Network Theory Overview - "The idea: nature and the world of human technology are full of networks! People like to draw diagrams of networks. Mathematical physicists know that in principle these diagrams can be understood using category theory. But why should physicists have all the fun? This is the century of understanding living systems and adapting to life on a finite planet. Math isn't the main thing we need, but it's got to be part of the solution... so one thing we should do is develop a unified and powerful theory of networks." (via ;)
"First time I ever got beat up by a baby moose." -- Maine moose trapper/tagger Wes Livingston gets mauled by an ungrateful juvenile moose on video. [via 9MSN; TW: animal mauling; Livingston is ok] [more inside]
Joshua - a time-lapse tribute to the beauty of Joshua trees, native to southwestern U.S. Photographer Sungjin Ahn embarked on his project after learning that climate change could "eliminate Joshua trees from 90 percent of their current range in 60 to 90 years." via PetaPixel
Open warfare erupts in the world of mathematical biology, as Lior Pachter of UC-Berkeley writes three blog posts attacking two papers in Nature Bioscience, accusing one of them of being "dishonest and fraudulent": The Network Nonsense of Albert-Laszlo Barabasi, The Network Nonsense of Manolo Kellis, and Why I Read the Network Nonsense Papers. Kellis (MIT) and his co-authors respond (.pdf.)
Peacock Spiders don't hurt humans (they're tiny and 'insignificant'). Here's one on a human fingernail in Western Australia where they live. Peacock Spiders (Flickr image search results) are quite something. (Previously). The still images don't capture the mating performances properly. [more inside]
Marc Anderson, the winner of the Beautiful Now sound competition has a site called Nature Soundmap where you can listen to sounds from around the world. [more inside]
Minnesota Birdsong: An interactive poster Cute interface with birdsong content provided by the always amazing Cornell Lab of Ornithology.
You get some amazing pictures and yet another "everything around is beautiful at a level that is impossible to be aware of all at once" moment.
Patrick Stewart On Mooing Like a British Cow. Also explains regional differences for NPR's How To Do Everything podcast.
Utah3D. Highlights include the Bonneville Salt Flats, Goblin Valley and Cedar Breaks National Monument.
Closing in on the twin prime conjecture (Quanta) - "Just months after Zhang announced his result, Maynard has presented an independent proof that pushes the gap down to 600. A new Polymath project is in the planning stages, to try to combine the collaboration's techniques with Maynard's approach to push this bound even lower." [more inside]
The U.S. Department of the Interior has an Instagram account, to which it posts some truly breathtaking photos.
CreatureCast - Rhizocephala - a charmingly animated look at the lifecycle of rhizocephalan barnacles, one of the more horrifying (non-charming) parasitic crustaceans (likewise). NOT a practitioner of parasitic castration but still disturbing: The bobbit worm. Happy swimming!
Deadly Asian giant hornets - aka Vespa mandarinia - kill at least 41 people in China. Hundreds more have been hospitalized by these 2+ inch beasts with a sting that packs a human-tissue dissolving neurotoxin. Survivor stories are terrifying. Think you are safe in the U.S. or Britain? Nope and nope. (via @BitterOldPunk)
Chemists at Duke University have developed a new plastic that becomes stronger with mechanical stress. [more inside]
My vacation to the set of Disney's "The Lion King." Via reddit, the real pictures were taken at the Mara Bushtop at the Masai Mara Manyatta Camp in Kenya.
