Archive for the 'Natural Sciences' category

Here there be dragon drool!!!

Jun 23 2010 Published by under Basic Science Posts, Natural Sciences

Sci was going to save this one for a Friday Weird Science, but it's just so awesome that she couldn't bring herself to save it. She had to blog it NOW! It's not neuroscience, but it's awesome. Also, there's dragons.
Not this kind:

(Anyone else think Dragon Age Origins is really awesome?! Well, Sci spends a lot of her time wondering why the ladies are so dang naked. You're climbing a high mountain pass in the winter! Your cleavage will suffer frostbite!!!)
It's this kind:

I'm sure you all know that dragons have TERRIBLE breath, but what about that whole "poison" thing? Bull et al."Deathly Drool: Evolutionary and Ecological Basis of Septic Bacteria in Komodo Dragon Mouths" PLoS ONE, 2010.

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Feb 08 2010 Published by under Natural Sciences

Since Sci wrote so recently about the preservation of somatic cells and gametes for species regulation, she thought it might be a good idea to run through some basic concepts. REALLY basic. Like the stuff you had in high school and forgot. That kind of basic. She was also inspired in this post by reading so recently about HeLa cells, and how they allowed scientists to make great strides in the deeper understanding of mitosis and the dysregulations that occur.
Why, you ask? Because basic is important, and because mitosis is PARTICULARLY important. Mitosis, when it happens, and how it happens is behind a lot of the things that concern many people today, things like aging and cancer, and who isn't concerned about those? And also, mitosis means lots of pretty pictures!
Sci wanted to cover mitosis from the original guy who started it all, Walther Flemming (yes, it's spelled 'Walther', though the English translation is Walter), but unfortunately all the best original documents are in German. Sci doesn't have too much German (ok, she doesn't have ANY), but if someone is willing to play translator for me (GrrlScientist? I know you're working on your German! :)) I'd love to play around with the original work!
As it is, we're just gonna go through it, with lots of pretty pictures and lots of pointing arrows. And a lot of explanations.
Your first picture: My-tosis
my tosis.jpg
(Sci-s toses. Note the penguins and snowflakes in honor of this year's Snowpocalypse)

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Book Review: The Manga Guide to Molecular Biology

Nov 03 2009 Published by under Academia, Natural Sciences

Often, Sci gets books, and even though she's totally excited about them, has to move them to the bottom of the pile, in a vain effort to go through things in the order she receives them, and try to stay on top of it all (there's a pile of books next to Sci's bed a good two feet tall. Really). But when I got this moved right to the front. I mean, how could it NOT!?
The Manga Guide to Molecular Biology by Masaharu Takemura.
manga molecular bio.png

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SFN Neuroblogging: The paralyzing effects of CO2

Oct 21 2009 Published by under Academia, Natural Sciences, Neuroscience

Sci is back from SFN, but she is by no means done with the neuroblogging! Unfortunately, due to a crazy schedule and spotty wireless, Sci was not able to get as much neuroblogging in as she wanted. So she's going to continue for a few more days, with some of the coolest things she saw at this year's conference.
For this post, we're going to basic principles, made extra cool by two things: crayfish and videos!
Univ. Kentucky, Lexington, KY
Synaptic mechanisms underlying carbon dioxide's induced paralysis

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Friday Weird Science: The Hyena Mating Game

Sep 25 2009 Published by under Friday Weird Science, Natural Sciences

Editor's Selection IconThis post was chosen as an Editor's Selection for (w00t!)
Today's post comes to you courtesy of Laelaps. Sci's been wanting to cover sex in other species for a while now (I mean, it's so WEIRD!), and Laelaps has kindly provided a whole series of great articles!!! This is good, as Pubmed is not particularly informative on other species. The weird science is flowing today. Or maybe oozing. I imagine weird science likes to ooze.
So. Hyenas. Having sex. Which they don't really seem to do very often. And there's a good reason. The females don't have it very easy. What they masculinized genitalia.
Warning: pics below the fold. Does it count as NSFW if it's a hyena pseudopenis? Szykman et al "Courtship and mating in free-living spotted hyenas". Behavior, 2007
And these scientists are DEDICATED. I know it takes a long time for me to get through grad school, but these folks spent 11 YEARS making various trips to watch hyenas on the savannah. While it's a much better and more exciting location than my graduate work calls for, it still might get kind of old. Eternal vigilance with low hope of success must grind you down after a while. Their perseverance impresses me.

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Bornean Frogs: Feelin' Ultrasonic

Apr 29 2009 Published by under Natural Sciences

So we b0rked the blog last night, but the wearing of sackcloth and ashes and the libations we have placed on the altar of the Overlords have gotten it fixed! I am eternally grateful.
And now, on to the science. Let's all feel supersonic together:

(oh yeah, Sci went there. Let's all be moody and wear our fake Beatles' glasses together, shall we)
Now let us all pause for a moment and be glad that there is no species that uses Oasis songs as its mating calls. Ok, there was a brief period in the 90's where the human species almost fell, but we hoisted ourselves back up again.
No, I can't think of any species that uses "Supersonic". But there ARE lots of species that use ULTRASONIC. Until now, interestingly, those species of animals using ultrasonic communication didn't include frogs, really. Until now. Arch et al. "Pure ultrasonic communication in an endemic Bornean Frog." PLoS ONE, 2009.

