marine biology

Science Art: Red White Blood Cells, by NCI-Frederick.


The one carries oxygen around, the other keeps the system clean. They’re teeny tiny.

Image from the Electron Microscopy Facility at The National Cancer Institute at Frederick (NCI-Frederick).

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SONG: Levitating Diamonds (Tiny Impossible Things)

SONG: “Levitating Diamonds (Tiny Impossible Things)”.

ARTIST: grant.

SOURCE:Based on “Lasers used to levitate glowing nanodiamonds in a vacuum”, Science Daily, 7 Sep 2015, as used in the post “A laser levitating glowing nanodiamonds in a vacuum..”

ABSTRACT: I really wanted to use “A laser levitating nanodiamonds in a vacuum” as a lyric, because it’s got such a great rhythm, but no, it didn’t happen.

Musically, things fell together well – I came up with chords on a guitar, and t…

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SONG: One (is the Loneliest Number) (penitential cover)

SONG: “One (Is The Loneliest Number)”.

ARTIST: grant, featuring Sebastian Balfour. (Originally by Harry Nilsson.)

SOURCE: It doesn’t have a research source. It’s a penitential cover of a haunting song by Harry Nilsson that Three Dog Night turned into a prog anthem, which Aimee Mann turned into stunning reclamation project. Nilsson still wins.

ABSTRACT: I’ve been a penitential cover* behind for months and months. I first had the idea of doing this song in something like this way …

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Science Art: To Scale: The Solar System by Wylie Overstreet.

To Scale: The Solar System from Wylie Overstreet on Vimeo.

I like the desert in Nevada already because of the sense of perspective – such wide, flat spaces (wider and flatter even than Florida’s water-level wet prairies), sometimes flanked by mountains just big enough to provide a frame of reference. This is how small you are. This is how far you have to go.

That’s the ideal landscape for this kind of project. How big are we really? How far away is the place next door?

This far away. …

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Science Art: Aequorea Forbesiana by Philip Henry Gosse.

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This is a jellyfish drawn by Philip Henry Gosse, a naturalist and Creationist (!) who gave us the word “aquarium” as a place to see marine creatures. Before Gosse, an aquarium was a place to water cattle.

He built the very first public one as the “Fish House” of the London Zoo in 1853.

A few years later, he published a book trying to prove that fossils couldn’t disprove Genesis because of course the act of creation would make things appear to be older than they are. …

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Science Art: A tightly wrapped trefoil knot, identified as the second member of the glueball spectrum, 2003.

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From John P. Ralston’s “The Bohr Atom of Glueballs,” an article describing how to model an atom using rope and glue. Sort of.

Ralston does say it’s something anyone can do at home:

Measure the {\it lengths} of closed knots tied from ordinary rope. The “double do-nut”, and the beautiful trefoil knot are examples. Tie the knots tightly, and glue or splice the tails into a seamless unity. Compare two knots with corresponding members of the mysterious particle states known…

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Science Art: Aequorea Forbesiana by Philip Henry Gosse.

13 September 2015 // 0 Comments

Click to embiggen This is a jellyfish drawn by Philip Henry Gosse, a naturalist and Creationist (!) who gave us the word “aquarium” as a place to see marine creatures. Before Gosse, an aquarium was a place to water cattle. He built the very first public one as the “Fish House” of the London Zoo in 1853. A few years later, he published a book trying to prove that fossils couldn’t disprove Genesis because of course the act of creation would make things appear to be older than they are. It was called Omphalos: an Attempt to Untie the Geological Knot because part of his argument was that Adam would have been created with a navel, even though no umbilical cord, no womb, no mother. This illustration isn’t from that book, though. It’s from A naturalist’s rambles on the Devonshire coast. I found this picture, and learned about Gosse, on the Scientific Illustration tumblr.

