txchnologist:

An Earth Day Thought: Cooperation Is A Survival Tool

by Michael Keller

Every sunrise is a new breath of life. The morning comes and our star once again bathes us in the energy upon which the whole machinery of being runs. And life responds with every day’s beginning—plants grow; animals graze, browse and hunt; fungi, bacteria and insects slowly bring all of us back into the soil. When the night comes, much of life becomes quiet. Even then, though, many organisms remain at work, taking advantage of the darkness to give birth, take prey, and otherwise make their way in a crammed world. The Earth is beautiful and brutal—such is the nature of life.

Creatures breathe from almost every place on our planet, from the hydrothermal vent communities in the crushing pressure and pitch black abyss of the ocean’s floor to the microbes catching rides through the stratosphere on Sahara Desert dust storms. It’s a constant competition among individuals and species. Yet an exquisite adaptation to succeed in the bloodsport of survival has arisen over evolutionary time—cooperation. Many of us come equipped to work together so that we may individually and collectively live a little better.

"Organisms are inherently competitive, yet cooperation is widespread," wrote Columbia University’s Dustin Rubenstein and James Kealey in a 2010 paper in the journal Nature. ”Genes cooperate in genomes; cells cooperate in tissues; individuals cooperate in societies.”

Read More

(via somuchscience)

ewilloughby:


Voracious birders tend to look for birds wherever they go, and that includes in fictional sources. For a serious birder, a movie bird is just as much of an opportunity to exercise the ID skills as a legitimate birding trip is. Over the years, movies and video games have included an embarrassing share of “generic” birds that aren’t much of anything: usually a boring small passerine, often monochrome. However, a handful of well-known birds in popular culture are probably based on actual species, though it sometimes takes some considerable inference to figure out exactly what. So here is Jon’s and my list of Top 10 Fictional Birds Based on Real Birds, in chronological order.



1. Eagles of Manwë from The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit: Golden eagle (first appearance: 1937)



These giant, mysterious, immensely powerful birds of prey are a sort of deus ex machina in the Middle Earth world, always showing up at exactly the right moment. While they are clearly not actually supposed to be golden eagles - they are much larger, sentient, and exist in a fantasy universe - they are probably based on them. One of the first renditions of the giant birds was painted by Tolkien himself and appeared with the original version of The Hobbit. This illustration clearly resembles a golden eagle, and according to Tolkien’s son Christopher, the painting was based on a picture of an immature golden eagle by Archilbald Thorburn. With a bit of digging, we found the original painting.
—> Read more on my blog! —>

ewilloughby:

Voracious birders tend to look for birds wherever they go, and that includes in fictional sources. For a serious birder, a movie bird is just as much of an opportunity to exercise the ID skills as a legitimate birding trip is. Over the years, movies and video games have included an embarrassing share of “generic” birds that aren’t much of anything: usually a boring small passerine, often monochrome. However, a handful of well-known birds in popular culture are probably based on actual species, though it sometimes takes some considerable inference to figure out exactly what. So here is Jon’s and my list of Top 10 Fictional Birds Based on Real Birds, in chronological order.

1. Eagles of Manwë from The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit: Golden eagle (first appearance: 1937)

These giant, mysterious, immensely powerful birds of prey are a sort of deus ex machina in the Middle Earth world, always showing up at exactly the right moment. While they are clearly not actually supposed to be golden eagles - they are much larger, sentient, and exist in a fantasy universe - they are probably based on them. One of the first renditions of the giant birds was painted by Tolkien himself and appeared with the original version of The Hobbit. This illustration clearly resembles a golden eagle, and according to Tolkien’s son Christopher, the painting was based on a picture of an immature golden eagle by Archilbald Thorburn. With a bit of digging, we found the original painting.

—> Read more on my blog! —>

earthstory:

For the build-up to Earth Day 2014, we want to share with you this image entitled “Earthrise” taken by Astronaut William Anders in 1968 during the Apollo 8 mission. It has been dubbed the “most influential environmental photograph ever taken”. Neil deGrasse Tyson summed this idea up the most efficiently when he said “We went to the Moon, and discovered the Earth”.Sitting at a desk looking at this image of our home is quite humbling, but, imagine how it would feel to experience it for yourself. Here is a list of quotes from astronauts who have seen Earth from space for themselves:“When you’re finally up at the moon looking back on earth, all those differences and nationalistic traits are pretty well going to blend, and you’re going to get a concept that maybe this really is one world and why the hell can’t we learn to live together like decent people.”— Frank Borman, Apollo 8, Newsweek magazine, 23 December 1968."[The Moon] was a sobering sight, but it didn’t have the impact on me, at least, as the view of the Earth did."— Frank Borman, Apollo 8, Interview for the PBS TV show 1999"It truly is an oasis—and we don’t take very good care of it. I think the elevation of that awareness is a real contribution to saving the Earth."— Dave Scott, Apollo 9 & 15, interview for the 2007 movie In the Shadow of the Moon"It suddenly struck me that that tiny pea, pretty and blue, was the Earth. I put up my thumb and shut one eye, and my thumb blotted out the planet Earth. I didn’t feel like a giant. I felt very, very small."— Neil Armstrong"You develop an instant global consciousness, a people orientation, an intense dissatisfaction with the state of the world, and a compulsion to do something about it. From out there on the moon, international politics look so petty. You want to grab a politician by the scruff of the neck and drag him a quarter of a million miles out and say, ‘Look at that, you son of a bitch.” ― Edgar D. MitchellWhile most of us will never experience Earth from outer space, we can listen to those who have and marvel at images like Earthrise. This image, if anything, serves as a symbol for unity. Earthrise shows us that we are delicate, exceptional creatures living on a delicate and exceptional planet, which we must protect. The photo was so influential that when it was originally published, it helped inspire the formation of the United States’ Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in 1970 and sparked an environmental movement.-Jean

