Morsels for the mind – 19/4/2013
Just as it’s important to nourish your body, you’ve got to make sure to nourish your mind. Every day, #SixIncredibleThingsBeforeBreakfast are served up as a delectable assortment of “amuse-bouche” for your brain.
Here we’ve collated some of the tastiest morsels from the past week, creating 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!
Feather, fur & fin – birds, beasts, fishes, and the things they do
Hard to beat. That beat-keeping seal is back, and there’s a compelling tale to be told.
How to stay off the menu. Monkeys are able to identify the features of humans on the hunt for bushmeat and know to keep quiet.
Puking porcupines? Ralphing rats? Nope. Rodents don’t vomit. Now we know why.
Education never ends. Pigeons never stop learning new ways to get home.
Down in the dumps? Some sloths are literally there. Looking for the square poop, apparently. Not for the faint hearted.
Hare today, gone tomorrow? With climate change, Arctic hare’s once camouflaging coat may turn out to be a liability.
It’s a shore thing. Tumbling waves at the ocean’s edge tell sea urchins when to settle down.
It’s another shore thing. For wading birds, whether you roost or whether you wander is all about sex ratios.
If you want to go with the flow, you need a water flow detector. This fish uses tooth-like structure on its skin to do just that.
Walk this way. The coelacanth genome points to the evolution of tetrapod limbs. This induced the call of “Living fossil, living fossil, living fossil!” Unfortunately, there are good reasons why the term “living fossil” must go extinct. REALLY good reasons.
Charting lives ups and downs. The surprising factors that influence how deep sharks dive.
Bugs’ life – insects and other things that creep, crawl and otherwise delight
Shake your tail feather! Just like a peacock spider. An amazing dancer if ever there was one.
No direction home? Monarch butterflies definitely have one, but precisely how they find it is still a matter of some debate.
Talk about a brain drain. Having kids leads to cognitive decline. Well, at least in bees it does.
Beetle mania! Meet the beetles.
Nature abhors a vacuum? Not when you’ve got your super-protective nano-suit on. It allows bugs to be filmed by electron microscopy, under a vacuum, while being bombarded with electrons, while STILL ALIVE!
Beautiful botanicals – wonders of the photosynthesising world – that is, mainly plants
Do you ever pine for pollen? Then head to North Carolina. They have plenty to spare: 30kg of pine pollen per resident!
This is how plants get ‘round. How succulent leaves got their nice fat shape.
Cracking discovery! The call of a tree undergoing drought stress.
Tiptoeing through the tulip tree genome – reveals a very slow mutation rate.
Fossil finds – organisms of times past – dinosaurs and beyond
All in the family? Australopithecus sediba shakes the hominid family tree. It’s because it is a mosaic.
Ironing out the past. Remarkable fossil find suggests microbes trapped radioactive iron released from a supernova. Too much awesome in one story!
Dented dentition. Why was a dinosaur walking around with an empty tooth socket?
Why is everyone in a flap? Over dinosaur feathers, of course.
Microscopic marvels – smaller than the eye can see, but big in action – bacteria, fungi and viruses
The little things we share. We swap microbes with our housemates, including our canine ones.
‘Cause that’s how they roll. Microbes make their way from one roller derby player to another.
Get around on the town. That’s what epidemics do. And that’s why we need to map them.
Here’s a deep, dark secret. There’s lots of life to be found in the Mariana Trench.
Molecular machinery – the toils of the macromolecules of life – nucleic acids and proteins (and others)
This will turn you on. A really powerful genetic switch.
Phenomenally fascinating: Placenta has one strange epigenome.
Earth, wind and fire – planet shaping – geology, meteorology, oceanography & the climate
Around we go. Our beautiful planet in action. From space.
Now this is hot stuff. How we get our deserts.
Star attractions – the final frontier, space
Truly a blast from the past. What the Big Bang would have sounded like. Now this is HIGH FI!
No place like home? Actually, even distant stars look like our neighbours.
A star is born. Actually, many are being churned out in a theory-busting star factory.
It’s an icy autumn. At Titan’s southern hemisphere.
The incredible bulk. Bursty Bulk Flows power gorgeous auroras.
Like peas in a pod. A really big pod. Green Pea Galaxies provide clues of the early universe.
Forces of nature – big ticket items – cosmology, ecology, evolution, physics, chemistry
Embrace the chaos! The beauty of chaos theory’s fractals.
It’s not strange magic, but quantum paradox does look that way.
A love-hate relationship. A morphing material that either attracts or repels liquids.
Matters of mind – how we, and other animals, perceive our world and our place in it
Some things are music to our ears. And our brains. The music we like rewards the brain.
Just when you think you have firm political convictions, a magician comes along and makes you completely flip flop.
This is your brain on CLARITY. Well, not exactly your brain, but somebody’s, and it’s gorgeous.
Ever wanted an invisible touch? Well first you need an invisible hand. Here’s how to get one.
Given ‘em a hand! Kids can be convinced they have a rubber hand.
Keep this in mind. How to think about the brain to mind continuum. Excellent.
Wondering about the day’s events? Here’s how you’re keeping them sorted.
Behind the scenes – the workings of the museum – discovery and communication
Small things can have big impact. The butterfly effect in action, literally and figuratively.
Who to trust? How can scientists and media work together to build public trust around science?
Hold the hype! How to separate hyperbole from science, in 5 easy steps.
To blog or not to blog? If you are a grad student, the answer is definitelty, “blog”.
The best way to finish: Carl Sagan still has lessons for all of us.