An image of leafcutter ants at work in the Costa Rican rainforest has scooped top prize in the 2010 Veolia Environment Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition (via The Guardian). The winners are on display now at London’s Natural History Museum. Online gallery. Previously on MeFi.
My friend, the dead tree. For five years, Kevin Day has been photographing a single dead tree at Langley Country Park in Berkshire. He talks a little about the process at theMET.
Over the course of three years, designer Christien Meindertsma tracked the products that had been made from the remains of a single pig. In doing so, she discovered that the skin, bones, meat, organs, blood, fat, brains, hoofs, hair and tail of a single pig might be used in more than 180 very diverse products, from shampoo, medicine, tattoo ink, munitions, cardiac valves, matches, desserts and bubblegum, beer and lemonade, car paint and brake discs to pills and bread. TED Talk. TED Bio. Vimeo video: Reading through the pages of Pig 05049. Exhibition (in Dutch). Design Observer: Pig 05049. Amazon: Pig 05049 [more inside]
The Squirrel in our Window. A website documenting a squirrel lady raising her squirrel babies. BONUS FEATURE: BRITISH MAN IS FRIENDS WITH A SQUIRREL
Spiegel has an interesting article on the ol' Nature Vs. Nuture battle. They focus on 2 recent studies. One, looks at socioeconmic status and IQ, and concludes: "A person's intelligence can only truly blossom if the environment gives the brain what it desires." That is, IQ of the poorest in the study appeared to be almost exclusively determined by their socioeconomic status. In the meantime psychologists, neuroscientists, and geneticists have developed a very different perspective. They now believe that the skill we term "intelligence" is not in the least fixed, but is actually remarkably variable. "The low IQs expected for children born to lower-class parents can be greatly increased if their environment is sufficiently rich cognitively,"
Nathalie Miebach translates scientific data related to meteorology and ecology into woven sculptures and musical scores. She discusses her work in an interview with the Peabody Essex Museum. (via Mira y Calla)
The Stone Forest of Madagascar: Huge, spectacular pictures of another world by National Geographic photographer Stephen Alvarez. A non-Flash version of the site is also available.
You know what's great about Hawaii? Its isolation can produce interesting forms of life, such as Eupethecia staurophragma i.e. carnivorous caterpillars! Don't believe it? Watch the video or view the photos (via boingboing).
Aww, are you giant carnivorous centipede lovers feeling neglected? No, problem Mefi has covered that.
Aww, are you giant carnivorous centipede lovers feeling neglected? No, problem Mefi has covered that.
Scientists go off the grid to see what happens to their brains. A group of experienced brain scientists come together and take a rafting and hiking trip in wild Utah. Their experience is enlightening (though perhaps not transformative).
Today's issue of Nature contains a paper with a rather unusual author list. Read past the standard collection of academics, and the final author credited is... the FoldIt multiplayer online gaming community. Even though most of them had no biochemistry experience, the human players of FoldIt turned out to be better at identifying three-dimensional protein structure patterns than the algorithms of Rosetta@Home. (Previously on MeFi)
The Nature Sounds Player allows you to create your own soothing mix using .wav files found at The FreeSound Project. [more inside]
40 Things You Need to Know About the Next 40 Years For it's 40th anniversary issue, Smithsonian magazine asks experts in various fields for insights into our future and compiles a list of 40 predictions about the future of science, nature, the arts and technology. The feature essay is by President Obama, in which he explains why he's optimistic about America's future. (VIA) [more inside]
The International Conservation Photography Awards is the creation of Seattle, Washington-based photographer Art Wolfe: "We wanted to provide a platform from which photographers both amateur and professional alike could showcase their work in a very prestigious way. We love the idea of championing the cause of preservation and nature through the medium of photography." Winning imagery from the 2010 awards can be viewed in person at the Burke Museum in Seattle, or online here, which includes excellent slideshows of wildlife, underwater life and distinguished photographs (requires Flash support).
Mark "Dr. Bugs" Moffett is a Harvard educated entomologist, author and ecologist. He's also one hell of a nature photographer, mainly studying Frogs and Ants (slideshow with audio). Galleries from Frank Pictures, The Smithsonian, and a slideshow and recent interview from NPR's Fresh Air.
