Volvox the game released

Volvox the game.

Volvox the game.

Pretty much what the title says. Back in May (have I really been blogging since May?) I posted about “Volvox, the…game?,” a puzzler demoed on Steam. The developers, Neotonia, Ltd., promised a June release, so maybe a bit optimistic on that, but it came out yesterday. $7.99 for SteamPlay, which means you get Windows and Mac versions for one price.

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Performing the Office of Fins: Henry Baker on Volvox

Figure 27 from Baker 1764.

Figure 27 from Baker 1764.

Gilbert Smith’s foundational comparative study of the then known species of Volvox cites Henry Baker’s 1753 bookEmployment for the Microscope : in Two Parts. Although he was writing 50+ years after Van Leeuwenhoek first described his “great round particles” (see “…of the bignefs of a great corn of fand…”), Baker makes no mention of this earlier publication. Since Part II of Employment is titled “An account of various animalcules, never before described, and of many other microscopical discoveries,” it seems that he was unaware of Van Leeuwenhoek’s work [emphasis mine]. Read a Philosophical Transactions for once in your life.*

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Volvox in Wired

Volvox photo by Jack Challoner

Volvox photo by Jack Challoner

Wired has a short blurb featuring some photos from Jack Challoner’s new book The Cell: A Visual Tour of the Building Block of Life, including the above Volvox picture. The caption is

Algae Colonies
Each green sphere is a colony of Volvox algae with more than 50,000 cells. Scientists study these glowing, freshwater organisms as models for how living creatures develop specialized cells and tissue. Strands of cytoplasm connect neighboring cells, allowing them to communicate, and slender flagella propel the colony through the water.

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Pseudoscience at the University of Arizona

 

The Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine is an embarrassment. Its director, Dr. Andrew Weil, is a quack.

Let me get this out of the way first: I know Dr. Weil gives a lot of good advice. He also advises a lot of nonsense. A doctor who advises his patients to get their chakras aligned is a quack. A doctor who advises his patients to eat a healthy diet, get more exercise, quit smoking, and get their chakras aligned is still a quack.

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New Volvox species

Hisayoshi Nozaki and colleagues have done it again: in a new PLoS One article, they have described yet another new species of VolvoxV. reticuliferus (see also “Volvox 2015: taxonomy, phylogeny, & ecology“):

Figure 1A from Nozaki et al. 2015: Surface view of asexual Volvox reticuliferus spheroids.

Figure 1A from Nozaki et al. 2015: Surface view of asexual Volvox reticuliferus spheroids.

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Treefinder retracted

Treefinder

Remember the flap about a German scientist restricting the license to his software (Treefinder) to protest European immigration policies? Not a great idea if your software is published in an open access journal.

Gangolf Jobb cut off licensing of his program to European countries he considered too welcoming to immigrants. Last week, BMC Evolutionary Biology published a retraction of the 2004 article that introduced Treefinder, citing their policy on software availability:

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No, the Patriots aren’t magically controlling coin tosses

They shouldn't be. Image from USA Today.

They shouldn’t be.
Image from USA Today.

Citing a CBS article, Uncommon Descent complains “No design inference allowed on coin flips.” As I’ve come to expect from them, it’s pretty hard to parse a coherent argument out of the article, but I’ll bet it has something to do with 747s and tornadoes (say what you want about Evolution News and Views; at least you can follow their arguments). So it’s not clear what design inference they think we should draw from the New England Patriots winning 19 of 25 coin flips, nor who is being prevented from drawing it.

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Volvox ovalis

Volvox ovalis

Volvox ovalis, strain NIES-2569.Creative Commons License
Volvox ovalis by Matthew Herron is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.

Volvox ovalis was described by Hisayoshi Nozaki and Annette Coleman in 2011 from a strain collected near College Station, Texas. Colonies are often distinctly egg-shaped, up to 450 µm long, with 1000-2000 somatic cells and 8-12 gonidia. A member of the section Merrillosphaera, it is closely related to V. tertius and V. spermatosphaera:

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