Saturday, November 30, 2013

gemstone irradiation

The gemstone irradiation is a process in which a gemstone is artificially irradiated (exposed to radiation) in order to enhance its optical properties. High levels of ionizing radiation can change the atomic structure of the gemstone's crystal lattice, which in turn alters the optical properties within it.[1] As a result, the gemstone's color may be significantly altered or the visibility of its inclusions may be lessened. The process, widely practised in jewelry industry,[2] is done in either anuclear reactor for neutron bombardment, a particle accelerator for electron bombardment, or a gamma ray facility using the radioactive isotope cobalt-60.[1][3] The irradiation enabled creation of certain gemstone colors that do not exist or are extremely rare in nature.

watch emily's brain scoop!

thanksgiving favorites by state

HIV prevalence in adults

Friday, November 29, 2013

Sex-starved fruit flies live shorter, more stressful lives

Sexual frustration impairs the health of fruit flies and causes premature death, according to new research.
Scientists found that male flies who were stimulated to mate but prevented from doing so, had their lives cut short by up to 40%.
Those allowed to copulate not only lived longer but suffered less stress.
In the experiment, the flies were put in close proximity to genetically modified males who had been altered to release female sex pheromones.
These hormones are used by flies to judge whether a potential mate is nearby, so when males secreted this sexually charged scent, it instantly aroused other males.
But crucially, they were not able to mate.
The flies that were tantalised but denied any action showed more stress, a decrease in their fat-stores and had their lives cut short dramatically.
"We immediately observed that they looked quite sick very soon in the presence of these effeminised males," explained Dr Scott Pletcher at the University of Michigan, US, co-author of the research. bbc

odon birthing device

An invention to help with obstructed labor has turned some heads — and not just because the idea came from a party trick on YouTube.
The Odon Device, created by Argentine car mechanic Jorge Odon, guides a folded plastic sleeve around the baby's head. A little bit of air is then pumped between the two plastic layers, cushioning the baby's head and allowing it to be sucked out. This trick for removing a cork from an empty wine bottle works the same way.
The device has been embraced by the World Health Organization and is beingdeveloped by the global medical technology company BD. Once clinical trials are done, the WHO and individual countries will have to approve it before it's sold. BD hasn't said how much it will charge, but each one is expected to cost less than $50 to make. npr

platypus venn diagram


oldboy is being remade... a spike lee remake. i'm worried. review

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

electric eels at the national aquarium

Did you know? Electric eels can generate an electrical charge of up to 600 volts, which they use to stun prey and protect themselves from predators! 

We’ve added an amplifier to our eel’s habitat in DC, giving guests the opportunity to HEAR voltage being emitted during feedings! Check it out!

stegosaurus menora

The smallest intact ceratopsid skeleton was recently unearthed in Alberta

The smallest intact ceratopsid skeleton was recently unearthed in Alberta
Credit: Philip J. Currie, Robert Holmes, Michael Ryan Clive Coy, Eva B. Koppelhus
The toddler was just 3 years old and 5 feet (1.5 meters) long when it wandered into a river near Alberta, Canada, and drowned about 70 million years ago. The beast was so well-preserved that some of its skin left impressions in the nearby rock.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Tityus adrianoi

Female with babies, Minas Gerais, Brazil

Are the Earth’s Magnetic Poles About to Flip?

by Megan Thompson
Three European satellites launched Friday on a mission to study why the magnetic field surrounding Earth appears to be weakening.
The four-year study will collect data and map the field, which protects the planet (and us) from solar radiation.
Scientists say the field’s strength has weakened by about 15 percent in the last 200 years.
The weakening could be a sign of “polarity reversal" - when the field flips end-to-end, turning north into south. The phenomenon occurs every 200,000 to 300,000 years. But the last time the field flipped was almost 800,000 years ago.
The magnetic field is believed to be generated by the Earth’s molten iron core. The field reaches thousands of miles into space and creates a bubble around the earth. It’s what makes compasses work, and aids everything from navigation systems to animal migrations…
(read more: PBS - The Rundown)
image: ESA/ATG MediaLab

Fractures Fill Floor of Gleaming Martian Canyon

Photograph courtesy NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona  
Water once coursed through Echus Chasma, a canyon incised across a Martian plateau. Here we see fractures meeting on the floor of the canyon.
Lava from a more recent eruption partially covers the blue bottoms of the fractures, captured here by NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.

Dusky Leaf Monkey

An adult female Dusky Leaf Monkey (Trachypithecus obscurus), also known as the Spectacled Langur, with an offspring in tow. The baby’s fur color is strikingly different from that of its mother. I was fortunate to be able to observe and photograph this pair, part of a troupe of monkeys, from some distance away.

