497 posts tagged with Nature.
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Sapiens 2.0: Homo Deus?

In his follow-up to Sapiens, Yuval Noah Harari envisions what a 'useless class' of humans might look like as AI advances and spreads - "I'm aware that these kinds of forecasts have been around for at least 200 years, from the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, and they never came true so far. It's basically the boy who cried wolf, but in the original story of the boy who cried wolf, in the end, the wolf actually comes, and I think that is true this time." [more inside]
posted by kliuless on May 24, 2016 - 23 comments

Project Earth is leaving beta

The beta test of Project Earth is finally over. First, the bad news: this update comes with a server wipe. Yes, we know you've poured time and effort into your 'lives' on Earth, and it's disappointing to lose your progress. Unfortunately, this can't be helped. We experimented with methods of porting existing avatars into the new version, but it brings a host of compatibility issues with our new character-creation system (more on that later). As a consolation, we're planning another exciting in-game 'End of the World' event, so you can go out with a bang.
posted by pjern on May 19, 2016 - 25 comments

Yes. It's okay to feed them sugar water.

Instagram is awash in famous animals, from Marnie the Dog and Grumpy Cat to an adorable assortment of hedgehogs and prairie dogs and everything else you can think of, including a white fox. And then there is Tracy Johnson and her beautiful hummingbirds.

Wired Mag: Wildly beautiful slow-motion videos of hummingbirds up close.
Instagram: hummingbirdsxoxo
posted by Johnny Wallflower on May 12, 2016 - 12 comments

“I just point at things,”

Every Episode of David Attenborough’s Life Series, Ranked [The Atlantic] This Sunday, Sir David Attenborough, naturalist, maker of wildlife documentaries, snuggler of gorillas, wielder of That Voice, keeper of the blue shirt, and Most Trusted Man in Britain, turns 90. To mark the occasion, and celebrate his unbeatable oeuvre, I re-watched all 79 episodes of his Life Collection, and ranked them from worst to best—or, really, from least great to greatest.
posted by Fizz on May 7, 2016 - 18 comments

The bear doesn't panic or climb a tree to flee. It stands its ground.

What does a bear in yellowstone do all day? For the first time, trek into the wild backcountry of America's first national park and see what it looks like from a bear's point of view. Special cameras were attached to the tracking collars of two grizzlies and two black bears in Yellowstone...Tag along as National Geographic gives you an unprecedented window into some of the most fearsome predators on Earth. Watch as these bears act as tour guides through their secret world, with little human intervention.
posted by jnnla on Apr 26, 2016 - 12 comments

The Man Who Sold the Ocean

The story of Irv Teibel, the man behind Syntonic Research and the Environments record series. [Environments previously on MetaFilter] [more inside]
posted by DevilsAdvocate on Apr 15, 2016 - 6 comments

“Nature is perhaps the most complex word in the language.”

Generation Anthropocene: How Humans Have Altered the Planet for Ever. by Robert Macfarlane [The Guardian] We are living in the Anthropocene age, in which human influence on the planet is so profound – and terrifying – it will leave its legacy for millennia. Politicians and scientists have had their say, but how are writers and artists responding to this crisis?
posted by Fizz on Apr 2, 2016 - 35 comments

What sparked the Cambrian explosion?

An evolutionary burst 540 million years ago filled the seas with an astonishing diversity of animals. The trigger behind that revolution is finally coming into focus , according to the journal Nature. [more inside]
posted by MoonOrb on Feb 19, 2016 - 38 comments

Who honeys the guides?

"When Hadza want to find honey, they shout and whistle a special tune. If a honeyguide is around, it’ll fly into the camp, chattering and fanning out its feathers. The Hadza, now on the hunt, chase it, grabbing their axes and torches and shouting “Wait!” They follow the honeyguide until it lands near its payload spot, pinpoint the correct tree, smoke out the bees, hack it open, and free the sweet combs from the nest. The honeyguide stays and watches. It’s one of those stories that sounds like a fable—until you get to the end, where the lesson normally goes. Then it becomes a bit more confusing."
posted by ChuraChura on Feb 17, 2016 - 14 comments

Few Kauaians share his malice towards feral chickens.

