Sunday, September 30, 2012

national debt

stem cells

Uterine Oomph
Fluid surrounding babies in the womb could be a valuable source of stem cells for medical treatment. Pregnant women often undergo a medical procedure known as amniocentesis (pictured) during the first trimester to test for genetic disorders such as Downs Syndrome. Stem cells from the fluid collected in this way have been analysed by researchers keen to find an alternative to using embryos. The trick is to source cells that retain the ability to develop into any adult cell type. Previous research has shown that adult stem cells can be reprogrammed to behave like their embryonic counterparts, but only by introducing extra genes into their DNA. Grown on a gelatinous protein mixture in the lab, the stem cells from pregnant donors were chemically reprogrammed into an immature, flexible state very like that of those from the embryo. Bone, liver and nerve cells were all successfully grown from the samples.
Written by Brona McVittie

Saturday, September 29, 2012

branches of christianity

Ondřej Konupčík owl

Znojmo, Czech Republic

beautiful tattooed woman


michael elion

Michael Elion has created a gorgeous, man-made rainbow in front of the Commune1 Gallery in Cape Town. Visible every sunny day for about an hour, from now until October 14, the colourful arc is a magical creation that transforms a banal urban street into a land of wonder.
The rainbow consists of water vapour and sunlight and is generated using a high pressure pump powered by a petrol motor. Water from the tank flows through the pump and exits via high pressure hosing with special nozzles attached to the end of a lance. The nozzles atomize the water to the correct particle size by controlling the angle at which the water exits the nozzle at a particular pressure. The flow-rate of the water through the pump, relative to the pump’s pressure setting and the shape of the nozzle all contribute towards how vividly the rainbow will appear.

why is blood red?

Blood Red?
Ever wonder why Spock has green blood? Ask an avid Star Trek fan and they will tell you it’s because his Vulcan haemoglobin, the protein in blood cells that carries oxygen, is based on copper. Human haemoglobin (depicted here in a painting by Irving Geis) is however based on iron. Each haemoglobin molecule is constructed of four identical building blocks made of globin protein (purple) and heme (red). It is the heme group that gives our blood its distinctive red colour. Each heme contains an iron atom surrounded by a ring structure called porphyrin. When porphyrin is bound to iron carrying oxygen, it produces a red colour. While evolution paired up porphyrins with iron in humans, the same is not true for all creatures on earth. Molluscs, like Spock, also use copper giving their porphyrins a green hue.
Written by Lux Fatimathas

moray eel

That extra jaw with extra teeth is called a pharyngeal jaw (in both the Alien and the eel). When the eel bites its prey, the pharyngeal jaws jump out and pull the prey down into the gullet


Munich Germany - Chalicotherium at Paleontology Museum 076 (byBruce Aleksander & Dennis Milam)
Chalicotherium is a genus of extinct browsing odd-toed ungulates of the order Perissodactyla and  family Chalicotheriidae, found i Europe, Africa, and Asia during the Late Oligocene to Lower Pliocene, living from 16—7.75 mya, existing for approximately 8.25 million years.

Livyatan melvillei

Livyatan melvillei (originally Leviathan) • The giant bite of a new raptorial sperm whale from the Miocene epoch of Peru
[Paleontology • 2010]
The modern giant sperm whale Physeter macrocephalus, one of the largest known predators, preys upon cephalopods at great depths. Lacking a functional upper dentition, it relies on suction for catching its prey; in contrast, several smaller Miocene sperm whales (Physeteroidea) have been interpreted as raptorial (versus suction) feeders, analogous to the modern killer whale Orcinus orca.
Whereas very large physeteroid teeth have been discovered in various Miocene localities, associated diagnostic cranial remains have not been found so far. Here we report the discovery of a new giant sperm whale from the Middle Miocene of Peru (approximately 12–13 million years ago), Leviathan melvillei, described on the basis of a skull with teeth and mandible. With a 3-m-long head, very large upper and lower teeth (maximum diameter and length of 12 cm and greater than 36 cm, respectively), robust jaws and a temporal fossa considerably larger than in Physeter, this stem physeteroid represents one of the largest raptorial predators and, to our knowledge, the biggest tetrapod bite ever found.
The appearance of gigantic raptorial sperm whales in the fossil record coincides with a phase of diversification and size-range increase of the baleen-bearing mysticetes in the Miocene. We propose that Leviathan fed mostly on high-energy content medium-size baleen whales. As a top predator, together with the contemporaneous giant shark Carcharocles megalodon, it probably had a profound impact on the structuring of Miocene marine communities. The development of a vast supracranial basin in Leviathan, extending on the rostrum as in Physeter, might indicate the presence of an enlarged spermaceti organ in the former that is not associated with deep diving or obligatory suction feeding…

