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Book answers queries about science and health; site collects photos of amphibians

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Q & A

Don’t try this at home

Can You Drill a Hole Through Your Head and Survive?" (Skyhorse Publishing, $12.95)

Yes, but it depends on which part of the brain is damaged. That’s the answer to the title question of this book of 180 queries about science, health and nature that first appeared in a science column of the Guardian newspaper in Britain. Readers will also learn if grunting helps tennis players with their game, why sea mammals beach themselves and if it’s really dangerous to use a cellphone on a plane. It’s a light read, but don’t let that deter you: According to the book’s answer to “Do books improve your mind?” it doesn’t matter whether you read celebrity magazines or Shakespeare as long as the brain is exposed to new information that stimulates the cells.

Citizen science

Photographing frogs and salamanders

Global Amphibian Blitz

Here’s a fun citizen science project for the summer: Take photos of frogs, salamanders and other amphibians and upload them to the iNaturalist Web site to help scientists catalog the estimated 6,815 species of amphibians in the world. Even though amateurs may not know which species they’re looking at (just mark the unfamiliar ones “ID Please!” and an expert curator will step in), the information helps scientists “better understand and conserve these diverse and fascinating creatures,” according to the site. Nearly 168 amphibian species are thought to have gone extinct in the last two decades for reasons such as habitat loss and climate change. The Global Amphibian Blitz is motored by the Web site iNaturalist.org in partnership with a bunch of research groups, including the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute.

— Rachel Saslow

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