Science Art: Doree, Zeus, Faber by Edward Donovan

16 August 2015 // 0 Comments

Three names for one little fish. And those are just the beginning. I found this one on the Scientific Illustration tumblog, which quoted Wikipedia on the doree (etc.): John Dory, St Pierre or Peter’s Fish, refers to fish of the genus Zeus, especially Zeus faber, of widespread distribution. It is an edible benthic coastal marine fish with a laterally compressed olive-yellow body which has a large dark spot, and long spines on the dorsal fin. The dark spot is used to flash an ‘evil eye’ if danger approaches. Its large eyes at the front of the head provide it with binocular vision and depth perception, which are important for predators. The John Dory’s eye spot on the side of its body also confuses prey, which are scooped up in its big mouth.

The key to octopuses’ uncanny intelligence is in their genes.

13 August 2015 // 0 Comments

Nature reports that the octopus has, for an invertebrate, a really large genome – including a long sequence of genes that regulates intelligence in “higher” animals: “It’s the first sequenced genome from something like an alien,” jokes neurobiologist Clifton Ragsdale of the University of Chicago in Illinois, who co-led the genetic analysis of the California two-spot octopus (Octopus bimaculoides). … Researchers want to understand how the cephalopods, a class of free-floating molluscs, produced a creature that is clever enough to navigate highly complex mazes and open jars filled with tasty crabs. Surprisingly, the octopus genome turned out to be almost as large as a human’s and to contain a greater number of protein-coding genes — some 33,000, compared with fewer than 25,000 in Homo sapiens. … One of the most remarkable gene groups is the protocadherins, which regulate the development of neurons and the short-range interactions between them. The octopus has 168 of these genes […]

SONG: “Kavachi”

24 July 2015 // 0 Comments

SONG: “Kavachi”. [Download] ARTIST: grant. SOURCE:Based on “Deep-Sea Cameras Reveal a ‘Sharkcano’”, National Geographic Explorers’ Journal, 9 July 2015, as used in the post as used in the post “Live Sharks Discovered Inside A Live Volcano.” ABSTRACT: There’s nothing I didn’t like about the process of writing this. If I was influenced by anyone in the making of this song, I guess it was The Residents, although the basic structure of it was unabashedly ripped off… myself. For about, oh, 15 years or so, I’ve had this vision of Devo doing a cover of a particular Doors song. It’s never going to happen. So I just stole that cover and rewrote it to have words about a sharkcano. Sharks. In a volcano. Filled with acid. Nearly everything you hear here is synthetic, except the main drum beat, which is me beatboxing into a pair of headphones, and the solo, which is a pair of sound […]

Live sharks discovered inside a live volcano.

10 July 2015 // 0 Comments

National Geographic reveals an ecosystem my 10-year-old son might have dreamed up. It’s all lava, acid and sharks. Inside the cauldron of Kavachi is a “sharkcano”: “Absolutely, we were scared,” says [Brennan] Phillips, a National Geographic Society/Waitt Grants Program grantee. “But one of the ways you can tell that Kavachi is erupting is that you can actually hear it—both on the surface and underwater. Anywhere within 10 miles even, you can hear it rumbling in your ears and in your body.” No one heard rumbling, so they prepared to go right to the rim of the crater. … Even without such theatrics it’s a dangerous place though. “Divers who have gotten close to the outer edge of the volcano have had to back away because of how hot it is or because they were getting mild skin burns from the acid water.” So the team strategically deployed their instruments—including disposable robots, underwater cameras, and National […]

That Deepwater Horizon spill… it’s still killing dolphins.

28 May 2015 // 0 Comments

Nature has the grisly details about the 1,300 dolphin deaths that can be traced to that one incident: The spike in dolphin deaths began shortly before the spill in April 2010, and scientists have struggled to understand whether the two events are related. A study published on 20 May in PLoS ONE finds that many of the dead animals had lung and adrenal-gland lesions that are consistent with exposure to petroleum compounds. That led the study’s authors to conclude that the Deepwater Horizon spill probably drove the mass deaths. … In the latest study, researchers analysed lung and adrenal-gland tissue samples from 46 dolphins that were found dead in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama — areas that experienced significantly elevated levels of petroleum compounds. The team compared these animals with a reference group of 106 dolphins that stranded before the mass deaths began, or outside of the area where these strandings took place. The dolphins that […]

The moonfish is warm-blooded.

