As if ticks weren't awful/awesome enough already, the Lone Star Tick (Amblyomma americanum) has been shown to transmit an allergy to meat in humans. [more inside]
"To say that this hypothesis was controversial was akin to saying that Napoleon had a bit of a thing about the Russians."
American biologist Lynn Margulis has died. Prolific and determined, Margulis was best known for her development of Endosymbiotic Theory, the now widely-accepted idea that complex cells began as a combination of simpler, prokaryotic ones, and the Gaia Hypothesis, which posited the Earth as a type of living organism. Some of her later ideas, including the claim that HIV is not the cause of AIDS or that caterpillers and butterflies were once separate organisms, received less support, but Endosymbiotic Theory, in the words of Richard Dawkins, remains "one of the great achievements of twentieth-century evolutionary biology."
Forming (NSFW - cartoon nudity) is a webcomic by Jesse Moynihan (NSFW) that tells the history of the evolution of man via the machinations of various alien entities whose familiar names (and unfamiliar stories) have been recorded in various religions throughout time. [more inside]
The Medea Hypothesis: Is Life on Earth Ultimately Self-Destructive? In the view of paleontologist Peter Ward life on Earth is intrinsically poisonous. [more inside]
Enjoy life while you can. Because we're doomed. Global warming has passed the tipping point, and catastrophe is unstoppable. James Lovelock is still at it. (Previously.)
When I grow up I want to be an environmental engineer. I want to work on projects that can provide potable water for people. I want to clean the polluted Mother Ganga [Ganges] who provides life giving water from the Himalayas to the Bay of Bengal. Or the Nile, both blue and white, spilling fertility from her bunds on a regular cycle. I want to design products that use the least amount of energy and fuel, from recycled materials and are biodegradable. I want to seek alternative sources of energy, such as using biofuel to power cellphones. I want to design with maximum constraints. Call her mother earth, gaia, demeter, ceres or inanna, our planet is on the brink of no return. Or is it all just a matter of perspective?
At the beginning was the noosphere. The existence of a "sphere of ideas", beyond the "sphere of life" (biosphere) and the "sphere of matter" (geosphere) was apparently first postulated by the pioneering Russian-Ukrainian geochemist V.I. Vernadsky. Vernadsky thought not only that the biosphere had entirely reshaped the geosphere, but that the burgeoning noosphere of interconnected thought would ultimately change the biosphere just as much. French jesuit and paleontologist Pierre Teilhard de Chardin took the concept and ran with it...(more inside)
Clouds formed at sea may be created by plankton to protect themselves from harsh UV rays by inducing more dimethyl sulfide to the atmosphere.
James Lovelock, the creator of the Gaia theory, says that only a massive expansion of nuclear power as the world's main energy source can alleviate the effects of global warming. [Via WorldChanging.]
From theories of dissipative structures and autopoesis, Dr. James Lovelock and Dr. Lynn Margulis have concluded that the Earth is alive (sort of). They call this Gaia Theory. (another summary w/lots of good links)
We're overdue for a big disaster. "Two years without a harvest? It would probably bust civilisation. People would survive all right. It really would cut us back, and that is the sort of thing nobody really prepares for. It's not some ecological poison or GM foods or nuclear that is going to get us, it is going to be some perfectly ordinary natural event." Almost enough to make me stock canned goods again.