Morsels For The Mind – 06/06/2014
Every day we provide you with Six Incredible Things Before Breakfast to nibble away at. Here you can fill your brain with the most intellectually stimulating “amuse bouches” from the past week – a veritable smorgasbord for the cranium. They’re all here for you to load up your plate – this week’s “Morsels for the mind”. Enjoy!
If you do nothing else, make sure to check out the “Reads / views / listens of the week”.
Feather, fur & fin – birds, beasts, fishes, and the things they do
Triplet trouble. Offspring count impacts stillbirth risk in marmosets. Relevance to humans? Carl Zimmer explores the results and their implications.
Elephants never forget. Culling leaves a traumatic mark on herd members, as Ariel Mark explains.
Born to run? California Chrome could have made racehorse history this week. Was a win (or a loss) in his genes? I wrote this.
A breed apart? Captive white tigers are inbred & not legitimate conservation. Powerful case made by Jackson Landers.
Canine killer. Nsikan Akpan explains how cyanobacteria are a frightening threat to dog health.
It’s a doggie dog world. Great citizen science projects for canine companions. Julie Hecht has pulled them all together in one convenient resource.
Lost & found. John Platt on a big-eared bat, thought extinct for 120 years, that has been rediscovered.
No laughing matter. Hyenas were (& probably still are) horribly misunderstood, as Matt Simon explains.
Eyeing dinner. Gannets spot active fishing boats from 11km away & fly there for food. Christine Dell'Amore on the intelligence of bird brains.
Tremendous tundra travels. Marvellous migratory birds. Fantastically fascinating discoveries, and research, shared by Liz O'Connell for Frontier Scientists. Really love the videos in this Frontier Scientists post. Super research video blogs on some amazing biology. Views of the week.
The mating game. James Owen describes a frog's novel way of doing it.
Sex in the city. Urban frogs amplify mating calls with sewage drains. Katia Moskvitch listened in.
A shot in the dark? Blind cavefish gains name from Indiana Hoosier basketball. Elizabeth Preston on a novel creature with a novel name.
Deep beauty. Deep sea creatures, photographed by David Shales.
A moving experience. Tracking animals using their pixel-based “numerical signature”. Amazing technology, nicely explained by Greg Miller.
Bugs’ life – insects and other things that creep, crawl and otherwise delight – the arthropods
A fine romance. The tender & vengeful love lives of tiny red velvet mites. Awesome stuff, from the consistently awesome Oatmeal. View of the week.
Colourful characters. Dave Pacchioli on cool convergence of body colour in bumblebee species.
Don’t let the bedbugs bite. Gwen Pearson has super advice on how to achieve that feat while travelling. by
Fossil finds – organisms of times past – palaeontology, archaeology, anthropology, history and the like
Don’t walk past. 11M year history of legless lizards. Stephanie Pappas on the latest fossil finds.
Tick talk. Megan Gannon looks into lyme disease-like bacteria in 15M-year-old amber-entombed ticks.
The ticking of time. Rachel Nuwer finds that ancient amber-embedded tick suggests it was Lyme carrier.
A dire situation. The lives, demise, & reappearance (in Game of Thrones) of dire wolves. Excellent look at an extinct creature that lives on in popular culture, by Kyle Hill.
Canine clues in mammoth mystery. Did domesticated dogs increase prehistoric pachyderm peril? Pat Shipman has a hypothesis that suggests they may have.
Along for the ride. Mary Beth Griggs finds that world’s oldest trousers were used for horse riding.
Beautiful botanicals – wonders of the photosynthesising world – that is, mainly plants
Electric company? Are host trees protected from lightning by conduction through parasitic lianas? Jyoti Madhusoodanan considers a shocking hypothesis.
Salt of the Earth. As soils get saline, plants perceive it the way you perceive pain. I wrote this.
Microscopic marvels – smaller than the eye can see, but big in action – bacteria, fungi and viruses
Going viral? Interest in bacteria-killing viruses to combat antibiotic resistance. Sara Reardon looks at the recent developments.
Hungry for change. Gut microbiomes also need to mature. Malnutrition stunts that. Fascinating research results, with important implications, nicely reported by Ed Yong.
Break it up! Targeting bacterial aggregates, biofilms, to bust disease. Cool approach to a longstanding problem, nicely explained by S.E. Gould.
Painful protozoan parasite. The fascinating, yet deadly, life cycle of sleeping sickness, well explained by S.E. Gould.