In 1971, the newly-created US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) hired a bunch of freelance photographers to collectively document environmental issues around the country. They were given free rein to shoot whatever they wanted, and the project, named Documerica, lasted through 1977. After 40 years, the EPA is now encouraging photographers to take current versions of the original Documerica photos and are showcasing them on flickr at State of the Environment. There are location challenges, and a set has been created with some of the submissions, making side-by-side comparisons. [more inside]
Nature is neat, so let's all go on a Neature Walk! [slyt]
In The Realm of the Purple Emperor: As I’m sure many of His Majesty’s loyal followers will agree, there’s nothing we love more than to roll around in the mud, dust, dung, poo, shrimp paste, flies, spit and wee to get those highly coveted photographs. [more inside]
A month after its release, Naughty Dog's sweeping interactive epic The Last of Us is being hailed as one of the best games of all time, with perfect scores even from notoriously demanding critics. Inspired by an eerily beautiful segment from the BBC's Planet Earth, the game portrays an America twenty years after a pandemic of the zombiefying Cordyceps fungus (previously), leaving behind lush wastelands of elegant decay teeming with monsters and beset by vicious bandits, a brutal military, and the revolutionary Fireflies. Into this bleak vision of desperate violence journey Joel, a gruffly stoic Texan with a painful past, and his ward Ellie, a precocious teenager who may hold the key to mankind's future. Boasting tense, immersive gameplay, compelling performances from a diverse cast, a movingly minimalist score from Oscar-winning Gustavo Santaolalla, and an array of influences from Alfonso Cuarón's Children of Men to Cormac McCarthy's The Road, it's already being slotted alongside BioShock Infinite and Half-Life 2 as one of modern gaming's crowning achievements. And while it's hard to disentangle plot from action, you don't have to buy a PS3 to experience it -- YouTube offers many filmic edits of the game, including this three-hour version of all relevant passages. And don't miss the 84-minute documentary exploring every facet of its production. [more inside]
"This is a story, a picture story, of two very lucky people before whom was spread out the greatest of treasures, the planet Earth. We traveled aboard a magic carpet, the one with the yellow borders, National Geographic magazine. During four decades we wandered over all the continents and left wakes across the seven seas." [more inside]
One wasp can seriously ruin your picknick. A wasp nest in or near your home can be dangerous to your health. A yellowjacket wasp nest? Serious trouble. Now imagine a wasp nest holding a million yellowjackets.
A study published last year shows that teenage marijuana use can lead to decreased IQ in adulthood. According to Nature, "when their adult IQ was tested at 38 years old, the heaviest and most persistent adolescent-onset users in the study had experienced an average decline of eight IQ points from childhood to adulthood." [more inside]
Cheetahs’ Secret Weapon: A Tight Turning Radius [New York Times]
"Anyone who has watched a cheetah run down an antelope knows that these cats are impressively fast. But it turns out that speed is not the secret to their prodigious hunting skills: a novel study of how cheetahs chase prey in the wild shows that it is their agility — their skill at leaping sideways, changing directions abruptly and slowing down quickly — that gives those antelope such bad odds."
After more than 25 years of studying the calls of prairie dog in the field, one researcher managed to decode just what these animals are saying. And the results show that prairie dogs aren't only extremely effective communicators, they also pay close attention to detail.
Craig Ferguson seems to have a special liking for conversation with Stephen Fry. Previously. On Wednesday night, Stephen was back on the Late Late Show as the only guest. The naturally wide-ranging discussion includes Arthur Conan Doyle, America, mortality, religion, philosophy, science, homosexuality, Wagner, and more. Enjoy. [more inside]
"Now, my friend Adams was accused of a crime he didn't commit, so he escaped into the mountains, leaving behind the only life that he ever knew." In 1977, three years after the popular movie The Life and Times of Grizzly Adams introduced the story of John "Grizzly" Adams to the public, a TV show of the same name premiered. [more inside]
Burke couldn’t believe it. “I asked if he was sure and he said, 'Yes.' I drove down and met him. They were floating in the creek almost like three petals of a flower or something." Forester Jason Good was surveying timber in Meigs County, Ohio, on November 12 when he stumbled upon a bizarre sight that made the hair on the back of his neck stand up: In a waist-deep pool of Leading Creek, nose-to-nose like fish on a stringer, floated three whitetail deer. [more inside]
On April 18, a half-dozen orcas battled a pod of sperm whales off the southern coast of Sri Lanka. The unusual encounter is one of fewer than a dozen such recorded conflicts — and the first observed. “We saw the water churning on the horizon,” said Heinrichs, a photographer and filmmaker who was in the area looking for blue whales. He and his colleagues steered their boat toward the patch of white water. As they got closer, they saw an enormous dorsal fin slicing through the water — a killer whale trademark — and then noticed the group of sperm whales, clustered together in a defensive stance. At that point, Heinrichs did what many of us would not do: He jumped in.