18 May 2015 // 0 Comments

Science Daily throws our sense of things slightly out of whack with news that there’s a fish out there that’s entirely warm-blooded: New research by NOAA Fisheries has revealed the opah, or moonfish, as the first fully warm-blooded fish that circulates heated blood throughout its body much like mammals and birds, giving it a competitive advantage in the cold ocean depths. The silvery fish, roughly the size of a large automobile tire, is known from oceans around the world and dwells hundreds of feet beneath the surface in chilly, dimly lit waters. It swims by rapidly flapping its large, red pectoral fins like wings through the water. Fish that typically inhabit such cold depths tend to be slow and sluggish, conserving energy by ambushing prey instead of chasing it. But the opah’s constant flapping of its fins heats its body, speeding its metabolism, movement and reaction times, scientists report in the journal Science. That warm-blooded […]

Lionfish have reached Brazil.

29 April 2015 // 0 Comments

Nature reports on a strikingly beautiful – and utterly destructive – invasive critter that’s swept across warm waters from Ft. Lauderdale to Venezuela: Lionfish have overwhelmed ecosystems in the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean over the past three decades, eating or out-competing native species in what has been called the worst marine invasion ever. Now the fish seem to have extended their range to South America. Researchers reported the first confirmed lionfish in Brazilian waters on 22 April in PLoS ONE. The piscine pioneer was spotted by a group of recreational divers on 10 May 2014 in a reef off Cabo Frio, a municipality of Rio de Janeiro in southeastern Brazil. The divers returned to the site the next day with hand spears, and captured the fish so that scientists could study it. When the researchers analysed the fish’s DNA, they found that it matched the genetic signature of the Caribbean lionfish population, and […]

Vampire squid stranger, even, than previously thought.

20 April 2015 // 0 Comments

Science Daily goes deeper into the singular (and kinda sexy) oddness of the vampire squid: At ocean depths from 500 to 3,000 meters, they don’t swim so much as float, and they get by with little oxygen while consuming a low-calorie diet of zooplankton and detritus. Now, researchers reporting in the Cell Press journal Current Biology on April 20 have found that vampire squid differ from all other living coleoid cephalopods in their reproductive strategy as well. … “Their slow mode of life seems insufficient to support one big reproductive event, unlike other coleoid cephalopods,” says Henk-Jan Hoving, who is working for the Cluster of Excellence “Future Ocean” at the GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel in Germany. “Perhaps it is therefore that vampire squid return to a gonadal resting phase after spawning, and presumably start accumulating energy for a new reproductive cycle.” In other words, they make a little whoopee, then take a […]

SONG: The Waves Around the Women

24 March 2015 // 0 Comments

SONG: “The Waves Around the Women.” [Download] ARTIST: grant. SOURCE: Based on “Scientists have discovered nature’s newest strongest material“, Washington Post, 18 February 2015,as used in the post “Stronger than spider silk”. ABSTRACT: Two things happened that went into this. First, Allison said, “Can we have one about limpet teeth?” I don’t know just how far her tongue was in her cheek about that, but who cares? Limpet teeth are great! They’re as strong as growing things get! The other thing that happened was I threw my hat into the ring for a Game of Bands thing as a lyricist for what was supposed to be an Asian song. I decided to write a lyric for that in the form of an old Chinese poem called a gushi… a set number of syllables per line (seven), five lines per verse, and each verse subtly changing the semantics of a couple of lines… so that things […]