Shot at the highland forests of Bukit Tinggi, central Peninsular Malaysia.

happy thanksgiving

The Secrets of Seahorse Success

by Sid Perkins
How does the seahorse, one of the slowest swimming fish in the sea, manage to capture its nimbler prey? In a word, stealth. Like most fish, seahorses nab their prey by slurping in the water surrounding their victims—a technique called suction feeding. But seahorses can effectively strike at prey only 1 millimeter or so in front of them, so they must approach within that distance (video) without disturbing the water so much that their quarry flees.
Now, lab tests show that fluid disturbances just ahead of the snout of the dwarf seahorse (Hippocampus zosterae) are only one-fifth as large as those elsewhere around its head, researchers report online today inNature Communications. Thus, the fish was able to approach within striking range of its prey 84% of the time. Once within striking distance, the not-quite-galloping gourmand snaps its neck forward in less than a millisecond to successfully capture a meal 94% of the time.
(watch video: Science News/AAAS)

circa 2009

haeckel's radiolarins

sipping from you

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Meet the Gigantic Carnivore That Kept T. Rex Down

by Stephanie Pappas
An enormous carnivorous dinosaur that once roamed North America kept Tyrannosaurus rex from achieving its potential for millions of years, a new discovery suggests.
The new dinosaur, dubbed Siats meekerorum, is part of a group of giant predators known as carcharodontosaurs, and it’s only the second of this group to be discovered in North America. North Carolina State University paleontologist Lindsay Zanno discovered the Siats bones eroding out of a hillside in Utah in 2008.
"It’s easily the most exciting thing that I’ve found so far," Zanno, who heads the paleontology lab at the North Carolina Museum of NaturalScience, told LiveScience…
(read more: Live Science)

Friday, November 22, 2013

change your own sexuality

Volcano spawns new Japanese island

An undersea volcanic eruption has given Japan a tiny patch of new territory — but the country is going to wait and see whether the sea swallows it before it names the new island.
The island was born in a huge eruption of exploding rocks and smoke that reached one-third of a mile into the air. It currently measures around 660 feet in diameter and sits just off the coast of Nishinoshima, an uninhabited island 620 miles south of Tokyo, the AP reports.
The Bangkok Post reports that the Japanese navy first spotted smoke yesterday morning, with Volcano Discovery reporting that the navy identified "surtseyan activity" there; that's the "explosive interaction of sea-water and lava, generating violent jets of steam and ash."
The coast guard then verified the presence of the volcano island and issued a more measured warning to ships: "Smoke is still rising from the volcanic island, and we issued a navigation warning to say that this island has emerged with ash falling in the area."
It is the first known volcanic activity in the area, part of the Pacific's "Ring of Fire," in around 40 years. usatoday

Thursday, November 21, 2013


… is a lead molybdate mineral with the formula PbMoO4. It can be most often found as thin tabular crystals with a bright orange-red to yellow-orange color, sometimes brown, although the color can be highly variable. In its yellow form it is sometimes called “yellow lead ore”.
It crystallizes in the tetragonal system, often occurring as stubby, pyramidal or tabular crystals. It also occurs as earthy, granular masses. It is found in many localities, associated with lead ores as a secondary mineral associated with the oxidized zone of lead deposits. It is also a secondary ore of molybdenum, and is sought by collectors…

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Hermitage Court Cats by Eldar Zakirov

Vrbanus Steampunk Victorian

Luxurious cars by Metal Art workshop Vrbanus Steampunk Victorian filigree beetle Volkswagen by Metal Art shop Vrbanus, Sisak, Croatia. Three craftsmen spent 3000 hours, about four months on the painstaking job with details such as 24-carat gold leaf embelishments and a hand-stiched leather interior

L'automate by +Karl Dupere-Richer

Octopus jar from Crete, ca. 1500 BC

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

april 2011

happy little hurricanes fan

The results of a DNA study suggest that dogs were domesticated in Europe

No-one doubts that "man's best friend" is an evolutionary off-shoot of the grey wolf, but scientists have long argued over the precise timing and location for their emergence.
The new research, based on a genetic analysis of ancient and modern dog and wolf samples, points to a European origin at least 18,000 years ago.
Olaf Thalmann and colleagues report the investigation in Science magazine.
It adds a further layer of complexity to the story.
Earlier DNA studies have suggested the modern pooch - in all its shapes and sizes - could track its beginnings back to wolves that attached themselves to human societies in the Middle East or perhaps in East Asia as recently as 15,000 years ago.
The problem with these claims is that palaeontologists have found fossils of distinctly dog-looking animals that are 30,000 years old or more.
Dr Thalmann, from Finland's University of Turku, and his team, have had another go at trying to sort through the conflicting DNA evidence.
They compared genetic sequences from a wide range of ancient animals - both dogs and wolves - with material taken from living canines - again, from both dogs and wolves.
This analysis reveals modern dogs to be most closely related to ancient European wolves or dogs - not to any of the wolf groups from outside Europe, nor even to modern European wolves (suggesting the link is with old European wolves that are now extinct). And because the dog remains used in the research are dated to be more than 18,000 years old, it indicates a timing for domestication that is much older than some researchers have previously argued.
If correct, it means dogs started to diverge from wolf populations when humans had yet to settle into fixed, agricultural communities and were still hunting and gathering.

