Showing posts from December, 2011

Winter break links II

"Texts From Cephalopods" -- in which all famous internet octopus videos are the same octopus, and it has an iPhone. Flavor Network and the Principles of Food Pairing in new journal Scientific Reports classifies foods by the number of similar compounds they share and investigates whether different cultures pair like- or unlike-tasting foods more frequently. Science quilts! (The biological ones are the most beautiful, of course, though CERN bubble chamber traces are nice as always.)

Winter break links I


“G-495, G-495, Gordon Valley. This is 3-6-Juliet inbound. You guys ready for us?” We were not. And we knew they were inbound well before they called because we could hear the rotors echoing to us from down-glacier. It had been about 50 minutes since one of the National Science Foundation helicopters, call sign 3-6-Juliet, had dropped off Adam, Roger, and myself at our soon-to-be campsite for the next week. We were in Gordon Valley in the Transantarctic Mountains, a Middle Triassic (245 Ma) fossil site that had been fruitful in the past for both vertebrates and paleobotanical work (in the form of a standing petrified forest). In those 50 minutes we had to find an appropriate campsite, one that was on relatively level ground and offered us some sort of protection from the ferocious winds that could gust off the polar ice cap toward the frozen Ross Sea. The site we found was a few hundred yards from the helo site across mostly flat, but very boulder-ful, terrain. The goal was to get the…

Nancy Schoeppner & the Ecology of Awesomeness

Originally posted at Rah Rah Radula. I sure don't know Nancy Schoeppner at all.  She really flies under the internet radar, this is literally the only actual information I could find on her. I only paper-know her, as in I've read a handful of what I'm guessing is her PhD research with Rick Relyea at the University of Pittsburgh. But, in addition to being an EXCELLENT science communicator (I totally heart reading her papers!) and experimental biologist, her work has really shaped some of my, hitherto undescribed, thinking about how prey decide whether or not to be terrified.  There are various names for this sub-discipline of Ecology: Risk-Assessment, Inducible Defenses, the Ecology of Fear (Mwahhahahahaha! ...). The quick and dirty is this: Hark back unto my first blog post where I described the terror of being an oyster and knowing a predatory snail was coming for you, grinding a hole into your shell, hell-bent on suckingyourgutsout! In that moment, that oyster can&#…

Mantis shrimp setae

Seen here is a photograph of the mantis shrimp (stomatopod) Odontodactylus scyllarus, a predatory tropical marine crustacean. The two oval-shaped "Dumbo ear" structures attached to its head are called antennal scales. They are composed of a flat lamina of cuticle surrounded by a fringe of red setae (hair-like structures). Interestingly, if one zooms in on these hairs, they bear a remarkable resemblance to bird feathers. A single hair actually has tiny hairs branching off of it, and the secondary hairs bear their own set of accessory hairs! It is not clear what function these antennal scale setae may have, if they have a function at all. Besides possible mechano- and chemo-receptive roles, I would be interested in exploring their potential hydrodynamic roles during fast burst swimming in Odontodactylid stomatopods (manuscript in press, to be discussed soon). Stomatopod photograph by Jens Peterson


Smith Island Sampling

Originally posted at Beach Happenings at Diamond Point, Sequim. Smith Island is the small island beyond Protection Island off Whidbey. Smith and Minor Island are connected by a beach at low tide. Like Protection, Smith now has a marine reserve status protecting the DNR owned sub-tidelands. On Friday a group of seaweed scientists all went out to Smith Island to make a permanent collection of who and what are living there. This was our third attempt to go, and the weather was finally kind to us! Dr. David Duggins took us out on the R/V Centennial from Friday Harbor Labs. Dr. Tom Mumford set up a video camera to record the seaweeds living on the bottom. Next we towed a dredge behind the boat while divers carefully collected seaweeds that were more fragile. This photo shows the basket full of seaweed being lifted into the sorting table. Once the seaweeds are on the table, everyone gathers around, sorts the algae and calls off species names. Voucher specimens for pressing and micros…

Weekend links

Shrines to science. Does everyone have these, or mostly just those who do PCR? The Bill Nye Effect is a grad-written blog covering a variety of disciplines including biograds. The sponsoring class is Science Writing for Impact from the program on the environment, and our own Emily Grason currently has top billing. If you've ever made or used a computational phylogenetic tree, early bioinformaticist Margaret Dayhoff is someone you should know about.

Happy GSS day!

Sorry for not posting yesterday -- there was a combination of a great Graduate Student Symposium, other obligations, and Blogger problems. All of you GSS presenters are in an excellent position to write blog posts now! My vote for best phrase of GSS: "rugosity index." What was your favorite talk and why?