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Midas, the Golden King of Beer

Apr 20 2009 Published by under Natural Sciences

A few weeks ago, Sci and Mr. SiT met up with some friends we don't see often enough. One of these friends has what I personally think is the BEST JOB EVER. He works for a microbrewery. This means that, not only does he get a wicked discount on some amazingly tasty microbrews, he also knows more about microbrews in general than anyone else I've met. This is awesome, because he can then educate Sci! Sci loves a good beer (she takes recommendations), and it's always better if its got a fabulous name/label (I have the same requirement for wine. The more amusing the label, the more likely I am to give it a try). And on this particular weekend, Sci's friends showed her a really interesting label.

When my friend showed me this beer, she swore to me that it was really based on beer that King Midas himself drank. Assuming King Midas to be entirely fictional, and thus that this was a myth, I scoffed at her claim. But this is no ordinary lady, and she sent me the reference the very next day. And it's ALL TRUE. And so Sci has to relate this awesome feat of combined archeology, biochemistry, and paleobotany to you. And then she has to find a way to taste this beer.
McGovern, PE "Ancient Wine" Princeton University Press, 2003.

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15 responses so far

The most annoying love song ever written: this one's for the mosquitoes

Feb 25 2009 Published by under Natural Sciences

Actually, I would like to dedicate this post to the lovely Stephanie Zvan of Almost Diamonds. This is because Stephanie recently sent Sci her blogging muse: an entire box of dark chocolate Moose Munch!!!!!! Moose Munch is indeed Sci's muse, and could not have come at a better time. Stephanie Zvan is awesome for any number of reasons (I particularly recommend her short stories) , but sending food in the mail definitely adds a little extra.
Unfortunately, this means that last night was spent suffering the effects of a Moose Munch overdose. But today Sci is back up and rolling...literally. And to you, Stephanie, the bringer of my mental muse, I give you...a love song. In major fifths. At 600 and 400 Hz. Cator et al. "Harmonic convergence in the love songs of the dengue vector mosquito" Science, 2009.
This post brought to you by Stephanie Zvan. And moose munch. Also kilts, rum, and sugar highs.
I'm sure we all know about mosquitoes. I know I cringe at the very sound of that high-pitched whine. If you're delicious (like Sci), then you KNOW that every time you hear those nasty ear-splitting notes of horror, you can give up, because bug spray or not, you're going to be scratching for days. But to a lady mosquito, what sounds to us like a teeth-gritting shrill is the hottest love song on the planet.

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Why Did the Dolphin Carry a Sponge?

Dec 18 2008 Published by under Natural Sciences

It sounds like the beginning of a joke: Why do dolphins carry sponges? technically, it's to scoop up fish, but that's not get to the other side? No? Dang.
This paper from PLoS ONE has recently been covered by the illustrious Ed Yong (he of the recent book publication!), but it's PLoS ONE's birthday, and I really think this phenomenon is cool, and so I'm going to blog it, too. So there, Ed. *ppppbbbbtttttttth* 🙂
So why DO dolphins carry sponges? Mann, et al. "Why do dolphins carry sponges?" PLoS ONE, 2008.

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The Fastest Flights in Nature: The Spores!

Sep 16 2008 Published by under Natural Sciences "The spores! The spores!"
When I was in undergrad (which is beginning to seem a depressingly long time ago), all the Biology majors had to take Botany. The pre-meds HATED this class, which not only was not really relevant to medical school, but was also MWF at 8:00am. And had a lab.
It was the lab I remember best. We had a brief section on mycology (the study of fungi), and the TA for the course had us each do a presentation on a different type. She encouraged us to do something interesting: pictures, something clinically relevant (or something people like to eat), or even interpretive dance. Most of the kids in the class did powerpoint presentations, the kind where it's obvious they are only doing enough to get the desired grade.
I started out bored and did a powerpoint, but about halfway through my prep, I got silly. Could have been the lack of sleep (it was sophmore year and I was also in organic chem). Also the caffeine. Or the sugar. I ended up doing a presentation entitled "Mycology as Performance Art". I did give the powerpoint, but I also did interpretive dance to a poem I'd written (oh yes, it rhymed) on the reproduction of Ascomycota. The best part was definitely the bit where I burst my arms open, crying "THE SPORES! THE SPORES!" Of course the class rolled their eyes (no art appreciation these days), but the TA fell over laughing (and a good thing, I'd hate to be taken seriously). I think I may have been one of the only As in the lab section. So when in doubt, do the interpretive dance.
Anyway, after that episode the mycotes receeded in my memory. Until today...

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