From 1851 to 1858, Henry David Thoreau noted a number of natural occurrences in detail, including the first flowering dates for over 500 species of wildflowers in Concord. Additionally, Alfred Hosmer, a botanist in the same area
, had recorded the flowering dates
of over 600 species of wild plants in 1878 and from 1888 to 1902. With that data, Richard Primack
, a biology professor at Boston University, and fellow researcher Abraham Miller-Rushing
spent years aligning old plant names with current names to study the change flowering patterns
from the recorded past to present. Their phenological
study concluded that plants in Concord, on average, are now flowering 10 days earlier than they were in Thoreau's time
(full article for the journal BioScience). [more inside]
posted by filthy light thief
on Mar 25, 2014 -
Monsanto Is Going Organic in a Quest for the Perfect Veggie
- "The lettuce, peppers, and broccoli—plus a melon and an onion, with a watermelon soon to follow—aren't genetically modified at all. Monsanto created all these veggies using good old-fashioned crossbreeding, the same technology that farmers have been using to optimize crops
for millennia. That doesn't mean they are low tech, exactly. Stark's division is drawing on Monsanto's accumulated scientific know-how to create vegetables that have all the advantages of genetically modified organisms without any of the Frankenfoods ick factor." [more inside]
posted by kliuless
on Mar 8, 2014 -
Take a stroll through French artist Vincent Fournier‘s
] gallery of animal photographs, and you’re likely to come across some creatures you’ve never seen before. Like, for instance, a jellyfish that is capable of electronically transmitting data across the Abyssal depths of the ocean. Or, perhaps, a scorpion that can perform semi-automated surgery on humans.
“These creatures come from the future—an imagined future, based loosely on current research on synthetic biology and genetic engineering,” says Fournier, of his project Post-Natural History, a series of digitally-altered photos of animals that do not yet exist. “The idea is that these are living species, reprogrammed by mankind to better fit our environment as well as to adapt to new human desires.”
posted by byanyothername
on Jan 8, 2014 -
Bacteria have a Hobo Code.
Next month's Science News
carries a pretty interesting overview about the cutting edge of microbial science, including recent studies showing "in many mammals a microbial community ferments various sweats, oozes and excretions into distinctive scents that reveal age, health and much more to knowing noses in a select social circle
". That's right, microbes are posting status updates to each other through smells, sharing with other microbes what they've learned about host animals.
posted by mathowie
on Dec 30, 2013 -
After a species goes extinct, in some cases its "ghost"
may linger in the ecosystem it leaves behind in the form of evolutionary anachronisms. [more inside]
posted by brundlefly
on Dec 18, 2013 -
"After two to three hours, the body is transformed into a sterile coffee-colored liquid the consistency of motor oil that can be safely poured down the drain, alongside a dry bone residue similar in appearance to cremated remains."
GOOD magazine: The emergence of the sustainable death industry.
posted by The Whelk
on Dec 17, 2013 -
"My subject is a barren one – the world of nature, or in other words life; and that subject in its least elevated department, and employing either rustic terms or foreign, nay barbarian words that actually have to be introduced with an apology. Moreover, the path is not a beaten highway of authorship, nor one in which the mind is eager to range: there is not one of us who has made the same venture, nor yet one Roman who has tackled single-handed all departments of the subject."Naturalis Historia
was written by Pliny the Elder
between 77 and 79 CE and was meant to serve as a kind of proto-encyclopedia discussing all of the ancient knowledge available to him, covered in enough depth and breadth to make it by a reasonable margin the largest work to survive to the modern day from the Roman era. The work includes discussions on astronomy, meteorology, geography, mineralogy, zoology and botany organized along Aristotelian divisions of nature but also includes essays on human inventions and institutions. It is dedicated to the Emperor Titus in its epistle to the Emperor Vespasian
, a close friend of Pliny who relied on his extensive knowledge, and its unusually careful citations of sources as well as its index makes it a precursor to modern scholarly works. It was Pliny's last work, as well as sadly his sole surviving one, and was published not long before his death attempting to save a friend from the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius that destroyed Pompeii and Herculaneum
, famously recounted by Pliny's eponymous nephew Pliny the Younger
Here is a reasonable translation that is freely available to download from archive.org for your edification. [more inside]
posted by Blasdelb
on Dec 16, 2013 -
For a long time, there have been newspaper stories and covers of magazines that talked about “The end of antibiotics, question mark?” Well, now I would say you can change the title to “The end of antibiotics, period.”
posted by Memo
on Oct 24, 2013 -
The Course of Their Lives.
While much in medicine has changed over the last century, the defining course of a first year medical student's education is still 'Gross Anatomy.' This is their hands-on tour of a donated cadaver -- an actual human body -- and is an experience which cannot be replicated by computer models. When Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reporter Mark Johnson came up with the idea of following a med school gross anatomy class for a feature story, his editor challenged him to make it different. So he chose to intertwine the students' stories with that of Geraldine 'Nana' Fotsch, a living future donor, as sort of a stand-in for the cadaver. (Via
. This four-part series contains descriptions of a human dissection. Some may find it disturbing.
) [more inside]
posted by zarq
on Oct 19, 2013 -
In a nutshell
, this new study provides evidence that we need a certain amount of sleep every night, because the brain takes this time to rid itself of toxic metabolic byproducts, which would otherwise accumulate in the brain and impair brain function, destroy neurons — and potentially cause neurodegenerative disorders.
posted by Brandon Blatcher
on Oct 19, 2013 -
"Read this carefully so that you understand it.
When you come home we will show you the model. Lots of love, Daddy." In 1953 Francis Crick, sat down to write his twelve-year-old son Michael a letter explaining his brand-new discovery: the double-helix structure of DNA. Now you can read the original, seven-page hand-written letter, complete with an interactive feature that lets you click for details, context and explanations. Courtesy of the Smithsonian. [more inside]
posted by evilmomlady
on Sep 13, 2013 -
Teaching Cliteracy 101: "It is a curious dilemma to observe the paradox that on the one hand the female body is the primary metaphor for sexuality, its use saturates advertising, art and the mainstream erotic imaginary. Yet, the clitoris, the true female sexual organ, is virtually invisible."
~ Artist Sophia Wallace
is using street art
and an art exhibition
that incorporates pithy slogans, 'scientific data, historical information as well as references to architecture, porn, pop culture and human rights' to make "the case for the clit"
. (Links throughout this post may be NSFW.) [more inside]
posted by zarq
on Aug 30, 2013 -
is an attempt to build a complete cellular-level simulation of the nematode worm Caenorhabditis elegans. Of the 959 cells in the hermaphrodite, 302 are neurons and 95 are muscle cells. The simulation will model electrical activity in all the muscles and neurons. An integrated soft-body physics simulation will also model body movement and physical forces within the worm and from its environment." -- Bonus: explore the worm's cellular anatomy in 3D
posted by MartinWisse
on Jun 3, 2013 -