Have you ever wished to be fearless — fear absolutely nothing, ever? At some stage we all have. If only wishes were horses… But, according to scientists at the University of Iowa, US, this adage does not hold for a 44-year-old woman whom they have identified as SM (for confidentiality reasons). Apparently SM knows no fear! The scientists exposed her to snakes and spiders, took her to a haunted house, and showed her fear-stimulating films but SM remained unaffected. This absence of fear is a rare genetic disorder called Urbach-Wiethe disease. Scans of SMs brain revealed that this disorder has damaged her amygdala — an almond-shaped mass of grey matter in the brain that is said to make us feel emotions. But be warned: no fear also means no survival instincts. Hence, over the years, SM has failed to identify dangerous situations and has been held at knifepoint and gunpoint, and once almost got killed.
Reflective yellow collars or small antler tags are being fitted on Norways reindeer. This is being done to make the reindeer more visible in darkness and cut down on the number of accidents. Apparently, car crashes kill around 500 of these animals each year and many people get injured too in such accidents. About 2,00,000 reindeer live in Norway and this is the first time reindeer marking is being done on such a massive scale. Earlier, Sami leaders, the indigenous people who raise them, tried small experiments to keep them safe but without much success. One hopes this idea will click.