"Don't look at them directly,” Rie Henriksen whispers, “otherwise they get suspicious.” The neuroscientist is referring to a dozen or so chickens loitering just a few metres away in the car park of a scenic observation point for Opaekaa Falls on the island of Kauai, Hawaii. As the two try to act casual by their rented car, a jet-black hen with splashes of iridescent green feathers pecks its way along a trail of bird feed up to a device called a goal trap. Wright tugs at a string looped around his big toe and a spring-loaded net snaps over the bird. After a moment of stunned silence, the hen erupts into squawking fury. Biologists see in the feral animals an improbable experiment in evolution: what happens when chickens go wild?
[more inside] posted by ChuraChura on Jan 27, 2016 - 33 comments

Ninja Eagle on Stilts - The Secretary Bird

Secretary birds can be found striding through the grasslands of sub-Saharan Africa. They cut a striking and unmistakeable profile, with light grey bodies, black wing tips and shorts, a red mask, and a crest of black quills. The latter, according to one dubious-sounding hypothesis, look like the quill pens that secretaries once tucked behind their ears—hence the bird's name. A more plausible alternative is that “secretary” is a bastardization of the Arabic “saqr-et-tair” for “hunter bird.” [more inside]
posted by narancia on Jan 26, 2016 - 12 comments

Research integrity: Don't let transparency damage science

We have identified ten red-flag areas that can help to differentiate healthy debate, problematic research practices and campaigns that masquerade as scientific inquiry. None by itself is conclusive, but a preponderance of troubling signs can help to steer the responses of scientists and their institutions to criticism.
posted by infini on Jan 25, 2016 - 13 comments

Maned Lionesses

This male-like lioness is defying gender norms (full episode) - "An African lioness that looks and acts male may be the secret to her pride's success."
posted by kliuless on Jan 23, 2016 - 10 comments

Moving with the reindeer in the winter

This is an aerial drone footage of a herd moving in Norway.
posted by Brandon Blatcher on Jan 22, 2016 - 12 comments

What have we lost now that we can no longer read the sky?

For most of human history . . . [i]t was unthinkable to ignore the stars. They were critical signposts, as prominent and useful as local hills, paths or wells. The gathering-up of stars into constellations imbued with mythological meaning allowed people to remember the sky; knowledge that might save their lives one night and guide them home. Lore of the sky bound communities together. On otherwise trackless seas and deserts, the familiar stars would also serve as a valued friend. That friendship is now broken.
posted by jason's_planet on Jan 16, 2016 - 40 comments

When we get closer to nature, we do our overstressed brains a favor.

“Imagine a therapy that had no known side effects, was readily available, and could improve your cognitive functioning at zero cost,” the researchers wrote in their paper. It exists, they continued, and it’s called “interacting with nature.”
posted by saul wright on Dec 24, 2015 - 54 comments

"A bold race bred there, battle-happy men causing trouble & torment"

“So at Christmas in this court I lay down a challenge: / If a person here present, within these premises, / Is big or bold or red-blooded enough / To strike me one stroke and be struck in return, / I shall give him a gift of this gigantic cleaver / and the axe shall be his to handle how he likes. / I'll kneel, bare my neck and take the first knock. / So who has the gall? The gumption? The guts? / Who’ll spring from his seat and snatch this weapon? / I offer the axe — who’ll have it as his own? / I’ll afford one free hit from which I won't flinch, / and promised that 12 months will pass in peace, / then claim / the duty I deserve in one year and one day. / Does no one have the nerve to wager in this way? [more inside]
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey on Dec 10, 2015 - 14 comments

Mindsuckers

Engrossing Portraits of Parasites and the Creatures They Zombify
posted by Artw on Dec 8, 2015 - 33 comments

On Human Gene Editing, seizing control of human inheritance

Last April, motivated by rumors of a Chinese paper published the next month that physically demonstrated the technical feasibility of editing human germline DNA with CRISPR by successfully modifying human embryos, a coalition of well regarded scientists assembled to address this fundamentally new ability and they called for an international summit. It was to be billed as a new Asilomar Conference on Recombinant DNA for a new age in order to lead a new global conversation on questions of whether and how to control human inheritance, which could only be dreamed of 40 years ago. This is a fundamental departure from the non-inheritable gene engineering with CRISPR covered on the blue recently. Thus, from December 1-3, the International Summit on Human Gene Editing, held as a collaborative effort between U.S. National Academy of Sciences and National Academy of Medicine, the Chinese Academy of Sciences, and The Royal Society, met to discuss the future of this technology and has come out with a clear consensus statement. [more inside]
posted by Blasdelb on Dec 5, 2015 - 67 comments

“Lets just get this out of the way: no, it does not taste like chicken.”

