Life, the Universe, and Everything

This is just a simple collection of things that I find fascinating, in no particular order and for no particular reason.

- Orchids mimic alarm pheromones of bees to attract wasps  - some parts of the birds and the bees your parents probably missed.

- The Asian Giant Hornet - One of the most fearsome insects known, is sometimes cooked to death or suffocated by honeybees.

- The Magnificent, Ultraviolent, Far-Seeing Shrimp From Mars - this creature sees a type of light that no other creature we know about can perceive, called Circular Polarized Light. They are also ferocious hunters who will beat the living crap out of anything that looks edible.

- Was our oldest ancestor a proton-powered rock? - the conditions on earth have changed enough that we may never be able to determine exactly how life began, but this is a very interesting theory.

- A bizarre living fossil - Be sure to see the IMAX movie Volcanoes of the Deep Sea (showing on either the Discovery or NatGeo high-def channel) for an older piece about the mystery of Paleodictyon nodosum which has still not been solved.

- Lesbian Necrophiliac Bdelloid Rotifers (and the Scientists who Love Them): Part 1 - I appreciate this blogger's sense of humor and also find these creatures truly fascinating - I'm not going to link all her posts here but be sure to also check out When Ostracods Fly and Copepods Fire and this one about the bloodbelly comb jellyfish.

- Glass Microbiology - beautiful art and a very novel way to look at viruses. This link also stolen from The Artful Amoeba blog.

- A particle God doesn't want us to discover? - Could the Large Hadron Collider be sabotaging itself from the future, as some physicists say.

- Garrett Lisi on his theory of everything - Coral, quantum mechanics and balance in the universe.

- The humpback whale heat run - A female humpback will incite males to fight so she can choose the strongest. This is apparently the first time this has been filmed.

- Bonnie Bassler on how bacteria "talk" - Quorum sensing is a fascinating phenomenon itself that makes this talk worthwhile, but you also don't want to miss the description of how squid hide their shadows using that bioluminescent bacteria and a shutter.

- Evolution faster when it's warmer - Even warm blooded animals who regulate their own temperatures are affected by this principle because the germ cells that develop into sperm and egg divide more frequently and hence, are subject to a higher mutation rate.

- Do Parasites Rule the World? - If this article interests you, I highly recommend the book Parasite Rex.

- Toxoplasma - the brain parasite that influences human culture - this creature was the first that got me interested in parasites.

- Dead Bacteria Walking - "There may not be a lower limit to how small an endosymbiont genome can be." A fascinating description of an apparent organelle in the making.

- The mathematics of murmurating starlings - "none wants to be on the outside, none wants to be first to land". I'm trying to grok these principles in relation to the ways quorum sensing creates other group behaviors.

- Mysterious Tubular Clouds Defy Explanation - Dude... check out those Morning Glory clouds.!

- How cacti become 'rock busters' - Just like their fungal cousins in lichen colonies, the cacti also use bacteria to decompose rock and help create soil in otherwise barren places.

- Can fractals make sense of the quantum world? - Full article requires paid subscription now. I read it once before it was closed, and ended up getting a subscription because I needed to read it again.

- 1 Million Spiders Make Golden Silk for Rare Cloth - Spiders physically re-arrange molecules in order to effect a phase transition of their silk from liquid to solid. Humans have only recently learned how to do this trick with water. It also turns out that some bacteria might be able to avoid a frozen death by virtue of their tiny size.

- Aphids get superpowers through sex - There's really nothing more I can add. Just, wow.

- Extreme Life Thrives Where the Livin' Ain't Easy - I'm a huge fan of extremophiles.

- In games, brains work differently when playing vs. a human -I believe this shows us a dark side of empathy that I find fascinating. As an avid gamer, I certainly find computer simulated opponents frustrating. I have a whole news article coming soon on this one.

 



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