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

african spiny mouse

Scientists have discovered that a mouse found in Africa can lose large patches of skin and then grow it back without scarring, perhaps as a way of escaping the clutches of a predator.
The finding challenges the conventional view that mammals have an extremely limited ability to replace injured body parts. There are lizards that can regrow lost tails, salamanders that can replace amputated legs, and fish that can generate new fins, but humans and other mammals generally patch up wounds with scar tissue.
That's why Ashley Seifert, a biologist who studies regeneration at the University of Florida, was skeptical when he was at a social get-together and an ecologist told him about some rodents at a research site in Kenya.
"He told me there were these animals, that, when captured by mammalogists, would shed their skin and go taking off into the wild," says Seifert. "You know, when I heard that, I thought he was sort of joking and that it couldn't have been a behavior like that."
Then, a few months later, someone who worked at the Kenya research site sent him a picture of a mouse he had caught in a trap.
"He was holding it in one hand. And there was the piece of skin which had just sort of come off its back, sitting on his leg, and he took a picture of that too," recalls Seifert.
So Seifert flew to Kenya, put traps on some rocky outcroppings and eventually caught some of these brownish-gray mice, called African spiny mice.
"Probably one of the first one or two that I handled, he didn't like being held and sort of moved his body backwards, pushed off with one of his limbs, and that caused a huge tear in his back," recalls Seifert, who realized that the mice really did have incredibly weak skin that tore easily.
And what's more, their skin had an incredible ability to heal. Instead of big scars, Seifert says these mice generate a near-perfect replacement of the original skin, complete with new hair. What's more, when holes are punched into their ears, these mice can re-create the missing hair, skin and cartilage.
In a report in the journal Nature, he and his colleagues describe the cellular process that these mice use to repair wounds. Seifert says that it's similar in some ways to the process that occurs when salamanders regrow limbs.
"My goal, really, is to build on this research and begin to look at some of the underlying mechanisms which are permitting this to occur," says Seifert, who hopes the work could lead to new therapies to allow humans to regenerate tissue in new ways.
Other researchers say that what these African spiny mice can do is just amazing. Voot Yin, a biologist who studies organ regeneration in zebra fish at the Mount Desert Island Biological Lab in Maine, says that traditionally, the field has assumed that adult mammals are lousy at regeneration.
"And obviously, this work showing that you can lose up to 50, 60 percent of your skin and yet heal properly and regenerate all of the missing structures is a remarkable observation," says Yin.
Yin says by studying these mice and other animals to find the common genetic circuits that allow regeneration to occur, scientists could potentially find new ways to heal wounds without scarring.

squid anatomy


gastropod and bivalve shells

dugong vs mantee

tentacles vs arms


Limbs of the Cephalopoda
Whether squids, octopuses, and nautilus have “arms” or “tentacles” is often simply a matter of semantics, but the most accepted definitions (from what I’ve found) tend to define the “arm” as a tapered limb, with two rows of suckers along its entire length. “Tentacle” is typically a length of tapered limb with no suckers, leading to a distal club-like appendage, covered in suckers.
One exception would be limbs in the nautilus - they have up to 90 un-suckered limbs, but their limbs are called “tentacles” by those who study them, even without the terminal club.
Top: Octopus vulgaris and detail of beak and arms
Detail of tenticular clubs in squid, from the Expedition of the Valdivia
Arm of Illex illecebrosis (Northern Shortfin Squid)
Bottom: Tentacle of Illex illecebrosis

Sunday, September 23, 2012


geologist stereotyped

Geologists are 'scientists' with unnatural obsessions with rocks. Often too intelligent to do monotonous sciences like biology, chemistry, or physics, geologists devote their time tomud-worrying, volcano poking, fault finding, bouldering, dust-collecting, and high-riskcolouring. One of the main difficulties in communicating with geologists is their belief that a million years is a short amount of time and their heads are harder than rocks. Consequently, such abstract concepts as "Tuesday Morning" and "Lunchtime" are completely beyond their comprehension. (This difficulty generates problems particularly when dealing with the girlfriend/boyfriend/spouse and attempting to explain why you were "gone for so long" or why something is taking "so long to occur.")