Olga Ziemska is a sculptor who works in Cleveland, Ohio. She also has a blog. [Some images may be NSFW]
Is Psychometric g a Myth? - "As an online discussion about IQ or general intelligence grows longer, the probability of someone linking to statistician Cosma Shalizi's essay g, a Statistical Myth approaches 1. Usually the link is accompanied by an assertion to the effect that Shalizi offers a definitive refutation of the concept of general mental ability, or psychometric g." [more inside]
Catching Up with Kai - "Which is the thing about being home free, when you submit to the authority of pieces of paper you lose your personal identity and the identity you find through nature." (previously; via)
SNAIL! A snail-based parody of the ubiquitous AWOLNATION song "Sail".
The concept of nothing is as old as zero itself. How do we grapple with the concept of nothing? From the best laboratory vacuums on Earth to the vacuum of space to what lies beyond, the idea of nothing continues to intrigue professionals and the public alike. Join moderator and Hayden Planetarium Director Neil deGrasse Tyson as he leads a spirited discussion with a group of physicists, philosophers and journalists about the existence of nothing. The event, which was streamed live to the web, took place at the American Museum of Natural History on March 20, 2013. [more inside]
Allegations of flawed research techniques at an NIH-funded medical lab at Johns Hopkins get notice in a Washington Post article. Interesting piece on a scientific dispute, the accuser's loss of his job at Hopkins, and the suicide of one researcher from the lab whose analysis, published in Nature, came into question.
Amazing territorial behavior by a fish bearing the rather odd name of "Sarcastic Fringehead," from the David Attenborough's BBC Life series via WTF, Evolution?
While it's well known that dolphins will surf in the bow waves of ships, at least one wild raven has learned to 'surf' on the pressure wave in front of trucks (second video). [more inside]
Earthflight is a BBC nature documentary narrated by David Tennant that takes a breathtaking flight on the wings of birds across six continents and experiences some of the world's greatest natural spectacles from a bird's-eye view. There are some full episodes up on YouTube (including South America, Africa, and the Making Of), but in particular these two clips caught my eye: Feral Cat Hunting and Peregrine Falcon Hunting.
Head Like An Orange is a tumblr dedicated to posting beautiful gifs from various nature documentaries.
Happy snow day, superkids! Here's a raven, havin' a time. SLYT, about a minute long. Dig it.
Charley Harper's "minimal realism" contributions to science and art are being celebrated by the graphic design blog Codex 99. Part 1 - Charley and Edie. Part 2 - The Birds. Part 3 - Tin Lizzie and Dinner for Two. Part 4 - The Golden Book of Biology. Part 5 - Bambi and Childcraft. Part 6 - The Animal Kingdom.
International aid projects come under the microscope Clinical-research techniques deployed to assess effectiveness of aid initiatives.
Here's the surprise: There is a mathematical formula which says if you tell me how big something is, I can tell you — with some variation, but not a lot — how long it will live.Yunfun Tan illustrates the heartbeat of mother nature in this post on NPR
The Bronx Zoo is managed by the Wildlife Conservation Society, which boasts of running more than 500 projects in sixty-five countries through global field offices whose employees work to advance sustainable development; address issues of global climate change, health and well-being, and natural-resource use; and pursue other noble-sounding objectives that attest to the totality of man’s dominion over the lesser beasts. [more inside]