SONG: "Jump, Jump, Jump."

SONG: “Jump, Jump, Jump”.

ARTIST: grant.

SOURCE: Based on “Fish and Adaptation: Mangrove Fish Jumps into Air in Warming Water”, Nature World News, 21 Oct 2015, as used in the post “Global warming might make the fish jump.”

ABSTRACT: First, let me say that this was done on time, even early. It started as a jokey thing I was singing to my son while he was watching me play guitar on the couch, and I decided what the hell. They call it “playing” music for a reason. (I guess if I spoke …

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SONG: All Praise Black Ice

SONG: “All Praise Black Ice”.

ARTIST: grant.

SOURCE: Based on “New Horizons Finds Blue Skies and Water Ice on Pluto”,, 8 Oct 2015, as used in the post “There’s water ice on another planet. Not Mars. Pluto.”


Laryngitis followed by a business trip and here I am, a couple weeks late. I hope the brass section makes up for that.

(Yes, there’s brass in there, somewhere. I really need help mastering these things, but one does what one can in between everything e…

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Science Art: Taf. V: Feuer-Salamander by Bruno Dürigen.


Fire salamanders.

They don’t look so hot.


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Science Art: Chemical Laboratory room. Experimental Research labs, Burroughs Wellcome and Co. Tuckahoe, New York

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Welcome to Wellcome.

They’ve got all kinds of wonderful things in their image gallery, including this marvelous experimenter in an even more marvelous experimental lab.

In 1935, this was where the future was made.

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Science Art: Idolo de ignota localidad, Idolo de Arica, Idolo de ignota localidad.

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Three idols, from the Anales del Museo Nacional de Chile, published between 1892 and 1910.

I found them in the Biodiversity Heritage Library, which is usually full of biological specimens.

These three, however, are a little different… even if no one knows where two of them came from. Arica is a port city near two valleys that divide the Atacama Desert in north Chile.

He (or more likely she, even though as described in the text, “no hai tetas” and “la barba es d…

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Shark-tracking drones over Australian beaches.

25 November 2015 // 0 Comments

Australia’s ABC News has us watching the skies to see shark-tracking flying robots (and drum lines to catch-and-release sharks): Primary Industries Minister Niall Blair has announced a trial of the high-tech drum lines, which use GPS buoys to alert monitoring staff when sharks have been hooked, so they can be tagged and released in a different area. The first field test of shark-tracking drones will begin today at Coffs Harbour. … Mr Blair said the high-tech drum lines were more humane than the traditional lines that have been used in Queensland and Western Australia. “They’re like a baited hook that has technology connected to it so when the bait is taken, a message is sent to our vessels and they’ll attend those lines immediately,” Mr Blair said. … Ballina MP Tamara Smith said while her party was philosophically opposed to traditional drum lines, she was encouraged by the success of trials of the smart drum […]

A bionic rose, for electronic lovers – growing circuitry inside.

24 November 2015 // 0 Comments

Nature reports on the creation of a rose implanted with electronic circuits: Researchers at Linköping University have created bionic roses by incorporating plant-compatible electronic materials into them. One of their modified roses has simple digital circuits running through its stem: another’s leaf changes colour when a voltage is applied. The scientists want to make tools for biologists to record or regulate plant physiology — the plant equivalent of medical implants such as pacemakers. Electronic components might also be a way to engineer plants instead of manipulating their DNA, adds Magnus Berggren, a materials scientist at Linköping University who led the research, published in Science Advances. … Berggren started by submerging the cut end of a rose stem into a solution of PEDOT, a conducting polymer that is commonly used in printable electronics and is soluble in water. Capillary action pulls the polymer up into the rose’s vascular tissue or xylem. There, the polymer came out […]

Science Art: New invented Machine, for deepning and cleansing Docks, &c., 1775.

22 November 2015 // 0 Comments

Click to embiggen In 1775, Pennsylvania Magazine wanted its readers to be up to date on the very latest in technological advances, including this machine for… well, it seems to be some kind of a caisson for dredging harbors, more than something that “cleanses docks.” Anyway, it’s very impressive, this American ingenuity. From the device’s description: The machine consists of a horse-drawn crane on a boat with a crane and shovel. A man is shown operating the shovel. Includes a detail of the construction of the crane tower. Found in Brown University’s JCB Collection, which is full of early American imagery.

Parasitic worm boosts human fertility.

20 November 2015 // 0 Comments

The BBC has me wondering just how many worm-babies there are out there (like blackout babies or blizzard babies). Because being infected with this parasitic worm increases your chance of getting pregnant: A study of 986 indigenous women in Bolivia indicated a lifetime of Ascaris lumbricoides, a type of roundworm, infection led to an extra two children. Researchers, writing in the journal Science, suggest the worm is altering the immune system to make it easier to become pregnant. Experts said the findings could lead to “novel fertility enhancing drugs”. Nine children is the average family size for Tsimane women in Bolivia. And about 70% of the population has a parasitic worm infection. … But while Ascaris lumbricoides increased fertility in the nine-year study, hookworms had the opposite effect, leading to three fewer children across a lifetime. Prof Aaron Blackwell, one of the researchers , from the University of California Santa Barara, told the BBC News […]

14 sided dice. They found an ancient board game that uses those.

