Morsels For The Mind – 22/11/2013
Every day we provide you with #SixIncredibleThingsBeforeBreakfast 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 of the week”.
Feather, fur & fin – birds, beasts, fishes, and the things they do
“Everyone should recognise & embrace a shared animality across species’ lines.” Quote by Gavin van Horn, from amazing piece on relationship between human & non-human animals. Read of the week.
Facing facts. Face pigments reveal monkey social order & environment.
Awesome collides. Primate rescue charity supported by great comic: Panels For Primates.
Dr. Googlittle? What are folks at Google X doing with dolphin communication? Alexis Madrigal investigated, and his speculation is intriguing.
“A sophisticated comic book about a crime-solving dog that loves pizza.” Excellent integration of dog behaviour into superhero comic, nicely reported by Oliver Sava.
Trash talk. Were earliest domestic canines truly junkyard dogs? Jason Goldman 's excellent examination of a hypothesis that attempts to explain domestic dog origins.
Getting a good reputation. Dogs watch people’s reactions to identify the good guys.
The daily struggle of homeless people & their dogs. Superb, incredibly touching film by John Domokos. Reminder to self: help out.
The dogs (and dolphins, elephants, pigeons, glow worms) of war. Interesting insights by Emma Roller.
Win some, lose some. Sons of promiscuous mice more attractive, but live shorter.
Hurtful past. Evolution of echidna & platypus venom.
Don’t fence me in? Dividing lions creates dividing lines for conservationists.
Have you herd? Robot rounds up cows. Corgis not pleased.
Deer me! Students set up beautiful hypothesis test of deer behaviour. Awesome! Great research blogging by students from McGill University.
Flight of fancy. Gannet-cam captures avian perspective. Warning: may induce motion sickness.
A taste for life. Why snakes flick their tongues.
Texting trips trapped troubles. Fishermen send text to get help to save trapped whale shark. Mary Bates reports on a surprising story.
Unbelievable undulations. Knifefish swim amazingly.
Strokes of genius. When octopuses swim, they have all the right moves. As usual, Katherine Harmon Courage has the most spectacular cephalopod science.
Obscure alternatives? Chloroplast-bearing sea slugs have no problems with darkness. Hmm.
Green machines? Sea slugs have chloroplasts, but their use is unclear. Fascinating piece by Ed Yong, on the nature of nature, and the nature of science, with great comments that follow the piece by the scientist who did the work.
Clamming up. Mollusc not revealing the secret to living >500 years! Remarkable find, reported by Colin Lecher.
Rule of thumb: Tiny animals perched on fingers are awesome.
Hard to swallow? Moose-eating shark rescued by fishermen. A welcome return to regular news in Canada.
Ah, that time of year when all Canadians sit down & crochet winter-wear for wildlife. Here, tea cosies for tortoises.
Bugs’ life – insects and other things that creep, crawl and otherwise delight
“The possibility of insect sentience is rather more scientifically complicated than one might expect.” Quote from phenomenal piece by Brandon Keim in Aeon Magazine on our understanding of insect behaviour. Read of the week.
Winging it. Alphabet & numerals on butterfly wings.
Piecing it all together. Super post on the best research on segmented critters, by Chris Buddle.
Inside job. Amazing-eyed insects have complex life within host insects. Yow! Chris Buddle brings on the funky bugs.
Crude living. There’s a bug that lives in raw oil - Helaeomyia petrolei. Fuel for thought, heard through Chris Buddle.
Death of a monarch. The plants we grow are creating food deserts for iconic butterfly. Jim Robbins reports on the dire situation.
Picture this. Graphic label for insect repellents useful, but unfortunately, voluntary. Bug Girl reports on an important topic for consumers, and insects.
Fossil finds – organisms of times past – palaeontology, archaeology, anthropology, history and the like
Heavy breathers. Amber suggests oxygen in dinosaur times lower than thought.
Prominent predator. Newly-named dinosaur, Siats, terrorised prey millions of yrs before T. rex. Brian Switek fleshes out a great fossil story.
West meets east. Native North Americans have western Eurasian roots. Ed Yong reports on a fascinating, if not astonishing, find.
Love connection. Apparently, some hominids were highly charismatic megafauna. Denisovans mated with, like, everyone – modern human, Neanderthals, and a mystery group. Great reporting by Ewen Callaway.
Beautiful botanicals – wonders of the photosynthesising world – that is, mainly plants
Microscopic marvels – smaller than the eye can see, but big in action – bacteria, fungi and viruses
“Nothing worked. He was thirty when he died.” History informs the future when antibiotics stop working. This Maryn McKenna piece on a “Post-Antibiotics Future” is a brilliant, if sobering, must read. Read of the week.
Heads up. Stunning connection between HPV, sexual activity & neck cancer. Amazing feature by Megan Scudellari. Read of the week.
Bacterial benefactors. Three anti-cancer drugs don’t work without our gut microbes. Outstanding piece. Complex, important science, masterfully explained by Ed Yong. Read of the week.
Spread, the word. The prospect of a global pandemic & how to prevent it. Excellent feature by Alok Jha.
