Morsels For The Mind – 29/08/2014
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
Big whale. Big Apple. Big photo. Gotham whale. Amazing. View of the week.
In the doghouse. Kid asks Frank Lloyd Wright to design space for his dog. What happened next is amazing. Love this story, provided by Letters Of Note.
A shore thing. Climate & changing oceans taking toll on seabirds. Cheryl Katz shares the evidence on a dire situation.
Now you see it. Now you don't. Citizen science explores evolution of bird egg camouflage. GrrlScientist describes a great project.
Tremendous tortoises. Regal denizens of Galápagos Islands. Amazing poise. featuring Carlos Romero
Exhibiting restraint. Frogs may limit mating signals to avoid becoming bat dinner. Sandrine Ceurstemont looks at the experimental evidence.
Clear advantage? Transparent glass frogs. Gorgeous discoveries, shared by James Owen.
Heated arguments. The wacky stuff we used to think about salamanders & fire. Fascinating bit of natural history history, by Matt Simon.
Wanted dead or alive? Jason Goldman on how folks are tipping the balance for live whale sharks through ecotourism.
Out & about. How a land-reared fish tells us something about the evolution of walking. Great story by Emily Chung. Read of the week.
Walk this way? Land-reared fish "replay" the ambulatory evolutionary clock. Cool research, nicely described by Andy Coghlan.
Land ho! Fish betters its walking capability when reared terrestrially. Implications for evolution? Noah Baker has the story.
Brilliant escape. Ostracods' bioluminescence deters predators.
Bugs’ life – insects and other things that creep, crawl and otherwise delight – the arthropods
Scale of the problem. Museum & city samples of scale insects reveal climate's impact, explains Matt Shipman.
Getting inside their heads. Wasp zombifies cockroaches. Nice essay by student, Holly Cooper.
Beetle mania. The challenge of mountain pine beetles' "ecology of surprise". Good feature, via University of Alberta Research.
Gets to the point. The deadliest animal on the planet (aside from humans) is one nasty sucker. Great feature, by Joe Hanson. View of the week.
Pore, pore pitiful me? Sure, I've got face mites, but that makes me a walking ecosystem. Cool reminder by Gwen Pearson. Read of the week.
Out of Africa? Not honeybees. Likely originated in Asia.
The buzz of the city. Urban areas can support a surprising diversity of bees. Mark Kinver looks at the evidence.
A bug's life. Is a marvel. Lovely ode to insects, by Scott Shaw. Read of the week.
Fossil finds – organisms of times past – palaeontology, archaeology, anthropology, history and the like
Muscles hard as rock. Ediacaran fossil provides 1st evidence of musculature. Great story, by Jen White.
Getting the point. Adding a stone tip to spears proved to be a useful innovation, explains Kate Wong.
Everything's relative. Legacy of the "other" human relations, the Denisovans. Excellent overview, by John Wenz.
Beautiful botanicals – wonders of the photosynthesising world – that is, mainly plants
Rooted in reality? Are any of Groot's traits seen in real, live plants? Good fun, by Michael Dhar.
Microscopic marvels – smaller than the eye can see, but big in action – bacteria, fungi and viruses
Bacteria busters. Ionic liquids prove to be effective against microbial infections, explains Nicole Skinner.
Fair game. Science fair student IDs tree hosts of AIDS agonist fungus. Superb story, by Nancy Shute. Awesome that student Elan Filler is co-author on AIDS killer fungus paper. Read of the week.
Changing the nature of the yeast. Engineering the fermentation workhorse to make morphine. Cool biotechnological development, explained by Tracy Vence.
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)
"We exist to serve our genome, a collection of genes that have been surviving from time immemorial." Quote by Itai Yanai & Martin Lercher from an interesting piece on the function of the human genome. Read of the week.
A change of mind. Parasite may modify host behaviour via modified brain DNA. Cool discovery, expertly described by Carl Zimmer.
Father knows best? Signatures of paternal stress in offspring (in mice). Jessica Perry Hekman on the discovery, and its implications (for dogs!).
Forces of nature – big-ticket items – ecology, evolution & extinction
2-for-1 deal. Within one host, one endosymbiont species becomes two. Ed Yong on some fascinating biology.
Crystal ball. Biological sampling in cities can provide glimpse of future trends, explains Elsa Youngsteadt, based on her own research.
Best mates? Is PMS an evolutionary adaptation to ensure fertile couplings? Good critique, by Bethany Brookshire.
Strength in diversity. Compelling case for preserving biodiversity, by Andrew Beattie.
Road kill. There's a tension between roads & wilderness that needs addressing. Great read, by Michelle Nijhuis. Read of the week.
Earth, wind and fire – planet shaping – geology, meteorology, oceanography, the environment & climate
Tiny bubbles. Big troubles? Sid Perkins takes a look at methane seeps discovered streaming from sea floor.