Geologists and Alcohol

There is a considerable, and still growing body of scientific literature that suggests that geologists are in fact the world's first alcohol-based life form. Owing to a crucial imbalance in blood electrolyte levels (possibly caused by overexposure to bad rock puns) most find it necessary to imbibe vast quantities of alcoholic beverages at every opportunity. Therefore the phrase "I am not an alcoholic, I am a geologist" has become quite common within many student bodies to explain their metamorphism from an organic based life form to a alcohol-based one. If you ever encounter a geologist who is sober after 6pm, this person is an imposter: possibly an alien; probably a geophysicist or engineermarine geographer or hydrologist etc.Alcoholism is an acceptable, even socially beneficial, disease for an active geologist. The mark of a true geologist is the ability to draw up a systematic and colour coded diagrammatic representation of good beer distribution across the globe, using no more than a tatty beer mat and burnt twig. **Note** ... Geophysicists are known only to drink alone due to an intense fear of social situations, similar to that of Engineers (though the latter species are known to occasionally gather in packs no greater than the numerical equivalent of the square root of the energy in joules required to stare blankly at a computer screen most of the day in a state of semi-consciousness, happily calling this a 'day's work', plus the number of cups of bad coffee X smoke breaks, divided by 1000. Usually 4 or 5).
While the engineer will almost always opt for light beer or white wine, the hardcore geologist will never lower themselves to anything less than full-strength. Light/mid-strength beer is for homosexuals and washing hair only. The female geologist will usually go for spirits, or, if she's hard enough, heavy beer with a shot of absinthe.
Alcohol is essential on field activities, either on late night scientific discussions or cold-weather camping; it is also a useful companion and tool in the field (as well as out), just as important as the rock hammer, Brunton compass, and hand-lens. Alcohol is used as an indispensable renewable fuel source for enlightened or hot topics and for surviving in cold weather as a human "internal combustion" liquid fuel. There are known examples of geologists that have survived on a pint of whiskey in the middle of the desert and in way-below freezing temperatures.
Alternative conversation topics might include: a detailed consideration of the relative merits of differing brands of gin (including those brands that may only be termed "gin" as "bug-infused lighter fuel" might look bad on the risk assessment forms); whether a hangover is very useful or absolutely essential to the correct practice of geology in the field; and how many crates of beer does it take to cause the average 4x4 to roll over/dump its rear axle/spontaneously combust. It has been observed that undergraduate geology students are berated and whipped with bootlaces by their lecturers if they do not partake in late night drinking on field trips (exception: university of Western Australia). Returning to university without liver-ache is frowned upon by most (exception: university of Western Australia). Early mornings in the field are usually fueled by coffee; however, water is optional in the brewing process and filters are unheard of. In the absence of water, coffee will be brewed with leftover beer. In the absence of beer, vodka, scotch, gin or tequila; coffee grounds may be chewed dry. This perhaps, is the reason it is impossible to communicate successfully with a geologist in the field. Protective cover in the form of beards shields geologists in a field party from sight of each other's gin-etched and coffee-coloured teeth. The inability to grow a beard is one of the factors still hampering female geologists today, though some have a really good crack at it.
In recent years, geologists have become more inclined to imbibe absinthe in their efforts to better think like a rock. The proper way to drink absinthe is to prepare a drink known as a green schist. Absinthe is most appropriately consumed by straining a shot into a glass through an absinthe spoon containing a sugar cube. Light the sugar cube. After it burns down, stir it into the glass with the spoon, then take the shot (DO NOT substitute aplite!). Add three shots of ice cold water (preferably from a receding glacier) and watch as the absinthe louches with the cold water and sugar. Caution, do not drink more than five of these in one sitting! Also, ONLY trust female geologists that you observe slamming down shots of absinthe in a bar. You have been warned.

