Morsels For The Mind – 8/11/2013
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
The name game. Designating species can be tricky, & sometimes very important. Rachel Nuwer on a tricky problem.
“The puzzle isn’t whether or not the cat is alive or dead, but whether or not she is cognizant of her future.” Quote from a poignant piece by Jessica Winter on a feline’s awareness of impending death.
Cool for cats. Nice observation of feline behaviour, with excellent comment.
The cat came back. Incredibly rare & elusive wild feline spotted by camera trap. John Platt on an intriguing find.
Dog only knows. Tail wagging study raises as many intriguing questions as it answers. Awesome, balanced coverage of a shaggy dog story, by Sci Curious.
Shake dog shake. Contradictory findings re: dog emotions & side of tail wagging. Good reporting, by John Bradshaw.
Different sense of direction. Right or leftward tail wags may convey dog emotions. Virginia Morell reports.
The show must go on. Jumbo the Elephant’s bizarre mid-life as a circus performer. Part two of a three part, interesting story, by Henry Nicholls.
Pachyderm peril. Creating elephant orphans runs risk of destroying their culture.
Elephant etching. Rembrandt captured taxonomy's first Asian elephant on paper. Intriguing find, reported by Rowan Hooper.
Wild at heart. Is it reasonable to expect special behaviour of wild dolphins? “No”, is the answer provided by Justin Gregg.
Sweet smell of success? Might sniffer dogs be used to detect diabetes?
It’s a drag. Tagging turtles for research purposes modifies their swimming. Not good. Elizabeth Preston explains why.
Perfect penguin pairs. How iconic birds get it on.
Animal accidents. Certain behaviours can have dire consequences.
Remarkable rotifers. Amazing critters, seen close up from 1665 to today. Shared by Joe Hanson.
Bugs’ life – insects and other things that creep, crawl and otherwise delight
Visions of loveliness. Might we sometimes see mimicry for more than what it may be? Superb analysis by Morgan Jackson.
Frisky business. How flies avoid sexually transmitted disease.
The price of retaining a monarch. What folks will pay to help save monarch butterfly. Illuminating, by Francie Diep.
Fossil finds – organisms of times past – palaeontology, archaeology, history and the like
The incredible bulk. Might dinosaurs have been bulkier than thought?
Gone walkabout. How dinosaurs ambled.
Heads up! How did dinosaurs get such long necks? Interesting.
Body of evidence. Deinocheirus - not just arms anymore.
Bad to the bone. Fossil reveals evolution of nastiness in tyrannosaur lineage. Alex Witze explains.
Grave concerns. Why did theropods die en masse?
Oh poop. Fossil faeces reveal turtle on ancient shark's menu. Tia Ghose examines.
Tooth & consequences. Fossil dentition reveals surprising evolutionary path of platypuses. Michael Slezak reports.
Beautiful botanicals – wonders of the photosynthesising world – that is, mainly plants
It all adds up. Plant leaves do mathematics.
The ice flower cometh. Autumn is the time of the year to be on lookout for gorgeous, unearthly frost flowers.
It stems from this. How plant stem cells sustain slow, steady division.
Microscopic marvels – smaller than the eye can see, but big in action – bacteria, fungi and viruses
Gut reaction? Might gut bacteria contribute to autoimmune disorders, like rheumatoid arthritis? Excellent story and a balanced take on an intriguing find, by Beth Skwarwecki. Read of the week.
That's cool. Ocean microbe diversity peaks in winter, which is why we should monitor it then. Holly Bik explains.
Ironing things out. Bacteria steal iron from blood.
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)
Inner beauty. The most amazing things are found within cells. Like tiny vesicles.
Pick of the pics. Joe Hanson’s selections for best of Nikon's Small World 2013 competition. View of the week.
Terrifically tiny. Magnificent microscopy. View of the week.
Better than Saturday morning cartoons! Stephen_Curry’s engaging & fascinating talk on X-ray crystallography. Growing up, there was *nothing* better than watching Saturday morning cartoons. So, being better than that is the highest praise!
Earth, wind and fire – planet shaping – geology, meteorology, oceanography, the environment & climate
Getting the drift. Examining snowfall is key to understanding Arctic ecosystems & climate.
Home sweet home. Our beautiful planet, & the peril that some parts are in, seen from above. Astonishing photography by Yann Arthus-Bertrand.
Waving goodbye. A wave that eats bigger waves.
Star attractions – the final frontier, space
Is there anybody out there? 2 billion potentially life-supporting planets may exist in our galaxy. Alok Jha reports.
Hits where it hurts. Data suggest massive asteroid strike risk is underestimated.
Way out there. Astonishing images of the cosmos.
The final frontier. Spectacular space pics.
Fantastic flares. Spectacular solar activity.
Goodnight moons. Saturnian quintet pose perfectly.
Martian marvels. A spectacular flyover of Mars.
Dramatic outburst. Our explosive universe.
Forces of nature – big-ticket items – cosmology, mathematics, computation, chemistry, physics, ecology & evolution
A matter of matter. Those hunting for dark matter particles remain undaunted. Superb report by Rebecca Morelle.
When nothing is illuminating. Nice take on the non-detection of dark matter particles.
Still in the dark. No detection of dark matter particles…yet.
Family affair. Human culture - an evolutionary byproduct of family cohesion? Interesting hypothesis, explored by Stephen Asma.
Transformational experience. How the Fourier transform changed how (& what) we see. Aatish Bhatia expertly explains some cool mathematics.
A moving experience? How much did plate tectonics contribute to evolution of bipedalism?
Matters of mind – how we, and other animals, perceive our world and our place in it
Making up our minds. Brains are patchworks of genetic variation.
Not so black & white. Our brain colours our world, even when it’s grayscale. Amazing piece by Pete Etchells.
Love is a wonderful colour. If you have orgasmic synaesthesia.
Mind games. The ethics of deploying psychologists as weapons of war. Chilling story, by Chris Chambers.
Count on it. Neurons that track numbers.
Behind the scenes – the workings of the museum – discovery and communication
A dashing character. Mars Curiosity Rover uses Morse code to communicate. Yes, really.
An animated life. Paper-puppet animation celebrating Alfred Russel Wallace. Awesome video by Flora Lichtman.
The good, the bad, the ugly. Balanced take on relationship between science & internet, by Paige Brown.
Baby tweets? On being a new dad & the relevance of social media. Superb post-paternity leave story, by Alexis Madrigal.