Phenomenal fungi. Of the tooth & coral varieties.
Novel discovery. Library copies of Fifty Shades of Grey have traces of herpes & cocaine. Filthy, inside and out.
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)
Pondering Y. It takes only 2 Y-chromosome genes for mice to father offspring. Amazing find. Expertly, succinctly reported by Jef Akst.
Risky business. Genetic variants of APOE gene can either increase risk or protect from Alzheimer’s. Excellent reporting Sci Curious on a nifty set of experiments.
X marks the spot? No longer. Electron diffraction may displace X-rays for protein analyses. Cool story by Stephen Curry.
It all stems from this. Relationship between metabolism & stem cell differentiation. Jalees Rehman does some nice research blogging on an interesting link.
Heated discussion. Mice at room temperature are stressed; producing skewed findings. Heidi Ledford on a hot topic.
The big chill. Cool temperatures enable cancer proliferation (in mouse). Stephanie Swift on a cool discovery.
Earth, wind and fire – planet shaping – geology, meteorology, oceanography, the environment & climate
Rolling right along. Rare “roll cloud”. Amazing.
Star attractions – the final frontier, space
Blast from the past. Gamma ray burst from 3.7B years ago was a “monster”.
It’s a gas. Sloshing about a galactic cauldron.
Sagittarian splendour. A jet from our black hole.
Purple haze. Was Hendrix singing about signs of life on other planets? Marcus Woo on tell-tale signs of extraterrestrial life.
Forces of nature – big-ticket items – cosmology, mathematics, computation, chemistry, physics, ecology & evolution
Roadside attraction. A rainbow in the gutter, and the timeless story it tells.
A recipe for success? Using math, chemistry, & big data to derive new recipes. As usual, Aatish Bhatia is a purveyor of the fascinating stuff at the intersection of mathematics and life.
Where’s Waldo? Statistics shortens searches. And spoils hours of fun. Ben Blatt crunches the numbers on the stripy man.
“Darwin isn’t among the machines just yet, but he is certainly inside the machines.” Quote from excellent piece by Christoph Adami on the history of cellular automata & digital evolution.
Matters of mind – how we, and other animals, perceive our world and our place in it
“I don’t know many dog owners who haven’t formed some kind of family relationship with their dog.” Quote from an incredibly moving piece by Virginia Hughes on the death of a dog, grief, & solace. Read of the week.
You must remember this. Folks with super memory still prone to misinformation. Ed Yong shares some unforgettable research.
Altogether now. Human crowdsourcing & computers merge to create “The Social Machine”. Intriguing piece by David De Roure
Up in the air. Luftballonweitflugwettbewerb is awesome word; not so great concept. Superb dissection of both by Alex Brown.
Write on! There’s great value in learning cursive handwriting. Thought provoking piece by Shannon Bohle.
In the running. Runners sharing their thoughts. This stunning short film, by Matan Rochlitz & Ivo Gormley, on peoples’ candid reflections while running, is phenomenal. Why? Because these are exactly the sorts of Qs that run through your mind on long runs. “Why am I doing this?” “What am I doing with my life?” “Who are the people I really care about?” Running alone creates a huge canvas to paint the answers to these questions. This film captures it perfectly. View of the week.
Behind the scenes – the workings of the museum – discovery and communication
Quest for truthiness. How non-scientists should interpret scientific claims. Perfection. Read of the week.
“As much as I miss him, I am very thankful for the time that I had with him.” Quote from a devastatingly poignant post by Pete Etchells on how his dad shaped a scientist. Must read. Read of the week.
A passion for life. Fred Sanger transformed how we understand life. Won the Nobel prize for chemistry. Twice. He passed away this week. Love that the Guardian ran tribute pieces by Alok Jha and the late Pearce Wright. The level of respect and attention that Sanger more than earned.
What is this “community” of which you speak? An excellent look at folks involved in science communications, by Matt Shipman.
Moving experience. The “two body problem” & relocating for an academic position. Superb, important piece by Katie Mack.
A nested development. A critical look at emergence & future of epidemiology, by Tania Browne.
“The over-sexifying of aspects of palaeontology is hurtful for our community.” Quote from thought-provoking piece by Jon Tennant on communication of palaeontology.
To blog or not to blog? The value of blogging & microblogging for academics. Yes! Athene Donald makes a great case.
Making connections. Check out Lou Woodley’s new blog, Social in silico, musing on intersection of people, science & technology. Super!
Oh Canada! Be sure to check out the new Canadian science blog aggregator, Science Borealis. Beyond back bacon, Canada also home to some fine science blogging.
Out standing in their field. Upgrades to scientific field stations are game changers. Excellent feature by Roberta Kwok.
“An asymmetry that doesn’t really need to exist.” On the art-science “divide”. Ian McEwan & Nima Arkani-Hamed. To whit…
Magnificent merger! Beastie Boys & Rube Goldberg fused to foster girls’ interest in engineering.
Why pay to go to the movies when there’s this? Aeon films. The people who brought you super science reflections in superb long essays, now bring you great film.