soda ban explained

Saturday, September 22, 2012


A monograph of the free and semi-parasitic Copepoda of the British islands..
London,Ray Society,

ammonites planorbis

trellis americanus

pretty little legs, terrible photo


frog dissection

On the Wings of the Albatross

On the Wings of the Albatross
by Carl Safina
An albatross is the grandest living flying machine on Earth. An albatross is bone, feathers, muscle, and the wind. An albatross is its own taut longbow, the breeze its bowstring, propelling its projectile body. An albatross is an art deco bird, striking of pattern, clean of line, epic in travels, heroically faithful. A parent albatross may fly more than 10,000 miles (16,000 kilometers) to deliver one meal to its chick. Wielding the longest wings in nature—up to eleven and a half feet (3.5 meters)—albatrosses can glide hundreds of miles without flapping, crossing ocean basins, circumnavigating the globe. A 50-year-old albatross has flown, at least, 3.7 million miles (6 million kilometers).
If you could travel millions of miles fueled by clean, self-renewing, zero-emissions energy, you’d be an albatross. Strictly speaking, albatrosses are mediocre fliers—but excellent gliders. They can lock their wings in the open position like switchblades, the bird merely piloting the glider it inhabits. Catching the wind in their wings and sailing upward, then harnessing gravity while planing seaward, they travel in long undulations. Most birds struggle to overcome wind; albatrosses exploit it…
(read more: National Geo)          (Photograph by Frans Lanting)


Recently Discovered Ceratopsian Dinosaur (2011)
by Linda Zhao
Nicholas Longrich, Department of Geology paleontologist, discovered a new dinosaur species, Titanoceratops, that may refine the evolutionary tree. This finding sheds light on how horned dinosaurs evolved into elephant-sized organisms.
The skeleton had previously been identified as a Pentaceratops, but only because it was found in the same location as previous Pentaceratopsremains. Upon seeing illustrations of the remains, Longrich determined that the skeleton was far too large to be a Pentaceratops. While dinosaurs rarely deviated from their average size, this skeleton was twice the size of a Pentaceratops.
Longrich isolated small differences in the skeleton’s morphology that consistently matched features of a Triceratops more than those of aPentaceratops. For example, Longrich identified a sinus that reached inside the nostril and into the palate, a characteristic typical of Triceratops but not of Pentaceratops. Altogether, subtle details in the skeleton’s nostrils, horns, snout, and frill confirmed what the large size of the skeleton suggested –Titanoceratops was a new species that was likely the ancestor ofTriceratops
(read more: Yale Scientific)       (images: Nicholas Longrich)


Friday, September 21, 2012

arab sprung

beer after bomb testing

...a 1957 U.S. government study called "The Effect of Nuclear Explosions on Commercially Packaged Beverages," which addresses this very question: After the bomb, can I drink the beer?

Well, in 1956, the Atomic Energy Commission exploded two bombs, one "with an energy release equivalent to 20 kilotons of TNT," the other 30 kilotons, a test site in Nevada. Bottles and cans were carefully placed various distances from ground zero. Notice, on this list, some of them are "returnable".

The closest containers were placed "less than a quarter mile away," says Alex, "a mere 1,056 feet", the outliers a couple of miles off. Some were buried, some left in batches, others were placed side by side.


As for radiation, they checked, and found that bottles closest to ground zero were indeed radioactive, but only mildly so. Exposure, the authors say, "did not carry over to the contents." The sodas and beer were "well within the permissible limits for emergency use", which means, says Alex, "It won't hurt you in the short term."

But what about taste? Post-bomb beer might not poison you, but will it keep its flavor?
The report says, "Immediate taste tests," (gotta wonder who got that job), "indicated that the beverages, both beer and soft drinks, were still of commercial quality, although there was evidence of a slight flavor change in some of the products exposed at 1,270 feet from Ground Zero." The most blasted beers were "definitely off."

The first tasters then passed samples to selected laboratories for further testing, and this time the contents were rated "acceptable." So here's your government's considered advice: Should you find yourself near an atomic blast and run short of potable water, you can chug a Coke or a beer, but don't expect it to taste great.