Morsels for the mind – 27/9/2013
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
Whispered warnings. Tamarins quietly share dislike.
Udderly fantastic. Sci Curious shows how to perfectly milk the essence of a “pretty boring” study of standing cows.
Oh, deer! Golden eagle downs surprising prey.
Talking scents. For dogs, telling human & chicken corpses apart is difficult. Deliciously disgusting story by Julie Hecht.
Fly like an eagle. Or at least with one. Amazing.
Birds of a feather. Murmurate. Stunning.
Shy guys’ ties. Timid male birds flock best.
It’s all cool. Bigger-brained birds keep calm in times of stress. Rachel Nuwer conveys it beautifully.
Taking the plunge. The daring dives of gannets.
Strength in numbers. Cuckoo finch uses more eggs to outwit host.
Getting a head start. Worms retain “memories” even when they grow a new head. Arielle Duhaime-Ross covers this from top to tail.
Lynxes & eagles & bears, oh my! Rebecca Morelle reports on how some wildlife species are making a comeback in Europe.
Piping plovers’ perilous path. John Platt reports on endangered shorebirds' risks along migratory route.
Broken promise. Fragmented forests rapidly lead to mammal extirpations. Carl Zimmer expertly shares an important find.
Don’t be spotted. Breanna Draxler reports on a zoo that is prohibiting animal-print clothes because it confuses the animals. Apparently the animals are not already confused about being in enclosures with humans walking by all the time.
Most dangerous things in the zoo? People, stationary objects, and, um, raisins.
Bugs’ life – insects and other things that creep, crawl and otherwise delight
Up, up & away. Spiders’ beautiful ballooning.
Star search. Sci Curious reports on dung beetles navigating by the light of the Milky Way.
Fossil finds – organisms of times past – dinosaurs and beyond
About face. Ancient fish shows modern jaw origins, suggesting the face was the first modern skeletal feature to evolve. Interesting find, expertly reported here, here and here by Eliot Barford, Colin Barras, and Tanya Lewis, respectively.
On a roll. Trilobites protectively curled into a ball.
Reef or madness? Brian Switek tells us what fossils of extinct reefs say about the ocean’s future.
The real family tree? Did birds evolve from arboreal lives or by leaping from terra firma?
Tick talk. Jeremy Hsu reports on canine mummies that show parasites have been bugging dogs for a long time.
I love Lucy. And her new fossil-informed look.
Beautiful botanicals – wonders of the photosynthesising world – that is, mainly plants
Fall from grace? Impact of climate change on autumn leaves.
Microscopic marvels – smaller than the eye can see, but big in action – bacteria, fungi and viruses
It’s always happy hour. Yeast infection turns guy into walking brewery. Yep.
Weight lifters. Transplant of gut microbes from obese humans make might pack on grams. Ed Yong gets to the bottom of this story.
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)
Lose one, win some. Removing 1 protein boosts ability to make stem cells. Monya Baker reports on improving the odds of creating stem cells.
Every sperm is sacred? Don’t know about that, but, every one is different. So says genomics, as reported by Gayill Nalls.
Terrifically tiny. Small treasures buried in the genome.
Earth, wind and fire – planet shaping – geology, meteorology, oceanography, the environment & climate
What lies beneath. In the case of a retreating glacier, it’s the remains of ancient forest.
Star attractions – the final frontier, space
Way out there! Gorgeous galaxies.
The hole story. Did our universe emerge from five dimension (that’s right, 5D!) black hole? Mind-blowing stuff, by Matthew Francis.
Is there anybody out there? Wonderful, interactive on likelihood of Earth-like planets from New Scientist.
Epic fail. The failed star in our ‘hood.
Strike up the bands. Spectacular storms encircle Saturn.
Black & white & red all over. Mars in greyscale. Wow!
Makes no scents? Curiosity finds no Martian methane. Not even a whiff. This Martian chronicle by Mark Peplow.
Forces of nature – big-ticket items – cosmology, mathematics, computation, chemistry, physics, ecology & evolution
Size matters. Genius video by Aatish Bhatia brilliantly explains why swimming is easy for sperm whales, tough for sperm. View of the week.
Gravity of the situation. Ethan Siegel weighs in on a novel mass-based origin-of-the-universe hypothesis, & the poor way it’s reported.
Weight watchers. Some gain & some lose as 19 elements have atomic weights adjusted. Francie Diep gets the balance right on this story.
All together now. Considering the evolution of multicellularity.
Life from outer space? Yeah, not so much.
Matters of mind – how we, and other animals, perceive our world and our place in it
“In our evolved feelings of grief, we are all members of the animal kingdom.” Touching and thought-provoking essay on animal grief by Virginia Morell. Read of the week.
I feel your pain. A reflection on health, empathy, anthropomorphism & dogs.
Three great stories from the Companion Animal Psychology blog:
Scents & sensibility. Dogs’ meal choice shaped by odour & human encouragement.
A breed apart. Why are some dog breeds favoured over others? Interesting.
My, robot. Matt Shipman reports on how inventors become attached to automatons, but not *too* attached.
Change of thought. Psych treatment moving from Prozac-like drugs to altering brain networks. Excellent post by Vaughan Bell.
Laughter & forgetting. Citizen science explores nature of laughs & memory.
Know the feeling? How do we actually know others feel pain? It’s challenging.
Behind the scenes – the workings of the museum – discovery and communication
Don’t read the comments? Popular Science solves a problem by eliminating comments. Because science. But “not so fast”, says Marie-Claire Shanahan, there’s likely value in those comments yet. Reads of the week.
Missing links? Sci Curious makes an extremely compelling case for why LinkedIn is a must for people connected to the PhD “pipeline”.
Get the word out. Looking for post-science-PhD publishing success? Publish during your PhD. Make sure that quantity doesn’t come at the expense of quality though!
Accidents will happen. And we should help them along when they lead to discovery. Excellent post by Melonie Fullick.
“Without learning how to delegate, burnout is inevitable.” Chris Buddle provides spot-on advice for delegating in academic setting.
Get with the program. Must remove stereotypes to adjust gender imbalance in computer science. Important post by Matt Shipman.
Unknown knowns. Confirmation bias reinforces people not knowing what they think they know. As usual, Matt Shipman beautifully lays out the challenges of science communication.
“A memoir that is funny & modest, absorbing & playful…a marvelous love letter to science.” Wonderful writing from Barbara King’s excellent review of the surprise that is Richard Dawkins’ memoir.
When awesomes collide. Bill Watterson & Frank Herbert. Calvin & Maud’Dib.