Life Science

Image of a genetically obese mouse (left) from Wikipedia. To deal with cold environments, mammals have several options. They could produce heat by increasing metabolism or shivering or they could conserve heat by constricting blood vessels in their skin or snuggling with a friend or insulating materials. With this in mind, researchers wondered how varying…

Many years ago I was working on a project that, if I recall correctly, used the basic idea of the mouse-elephant curve to test out some statistical feature of reality or some such thing. Or the reverse. Either way, the point is I was using the mouse-elephant curve data. What is the mouse-elephant curve? This:…

Darwin’s Armada, Other Books, Cheap

Darwin’s Armada: Four Voyages and the Battle for the Theory of Evolution explores the explorations of Wallace, Huxley, Darwin and Hooker. You don’t see this in one book, and it is all very important and, for the moment, cheap at twice the price. I’ve never read The Lion in the Living Room: How House Cats…

Avian vascular anatomy revealed

This is such a beautiful award-winning image of the complex vascular networks in a pigeon. The image was captured using  CT scan technology and a novel contrasting agent called BriteVu that allows visualization of even tiny capillaries. This image was captured by Scott Echols who is a member of the Grey Parrot Anatomy Project, whose…

Cheap science book deals

I’ve mentioned at various times in the past The Coming Plague: Newly Emerging Diseases in a World Out of Balance by Laurie Garrett. This is not a new book, but it is an excellent scholarly and accessible accounting of the situation with respect to emerging diseases at the time of its publication in 1995. One…

Friday Cephalopod: Squink

If you’ve ever wondered what squid ink is made of, here’s your answer: Generally, cephalopod ink includes melanin, enzymes related to melanin production, catecholamines, peptidoglycans, free amino acids and metals. But mostly melanin. And mucus.

Is your pet overweight?

Image of an obese cat by Jami430 – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons   A new study conducted by the Banfield Pet Hospital (Vancouver, Washington) reports that as many as 1 in 3 dogs and cats living in the United States are overweight. The study was based on data collected by Banfield veterinary…

How Big is Biotech?

A simple web search says biotech is really big. One estimate indicates that the industry will have $400 billion in sales in 2017 with growth to over $775 billion by 2024 [1]. Another report suggests there are over 77,000 employers [2]. That’s big, but is it real, and what you can do with this information?…

“An extrapolation of the genetic complexity of organisms to earlier times suggests that life began before the Earth was formed. Life may have started from systems with single heritable elements that are functionally equivalent to a nucleotide.” -Alexei A. Sharov & Richard Gordon We talk about the origin of life on Earth with bated breath,…

The sequel is going to go a bit dark: this is a deep ocean sponge. It’s dark and ominous, and it’s also carnivorous, with sticky spines for capturing and killing passing animals. I think that thing has been waiting for me in a lot of my nightmares.