Heavy storms on the coast of Wales stripped away the sand on the beaches of Cardigan Bay, revealing the stumps of an ancient forest that stopped growing 4,500 years ago
. Also revealed: A sort of proto-boardwalk, built by the inhabitants of the lost forest as rising sea levels began to drown it. — Maggie
The last Great Auk was clubbed to death by fishermen for the crime of witchcraft. The Dusky Seaside Sparrow was done in by the combined forces of NASA and Disney World. Frank Swain has illustrated several of history's odder extinction stories.
A new study on the genetics of bottle gourds
is interesting because it A) demonstrates how genetic studies can be totally
misleading and B) supports a theory for how animals and plants migrate that has nothing to do with land bridges, continental drift, or humans. — Maggie
Pesco's post earlier today
about a cleric who issued a fatwa against one-way trips to Mars got me wondering about how Muslim prayer works off-planet. After all, the timing and orientation of those daily prayers are based on Earth time and Earth geography. Fascinatingly, the Malaysian Space Agency actually convened a conference of 150 Islamic scientists and scholars
to answer those very questions back in 2006. In a video, Sheikh Muszaphar Shukor, the first Malaysian astronaut, explains how life on the ISS changed (and didn't change) his religious life. (Thank you, Ty!) — Maggie
Modern zombie movies and TV shows often frame the creation of said zombies around the spread of a virus or some other kind of disease. The Walking Dead
is no exception. But, because of the specific in-universe rules of zombie-making that the show has laid out, the virus-only explanation doesn't totally make sense, writes blogger Kyle Hill. Instead, the zombies in The Walking Dead universe must also be pseudo-venomous
, their bites loaded with some deadly mix of viruses and bacterial proteins. — Maggie
Using TVTropes as a base of information, this incredible chart organizes story structure, archetypes, plot devices and more into a structure similar to the periodic table of elements
. It's an incredibly cool project that puts the actually really useful storytelling knowledge of TVTropes into a more-teachable form. — Maggie
Meet Pseudomonas syringae, a bacterium that causes disease in plants and helps make snow machines work.
It all has to do with ice nucleation — the process that forms ice crystals in the atmosphere and, thus, snow. You probably know that raindrops and snowflakes form around something. There's always a central nucleus that serves as the backbone of the water molecule structure. Usually, when people talk about this process, they use soot or some other kind of particulate matter as the example of what a nucleus can be. But bacteria can also become the nucleus of a snowflake. In fact, P. syringae is so good at forming ice crystals around itself that, in the video above, you can watch it turn cold water into ice almost instantly.
Read the rest
An international team of scientists are spending the next few weeks off the coast of Antarctica, studying sediment and sea life at the outflow of the Totten Glacier system — a largely unexplored region that researchers suspect is being affected by global climate change. You can follow their adventures aboard the RVIB Nathaniel B Palmer at their blog. — Maggie
, by David Quammen, is one of the best books I've read recently — all about how diseases make the jump from animals to people
. Now, it's going to be a six-part TV special on (of all places) The Weather Channel. — Maggie
I'm living in a dorm for the first time in 14 years. All this week, I'll be in UIUC's Allen Hall, participating in their Unit One Artist-in-Residence program
. I'm giving a talk every night on topics ranging from energy, to science communication, to the history of tech, to human experimentation. I've also got an open door for any students and community members to drop by. If you're around, come say hi! — Maggie
As you might expect, more Democrats than Republicans say they want to make energy efficient and renewable energy improvements to their houses over the next five years. But, when you look at who has actually made those improvements already — the Republicans come out ahead in many cases and are equal with Democrats in others. Basically, here's some more data that suggests your energy behavior can't be predicted by your politics
, even when your politics rejects climate change. — Maggie
Last September, an elementary school student in North Carolina brought a pound of mercury on board a school bus
. The kids played with it, as kids are wont to do, and then spilled it all over the bus floor. The result: A thorough scrubbing for the kids and for the bus ... the crusher. — Maggie
Check out this series of photos from India's Hemis National Park, where photographer Adam Riley watch a snow leopard stalk and hunt a pack of sheep. The real awesome part of these photos: Getting a look at just how effective that spotted camouflage can be
. In a few shots, the leopard all but disappears against a background of rocky outcroppings. — Maggie
With the consent of a patient known only as "Lou", Toronto's Sunnybrook Hospital live tweeted a coronary artery bypass graft yesterday. The surgery increases blood supply to the heart by taking arteries and veins from an arm or some other part of the body and cut-pasting them into the network of blood vessels surrounding the heart. The goal: Prevent a heart attack by bypassing plaque-clogged vessels that are constricting blood flow to the heart.
The video above shows Lou's heart beating, before surgeons hooked him up to a heart-lung machine and temporarily stopped his heart. The live tweet is filled with videos like this, as well as photos and some interesting information about what happens during open-heart surgery. In that respect, live-tweeting the surgery seems like a great idea, a real boon for medical awareness. But in a CBC story, medical ethicists questioned the event. For one thing, what would have happened if Lou died on the operating table? Another big concern: Even though the surgeons, themselves, aren't doing the tweeting, it's difficult to claim that they wouldn't be affected at all. How does being live-tweeted about change the way you do your work?
Check out the full live tweet at Storify
More info on Lou, the surgery, and the live tweeting event.
Timbuktu, Mali, has been a seat of culture and learning for hundreds of years. When jihadists moved in last year and threatened to destroy the city's collection of scholarly work dating back to the medieval period, residents banded together to save the manuscripts
. — Maggie