Vanessa Mae Nicholson is one of Britain’s most successful young musicians. A classical violinist and former child prodigy who self-describes her crossover style as "violin techno-acoustic fusion," her fans praise her modern creativity and frenetic, lightning-fast riffs. But is her talent learned or genetic? Documentary from BBC1 in 2008: Vanessa Mae - The Making of Me: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. [more inside]
Libraries and commercial publishers have struggled with each other over the skyrocketing costs of academic journals for years. As costs have increased more rapidly than library budgets, the libraries have had to cut journal subscriptions and other acquisitions. The recent recession has necessitated further cuts. Against this backdrop, Nature Publishing Group told the University of California that next year subscription prices would increase 400 percent, with the average annual cost of a journal increasing to $17,479. UC Libraries fought back with a combative letter to UC faculty suggesting that faculty should consider boycotting the journals, and cease submitting or reviewing articles for these journals. NPG responds, saying that UC currently pays unfairly low rates, and that "individual scientists, both within and outside of California are already suffering as a result of [UC]'s unwarranted actions."
Our amazing planet. I could study this all day.
Amazing photos of unusual cloud formations, as seen from space—along with some of the science behind them. Click on the images for full-size, wallpaperable versions.
"High pressures? You had better believe it. And in this case, Mother Nature won." Absolutely fascinating analysis of both the hazards of deepwater drilling and what happened to the Transocean Horizon rig that sank in the Gulf of Mexico. A first hand interview from one of the survivors, and discussions about drilling, safety and the equipment involved. [more inside]
Wild Film History is a guide to over 100 years of wildlife filmmaking, highlighting landmark films (1959's Serengeti Darf Nicht Sterben, aka Serengeti Shall Not Die - Clip 1, Clip 2) as well as historical relics (1910's The Birth of a Flower - Clip). Check out the links on the Key Events page for an overview of how the genre developed. The site also features biographies and oral history interviews with pioneers (mostly U.K.-based) in the industry. A project of Wildscreen.
How does an ecosystem rebound from catastrophe? Thirty years after the blast, Mount St. Helens is reborn again. Interactive Graphic: Blast Zone. Also see National Geographic's feature article from 1981, chronicling that year's eruption. Previously on MeFi [more inside]
I am a giant squid. I swam up from the briny ocean depths. I have a computer, with a specially-modified tentacle-friendly interface. I have a fast internet connection. I seek to learn about humans and about the world. I have read much on the internet. Yet still, I have many unanswered questions. And you must have questions of me. We have much to learn from one another. To this end, I have developed the assortment of quizzes, games and activities you find before you. They form part of my ongoing campaign to facilitate improved human-squid relations. Try them out, you will most certainly learn something about squid.
Want to take better nature photographs? BBC Wildlife Magazine has published a stack of their 'masterclass' features online. [more inside]
Nature by Numbers is a new animated short film by Cristóbal Vila (previously) inspired by some mathematical constructs found in nature. (via)
A new study suggests that humanity's sense of fair play and kindness towards strangers is determined by culture, not genetics. Speculation: the finding may be directly related to the rise of religion in human history, as well as more complex economies. (Via). [more inside]
40 years ago, a small crew of filmmakers set out to document some of the more pressing issues involving wildlife in America. They made eight half-hour films around the country and in doing so made what is believed to be the first environmental TV series in the US. Entitled Our Vanishing Wilderness, all eight episodes are now online and free to view here.
My Father's Garden brings you up close and personal with some truly magnificent garden creatures. (video short, 6:37)
The team described the mammals' injuries as "perhaps the worst example of inter-specific aggression any of us had ever seen. This young female had literally had the life beaten out of her."
Scientists at the University of Copenhagen have become the first to reconstruct the nuclear genome of an extinct human being. The reconstruction serves as blueprint that scientists can use to give a description of how the pre-historic Greenlander, Inuk, looked - including his tendency to baldness, dry earwax, brown eyes, dark skin, the blood type A+, shovel-shaped front teeth, and that he was genetically adapted to cold temperatures, and to what extend he was predisposed to certain illnesses.
They sleep in fits and starts throughout the day, but are not so somnolent as previously thought. They can be vicious. Each one has its own personality. They are anything but slow when they need to be. [more inside]
"Papers that are scientifically flawed or comprise only modest technical increments often attract undue profile. At the same time publication of truly original findings may be delayed or rejected." In an open letter addressed to Senior Editors of peer-review journals, Professor Austin Smith (publications) and another 13 stem cell researchers from around the world have expressed their concerns over the current peer review process employed by the journals publishing in the field of stem cell biology. [more inside]
The Apidae family of bees includes a large variety species with interesting traits. Bees in Apidae are all long tongued bees. Not all have scopa. Those without a scopa cannot collect pollen and are cleptoparasitic. Some are solitary. Some are colonial. Some are burrowers. Most are not. Most collect pollen and nectar. Some do not and yet still produce honey. [more inside]
National Geographic photographer Paul Nicklen (previously) relates the harrowing tale of a sweet, insistent, and ferocious lunchmate (note - clip begins with a dramatic drumbeat, mind your speakers) [more inside]
"[Irruption] is the term birders use to describe an unusual mass movement of birds into an area. But even that big word fails to capture what happened last winter when thousands of owls descended on northern Minnesota." [more inside]
Great photographers: Clark Little (surf photography), Nick Brandt (mostly African wildlife), John Hyde (mostly wildlife and Alaska), Veronika Pinke (landscapes), Dale Allman (miscellaneous; particularly beautiful are his Australian cityscapes and the HDR/DRI photos), Ansel Adams (the undisputed master of nature photography who died in 1984; famous quotes: "You don't take a photograph, you make it.", "A true photograph need not be explained, nor can it be contained in words. "), Michel Rajkovic (mostly marine landscape, exclusively in black and white). And again, as a tribute to a gifted artist who died far too early, the work of Bobby Model (adventure photographer). Last but not least: Onexposure, probably the biggest collection of quality photography on the net.
