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‘Lab Rat Chronicles’ presents lessons learned from rodents

smithsonian exhibit
Taking a wild view of the world
“Nature’s Best Photography Awards 2010”

There are lots of ways to see the 2010 winners of the annual Nature’s Best Photography Awards — including catalog, online video and online gallery — but the best way is to visit the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History. There, the photos are enlarged in sizes up to 4-by-6 feet and displayed in a gallery on the second floor. A Hungarian photographer named Bence Mate won this year’s top honors with his photo of a hummingbird facing off with a green pit viper in Costa Rica. But budding photographers need not travel to the tropics or Tanzania to get their best wildlife shot: Matt Ward’s picture of a raccoon sleeping on its back in a hollowed-out tree was taken in New York’s Central Park. The exhibition is on view through Sept. 25.

lab science
What rodents can teach us
“The Lab Rat Chronicles” (Perigee, $15)

In “The Lab Rat Chronicles,” behavioral neuroscientist Kelly Lambert shares the life lessons that she has learned from 25 years of studying that most-maligned of mammals: the rat. After all, humans possess about 90 percent of the same genes as rats and mice, and 85 percent of all biomedical research is performed on them, according to Lambert. Some take-aways: There’s no need to be hypervigilant about dirt and germs; play is important for brain development; cuddling decreases stress; and be cautious about unhealthful new foods. Though Lambert’s book details many scientific studies, it’s written for a general audience, with relatable references to James Bond, TV’s “The Bachelor” and bad hair days to pull the reader along.

Rachel Saslow

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