Living the Scientific Life (Scientist, Interrupted)

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While living and working as a marine biologist in Maldives, Charles Anderson noticed sudden explosions of dragonflies at certain times of year. He explains how he carefully tracked the path of a plain, little dragonfly called the Globe Skimmer, Pantala flavescens, only to discover that it had the longest migratory journey of any insect in the world.


TEDTalks is a daily video podcast of the best talks and performances from the TED Conference, where the world’s leading thinkers and doers give the talk of their lives in 18 minutes. Featured speakers have included Al Gore on climate change, Philippe Starck on design, Jill Bolte Taylor on observing her own stroke, Nicholas Negroponte on One Laptop per Child, Jane Goodall on chimpanzees, Bill Gates on malaria and mosquitoes, Pattie Maes on the “Sixth Sense” wearable tech, and “Lost” producer JJ Abrams on the allure of mystery. TED stands for Technology, Entertainment, Design, and TEDTalks cover these topics as well as science, business, development and the arts.

Comments

  1. #1 somethingnew
    January 7, 2010

    Amazing. I have very little interest in zoology or any similar fields but found my self captivated by this lecture. The TED lectures never fail to impress.

    A side note to this sites curator. I do have lots of interest in media arts and your nameplate needs to be redone. Google the reputation of the font papyrus and begin to understand the need for a font that reflects science. Also please avoid clicking every checkbox in the photoshop effects pallet. Bevel & emboss, outer glow, and a drop shadow just for the sake of effect is a bit late 90′s i’m afraid. If it doesn’t increase readability it’s working against you.

  2. #2 TheAstronomist
    January 7, 2010

    He said that every single bird that migrates with the dragonflies eats large insects, but surely the Red Footed Falcon, a bird of prey, doesn’t eat insects? They prey upon the other birds migrating? Can a bird of prey eat without somewhere to land?

  3. #3 "GrrlScientist"
    January 7, 2010

    i have observed some raptors eating insects and fish “on the wing,” although i’ve never seen one eat a bird “on the wing.”

  4. #4 Matt
    January 7, 2010

    Wow! A comment encouraging the Googling of the reputation of a font. It’s a crazy world.

  5. #5 Gary
    January 7, 2010

    Very interesting.

    However, does Charles realize that he keeps saying “these guys”? There are females involved in the migration. Silly man.

  6. #6 Darryl
    January 7, 2010

    I’ll save everyone else the effort of googling the reputation of a font. Apparently typophiles are up in arms because Papyrus is also used for the movie title for Avatar.

    Luckily for me, I googled ‘papyrus font reputation’ and this link (3rd down) was my first choice, and I suspect the author (ER Ellsworth; no relation to him, no disclaimer applies) hits the nail on the head: http://www.erellsworth.com/?p=355 (or click my name for the same link, if this blog zaps it)

    “In the end, I think what graphic designers really don’t like about Papyrus is that it is often used by amateurs or non-designers. It’s not so much that the font itself is so bad, but that by virtue of its reputation no “real” designer would use it, especially not for a high profile project. When an average person sees Papyrus they think nothing of it. When a designer sees Papyrus, they think, “that must have been designed by someone’s brother, or cousin, or someone else completely unqualified to be a designer. Whoever paid for that should have hired me instead.”

    Font fanatics fascinate me.

  7. #7 edward
    January 8, 2010

    Wow, what a strange place for a discussion of typography. As the author of the aforementioned post defending Papyrus, I have to (somewhat) agree with the first comment about the nameplate. I would not have chosen Papyrus in this case. I also wouldn’t have included the colorful bird illustration.

    However, this is not my blog. This blog isn’t about design, nor is it written by a designer. I doubt this blog has much in the way of a design budget. The author probably designed the banner herself. It doesn’t look the way most designers would have made it look but so what?

    As a designer I don’t want to discourage the use of experienced designers. I need work just as much as the next guy. As a realist, however, I understand that every little thing in the world does not have to be designed by a professional.

  8. #8 "GrrlScientist"
    January 8, 2010

    edward: i don’t have ANY money for banner design, and i lack photoshop and other graphics design programs, so i cannot easily create my own banner. in fact, i rely upon my readers to design a banner if they so desire. that said, i am willing to challenge you to design a banner for this blog. if you come up with more than one design, i can have the banner change from one design to another upon refresh .. or my readers can vote for which one they most want me to use.

  9. #9 Edward
    January 8, 2010

    What matters most is that you are happy with your banner, not what some snooty designer thinks.

    That said, if YOU are not happy with your banner, or you are just tired of it, I’d be glad to see what I can come up with for you.

  10. #10 Adrian
    January 10, 2010

    Hi The astronomist @ #2, I have recorded a flock of 73 Red-footed Falcons, migrating through Israel, which were catching Dragonflies and eating them in flight. Also the diet of Eurasian Hobby is mainly Dragonflies which are eaten in flight. They also eat Hirundines in flight. There’s a lot of protein in them thar insects! I am sure that there will be other small raptors that exist on an insect diet (Pearl Kite, Small Kestrel etc)

  11. #11 Jim Smith
    January 11, 2010

    Gary: “guys” and other male descriptors are grammatically correct when referring to mixed (male + female) groups.

    TheAstronomist: plenty of raptors consume prey (including insects, fish, birds, mammals, etc.) on the wing. Swallow-tailed Kites are famous for it, as are Mississippi Kites. They specialize in Dragonflies in fact. White-tailed Kites have been known to consume rodents while in flight.

  12. #12 Bruce
    January 11, 2010

    At our migration watch site on the Blue Ridge Parkway in the mountains of Virginia, we watched a large flight of Black Saddlebag dragonflies (Tramea lacerata) passing by on Sept. 13, 2008. Also seen that day was the first Swallow-tailed Kite ever recorded there. They are extremely rare in the mountains at our latitude. During the approx. 20 minutes we watched the kite make large circles in the sky from east to west, we saw it dive and take prey on the wing.
    On that same day, we saw a Merlin (fairly rare sighting there) and 2 Common Nighthawks (usually nocturnal and not normally seen in early afternoon).

    Pantala flavescens (Wandering Glider common name here) is among the 4 most numerous odonate migrants at this site. Destination is unknown.

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