How the zebra came by his stripes.
"Why zebras evolved their characteristic black-and-white stripes has been the subject of decades of debate among scientists.
Now researchers from Hungary and Sweden claim to have solved the mystery."
posted by estherhaza
on Feb 9, 2012 -
In a room near Maida Vale, a journalist for The Nation wrote around 1914, an unfortunate creature is strapped to the table of an unlicensed vivisector. When the subject is pinched with a pair of forceps, it winces. It is so strapped that its electric shudder of pain pulls the long arm of a very delicate lever that actuates a tiny mirror. This casts a beam of light on the frieze at the other end of the room, and thus enormously exaggerates the tremor of the creature. A pinch near the right-hand tube sends the beam 7 or 8 feet to the right, and a stab near the other wire sends it as far to the left. "Thus," the journalist concluded, "can science reveal the feelings of even so stolid a vegetable as the carrot."
posted by vidur
on Nov 28, 2011 -
, one of the most well known (and well cited) scientific journals, recently published a humor piece entitled Womanspace
. A senior editor of Nature
, Henry Gee, commented
last month on the article: "I'm amazed we haven't had any outraged comments about this story." Well, the outraged comments have arrived. [more inside]
posted by demiurge
on Nov 17, 2011 -
Are birds’ tweets grammatical? [Scientific American]
But are the rules of grammar unique to human language? Perhaps not, according to a recent study, which showed that songbirds may also communicate using a sophisticated grammar—a feature absent in even our closest relatives, the nonhuman primates. Kentaro Abe and Dai Watanabe of Kyoto University performed a series of experiments
to determine whether Bengalese finches expect the notes of their tunes to follow a certain order.
posted by Fizz
on Nov 3, 2011 -
AFP photographer Juan Mabromata recently visited the ruins of Villa Epecuén
in Argentina, a small touristic village that started slowly re-surfacing after the rising waters of the nearby lake left it completely underwater nearly 26 years ago. [more inside]
posted by palbo
on Jul 26, 2011 -
Control of Robert Smithson's earthwork masterpiece Spiral Jetty (360° panorama - QuickTime required)
is now in dispute. Last week, a spokesperson for the Utah Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands announced that the New York-based Dia Foundation, which was given stewardship over the work by the artist's estate, had been tardy in making its annual $250 payment
on the 10 acres of land and had also failed to respond to an automatically generated notice that the 20 year lease had expired. (The Dia Foundation disagrees
.) Consequently, it will now be "managed like any other sovereign land" - which may be of interest to the energy companies
that have sought to explore the area. (previously)
posted by Trurl
on Jun 17, 2011 -
William Temple Hornaday was an early--and probably a founding--member of the American conservation movement, and was also director of the National Zoological Park. He wrote a tremendously bitter and accurate report for the U.S. National Museum in 1894 on the extermination of the American bison, an absolute head-shaker, detailing the history of the bison in North America and its destruction at the hands of sportsmen, hunters, mindless dolts and many others who massacred tens of millions of the animal ("murdered" is the word Hornaday uses constantly). To put the whole issue in perspective, Hornaday issued a famous map showing the shrinkage of the North American bison herd, setting out the enormity of the issue instantly on one piece of paper, a summary of hundreds of pages of bad stories and big numbers.
posted by Trurl
on Jun 15, 2011 -
Alone In The Wilderness
"Documentary tells the story of Dick Proenneke who, in the late 1960s, built his own cabin in the wilderness at the base of the Aleutian Peninsula, in what is now Lake Clark National Park. Using color footage he shot himself, Proenneke traces how he came to this remote area, selected a homestead site and built his log cabin completely by himself. The documentary covers his first year in-country, showing his day-to-day activities and the passing of the seasons as he sought to scratch out a living alone in the wilderness." (Color, 57mins)
posted by puny human
on May 2, 2011 -
Ah wilderness! What better place to escape the stifling trappings of urban existence - overflowing inboxes, two-hour commutes, social-media addiction. And, of course, indoor plumbing. "Take off your shoes for a while, unzip your fly, piss hearty, dig your toes in the hot sand, feel that raw and rugged earth," the great Western author and curmudgeon Edward Abbey once exhorted car-bound city slickers. Contemplating the reasons for taking a trek down the Appalachian Trail (and aping Abbey-ish machismo), travel writer Bill Bryson mused, "I wanted a little of that swagger that comes with being able to gaze at a far horizon through eyes of chipped granite and say with a slow, manly sniff, 'Yeah, I've shit in the woods.'"
posted by vidur
on Apr 4, 2011 -
Five years ago this week, the BBC started broadcasting one of the most extraordinary documentaries ever to grace television: Planet Earth
. The culmination of five years of field work
, it employed the most cutting-edge of techniques
in order to capture life in all its forms, from sweeping spaceborne vistas to shockingly intimate close-ups
-- including many sights
rarely glimpsed by human eyes. Visually spectacular
, it showcased footage shot in 204 locations in 62 countries
, thoroughly documenting every biome from the snowy peaks of the Himalayas to the lifegiving waters of the Okavango Delta
, a rich narrative tapestry backed by a stirring orchestral score
from the BBC Concert Orchestra. Unfortunately, the series underwent some editorial changes
for rebroadcast overseas. But now fans outside the UK can rejoice -- all eleven chapters of this epic story are available on YouTube in their original form: uncut, in glorious 1080p HD, and with the original narration by renowned naturalist Sir David Attenborough
. Click inside for the full listing (and kiss the rest of your week goodbye). [more inside]
posted by Rhaomi
on Mar 7, 2011 -
SEED Magazine: Wealth of Nations
: "Shared natural resources underpin the global economy, but our current economic system does not acknowledge their worth. Can a major new effort to assess the costs of biodiversity loss force a paradigm shift in what we value?" [more inside]
posted by zarq
on Nov 30, 2010 -