The Burning Man of Birding: Inside Iceland's Puffin Festival by Brian Kevin [Audubon.org] For decades Icelanders have celebrated the Atlantic Puffin even while they've served it up on plates. But some traditions can't last forever.
These days, though, the only place to reliably find smoked puffin at Thjodhatid is in the concession tent, where, alongside cheeseburgers and chicken fingers, it’s sold for 1,500 krona, or about $12, per bird. That’s three times what it cost 20 years ago, making one little puffin an expensive snack; it’d take three birds to make a modest meal. So it isn’t a popular menu item—the concession tent has stocked just 600 birds for a three-day fest that regularly draws 16,000 people. Still, the puffin has its devotees.
posted by Fizz on Nov 11, 2015 - 31 comments

Who do you mean by we?

Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari - "The book delivers on its madly ambitious subtitle by in fact managing to cover key moments in the developmental history of humankind from the emergence of Homo Sapiens to today's developments in genetic engineering." Also btw, check out Harari on the myths we need to survive, re: fact/value distinctions and their interrelationships.
posted by kliuless on Nov 8, 2015 - 7 comments

Wildlife of Los Santos

Onto the Land (yt) - the latest in a series of Grand Theft Auto V nature documentaries in the style of David Attenborough.
posted by Artw on Nov 7, 2015 - 14 comments

Crickets chirp around the door

Four seasons? Is that all you got? Japan has 72 seasons.
posted by Gotanda on Oct 21, 2015 - 31 comments

Time and Tide

Life behind the Three Gorges Dam
The major themes of the China story - unprecedented socioeconomic change, environmental crises, the thirst for energy, the destruction of historical and cultural heritage - are all here, framed against the backdrop of millions of ordinary Chinese struggling to cope with the powerful man-made and natural forces beyond their control. Would the huge sacrifices be worth it in the end...
Photo-Essay, over time, by Singaporean photo-journalist Chua Chin Hon
posted by infini on Oct 18, 2015 - 5 comments

A ponderous, scholastic joke

On the Nature of Things Humanity Was Not Meant to Know: Cosma Shalizi considers Lucretius' De Rerum Natura ('On the Nature of Things') as a "real-life Necronomicon, a book full of things humanity was not meant to know."
posted by kliuless on Oct 4, 2015 - 9 comments

The birds that fear death

A study published in the journal Animal Behavior found that crows can recognize their fellow dead crows and learn to avoid the dangerous circumstances associated with death. The BBC described the study, which involved a "masked individual playing bad cop, arriving on the scene holding up a dead crow." [more inside]
posted by Rangi on Oct 2, 2015 - 38 comments

At one with nature

Zootaxa article: A new species of death adder (Acanthophis: Serpentes: Elapidae) from north-western Australia. Guardian: These snakes are super-camouflaged - its idea is to look like a rock or a bunch of leaves. Unlike a brown snake they aren’t designed for speed at all, they are quite slow. They use their tail like a lure, they will dangle it down while it’s hidden until a lizard or something comes close and then it will strike. Telegraph: The new species adds to the impressive list of poisonous creatures in Australia, which is believed to have 20 of the world's 25 most deadly snakes, including the entire top ten. [more inside]
posted by Wordshore on Sep 28, 2015 - 37 comments

The inner life of the fig

The Queen of Trees is a documentary (52 minutes) on the sycomore fig tree, focusing on the intricate mutualism between a fig tree and its fig wasp. Filmmakers Victoria Stone and Mark Deeble spent two years camped out in the Kenyan bush to capture fascinating scenes of life around the sycomore, including inside the figs.
posted by parudox on Sep 13, 2015 - 17 comments

“Nature,” wrote Hitler, “knows no political boundaries.”

