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Ph.Diddy

10 Apr


Turn it up, dance, and giggle.
Via D&A Lab, a totally awesome blog that every science nerd should check out.

Light Up Your Wardrobe

10 Apr

I’m bringing up Becky Stern once again, because I believe she is an adorable crafting angel sent from another dimension to bring science and happiness to the world.

Today’s topic: Light-up shoes

The video gives great instruction, and here is a step-by-step overview (so you aren’t constantly juggling shoes and fabric and needles and fire while trying to watch the video).


Needless to say, the end result is super cute, and makes me want to make a pair so I can pretend my feet are fireflies.

The Secret Life of Plankton

5 Apr

via TEDTalks:

New videography techniques have opened up the oceans’ microscopic ecosystem, revealing it to be both mesmerizingly beautiful and astoundingly complex. Explore this hidden world that underpins our own food chain — in the first-ever TEDTalk given by a fish …

Tierney Thys is a marine biologist and science educator. She studies the behavior of the Mola mola, or giant ocean sunfish — and works with other scientists to make films that share the wonders they see.

The Plankton Chronicles Project uses state-of-the-art optics to reveal the beauty and diversity of planktonic organisms. It was initiated by Christian Sardet, Noé Sardet and Sharif Mirshak

You Will Never See Mold The Same Way Again

5 Apr


This video is mind-blowing in it’s quality and dedication. Many of these molds take days or even weeks to grow, and all such organisms, due to their spore-forming nature, must be handled in a designated Class III lab. This wasn’t some bored dude in his kitchen, this was a person with access to a designated space and a great talent for videography.

Stars, As Viewed From International Space Station

27 Mar

The Stars as Viewed from the International Space Station.
Absolutely breathtaking. I could watch this again and again for hours.
The music is beautiful too.

From AJRCLIPS on Vimeo.

Meryl Streep Is A Mimic Octopus

27 Mar

The mimic octopus, Thaumoctopus mimicus, can imitate 15 aquatic animals (that we know of), including sea snakes, lion fish, flatfish, giant crabs, stingrays, and jellyfish. It can even do giant seashells, because why should it limit itself to just animals?
There are mimics that it can do that we haven’t figured out what it’s trying to mimic. Robert Krulwich of NPR wonders if maybe it’s unknown mimics are a product of its imagination.

Octopi are so intelligent, it wouldn’t surprise me at all if they possess imagination. I love how Mr. Krulwich describes this creature as the Meryl Streep of the ocean.

I bet if the mimic octopus saw a picture of Meryl, it would instantly try to transform into her.

…Or what if Meryl Streep is a mimic octopus in disguise?!
The hair in this photo does look suspiciously like octopus arms. It would also explain her ability to morph into any role with apparent ease. It would make sense that the greatest living film actress is an octopus.
No human could be that awesome.

I’m on to you, Meryl!

Outside Ovaries

24 Mar

The following is written by Michael Marshall of New Scientist

First Animal With Ovaries On The Outside

SpeciesAllapasus aurantiacus
Habitat: On and around the seabed off the coast of California

If there’s one way we can be sure that life on Earth really is the result of evolution, and not the guiding hand of a cosmic engineer, it’s the hideous design flaws. The examples are too numerous to list, but let’s just consider one: human males have their testicles on the outside.

It seems they work better that way, because sperm production works best slightly below human body temperature. But it isn’t half inconvenient – as any male who has ever been kicked in the goolies will tell you.

Spare a thought, then, for the newly-discovered acorn worm Allapasus aurantiacus. The females are the first animals known that have their ovaries on the outside. But according to their discoverers, they are the first of many.


(The best shot starts at the 20 second mark)

Deep-sea worms

Acorn worms are quite different to the more familiar annelid worms, as they are close-ish relatives of backboned animals. They live on the sea bed, often burrowing into the sediment.

No one had noticed A. aurantiacus until June 2002, when Karen Osborn of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC spotted one via a remotely-operated vehicle deep into the Monterey Submarine Canyon off California, around 3000 metres down. Intrigued, she had it brought to the surface.

Once Osborn got a closer look she realised it was an acorn worm. Unusually large eggs, each almost 2 millimetres across, were pouring out of it. The new species belonged to a family of acorn worms called Torquaratoridae, which all live in the deep sea – unlike many acorn worms, which prefer the shallows.

Ovaries on display

Each worm has two “wings” – flaps of skin on the main body along much of its length. In an unprecedented arrangement, the ovaries are attached to the inner surfaces of these wings.

“Usually you want to protect these things, and keep them near and dear,” Osborn says. Even human testicles have several layers of skin protecting them. But the eggs of A. aurantiacus are only protected by a single layer of cells. That might make it easier for sperm to reach them, Osborn says.

She has since found a few males, whose genitals are in the same place on their skin. It’s not clear how they fertilise the females’ eggs. One possibility is that the males release sperm into the water, whereupon the females take it in through their gills and squirt it over the ovaries – which are ideally placed by the gill outlets.

Floating free

The worm uses its wings as sticky pads to attach itself to the sea floor. “They secrete a ton of mucus, and that probably helps them adhere,” Osborn says. “Mucus is a big part of their lives.”

Mucus may also be the key to the worm’s ability to float above the sea bed – something that only the deep-sea acorn worms do. Osborn thinks they secrete a balloon of mucus around themselves, which catches currents that then carry the worm away.

But first they have to get off the sea bed, and to do that they excrete the contents of their guts. This material acts as ballast, so getting rid of it means they drift upwards.

First of many

Osborn and her colleagues have since found over a dozen acorn worms in the same family. They all have external ovaries and the distinctive wings. One species has hermaphrodite forms, another first for acorn worms.

Worms aren’t known for their parenting skills but in a further surprise, at least one species uses the wings to shelter its offspring. Osborn found a single female, of a species closely related to A. aurantiacus, that was sheltering well-developed eggs and a few larvae under its wings.

She suggests that the acorn worms’ strange lifestyles are adaptations to life on the sea floor, where food and mates are scarce. In a place like that, it makes sense to move around in search of new feeding grounds, to make use of any and all sperm that comes your way, and to keep your young close until they’re ready to take care of themselves.

Journal reference: Journal of Morphology, DOI: 10.1002/jmor.20013