It is possible there were wolves that would follow these hunters, may be at a distance at first, living 
off the scraps and discards from the humans' big-game kills such as mammoth, before eventually being incorporated into the human groups as they became less wary.
"You can see how wolves benefitted from living near humans because they got these carcases, but humans too would have benefitted," said Dr Thalmann.
"You have to remember that 18,800-32,000 years ago, Europe had much bigger predators than even wolves, such as bears and hyenas. And you can imagine that having wolves living close to you might be a very useful alarm system," he told BBC News. "It's a plausible scenario for the origin of the domestication of dogs."
The latest study is unlikely to be the last word on the subject, however.
Using DNA - and the subtle changes it undergoes over time - to examine animal origins and relationships is a very powerful tool, but far from fool-proof.
One of the problems scientists have is that dog populations have become very mixed over time, as a result of being moved around by their human owners. This complicates the genetic signal.
The difficulty is further amplified by the fact that some dogs have at times also clearly back-bred with wild wolves. Teasing all this apart is very difficult.
A resolution will require more sampling and more analysis, particularly of the core, or nuclear, DNA of ancient animals.
This and many of the previous studies have relied on so-called mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA), a small sub-packet of genetic material in cells that, although incredibly useful, does not represent the fullest information possible.
The larger nuclear DNA material could provide the more compelling answers but it is far harder to retrieve, especially in very old bones or fossils. A number of research groups around the world are trying, though. bbc

Researchers Find Ancient Seawater Had Twice The Salt

A map showing the impact areas of a large asteroid or comet that struck the Chesapeake Bay some 35 million years ago.

Scientists have discovered a pocket of ancient seawater that's been trapped underground near the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay since the time of the dinosaurs — strong evidence that the Atlantic Ocean was once much saltier than today.
A team headed by Ward Sanford, a hydrologist from the United States Geological Survey, found the 100- to 150-million-year-old seawater deposited between layers of sediment deep under present-day Cape Charles, Va. They detail their findings in the most recent issue of Nature.
Sanford tells NPR that the impact of a large asteroid or comet some 35 million years ago, which has long been known, helped isolate the water, preventing it from being flushed out of the sediments.
The USGS team found the early Cretaceous-era seawater 5,000 feet down as it was drilling in an effort to map a freshwater aquifer. What it found was a watery fossil — the oldest large body of seawater yet identified.
"When we actually drilled and took the core back, we found that there was a large section of the core that had water in it that had about twice the salinity of modern seawater," Sanford tells NPR. (The Dead Sea, for comparison, is nearly 10 times as salty as the present-day oceans.)
The seawater wasn't found in one large pool, but trapped in small pores and rock fractures — so there's no Cretaceous-era life swimming about in it, Sanford says. Still, there is a lot of it: about 3 trillion gallons — or one-sixth the volume of the modern Chesapeake Bay — he estimates.
When the water was trapped 100 million or more years ago, "the Atlantic was a smaller ocean," he says.
"It had only been in existence [at that time] for about 50 million years and it was isolated from the rest of the world's oceans," he says. "It had its own salinity and its salinity was changing at a different rate and by different amounts from the rest of the global oceans."
How did they know that what they were looking at was indeed ancient seawater?
Sanford explains that first, seawater has a chemical fingerprint. Second, uranium in sediments gives off helium as it decays, and this water had a "very, very high" concentration of dissolved helium.
"If you can measure the amount of helium in the water, that can tell you how long the water's been sitting in the ground," Sanford says.

haeckel's bats

The many faces of bats, in Ernst Heinrich Philipp August Haeckel’sKunstformen der Natur, 1899-1904.