Stronger than spider silk

20 February 2015 // 2 Comments

Washington Post reveals the natural substance that beats spider silk for toughness, and diamonds for hardness – and it’s limpet teeth: In a study set to come out this month in the Journal of the Royal Society Interface, British researchers announced that the teeth of shelled, aquatic creatures called limpets are the strongest biological material on Earth, overtaking the previous record-holder, spider silk. The teeth, which are so small they must be examined with a microscope, are composed of very thin, tightly-packed fibers containing a hard mineral called goethite. Limpets use them to scrape food off of rocks, but lead author Asa Barber said humans can adapt the technology to build better planes, boats and dental fillings. … He found that the material had a strength of 5 gigapascals, about five times the strength of most spider silks. “People are always trying to find the next strongest thing, but spider silk has been the winner […]

Meet the Ruby Seadragon

18 February 2015 // 0 Comments

Science Daily introduces us to a brand new sea creature, bright red and fantastically delicate, dubbed the ruby seadragon: Using DNA and anatomical research tools, Scripps graduate student Josefin Stiller and marine biologists Nerida Wilson of the Western Australia Museum (WAM) and Greg Rouse of Scripps Oceanography found evidence for the new species while analyzing tissue samples supplied by WAM. The researchers then requested the full specimen as well as photographs taken just after it was retrieved from the wild in 2007. They were further surprised by the appearance of the newly identified animal. The color was a bright shade of red and vastly different from the orange tint in Leafy Seadragons and the yellow and purple hues of Common Seadragons. … Stiller identified the original Ruby Seadragon, a male carrying several dozen babies, as part of her graduate research on population genetics of the two known seadragons across the Australian coast (seadragons are found […]

SONG: Not Even Dancing Works

27 December 2014 // 0 Comments

SONG: “Not Even Dancing Works.” [Download] ARTIST: grant. SOURCE: Based on “Zoologger: Dancing in time makes crabs sexual failures“, New Scientist, 4 December 2014, as used in the post “Dancing to the beat makes fiddler crab sexual… failures.” ABSTRACT: Are songs about dancing dumb? I dunno. Hard to resist those plucky little fiddler crabs. I grew up watching them climbing out of their holes in the banks of the Intracoastal and lifting their claws and waving. Hi. Hi. Hi. Here I am. The bridge is based on my memories of their rhythm. The rest of it is a waltz, which is where I go when I go “dance,” for whatever reason. Poor guys. I’m not sure the strings really carry the mood here, but I dunno. Why not the drama? This is, after all, life and death of the species. LYRICS: The moon shines on this beach bar The second Friday every month And the […]

Electric eels are puppet masters

11 December 2014 // 0 Comments

New Scientist pulls back the curtain on how electric eels “remote control” their prey, freezing them right next to their hungry mouths: The experiments that untangled these mechanisms were devised and run by Kenneth Catania at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee. In a natural environment, Catania watched an eel hunting and measured its electric discharges. As the eel was poised to strike, it emitted a barrage of high-voltage electric pulses. This stopped the fish in its tracks, allowing the eel to catch it easily. … To work out what was happening, Catania anaesthetised fish, removed their brains, and dangled them behind an electrically permeable agar barrier in an eel tank. Worms were then put into the tank for the eels to feed on, and the electric zaps sent out to catch the worms also reached the fish. After about 3 milliseconds, the fish’s muscles completely contracted. A chemical injected into another brainless fish to stop […]

Fish researchers: “Our mirrors have become USELESS!”

10 October 2014 // 0 Comments

Nature breaks the news to behaviorists – and this is more important than it might seem – that fish don’t really think mirrors are uninvited strangers: “There’s been a very long history of using a mirror as it’s just so handy,” says Robert Elwood, an animal-behaviour researcher at Queen’s University in Belfast, UK. Using a mirror radically simplifies aggression experiments, cutting down the number of animals required and providing the animal being observed with an ‘opponent’ perfectly matched in terms of size and weight. But in a study just published in Animal Behaviour, Elwood and his team add to evidence that many mirror studies are flawed. The researchers looked at how convict cichlid fish (Amatitlania nigrofasciata) reacted both to mirrors and to real fish of their own species. This species prefers to display their right side in aggression displays, which means that they end up alongside each other in a head-to-tail configuration. It is impossible […]

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