Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Notes for June 29th

  • The evolution of cats is interesting, even if the image accompanying the article doesn't make any sense.
  • Generalists go extinct too.  Not sure I really buy the idea that they might be less like to.
  • Allen's rule is about the length of extremities in tropical and temperate animals.  Apparently there's now some evidence that temperate/cold weather animals have shorter limbs (or at least, shorter beaks).

Monday, June 28, 2010

Notes for June 28th

  • Tet Zoo talking about turtles.  I ended up going through about 10 old Tet Zoo articles on turtles.
  • Interesting bit of detective work to try and determine how the Stellar's Sea Cow went extinct.
  • Genetically engineered salmon are on their way.  Take a look at the picture accompanying the article.  No wonder the industry is investigating this.
  • Small mammals eating dinosaurs.  Presumably after they are dead.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Notes for June 25

  • Yes.  Confirmation bias is real.  Or am I only seeing evidence for it because of...confirmation bias?  Uh...down that path lies madness.
  • I'm not sure what to make of the absence or reduced abundance of sunspots.  Does this mean something?
  • The strange and somewhat wonderful story of a man who woke up with a stroke, and without the ability to read.
  • The world of information is a jungle.  I like that metaphor.  At least I'm not the only one who occasionally misses something amazing.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Notes for June 24th

  • Road kills are really hard on certain species.  Especially those with low reproductive rates.
  • That whole komondo dragon and bacteria story is still interesting, even with venom playing a major role.
  • Interesting question:  Why did dinosaurs have all those horns and spikes and armor and etc.? 
  • Interesting info about influenza and how swine and human interactions are likely to preserve certain strains far longer than would otherwise occur.
  • A planktonic trilobite.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Notes for June 23rd

  • Birth control pills fueled the sexual revolution, but who could have envisioned at the time that they would also fuel a pervasive problem to fish sexuality.  Come to think of it, a lot of people probably saw that coming.
  • White-nose syndrome is really going to end north American bats if it continues at this rate.  That's not an exaggeration.  And now it's extended into Oklahoma, a huge range expansion.
  • Chimpanzees are not nice.  Not at all.
  • Tamarisk is bad news.  They take over riparian areas and don't provide much habitat for almost anything. Except, apparently, the Southwestern Willow Flycatcher, an endangered bird.  Apparently the benefit of tamarisk to this bird is enough for the USDA to quit attempting to control it

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Notes for June 22

  • I'm constantly hearing claims on reddit of really high rates of inaccurate paternity.  This fits with reddit's general attitude towards reproduction and male rights issues.  However, I've never seen any actual evidence.  This article nicely sums up the available evidence, and seems to fit much more closely with what my expectations would be.
  • The fight aging website may deserve some detailed attention at some point.  For now, I'm mostly just interested in naked mole rats and their invulnerability to cancer.
  • The outlook for polar bears.  The data is a little tricky, but the outlook is not particularly good.
  • Finally, don't mess around with Steamer Ducks...especially if you're another duck.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Notes for June 21st

  • Faster than light travel...kinda.  The author of this post asks you to consider dominoes.  If you tip one domino, it slowly tips, and falls into the next, and then into the next, and so on.  However, you could (if you wanted to) run your hand along the dominoes and knock them down faster than they would if you just allowed each domino to fall into the next.  Now, imagine that instead of dominoes, we're talking light.  You could just let the light propagate at whatever speed it normally propagates at (the speed of light).  Or you could impose a greater velocity on it (I'm not sure how).  Does this make sense to you?  If so, let me know, because I'm totally confused.
  • There isn't a fossil more odd than Hallucegenia.  Or at least, that was everyone's understanding for a long time.  Flip it over, though, and it doesn't seem so odd.  This is probably a good example of just how much we don't know.
  • I see crayfish in the title and I'm automatically interested.  And yes, this is interesting, about how crayfish make decisions about flight or fight.
  • More Tet-Zoo awesomeness.  Ducks and Geese.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Notes for June 18th

