Showing posts from February, 2012

Weekend links: music after a quiet week

From our fellow students at Inside Knowledge, we have The White Stripes' "Seven Nation Army" as an instrumental, where the instruments are machines and fittings from the Blast Lab. Björk's "Virus" from her album/app Biophilia. "A Marine Biologist" by The Darkest of the Hillside Thickets. "Science is Real" and the adorable "I am a Paleontologist" are part of an entire science-themed album by They Might Be Giants. Symphony of Science: "We Are All Connected".

Shy moss

Mosses are one of the most basal lineages of plants. They generally grow where there's a lot of moisture for at least part of the year, because their reproduction requires it -- the sperm have to swim through a layer of water. Luckily for moss lovers, everywhere in Seattle is damp in the winter -- this was taken on highly exposed concrete outside the Biology Greenhouse. Our amazing Culture Curator, Ellie Duffield, thinks the central moss with the bent capsules is probably a Grimmia because of the silvery tips on its leaves. These mosses are xerophytic, often drying out completely during part of the year and bouncing back to greenness when conditions are right again. Ellie also notes that she has found tardigrades in this moss. Clearly they'd be the perfect xerophyte buddies, since they have a similar anhydrobiosis trick. -- KMP

The "Great Plant Hunters" covers an article which was recently published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B: (the original article here). They highlight a continued need to train field botanists as plant collectors, to better discover and understand the diversity of plants which are still unknown to science. John Wood, the botanist featured in the Physorg article, is a great collector who has done a lot of work for Kew gardens. He is also a colleague of ours, who has kindly provided good-quality dried plant tissue from Bolivian members of the Verbena family for our molecular systematics work in the Olmstead lab. -- Pat Lu-Irving

Weekend links: crowdsourcing and controversy

Users/players of UW product Foldit designed an eighteenfold more active enzyme.Galaxy Zoo has also produced new and interesting astronomical results over several years. Arsenate-based DNA is unlikely, now in more detail.Experimentally evolved multicellularity in yeast, and a model that saw it coming. Is this different from wild yeast strains which already make colony-like clumps? The authors obviously say yes, but it's the rapid evolution via selection that's most interesting.

Grad recruitment hikes

During our grad recruitment weekends, prospective students always have several options for local trips and tours. Here are some photos from Professor Dick Olmstead showing this month's hiking trips to Anacortes and Deception Pass. The strait at Fidalgo Head, where participants watched "a pod of porpoises circling fish as they pursued them, with gulls careening overhead to take advantage of the frenzy." "The beach at Bowman Bay, with one lonely UW Van in the parking lot in the distance." And a universal caution to watch your step!