Caterpillar Madness

During monsoon season in Southern Arizona, the desert is teeming with life. Just this morning, on my way in from feeding the horses, I saw my horned lizard friend and a praying mantis. Horned lizard young hatch during this time of year, so I'll be watching for these miniature desert tanks. Earlier in the season, a fantastic event occurred, one I hadn’t observed before. I wasn’t quick enough with my camera, and thought I’d lost the opportunity to film the... Read more


Making People Laugh About Science. It’s a Good Thing.

Why was Schrödinger afraid of his cat? Because it was both dead and alive at the same time!  Alright, so admittedly I’m no quantum theory comedian. But if you brushed up on your science communication strategies recently, attended a talk at a local science museum or read a Brain Flapping post by Dean Burnett at The Guardian, you might have noticed that science comedy is a hot thing. And for good reason. It turns out that using humour and even... Read more


Giant, fertile city spiders: behind the scenes

I was excited to see the attention around an interesting spider-focused paper published in PLOS last week, titled "Urbanisation at Multiple Scales Is Associated with Larger Size and Higher Fecundity of an Orb-Weaving Spider" by Lizzy Lowe, Shawn Wilder, and Dieter Hochuli. This work ignited creativity in headlings around the world, including things like "City living makes spiders big, fat and fertile, researchers say" or "Our hot, bright cities are spawning gigantic spiders". Lowe et al. looked at how body... Read more


About a Blog

Posted by Tom Webb in Mola Mola

In his early collection of miscellaneous writing Paperweight, Stephen Fry includes a column from The Listener called Absolutely Nothing At All, about… writing a column. He prefaces it in the book with the excuse, “Journalist friends tell me that columnists are allowed to write one column of this nature once in their lives.” On the assumption that bloggers get the same allowance, here we go… * I’ve had this post largely worked out in my head for several weeks. It’s... Read more


James Mirrlees: Interesting, important taxation

#LindauEcon14 participant Terhi Ravaska on the relevance of optimal Taxation theory to policy making. From the press to family dinner tables taxation causes a lot of debate. Most often the opinion is that tax rates are too high and wrong people are taxed. Some think that capital and wealth should be heavily taxed, others see that capital taxation dampens growth, on the other hand VAT taxes are not good because it affects most severely the people with low incomes, and neither... Read more


Christopher Sims: Ultra-liquidity

Technology changes and post-crisis monetary policy are making financial assets and money indistinguishable. Central banks now need to work in partnership with fiscal authorities. Several economists at the Lindau meeting were severely critical of central banks’ conduct of monetary policy in the light of continuing depression in the US, Japan and much of Europe, and called for greater use of fiscal policy to bring about recover. Among the most critical was Christopher Sims, who gave a trenchant presentation on “Inflation,... Read more


#LindauEcon14 Encounters

Lindau Blog Reporter Simon Engelke met some of the brilliant Young minds of #LindauEcon14. Here are his impressions. Where are you from? In Lindau you will get 80 different answers. What do you do? Get ready for around 460 different answers. The past days offered an impressive variety of research focuses and personal stories. Except being smart and ambitious the participants showed a great sense of humor and quite a few anecdotes – some of them are shown below in... Read more


On the back of the beast

We’ve joined scientists atop a frozen debris lobe, a slow-moving landslide in permafrost. They say we’re ‘on the back of the beast’. In the heavy rain and among fog-shrouded mountains, the scientists are making these uphill treks to record how temperature, water pressure, and local geological properties determine the slope movement of the massive lobes. These repeat measurements obtained at incredible accuracy can one day help us decode the secrets of the many massive frozen debris lobes (FDLs) currently approaching... Read more


Alopecia areata: Hope for humans from helpful mice

Cytotoxic T cells (CD8+NKG2D+) produce cytokines that interfere with human hair follicles, producing hair loss. Alopecia areata (AA) has been known in man for centuries. An appropriate and spontaneous natural mouse genetic model for AA was discovered a few decades ago in mice at Bar Harbor Laboratories in Maine, and it has been incredibly useful, as documented in several publications in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology and other journals. The mouse model is especially important as new therapies for this... Read more


Multilingualism and social justice in Europe

Reducing the number of the official languages of the European Union is a bad idea, as Michele Gazzola explains. Replacing the official languages of the EU with only English would not only disadvantage some European countries more than others; it would also cut off many EU residents from understanding key legal documents. These are among the findings of my study entitled ‘Participation, Linguistic Disenfranchisement and Translation: An Evaluation of the Language Regime of the European Union’, which is forthcoming in... Read more


People power: how citizen science is changing the face of environmental research

Zooniverse is my new favourite form of procrastination. In seconds, I’m transported to the wilds of the Serengeti to search for warthogs and wildebeest and note down what they’re up to. Moments later, I’m skimming the ocean floor to identify and measure exotic sea creatures, without the ungraceful task of donning a wetsuit. And I’m far from alone. Across the globe, a growing army of volunteers are taking part in citizen science. They don’t wear white coats and they rarely... Read more


Climate Change Communication: Taking the Temperature (Part 1)

Editor's Note: This is a guest blog post by Kirk Englehardt (@kirkenglehardt). Kirk is Director of Research Communication and Marketing for the Georgia Institute of Technology. He blogs about strategic communication & #scicomm on LinkedIn and The Strategy Room.  He also curates and shares #scicomm content, which can be found on Flipboard, Pinterest, Google+ and Facebook.  Introduction: A few weeks ago, I was chatting with a college friend who now works as a television meteorologist. I asked him if he would be interested in... Read more


Is Dog Barking the Result of Human Artificial Selection?

The Basenji also called the Congo Terrier is native to the Central African forest. Since ages he is used by the pygmies (thought to be the oldest of all humans) to hunt lions. Therefore the basenji is one of the oldest breeds of dogs. He does not bark, but he can make all the same noises that a wolf or coyote can make. He can scream, cry, howl, whine and growl. The Can't Bark-Hypothesis Why this breed doesn't bark remains... Read more


Birdbooker Report 334-5

SUMMARY: Books, books, beautiful books! This is a list of biology, ecology, environment, natural history and animal books that are (or will soon be) available to occupy your bookshelves and your thoughts. “Words in leather and wood”. Bookshelves in the “Long Room” at the old Trinity College Library in Dublin. Image: Nic McPhee from Morris, MN, USA. 2007. (Creative Commons.) Books to the ceiling, Books to the sky, My pile of books is a mile high. How I love them!... Read more


Ten facts about rove beetles (Staphylinidae)

This edition of ten facts is courtesy of Stelios Chatzimanolis - he's an evolutionary biologist and entomologist, working at The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. You can learn more about Stelios at his website, blog or follow him on twitter. Here are ten facts about some pretty amazing beetles: 1. Rover beetles do not look like other beetles. Unlike most beetles, rove beetles have short fore wings (elytra) and part of their abdomen is exposed. Superficially they look like earwigs but they never have the pincers... Read more