  • Heat stroke sucks.  Apparently it sucks way more than I thought.  This isn't good news for me, as I've experienced this twice.
  • A Q and A with a researcher attempting to quantify financially ecosystem services.  Very interesting, and very frustrating.
  • And my work just blew up.  So I guess that's it for today.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Notes for June 17th

  • One of the big struggles in science is balancing holistic understanding of whole systems with reductionist understanding of particular mechanisms.  Dave Strayer seemed to be talking about this in his book on mussel ecology, and this speech is talking about the same thing in medicine.  I find it far more terrifying when discussed in the context of medicine.
  • The difficulty and implications of cryptic biodiversity.
  • The process of leasing federal land for solar farms is confusing, and apparently expensive.  But not so expensive that people aren't doing it.  From what I've read, mineral extraction, by contrast, is basically subsidized by the government because it is so cheap to lease land for that purpose.
  • Using small mammals to understand why all the big animals went extinct around 12,000 years ago.  Surprisingly, the results are interpreted as supporting the climate change scenario over the human impacts scenario.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Notes for June 16

  • Land-locked seals.  Something else I didn't know existed.
  • The occurrence of development adjacent to land designated for conservation.  Apparently everyone wants a house that buts up to a 'protected' area.  I suspect most of those people failed to realize what they were getting themselves into.
  • The elimination of wolves caused a reduction in beaver dams.  Ecology is awesome, and top predators are possibly the most amazing drivers of ecosystems out there.
  • Distribution models....I have a feeling these are about to become the bane of my existence.
  • I was looking at the wikipedia page on living fossils the other day and thinking to myself "This makes absolutely no sense."  Glad to see someone else has the same thought.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Notes for June 15th

  • I didn't know there was a European bison.  The wisent.  Which explains, I guess, why we call the American bison what we do.  This article, estimating the potential range of the species, made me aware.
  • Parasites are amazing, terrifying creatures.  In this study, the authors found that the energy budget of the stream was being driven by parasites.  I think this is a big reason why non-indigenous species occasionally go crazy and become invasive (although most people think of predators causing that [pdf]).
  • A somewhat creative program to get more solar panels out there.  The pay-as-you-go model I guess.
  • Are wolves ever not the subject of crazy disputes?
  • Geez, youtube is the reason kids act stupid?  Really?  _

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Notes for June 10th

  • This is really what scientific reporting should look like.  Source specific, evolving, and full of important details, yet all in one convenient place.  This makes all other scientific reporting on the web look like photocopied newspapers.
  • A really old shoe.  Stuffed with grass.  If this were just a hundred years old, it would be trash, but it is 5,500 years old.  Pretty cool really.  However, I guess I don't understand all of why it is cool, maybe I'm just not that up on my archeology.
  • The physics of a bursting bubble.  I would not have thought this warranted so much attention.
  • Hippo.  Actually pretty darned ugly.  And a hippo killing a crocodile.   And...ok, I could just keep linking to Tet Zoo articles all day or I could just tell you to go read the whole site.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Notes for June 7th

Blogger is not working right.  Not sure if this will post or not, had to try through email.

  • Semi-terrifying photos of sinkholes from various places.  They look pretty neat when they are in or around the ocean.
  • Using the energy generated by a car's shock absorbers to produce electricity.  This is such an obvious idea I had always assumed I didn't understand why it wouldn't work.  Apparently no such reason exists. Pretty cool.
  • The highlight of the Soviet lunar program.  Seems appropriate, and apparently it is still being used for something.  Funny how even in Soviet Russia of the 1970s, a vehicle officially rated for 90 days ended up running for 11 months.  I'm beginning to think engineers like to underestimate the probability of success in these things.
  • An interesting problem is how you get journal access when you don't have a university library (or just a woefully inadequate one) available.  Some discussion of that here.
  • Bears being driven to extinction by deer.  Yet another example of how white-tailed deer totally suck.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Notes for June 4th

