Morsels for the mind – 12/4/2013

12 April 2013 by Malcolm Campbell, posted in Malcolm's linkfest

They say that the most important meal of the day is breakfast, for the health of your body. Our experience is that the most important meal for the mind might be #SixIncredibleThingsBeforeBreakfast.

Here we’ve collated some of the tastiest morsels from the past week, creating a veritable smorgasbord for the brain. They’re all here for you to load up your plate – this week’s “Morsels for the mind”.  Enjoy!


Feather, fur & fin – birds, beasts, fishes, and the things they do

Panda bats!!! Don’t get this cute new genus wet after midnight.

Dogs are awesome. But mantis shrimp may be awesomer. (but maybe not ALL that much) ‘Nuff said.

Ever wonder why monkey butts are blue? Of course you did.

Here’s the lowdown on river dolphins. They sing really low. They’re like the Barry Whites of the cetacean world.

Now here’s an interesting strategy. Offspring place themselves deliberately in harms way to blackmail their parents for food. Apparently it works out just fine.

When times got tough on land, bowhead whales were doing just fine thank you.

Big bites bring bigger brains? Perhaps in wild canines they do.

If you want to win on a squash court, you may want to compete with a giraffe. Their reflexes are very slow.

Some things just cannot be beat. Especially if it is a seal keeping a beat. But is this really so special, are non-human animals natural dancers? And should we be thinking of ways to enhance such traits?

Hatching a plan. When some lizards are threatened, they pop right out of their eggs.

They really have some nerve. Crocodilians that is.

If you think that you’ve placed something out of the reach of an octopus, think again.

Getting the point. We can learn something about sharks from our own sharp weaponry.

Can sharks be civil? Why yes, yes they can.

If you’re looking for truth in advertising, look beyond non-venomous snakes. They have venom.

As different as night a day. This crab is just that. Literally.

As different as black and peach. This frog is just that. Literally.

Deep down, things are really freaky.  Especially in the ocean.

Cold blooded individuals lack hemoglobin. Well, if they are a scale-less deep sea ice fish.

If you like gazing into someone’s deep blue eyes, then scallops have all you want, and more.

A chilling find. Tiny crustacean escape predators by switching up their swim stroke in cold water.


Bugs’ life – insects and other things that creep, crawl and otherwise delight

Spiders are the world’s best pioneers. They get their first and shape ecosystems. Awesome.

Keep your eye on the fly. Because it’s got cells moving all over the place. Amazing.

Who needs a map when you have a compass? So says the monarch butterfly.

A lot of buzz about bees. They are simply stunning.

Glowy microbes help cute squid keep time. This is wonderful.

Microbes can be little heartbreakers. Literally, when they do their stuff in converting red meat to heart-stopping molecules.


Beautiful botanicals – wonders of the photosynthesising world – that is, mainly plants

Oh, how sweet it is. Sugars shape plant development.

Plant know which end is up. Here’s how.


Fossil finds – organisms of times past – dinosaurs and beyond

Cracking discovery! Amazing growth inferred from dinosaur embryos. (and there may be organic molecules there?!)

Do you think you could outrun a Tyrannosaur? Think again.  And there are even faster dinosaurs.

Forget walking with dinosaurs, we could have waded with them. Some even swam.


Microscopic marvels – smaller than the eye can see, but big in action – bacteria, fungi and viruses

It’s not exactly rocket science, but these ancient microbes do respire on rocket fuel.

The potential for pandemic rears its ugly head. And raises big questions. And even bigger concerns. Should it?


Molecular machinery – the toils of the macromolecules of life – nucleic acids and proteins (and others)

Bloody hell. For good reason, snake venom will turn your blood to ketchup or jello. Or something deliciously nasty.

Here’s where you really want to take a look at the fine print. When 3D printing makes tissues from cells. It’s very cool.

Now this is nothing to sniff at. Many cell types have odour receptors. Why?

It’s not just a matter of taste. Receptors play a role in making salt yummy or blechy.

Brains are beautiful. And they just got a beauty boost.


Earth, wind and fire – planet shaping – geology, meteorology, oceanography & the climate

The planet gets so crusty sometimes. But that’s ok, because continents arise.


Star attractions – the final frontier, space

A  long, long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away. Hubble looks at a reeeaaallly distant supernova. It shows how the universe expanded.

What’s better than a giant green bubble in space? Not too much. Although rain falling on Saturn’s rings comes darn close.

In terms of long distance voyagers, it’s hard to beat cosmic rays. And their trip here involved a lot of lumps and bumps.

There are times when black holes need a little light snack. Literally. Stunning animation.

Our solar system is freakishly beautiful.


Forces of nature – big ticket items – cosmology, ecology, evolution, physics, chemistry

Some light entertainment. We are attracted to light. Here are some reasons why.

Are solar powered passenger airplanes a flight of fancy? Test it with physics!

When it comes to dark matter, we’re still in the dark.

If you are looking for a truly noble pursuit, consider a noble gas. Like helium.

Oh what a tangled web they weave. Entangled photons that is. And they beat the noise by doing so.


Matters of mind – how we, and other animals, perceive our world and our place in it

Maybe we can truly know what sweet dream are made of. Brain scans reveal dream content.

Have you heard? There are times when musical numbers are numbers in music.

Can we make people happier by putting a smile on a face?

There’s a look of love. Might there also be a smell of love?

When you tickle a rat’s fancy, they are more optimistic. Tickled rats see life on the sunny side.

Think personality only matters to humans? Think again.


Behind the scenes – the workings of the museum – discovery and communication

Ever wonder what a palaeontologist does? This. Beautiful.

If you want to write about science, what you need is insatiable curiosity and enthusiasm for new ideas.

There are times when science really does need to be conveyed to a politician. No joking. Here’s how.

Is the scientific method always useful? Well…You’ve probably never heard of Bill Hamilton. Here’s why you should have.

You’ve probably never heard of Fred and Norah Urquhart. Here’s why you should have.

You’ve probably heard of EO Wilson. He stirred up a hornet’s nest with his views on mathematics. Here’s why he is still a good guy.

If we want to fix our biases in science, especially gender bias, we’re going to have to haul that bias into the cold light of day.

There is truly some funky stuff that is behind the scenes at the museum.



Leave a Reply

+ 5 = nine