the sky, Constable often wrote notes concerning what?