Photo Synthesis

Archives for May, 2009

Getting Started with Rockets

Estes is the major brand in low power rocketry, with Quest as an alternative. If you launched rockets as a kid, it was probably Estes. They make black powder motors in cardboard cases. As I have moved on to the bigger projects, the only lingering reason to consider these motors is that you can tape…

Getting Started

I am still collecting topic ideas from the prior post, but several people asked how to get started in rocketry, and what is legal in the local neighborhood. Well, if there is no fire involved, it is probably OK, and so the air, water and baking soda+vinegar rockets are probably fine in just about any…

From Bugs to Rockets

As the sun sets on a wonderful set of insect photos from the Wild… I thought I should start with a transition photo, on a photosynthetic bug bed, to a new photo theme – rockets: Many insects have served as brave cosmonauts – flying as a somewhat unwilling payload in Estes rockets. The National Association…

Thanks, ScienceBlogs!

Well. A month has flown by, the lease is up, and the SB landlord is banging on the door to get the keys back. Something about an explosive new tenant needing the place. Supposed to be a blast. So here it is. My final Photo Synthesis post, fitting in one last ant before the blog…

Why do only some ants sting?

Although these two ants in northern Argentina look like they’re ignoring each other, they are in fact doing just the opposite. This end-to-end confrontation is an intense chemical duel. What’s particularly interesting about the image is the juxtaposition of two different defense systems. At left is Forelius nigriventris, a speedy little insect armed with a…

Competing for space on a fake walnut

Two male Rhagoletis walnut flies joust on an artificial walnut in a lab cage at the University of Arizona. What’s an artificial walnut? It’s a painted ping pong ball. As long as the ball is the right color and shape, the flies apparently don’t mind. Biologist Jeremy Davis uses these flies to study the interaction…

Showdown at High Noon

Oecophylla longinoda – Weaver Ants St. Lucia, Kwazulu-Natal, South Africa Technical details: Lens: Canon 35mm f2.0 lens on a 12mm extension tube Body: Canon EOS 20D dSLR Flash: Canon MT-24EX twin flash, hand-held for backlighting. Settings: ISO 400, f/13, 1/160 sec

On Deck: Rocket Man

Here’s some exciting news. Starting Monday, our Photo Synthesis host will be the multi-talented Steve Jurvetson. Steve will tell you that his main thing is rockets, but a bit of snooping about reveals that he’s also a closet myrmecophile. But really. Who isn’t? I’ll continue posting through this weekend, after which the bugs return to…

The Case of the Malagasy Mystery Ants

A few days ago I noticed the search term “Malagasy Mystery Ant” showing up in the stats for my other blog. This puzzled me, as it wasn’t a phrase I was familiar with. So I googled it. All mentions of the term trace back to a caption in the New York Times slide show from…

The Ant-Mugging Flies of Kwazulu-Natal

A Crematogaster ant is held up by a kleptoparasitic Milichia patrizii ant-mugging fly. Last July, while wandering about the coastal forests of St. Lucia in eastern South Africa, I happened across an intriguing scene half-way up a spiny Acacia trunk. Some diminutive gray flies were pestering a trail of ants as they walked along the…