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In this post: the large versions of the Life Science and Physical Science channel photos, comments from readers, and the best posts of the week.


Life Science. From Flickr, by oskay


Physical Science. Luray Caverns in Virginia. From Flickr, by cloudsoup

Reader comments of the week:

On the Life Science channel, Chris Rowan of Highly Allochthonous defends volcanoes—after Craig McClain alleged that they were evil on Deep Sea News—on Volcanoes: our noble allies in the battle against export productivity. Chris admits that volcanic events can cause mass extinctions, and harm marine life in other ways too, but he points out that “they’re also a big part of why there are things to go extinct in the first place.” Carbon in the organic shells of marine organisms becomes trapped when the organisms die and sink to the ocean floor; without volcanoes and tectonic plate activity to heat and release the carbon, the Earth would slowly lose carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and suffer from a reverse greenhouse effect, cooling to levels unsustainable for life.

This came as a revelation for reader DDeden:

Volcanos are earth ‘burps’ during digestion-decomposition-cooking of complex chemical compounds. Wow. This is so trippy! I never saw it like that before.

In “No Organics” Zone, Greg Laden shares a new image of the spiral-shaped Pinwheel galaxy which shows an outer ring of stars—appearing in red—which lack organic hydrocarbons. The molecules in question play a role in the birth of new stars and may also contribute to the evolution of life.


Reader Blind Squirrel FCD was struck by the classical use of a word that has been popping up in many roles:

Organic. Now there is a word whose original meaning has been left far, far behind.

Some other Life Science posts we thought were cool this week were:

Fisherman Gives Up Tasty Old Lobster to Aquarium

Why are there still monkeys?

Zombie organisms in the deep dark sea


Leopard vs crocodile (better late than never)

And from the Physical Science channel:

Is Modern Mathemetics Reliable?

Record-setting Northernmost Vents Discovered

What is a basic concept?

Reader Request: Graphene

Numeric Pareidolia and God in Π

Look for highlights from other channels coming up!