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Category Archive: Science

Jul 07 2014

Closure on the Obokata/STAP affair

I’ve been following the story of stimulus-triggered acquisition of pluripotency (STAP) cells with considerable interest, and there’s a good reason for that: from the very beginning, it contradicted how I’d always thought about cell states, and if it were true, I’d have to rethink a lot of things, which was vexing. But on the other …

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Jul 05 2014

Must World Cup fever take over everything?

This month’s Carnival of Evolution has a World Cup theme, and I’m sorry, but I haven’t even watched a single game, so that side of it left me lost and confused. Apparently, in the evolutionary blog world, Canada has won the World Cup this year.

Jul 04 2014

Friday Cephalopod: Do not taunt Happy Fun Cephalopod

Jun 30 2014

Mary’s Monday Metazoan: Evil Rising

Alex Wild

We’ve had a very wet summer so far here in the upper Midwest — the potholes are full of water, our backyard is sodden, the plants are thriving, but that also means that this plague is drifting in vast clouds everywhere. The horror. The horror.

Jun 30 2014

Because Indians are magic!

So you wish you were an Indian, because they’re so spiritual and noble and one with nature — they’re so magical that having a name like Manny Two Feathers or Vicki Ghost Horse means the crap you sell on e-bay has extra cred and is worth more money. Now you can be! It’s easy. There …

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Jun 28 2014

The difference between astronomers and biologists

intellife2

The debate about intelligent, extra-terrestrial aliens goes on, with the usual divide: astronomers insisting that the galaxy must be swarming with alien intelligences, which is popular with the media, and the biologists saying no, it’s not likely, there are probably swarms of single-celled organisms, but big multicellular intelligences like ours are probably rare. And the …

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Jun 28 2014

My zombie story

The zombie plague was a dud. When the first cases emerged, scattered around the globe, everyone knew exactly how to put them down: destroy the brain. The world had been so saturated with zombie comic books, zombie TV shows, zombie novels, and zombie movies in the greatest, if unplanned, public health information program ever, that …

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Jun 27 2014

Friday Cephalopod: Everything you wanted to know about Vampyroteuthis

It’s been cephalopod week, and on Science Friday, they featured our old friend, the vampire squid.

Jun 26 2014

So that’s what chemistry is good for…

Microphotographs of a slightly burned coprolite of putative human origin identified in El Salt Stratigraphic Unit X (sample SALT-08-13). The images under plane polarized light show the pale brown color and massive structure of the coprolite, as well as the common presence of inclusions, which are possibly parasitic nematode eggs or spores.

Stinky stuff! This fits perfectly with my biased preconceptions. So here are two examples of chemistry used to analyze things you’d normally run away from. The oldest traces of human poop have been dug out of a cave in Spain — and it’s Neandertal poop. It’s about 50,000 years old, and it’s been reduced to …

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Jun 24 2014

Time to kill all the kittens

I think that’s the only reasonable response. We’ve been conditioned to think that animals are all furry and big-eyed and most importantly, cute, and every animal that isn’t must be reclassified as vermin. We’re going to need a radical readjustment of the public; every time you send someone a LOLcat, a thousand annelids and a …

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