earthstory:

For the build-up to Earth Day 2014, we want to share with you this image entitled “Earthrise” taken by Astronaut William Anders in 1968 during the Apollo 8 mission. It has been dubbed the “most influential environmental photograph ever taken”. Neil deGrasse Tyson summed this idea up the most efficiently when he said “We went to the Moon, and discovered the Earth”.

Sitting at a desk looking at this image of our home is quite humbling, but, imagine how it would feel to experience it for yourself. Here is a list of quotes from astronauts who have seen Earth from space for themselves:

“When you’re finally up at the moon looking back on earth, all those differences and nationalistic traits are pretty well going to blend, and you’re going to get a concept that maybe this really is one world and why the hell can’t we learn to live together like decent people.”— Frank Borman, Apollo 8, Newsweek magazine, 23 December 1968.

"[The Moon] was a sobering sight, but it didn’t have the impact on me, at least, as the view of the Earth did."— Frank Borman, Apollo 8, Interview for the PBS TV show 1999

"It truly is an oasis—and we don’t take very good care of it. I think the elevation of that awareness is a real contribution to saving the Earth."— Dave Scott, Apollo 9 & 15, interview for the 2007 movie In the Shadow of the Moon

"It suddenly struck me that that tiny pea, pretty and blue, was the Earth. I put up my thumb and shut one eye, and my thumb blotted out the planet Earth. I didn’t feel like a giant. I felt very, very small."— Neil Armstrong

"You develop an instant global consciousness, a people orientation, an intense dissatisfaction with the state of the world, and a compulsion to do something about it. From out there on the moon, international politics look so petty. You want to grab a politician by the scruff of the neck and drag him a quarter of a million miles out and say, ‘Look at that, you son of a bitch.” ― Edgar D. Mitchell

While most of us will never experience Earth from outer space, we can listen to those who have and marvel at images like Earthrise. This image, if anything, serves as a symbol for unity. Earthrise shows us that we are delicate, exceptional creatures living on a delicate and exceptional planet, which we must protect. The photo was so influential that when it was originally published, it helped inspire the formation of the United States’ Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in 1970 and sparked an environmental movement.

-Jean

soenas:

the sunny faces of balsamroot (by manyfires)

heaven-ly-mind:

Intergalactic Gokyo by Dylan Gehlken on 500px

christinetheastrophysicist:

kenobi-wan-obi:

Coders, NASA Will Pay You to Help Hunt Down Asteroids

NASA is calling on coders to help in the hunt for potentially dangerous asteroids. Over the next six months, the agency will be offering a total of $35,000 in prizes in a contest series that aims to improve the way telescopes detect, track, and analyze incoming space rocks.

NASA’s Near Earth Object Observation Program already harnesses telescopes around the world to be on the lookout for asteroids the fly past our planet. But the vast volumes of data created can’t be inspected by hand. Computers are helpful, but their algorithms are estimated to be only about 80 to 90 percent reliable and could be missing thousands of objects every year. According to NASA, winning solutions in their contests will “increase the detection sensitivity, minimize the number of false positives, ignore imperfections in the data, and run effectively on all computers.”

The Asteroid Data Hunter contest series, which begins on Mar. 17 and runs through August, is being run with asteroid mining company Planetary Resources. Both it and NASA have a vested interest in finding asteroids — NASA wants to send a human crew to visit one in the next decade and Planetary Resources hopes to exploit their metals and water for profit. Those interested in coding algorithms to help can sign up at the NASA Tournament Lab.

Totally going to try this. Data mine all the asteroids!

http://www.nasa.gov/pdf/467238main_20100415_NEOObservationsProgram_Johnson.pdf

currentsinbiology:

rkherman:

A different take on the typical plant cell diagram. I decided to emphasize the vast quatities of organelles inside just one cell, as opposed to most diagrams that show and label 1-2 of each organelle.

YES, cells are stuffed with stuff!

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plant_cell

currentsinbiology:

rkherman:

A different take on the typical plant cell diagram. I decided to emphasize the vast quatities of organelles inside just one cell, as opposed to most diagrams that show and label 1-2 of each organelle.

YES, cells are stuffed with stuff!