Bobby Model, brilliant adventure photographer, died Wednesday, September 16, 2009, at the age of 36. Here are some examples of his beautiful work.
A car graveyard in Kaufdorf, near Bern is home to 500 abandoned and decaying cars mostly from the 1930's to 1960's. It has not been touched for over 30 years and has some rare flora and founa. The opportunity to take stunning photographs is unparalleled, but it is causing environmental issues which results in an auction this September. It was a struggle between history, nature and European law. History and nature lose. [more inside]
When whales die: Yesterday, a 20-30 foot whale washed up a shore in New Jersey. Officials are going to deal with it by cutting it up into small parts and burying it. In previous incidents, officials tried to explode it into bits that were meant to fall in the ocean and get eaten by seagulls, but that didn't work out [YT] so well, especially for nearby spectators. Even if you want to let it decompose naturally, you have to be careful for spontaneous explosions due to gassy buildup. Especially when transporting it in busy city streets. Oops. When whales die in the ocean, on the other hand, their bodies eventually fall to the sea floor and can start mini ecosystems, where female pink glowstick-like sea worms that harbor the male pink glowstick sea worms inside their bodies live, eat whale bones, and propagate. (Previously on Metafilter: Taiwan explosion)
"Natural communities and ecosystems possess inalienable and fundamental rights to exist, flourish and naturally evolve..."
Australian scientists have found the world's oldest penis. Published Monday in the online version of Nature, the discovery of the 400 million-year-old clasper in an ancient fish specimen shows that animals were gettin' it on earlier than previously thought. Says one study author, "We were surprised because it's so big. We were expecting something smaller." SFW
Recently, John Michael Greer has been exploring a little known idea of the deceased economist E.F. Schumacher (a student of the oft-discussed Keynes). "Schumacher drew a hard distinction between primary goods and secondary goods. The latter of these includes everything dealt with by conventional economics: the goods and services produced by human labor and exchanged among human beings. The former includes all those things necessary for human life and economic activity that are produced not by human beings, but by nature. Schumacher pointed out that primary goods, as the phrase implies, need to come first in any economic analysis because they supply the preconditions for the production of secondary goods. Renewable resources, he proposed, form the equivalent of income in the primary economy, while nonrenewable resources are the equivalent of capital; to insist that an economic system is sound when it is burning through nonrenewable resources at a rate that will lead to rapid depletion is thus as silly as claiming that a business is breaking even if it’s covering up huge losses by drawing down its bank accounts." [more inside]
Framed by a circle of clouds, this is a stunning illustration of Nature's powerful force. A plume of smoke, ash and steam soars five miles into the sky from an erupting volcano. The extraordinary image was captured by the crew of the International Space Station 220 miles above a remote Russian island in the North Pacific.
"We need another and a wiser and perhaps a more mystical concept of animals. Remote from universal nature and living by complicated artifice, man in civilization surveys the creature through the glass of his knowledge and sees thereby a feather magnified and the whole image in distortion. " - Henry Beston, naturalist and writer. [more inside]
Imagine nature's most elegant ideas organized by design and engineering function, so you can enter "filter salt from water" and see how mangroves, penguins, and shorebirds desalinate without fossil fuels. That's the idea behind AskNature, the online inspiration source for the biomimicry community. The featured pages are a good starting point. Cross-pollinating biology with design. [more inside]
Have you ever wondered what New York was like before it was a city? Find out at The Mannahatta Project, by navigating through the map to discover Manhattan Island and its native wildlife in 1609. [more inside]
Microworld by Licht. More of Paul's macro droplet shots can be seen at his Flickr gallery and others' macro droplet shots in the Refractions in Liquid Drops group pool.
The Dzrtgrls explore mines, ghost towns, rockhounding spots, petroglyphs, geocaching and metal detecting sites, and take lots of great pictures in the process.