Hitler's World by Timothy Snyder [New York Review of Books]
In Hitler’s world, the law of the jungle was the only law. People were to suppress any inclination to be merciful and were to be as rapacious as they could. Hitler thus broke with the traditions of political thought that presented human beings as distinct from nature in their capacity to imagine and create new forms of association. Beginning from that assumption, political thinkers tried to describe not only the possible but the most just forms of society. For Hitler, however, nature was the singular, brutal, and overwhelming truth, and the whole history of attempting to think otherwise was an illusion. Carl Schmitt, a leading Nazi legal theorist, explained that politics arose not from history or concepts but from our sense of enmity. Our racial enemies were chosen by nature, and our task was to struggle and kill and die.
posted by Fizz on Sep 5, 2015 - 50 comments

Satan Put the Kettle On

If you’ve ever worried that we’ve solved all the mysteries of nature, fear not. Minnesota’s Devil’s Kettle Falls has been puzzling hikers and geologists for generations. At the falls, along Lake Superior’s north shore, a river forks at a rock outcropping. While one side tumbles down a two-step stone embankment and continues on like a normal waterfall, the other side vanishes into a deep hole and disappears — apparently forever.
The Mystery of Devil's Kettle Falls
posted by spinda on Sep 4, 2015 - 65 comments

A War Of All Against All

Why Turkey is bombing the Kurds more than Islamic State - "Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's bombing campaign — capitalizing on the nationalist, anti-Kurd sentiment that has been steadily growing inside Turkey — could help him regain his AKP party's absolute majority in parliament now that coalition talks have failed and snap elections are likely." [more inside]
posted by kliuless on Aug 14, 2015 - 16 comments

Birth Pictures Of A Galaxy

The Cosmic Web Imager at Palomar Observatory has been studying a system 10 billion light years away illuminated by two quasars. Now, a Caltech team has published pictures of the giant swirling disk of a protogalaxy being fed cool - 30,000 degree - gas by a filament of the cosmic web. This is the first time we have ever seen a galaxy being built, and it reveals unique new evidence about the early Universe and the still poorly-understood life and evolution of the galactic population. Abstract of letter in Nature (full paper paywalled).
posted by Devonian on Aug 13, 2015 - 11 comments

The Frontier of Biotech

The boom in mini stomachs, brains, breasts, kidneys and more
posted by StrikeTheViol on Jul 31, 2015 - 7 comments

...before he can tell her about his favourite bukowski quote

Feminist writer Anne Thériault of bad-date-tweeting fame posted a series of tweets about the deadly feminist animal in her natural habitat. Less than an hour later, voice actor D.C. Douglas transformed the static text into a David Attenborough-esque documentary narration.
posted by drlith on Jul 28, 2015 - 13 comments

The free development of each is the condition of the war against all

Some Paths to the True Knowledge[*] - "Attention conservation notice: A 5000+ word attempt to provide real ancestors and support for an imaginary ideology I don't actually accept, drawing on fields in which I am in no way an expert. Contains long quotations from even-longer-dead writers, reckless extrapolation from arcane scientific theories, and an unwarranted tone of patiently explaining harsh, basic truths. Altogether, academic in one of the worst senses. Also, spoilers for several of MacLeod's novels, notably but not just The Cassini Division. Written for, and cross-posted to, Crooked Timber's seminar on MacLeod, where I will not be reading the comments."
posted by kliuless on May 19, 2015 - 12 comments

"If one of you gets eaten, we will name the boat after you," I said.

In the summer of 1987, my father tried to murder me with an alligator.
posted by zarq on May 13, 2015 - 18 comments

Chicken or the Egg?

The Ecotourism Industry Is Saving Tanzania’s Animals and Threatening Its Indigenous People. "With much of the natural world in the Global North already past the point of no return, and with the effects of climate change multiplying yearly, more and more of the Global South is being cordoned off in service of a global patrimony that has little relevance to the lives of the people closest to the land. The collateral social damage of these conservationist policies presents a conundrum, a Sophie's Choice. Whose rights are preeminent—those of nature or those of the people who have always lived closest to it?"
posted by infini on May 13, 2015 - 16 comments

Smoke and wires

Why those 'amazing' macro photographs of frogs aren't what they seem (Previously)
posted by mippy on Apr 29, 2015 - 12 comments

A Beautiful Question: Finding Nature's Deep Design

Frank Wilczek: Physics in 100 Years [pdf] - "Here I indulge in wide-ranging speculations on the shape of physics, and technology closely related to physics, over the next one hundred years. Themes include the many faces of unification, the re-imagining of quantum theory, and new forms of engineering on small, intermediate, and large scales." [more inside]
posted by kliuless on Apr 19, 2015 - 11 comments

