This should be interesting

I’m pretty sure I got a scammer to send a cashier’s check to the Federal Trade Commission. I despise Craigslist scammers (all scammers, really) ever since I moved to Vancouver. My dad had driven up with me, all the way from Tucson with Heidi in his lap, and we were staying in a hotel downtown while I tried to find a place to live.

Dad and Heidi

1600 miles in a Miata with a 35-pound dog in his lap. My dad is a hero.

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Volvox barberi “flocks”

Balasubramanian Fig 3 A&B

Figure 3 A&B from Balasubramanian 2018. (a) V. barberi flock where 56 colonies gathered over several minutes and rotated coherently and rapidly in the culture well. (b) Schematic of flock in panel a.

At the Fourth International Volvox Meeting in St. Louis, a student from Harriton High School in Rosemont, Pennsylvania presented a talk and a poster on “flocking” behavior in Volvox barberi. Now a preprint describing his work is available on bioRxiv.

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How bad is £50 for a 1000-word article?

Research Features

Just a quick followup on yesterday’s post (“Those beautiful Research Features articles? The authors get £50.“). If you could write two such articles a day, five days a week, you would earn around £26,000 ($35,000) per year:

£50/article x 2 articles/day x 5 days/week x 52 weeks/year = £26,000/year.

At the end of a year, you’d have written around half a million words, a bit more than The Lord of the Rings.

Those beautiful Research Features articles? The authors get £50.

Research Features

Back in August, I wrote a fairly critical post about an outfit called Research Features (“Research Features: seems sketchy to me“). My main complaint was that they call themselves a magazine but seem to me to be closer to paid advertising:

What’s sketchy about this is that it’s self-promotion passing itself off as journalism.

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Volvox on Micropia

Volvox (Micropia)

Image from

Micropia, the museum of microbes in Amsterdam, has a page devoted to Volvox:

Ponds and ditches are not only home to unicellular green algae, but also to multicellular forms.

Some ‘colonies’ are nothing more than a mass of single cells all doing exactly the same thing, but with the spherical volvox it’s a slightly different story. Here different cells have specialised and work together. All the cells are located on the outside of the sphere. There are cells with flagella (whip-like hairs) to help the colony move around and cells which are responsible for reproduction.

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Fuzzy individuals

Nature Alive

I have an interest with the philosophy of biology, but I’m a dilettante. My background is in evolutionary biology; I haven’t had a philosophy class since I was an undergrad at UCF. Nevertheless, if you study the so-called Major Transitions, you’re inevitably going to end up reading some philosophy. Topics such as multilevel selection, emergence, and the nature of biological individuality come up over and over again in this field, and philosophers of biology have made important contributions in all of them.

Among these, I find discussions of the nature of biological individuality fascinating, and I’ve written about it often here. Volvox and its relatives often come up in these discussions, and they have for a long time. A new edited volume, Nature Alive, continues this trend in a chapter by Lukasz Lamza (“Cells, organisms, colonies, communities–the fuzziness of individuality in modern biology”).

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