  • Jupiter is getting beat up.  But that's kinda cool to see.
  • Ever get hit by a golf ball?  Feels pretty hard doesn't it?  Apparently they aren't all that hard when propelled into a steel plate.  Anyone know if this video is legit?
  • That sinkhole in guatemala is scary huh?  Apparently "sinkhole" is the wrong word though.  When I first saw this I knew I'd seen it somewhere before.  Turns out it was in the same city.  Yikes.
  • Mongoose traditions.  A pretty good name for a punk band, all things considered.
  • Big fundamental question in ecology:  How many species are there?  Or, more specifically, how many arthropods?  And how do we know that.
  • Although this post lies far outside my typical interests, it is too funny to ignore.
  • If you're not interested in reading about how hyenas ate Homo erectus brains...well...this article might not be for you.  (although I do recommend almost everything at Laelaps)

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Notes for June 3rd

Oh boy.  I totally hadn't gone through my feed reader in awhile.  Here's all the papers I think look interesting  (I haven't read them all, and I'm sure I missed some):
  • I already didn't like cattle.  Now it turns out they may be literally trampling on native trout.  Ok, I don't really like trout either, but natives are fine.
  • And this is why I'm not a big trout fan:  Where they've invaded, they have devastated local species populations.  Including New Zealands' galaxiidae.
  • Using game theory to understand and improve decision-making in conservation biology.
  • I actually sorta need to see this paper, on the effectiveness of species recovery plans and how to quantify that.  They've used the loggerhead sea turtle as an example there, but I want to know what the approach is.
  • Pitcher plant ecology is pretty cool.  I'm not ecologists pay enough attention to the ecosystems that occur within other organisms.  Plus, I should direct some attention to a fellow Domer.
  • Managed relocation is the movement of species in anticipation of climate change to prevent them from going extinct.  Or, you could put it another way:  Intentional introductions of non-indigenous species.  A lot about how you feel about this idea is wrapped up in which way you look at that activity.  Regardless, it is likely to become a big argument.
  • Tree stoichiometry.  Haven't read this one yet, but anything with stoichiometry is cool.  From the abstract, it sounds like more support for the Growth Rate Hypothesis.
  • I just don't think it sounds right to describe the place where a terrifying shark produces new terrifying sharks as a nursery.  Spawning ground or breeding ground sound more appropriate somehow.  At least we're talking about an extinct shark (Megalodon).
Oh, and apparently someone else just discovered the solenodon, and has a platform to write ridiculous things about it.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Notes for June 2nd

  • Whale biodiversity is interesting.  Not sure this article is as well written as it should be, but I definitely found the topic interesting.
  • Cassava is an interesting plant.  Originally from South America, it became a staple in Africa.  According to people I've known who've lived there, it has become a part of the local tradition.  Overall, it isn't a very friendly crop.  The skin is laced with cyanide and it tastes terrible.  Just to eat it, one must soak, ferment or otherwise process it to remove the cyanide (sometimes all three).  However, you can pretty much just plant it and forget it (at least in Africa), because it will survive drought and the bitterness of the tubers deters most pests.  Not all pests, however.  In addition to a few S. American parasites that (somehow) crossed the Atlantic, a new virus is threatening to cause some major problems.
  • Albert Einstein is the closest thing there is to a god of science, so perhaps it isn't surprising that so much has been made of his brain.
  • "One of the most significant papers ever published in the annals of science appeared recently; it deals, for the first time ever, with one of the biggest scientific questions ever faced by the scientific community, and uses cutting-edge technology and awesome powers of deductive reasoning and logic to reach shocking, paradigm-shifting conclusions."  Yes...he's talking about whether or not giraffes can swim.
  • Dr. Carin Bondar's blog is...ah...unusual for a science blog.  Primarily because of the professionally styled photographs in the header and the overall artistic style.  But also because she included a picture of the stars of Sex in the City and used the phrase 'girl power' without causing me to vomit.  Ok, I felt like vomiting, but only because those actors are disgusting.