If you are feeling particularly nerdy, we have 223 articles, books, and book chapters with “chiroptera” somewhere in them, residing in our digital repository.
Kunstformen der Natur, translated into Art Forms of Nature, is by all accounts a marvel of 19th century scientific illustration. See more in ourGalaxy of Images, or check out this exhibit on this work at the Marine Biological Laboratory.

negative slides lamp shade

Vladimir Stankovic

ladies night out

flora for stencils

Saturday, November 16, 2013

best argument against religion


Chimaeras are perhaps the oldest and most enigmatic groups of fishes alive today. Their closest living relatives are sharks, but their evolutionary lineage branched off from sharks nearly 400 million years ago, and they have remained an isolated group ever since. Like sharks, chimaeras have skeletons composed of cartilage and the males have claspers for internal fertilization of females.
Unlike sharks, male chimaeras also have retractable sexual appendages on the forehead and in front of the pelvic fins and a single pair of gills. Most species also have a mildly venomous spine in front of the dorsal fin.
Chimaeras were once a very diverse and abundant group, as illustrated by their global presence in the fossil record. They survived through the age of dinosaurs mostly unchanged, but today these fishes are relatively scarce and are usually confined to deep ocean waters, where they have largely avoided the reach of explorers and remained poorly known to science.
Chimaeras are the only vertebrates to retain traces of a third pair of limbs.

Malaysia has the world's highest deforestation rate, reveals Google forest map

Malaysia had the world's highest rate of forest loss between 2000 and 2012, according to a new global forest map developed in partnership with Google. 

Malaysia's total forest loss during the period amounted to 14.4 percent of its year 2000 forest cover. The loss translates to 47,278 square kilometers (18,244 square miles), an area larger than Denmark. Malaysia's forest loss was partly offset by a 25,978 sq km gain in vegetation cover resulting from natural recovery, reforestation, and establishment of industrial timber and oil palm plantations. During the period, Malaysia's oil palm estate grew by roughly 50 percent or 17,000 sq km. But tree plantations don't stack up well to natural forests into terms of biodiversity, carbon storage, or maintenance of ecosystem services, indicating that Malaysia suffered very extensive decline of its natural capital base. Most of Malaysia's forest loss occurred in its densest forests, those with tree cover exceeding 50 percent, which generally store the most carbon and are richest with wildlife, including endangered orangutans, pygmy elephants, Sumatran rhinos, and clouded leopards.

Dan Zarin, program director of the Climate and Land Use Alliance, an association of philanthropic foundations, says trading natural forests for planted forests represents a net loss for the planet. “You can't ‘net out’ deforestation by planting trees," said Zarin, "because newly planted forests are far less valuable for carbon, biodiversity and forest-dependent people than standing native forests.” Malaysia's rate of forest loss during the period was nearly 50 percent higher than the next runner up, Paraguay (9.6 percent). Its area of forest loss ranked ninth after Russia, Brazil, the United States, Canada, Indonesia, China, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Australia. Malaysia's net forest loss — 21,480 sq km — ranked 12th globally.

Coelacanths might be monogamous, to the surprise of researchers

by Cynthia McKelvey
They evaded humans for millions of years and live very private lives. The hulking, fleshy-finned fish known as the coelacanth has beguiled scientists for generations. But the coelacanth mystique that enchants researchers also makes it difficult to study. Researchers recently revealed in Nature Communications one startling aspect of the coelacanth lifestyle: they might be monogamous.
Presumed extinct for over 60 million years, the coelacanth (SEE-lah-kanth) was known only in fossil form until a fisherman caught a live one in 1938 near South Africa. Recently, scientists have found populations of dozens of coelacanths nestled in caves hundreds of meters deep in the Indian Ocean near Kenya, Tanzania and the Comoros Islands.
Monogamy poses a risk to coelacanths in part because of the onerous three-year-long pregnancies in females. The babies are fully developed when they’re born, but the mother sacrifices a lot of energy and is more vulnerable to predators while she carries her young. If one male with a bad set of genes sires the brood, all the offspring can suffer—and those three years might be wasted.
The study’s authors expected coelacanth females to find multiple mates to ensure that at least some offspring get a good set of genes. They conducted genetic paternity tests on the 49 total offspring of two preserved pregnant coelacanths. Analysis showed that each coelacanth chose only one male to sire her brood.

Because coelacanths are endangered, scientists can only examine dead specimens that fishermen accidentally catch in trawls. Pregnant females are especially rare: one fish was caught near Mozambique in 1991, and another near Zanzibar in 2009. 



An artificially grown bismuth crystal, illustrating the stairstep crystal structure, with a 1-cm cube of bismuth metal for comparison. The iridescent surface here is a very thin layer of oxidation.

Sexual Parasitism in Deep Sea Anglerfish

In response to the perilous and opportunistic conditions of the deep sea, some deep sea anglerfish have evolved a very specialized method of reproduction - sexual parasitism.
Due to the fact that individuals of a species are locally rare, encounters between a male a female are very uncommon. As such, when they eventually meet, the fish employ a unique mating method that will ensure that they never separate again.
The fish display extreme sexual dimorphism, with males being many times smaller than females. The method by which a male finds a female differs across different species, but can involve sight or pheromone cues.
When a male anglerfish encounters a female, he latches onto her body with his mouth. He then releases enzymes that digests the skin of his mouth and her body, which fuses the pair down to the blood vessel level…