Molecular machinery – the toils of the macromolecules of life – nucleic acids and proteins (and others) – from molecules to cells to organs to organisms (including genetics, genomics & epigenetics)
A matter of taste. Could our genome sequences help tailor diets that both nourished & appealed? Catherine de Lange considers the possibility.
Skeleton crew. Seeing scaffolds inside your cells.
Forces of nature – big-ticket items – ecology, evolution & extinction
Collateral damage. When we fall prey to microbes, we’re likely caught in crossfire of an ancient war. Ed Yong’s piece on evolution of microbial competition & its impact on us is genius. Science writing at its best. Read of the week.
“Like the light spectrum, there are not, and never have been ‘primary’ colors of humans.” Quote by Ken Weiss from an excellent, thoughtful, thought-provoking piece on “race”. Read of the week.
The same old same old? We’ve been genetically manipulating organisms for 50k years. Rachel Mitchell has a great overview.
Earth, wind and fire – planet shaping – geology, meteorology, oceanography, the environment & climate
Star attractions – the final frontier, space
Lighter shade of pale. Ultraviolet light from ancient stars.
X marks the spot. X-ray sources in spiral galaxy.
A big deal? Exoplanets a little larger than Earth seem surprisingly common. George Dvorsky considers the evidence.
Way’s away. Ken Croswell takes a look at stars from other side of Milky Way.
This rocks! Ian Sample looks at the evidence for a rocky exoplanet that has 20 times the Earth’s mass.
Look up. Look at this. Twitter helped find it, as Lauren Hitchings explains.
Periodic table of the planets? Getting a handle on how elements impact exoplanet size. Caleb Scharf looks at the latest developments.
Bursting the bubble. Lava bubbles suggest water in Mars past, but does that mean life was there? Mike Lemonick considers the possibility.
Some assembly required. Will we colonise other planets by sending DNA to "print" humans there? Meghan Neal on a nifty, if fanciful, idea.
Getting physical – physical sciences – cosmology, physics, chemistry, mathematics, computing, engineering, and technology
A silver lining… The positive side of the gamma ray burst that wasn’t. Excellent take on a fraught topic, by Matthew Francis.
May the forces be with you. Jon Butterworth on reconciling the forces of gravity & quantum mechanics.
Quantum leaps. Physics shouldn’t jump to explain all things, like consciousness. Excellent critique, by Matthew Francis.
“Parents, let your kids play with non-Newtonian fluids.” Super advice from Adam Mann. Oobleck is great fun.
A dose of medicine – science in practice in a medical setting, and health-, nutrition-, and exercise-related stories
Moms the word. Three parent kids - 2 biological mothers + one father - on the horizon. James Gallagher looks at the timeline.
“Like a picture of Abraham Lincoln holding an iPhone.” Old wine counterfeits. Super story by The Kitchen Sisters - Davia Nelson & Nikki Silva.
Get the balance right. Rachel Nuwer on Addressing the problems of sex bias in biomedical research.
Check in the male? No, for Rett research, female mice are better model. Rachel Nuwer explains why that makes sense.
Matters of mind – how we, and other animals, perceive our world and our place in it – neuroscience, mental health, psychology, sociology & human interest stories
Sense of direction. Molecular guide for neuron branching.
Bad connections. Bethany Brookshire finds strong neuronal links associated with depression (in mice).
Flashy research. How flashes of light are illuminating memory formation. Cool approach, masterfully explained by Ewen Callaway.
Getting left out. When you’re drowsy, your attention shifts to the right. Fascinating research result, masterfully explained by Mo Costandi.
All in his head? Did a brain scan really show a neuroscientist he’s a psychopath? Chris Chambers has some answers.
It’s all bad. Relationship between animal abuse & family violence. Excellent exploration of important research, by Zazie Todd.
Qu’est que c’est? Second language skills slow brain ageing.
The good word. Retaining languages is essential to retain cultures. Important finding for cultural preservation, well explained by Rachel Nuwer.
A small matter. Youngest kids in the family are bigger than their parents think, explains Susana Martinez-Conde.
Behind the scenes – the workings of life’s museum of natural history – discovery, communication, and education
“Every woman who teaches science..is a STEM role model.” Excellent take, by Julia Percival.
“I see social media as a tool, neither good or bad in itself.” Excellent take, by NeuroSkeptic.
“Rife with clattering jargon, methodological skirmishes, & ideological warfare.” Paul Voosen on science historians' woes.