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plant_cell

diversityofmatter:

Duliticola is a genus of beetles of the family Lycidae. It is named after Mount Dulit in Borneo. The females stay in the larval form and are about 40–80 mm in length. They have a flat dark body with large scales over the head, resembling trilobites, hence the informal names “Trilobite beetle”, “Trilobite larva” or “Sumatran Trilobite larva”. The males are much smaller, 8–9 mm, with a beetle-like appearance. Most are found in tropical rain forests, notably in India and South-east Asia.

(Source: 1, 2, 3)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trilobite_beetle

odditiesoflife:

Second Rare Oarfish Washes Ashore in Southern California
For the second time in a week, the rare, serpentine oarfish has surfaced on a Southern California beach.
Beach goers at Oceanside Harbor crossed paths Friday afternoon with the deep-sea monster when its carcass washed ashore, Oceanside Police Officer Mark Bussey said. The fish measured 13 ½ feet long. The discovery came just days after an 18-foot dead oarfish was found in the waters off Catalina Island. 
“The call came out as a possible dead whale stranded on the beach, so we responded and saw the fish on the sand right as it washed up,” Bussey said.
Oceanside police then contacted SeaWorld San Diego, the Scripps Research Institute and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Suzanne Kohin of NOAA Fisheries Serivice responded, measured and took possession of the oarfish for research, Bussey said. He further added that people on the beach were “flabbergasted” to see the fish.
“It’s not the typical fish you see on shore,” he said, adding the oarfish probably weighed over 200 pounds. The fish was far too big for Santana to carry alone; it took 15 people to bring the beast to shore.
But these two massive fish are puny by oarfish standards, according to the NOAA. The oarfish is the largest bony fish in the sea and can grow over 50 feet in length. Very little is known about the species, since it usually is found hundreds, if not thousands of feet below the surface, reaching depths up to 3,000 feet.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oarfish

odditiesoflife:

Second Rare Oarfish Washes Ashore in Southern California

For the second time in a week, the rare, serpentine oarfish has surfaced on a Southern California beach.

Beach goers at Oceanside Harbor crossed paths Friday afternoon with the deep-sea monster when its carcass washed ashore, Oceanside Police Officer Mark Bussey said. The fish measured 13 ½ feet long. The discovery came just days after an 18-foot dead oarfish was found in the waters off Catalina Island. 

“The call came out as a possible dead whale stranded on the beach, so we responded and saw the fish on the sand right as it washed up,” Bussey said.

Oceanside police then contacted SeaWorld San Diego, the Scripps Research Institute and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Suzanne Kohin of NOAA Fisheries Serivice responded, measured and took possession of the oarfish for research, Bussey said. He further added that people on the beach were “flabbergasted” to see the fish.

“It’s not the typical fish you see on shore,” he said, adding the oarfish probably weighed over 200 pounds. The fish was far too big for Santana to carry alone; it took 15 people to bring the beast to shore.

But these two massive fish are puny by oarfish standards, according to the NOAA. The oarfish is the largest bony fish in the sea and can grow over 50 feet in length. Very little is known about the species, since it usually is found hundreds, if not thousands of feet below the surface, reaching depths up to 3,000 feet.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oarfish

(Source: usnews.nbcnews.com)

eocene:

Make a Wish by Christopher J. May

eocene:

Make a Wish by Christopher J. May

skunkbear:

Last month I had the chance to see an amazing research project in action: the capturing and tagging of snowy owls on the coast of Maryland.

Snowy owls usually spend their summers up in the arctic circle, and their winters in Canada.  But this year, a huge migration of the owls — the largest seen in decades — brought owls as far south as Florida.

What caused the owl population boom? A lemming population boom! Lemmings are small, hamster-like rodents — and they’re owls’ primary prey in the arctic. That first photo (taken by biologist Jean-Francois Therrien in Northern Quebec) shows a snowy owl nest ringed with the carcasses of 70 lemmings - a feast waiting for the soon-to-be hatched owlets.

Once those owlets grew up, they spread south into the US.  Owl researchers seized the opportunity to capture a few of the owls and equip them with super-light, solar-powered GPS transmitters.

You can read/hear more of the story HERE.

And, you can actually follow the journeys of all the tagged owls at ProjectSnowstorm.org. It’s amazing to see where these birds go!

Range map credit: Matt Stiles/NPR, source: IUCN, eBird.org

Bottom two photos: Meredith Rizzo/NPR

jtotheizzoe:

Joe Interviews Brian Greene!

Wouldn’t it be cool if you could take courses in spacetime and relativity from a world-famous physicist? And instead of boring lectures, they used flashy animations and you could take the class at home and never put pants on?

This week, physicist Brian Greene launches World Science U, an ambitious new online education portal that he hopes will revolutionize the digital classroom. I sat down with him (on the internet) to talk about special relativity and spacetime (his first two course offerings), why visuals work so well for physics, and whether there’s a parallel universe where people already know all this stuff (spoiler: maybe).

We had a pretty awesome chat, and Dr. Greene answered some tough questions. I don’t want to spoil any more surprises. Just watch it already!

 For more info, and to sign up free, visit http://worldscienceu.com/