19 November 2015 // 0 Comments

Live Science has some interesting photos and coverage of a new discovery of a very old board game: Pieces from a mysterious board game that hasn’t been played for 1,500 years were discovered in a heavily looted 2,300-year-old tomb near Qingzhou City in China. There, archaeologists found a 14-face die made of animal tooth, 21 rectangular game pieces with numbers painted on them and a broken tile which was once part of a game board. The tile when reconstructed was “decorated with two eyes, which are surrounded by cloud-and-thunder patterns,” wrote the archaeologists in a report published recently in the journal Chinese Cultural Relics. The skeleton of possibly one of the grave robbers was also discovered in a shaft made within the tomb by looters. … Twelve faces of the die are numbered 1 through 6 in a form of ancient Chinese writing known as “seal script.” Each number appears twice on the die while […]

If you’re looking at a plant in a museum, there’s a better than 50% chance it’s named wrong.

17 November 2015 // 0 Comments

Motherboard checks out the state of our nomenclature, and the findings are not good: n a study published on Monday in the journal Current Biology, researchers from Oxford University and the Royal Botanic Garden in Edinburgh describe how many plant specimens in the world’s natural history museums might currently be masquerading under false identities. They started off by evaluating 4,500 specimens of the African ginger genus Aframomum, on which a detailed monograph was conducted in 2014. A monograph is a complete revision of organisms (usually a family or genus), which involves sorting out all of the names associated with it. The researchers found that before this new monograph, up to 58 percent of the Aframomum specimens had outdated names, were misidentified, or only identified to the genus or family as opposed to the species level. In 2004, researchers found a similar problem with insects. … In their study, the researchers also give the example of […]

Give yourself worms. Your immune system will thank you.

13 November 2015 // 0 Comments

Scientific American finds that we really do need to get some worms to stay healthy: At one point in the not too distant past we had three lines of defense against disease: the immune system, the microbiome, and fauna, like intestinal worms. William Parker, an immunologist at Duke University Medical Center likens these lines of defense to a three-legged stool to illustrate this relationship. … The intestinal worms, known as helminths, are part of the macrobiome—a term largely unknown in the realms of the general public and science nerds alike. This is partly due to the fact that current research on the macrobiome is dwarfed by the over-abundance of research on the microbiome (ironic, isn’t it?). But more likely it’s a novel term due to the fact that since the 1960s, in developed nations, we’ve all but eradicated the macrobiome. Without that third leg, our defense system collapses. … Now there’s growing evidence that the […]

Quit Facebook. You’ll be happier. (Science says so.)

12 November 2015 // 0 Comments

The aptly named Huh magazine sums up a Danish study that found people who leave Facebook feel measurably better about life: They took a group of 1,095 Facebook users and split them into two groups. The first group were allowed to continue using the social network on a daily basis, while the other group were forced to go completely cold turkey, staying off the site for the duration of the experiment. The results were incredibly revealing – after just 7 days 88% of the group that left Facebook said they felt “happy” as opposed to 81% in the group still using the site. They also felt less angry, less lonely, less depressed, more decisive, more enthusiastic, and enjoyed their lives more. Ditching Facebook also appeared to reduce stress levels by as much as 55%. They’re some pretty strong results… “People on Facebook are 39% more likely to feel less happy than their friends,” reads the […]

Ice Volcanoes of Pluto!

10 November 2015 // 0 Comments

Nature reports that the New Horizons probe has snapped photos of cratered mountains that bear the hallmarks of volcanoes that erupt with ice, rather than lava: The images show two mountains that are roughly circular in shape, with deep depressions at their centres. One of the peaks, Wright Mons, is 3–5 kilometres high, whereas the other, Piccard Mons, is up to 6 kilometres high. They resemble icy volcanoes, known as cryovolcanoes, on Neptune’s moon Triton and other frozen worlds. Flowing ice, rather than hot lava, fuels cryovolcanoes. “We’re not yet ready to announce we have found volcanic constructs at Pluto, but these sure look suspicious, and we’re looking at them very closely,” says Jeff Moore, a planetary scientist at NASA’s Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, California, who heads the New Horizons geology team. Moore spoke on 9 November at the American Astronomical Society’s Division for Planetary Sciences meeting in National Harbor, Maryland. … If […]

Global warming might make the fish jump.

9 November 2015 // 0 Comments

Nature World News reports on a little mangrove-estuary dwelling fish that adapts to warmer waters by jumping into the air to cool down: In humid heat in tropical mangroves, tiny rivulus fish actually jump out of the water in order to cool off, says a new study from the University of Guelph. The researchers said that the fish, Kryptolebias marmoratus, lowered their body temperatures by chilling themselves in the air. Also, later, when they were more accustomed to the heat after having experienced higher temperatures for a week, they coped better with warm water, according to a release. Before that happens, though, jumping is important to the fish in leaving behind rising temperatures for a bit, said Pat Wright, lead author on the study and integrative biology professor at University of Guelph, in the release. “If the fish are prevented from jumping out of the water, they would die. … In warming water, fish hurled […]

It’s a little reading robot for the whole wide internet.

5 November 2015 // 0 Comments

New Scientist looks at the AI that’s been assigned the unenviable task of reading every scientific paper online and finding the important ones: Semantic Scholar, which launches today from the Seattle-based Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence (AI2), can automatically read, digest and categorise findings from the estimated 2 million scientific papers published each year. Up to half of these papers are never read by more than three people. The system aims to identify previously overlooked connections and information. “Our vision is of a scientist’s apprentice, giving researchers a very powerful way to analyse what’s going on in their field,” says Oren Etzioni, director of AI2. “If you’re a medical researcher, you could ask ‘what’s the latest on these drug interactions?’ Or even a query in natural language like, ‘what are papers saying about middle-aged women with diabetes and this particular drug?’” The system works by crawling the web for publicly available scientific papers, then scanning […]

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