Shaken & stirred. Phenomenal overview of Napa Valley wine region earthquake, by Mika McKinnon. Read of the week.
Shake & wake. Folks' fitness trackers also tracked nighttime earthquake activity. The marvels of modern technology, by Bahar Gholipour. Read of the week.
"What happened in L'Aquila is a window onto how we think about, communicate, & live with risk." Quote by David Wolman from a spectacular piece on scientists sentenced for manslaughter in L'Alquila. Read of the week.
Moving experience. When permafrost melts. Cool video, via Jason Dobkowski.Goin' down slow. Imagine a slow-motion, permafrost- & debris-filled avalanche. It exists. Fascinating field research, nicely described by Laura Nielsen, for Frontier Scientists.
A change in the weather. Gleaning previous climate info using "rescued data". Rose Eveleth explains how it is being done.
Star attractions – the final frontier, space
Way out there. Expanding the limits of our view of our solar system. Great read, by Corey Powell. Read of the week.
Cloudy with a chance of rain. Just 7 light years away. Exoplanet may have misty atmosphere, explains Ken Croswell.
A place in the sun. Ghostly neutrinos report on photon generation in the sun's core, explains Jacob Aron.
Not merely the butt of jokes. "Uranus really stands out." The case for a probe, by Richard Hollingham.
Little missed sunshine. When lumpy Martian moon Phobos rapidly transits the Sun. Great images shared by Emily Lakdawalla.
Getting physical – physical sciences – cosmology, physics, chemistry, mathematics, computing, engineering, and technology
The cat came back. Entangled photons paradoxically make image of Schrödinger's beastie. Amazing piece of physics, perfectly explained by Elizabeth Gibney.
Hello stranger? Hints of elusive subatomic particles, extra-heavy strange baryons. Cool discovery, nicely explained by Tia Ghose.
Be contradictory. Sometimes it's the best way to find the proof you seek. Excellent look at getting at mathematical proofs, with an approached that can applied to other problems in life, by Evelyn Lamb. Read of the week.
Can't nail down an answer? Why fingernails grow faster than toenails remains a mystery. Nick Stockton considers the hypotheses.
Better, natured. How biology, such as sailfish swimming, can inform auto design. Dalmeet Singh Chawla on the value of biomimicry.
In a flap. Value of flapping-winged robo-birds in scaring real birds. Interesting technology in aid of biology, by Kyle Vanhemert.
Eye, robot. How robots "see" the world, and why that's a matter of concern. Great, thought-provoking piece by Frank Swain.
A dose of medicine – science in practice in a medical setting, and health-, nutrition-, and exercise-related stories
The enemy within. Next pandemic unlikely to emerge from jungle, but from "disease factories". Wendy Orent's piece is a sobering read, addressing real areas of concern. Read of the week.
When the drugs don't work. To stop Ebola epidemic, focus must be on health care. Excellent, important read by Erika Check Hayden. Read of the week.
"Heroic & battling something extraordinarily dangerous." Five scientists killed by Ebola to as they worked on acquiring the genome sequence. A poignant story, by Tracy Vence.
Frightening funeral. The single event origin of Ebola outbreak. Donald McNeil looks at the evidence.
Own worst enemy. Ebola turns host's immune system into a host killer. Good explainer, by Michaeleen Doucleff.
Clearing the air. Flatulence is only unhealthy if the creator is naked. Glad that's sorted. Nice share by Seriously, Science?
Wonder drug. EPO, the banned endurance-enhancing drug, does some remarkable things, as Alex Hutchinson explains.
Matters of mind – how we, and other animals, perceive our world and our place in it – neuroscience, mental health, psychology, sociology & human interest stories
Misty, water-coloured memories. May get a boost by magnetic stimulation of the brain. Emily Underwood looks at the evidence.
A real mind changer. How a flip of the switch makes mouse's bad memories good. Amazing research, nicely explained by Greg Miller.
Of two minds. Mouse thoughts changed from fear to good cheer with flip of a switch. Wow. Cool optogenetics, well explained by Jonathan Webb.
"When it comes to depression, things are never that easy." Quote by Pete Etchells from an excellent & important piece on the impact of depression. Read of the week.
Getting smarter all the time? Bryan Roche finds that your IQ is *not* static for life. Phew! There's hope yet!
A matter of time. Virtual reality can give impression of time travel. Has useful application, as Melissa Hogenboom explains.
Behind the scenes – the workings of life’s museum of natural history – discovery, communication, and education
Tense & nervous & you can't relax? To be a better science writer, compose like David Byrne. David Schultz makes a great case.
Picture this. Developing infographics to convey science - like agroecosystems. Katie McKissick shows how art can be used to better explain science.
Positively problematic. In social sciences, negative results not being published. Mark Peplow reports on rampant publication bias.