Selfish shellfish cells cause contagious clam cancer

The clam leukaemia is a contagious cancer—an immortal line of selfish shellfish cells that originated in a single individual and somehow gained the ability to survive and multiply in fresh hosts. Until Metzger’s discovery, there were just two exceptions to this rule. The first is a facial tumour that afflicts Tasmanian devils. It spreads through bites, and poses a serious threat to the survival of these animals. The second is a venereal tumour that affects dogs. It arose around 11,000 years ago and has since spread around the world. That was it: two transmissible tumours. Now, there’s a third—and perhaps more on the way.
posted by sciatrix on Apr 10, 2015 - 27 comments

pay for review

Editor quits journal over pay-for-expedited peer-review offer "With a tweet yesterday, an editor of Scientific Reports, one of Nature Publishing Group’s open-access journals, has resigned in a very public protest of NPG’s recent decision to allow authors to pay money to expedite peer review of their submitted papers. "
posted by dhruva on Mar 27, 2015 - 28 comments

Mother Nature is most ruggedly, thornily savage.

Los Angeles should be buried. [more inside]
posted by carsonb on Mar 14, 2015 - 54 comments

Who better to host a nature show about animals than a Dogg?

Last year Jimmy Kimmel teamed up with Snoop Dogg to produce the nature series, Plizzanet Earth. In the latest episode, Snoop Dogg tackles Otters vs. Crocs. (Mostly bleeped but probably NSFW for a few people.) [more inside]
posted by Room 641-A on Mar 6, 2015 - 9 comments

Trading up

Hermit crabs [previously] queue up for new homes. All very civilized.
posted by wemayfreeze on Mar 4, 2015 - 19 comments

How the (human) penis lost its spikes

We're beginning to understand the genes behind how men lost their dick spines. In fact, smooth penises are a derived state in humans; many if not most mammals have some level of spikiness or roughness on the penile tissue. We've known that chimps have penile spines since 1944! However, no one's really quite sure exactly why humans lost their spines. [more inside]
posted by sciatrix on Mar 3, 2015 - 58 comments

Consider The Clinkerbell, The Daggler, and The Shuckle

Robert Macfarlane says we are losing the best descriptive words for our landscape. This matters, he says, "because language deficit leads to attention deficit. As we deplete our ability to denote and figure particular aspects of our places, so our competence for understanding and imagining possible relationships with non-human nature is correspondingly depleted. To quote the American farmer and essayist Wendell Berry – a man who in my experience speaks the crash-tested truth – “people exploit what they have merely concluded to be of value, but they defend what they love, and to defend what we love we need a particularising language, for we love what we particularly know.”"
posted by purplesludge on Feb 27, 2015 - 23 comments

pip pip HOOT

It's Season 4 of Alessondra's Oklahoma City Great Horned Owl-Cam! ("This time, it's about the owls.")
Watch Mrs. T feed newborn owlet Java! Don't turn away from your screen lest you miss the hatching of the two remaining eggs! See some greatest hits on YouTube! Check instagram for photos! Follow the news on Twitter!
You won't have to pay for your seat because it's free, but you'll only need the edge!
posted by Going To Maine on Feb 11, 2015 - 16 comments

He strives to impress his guest with a collection of blue gifts.

THE EROTIC AND SULTRY DANCE OF THE ADULT BOWERBIRD. (slyt)
posted by theodolite on Jan 24, 2015 - 30 comments

Lyrical Extinction

Wild Ones Live is an arresting reading accompanied by music, a collaboration performed as part of a live magazine by author Jon Mooallem, a science and nature writer whose book Wild Ones ruminates on the strange, ignorant, hopeful and poignant ways humans imagine other animals, and the musical project Black Prairie. Listen at your desk if you must, but if you can, pop in your earbuds and go outside for a long walk while you take it all in. [more inside]
posted by Miko on Jan 17, 2015 - 3 comments

The Secret History Of Thoughts

Locked-In Man - "Martin Pistorius spent more than a decade unable to move or communicate, fearing he would be alone, trapped, forever. NPR's new show Invisibilia tells how his mind helped him create a new life."
posted by kliuless on Jan 11, 2015 - 21 comments

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