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Archives for May, 2011

Living by Light

Jellyfish aren’t reknowned for specialized organs; they lack brains, guts, hearts, and lungs. But some of them have eyes in spades. Mo writes on Neurophilosophy that box jellyfish have “24 eyes contained within a club-shaped sensory apparatus called a rhopalium, one of which is suspended from each side of the cube-shaped umbrella by a flexible,…

Half-Life

Time goes on and turns our attention, but radioactive isotopes take a long time to decay. On Greg Laden’s Blog, Analiese Miller and Greg update us on the nuclear crisis in Japan. Although the dangers faced at the Fukushima power plant have diminished, the long term consequences have just begun. Greg writes “it has been…

On the USA Science and Engineering Festival blog, astronaut John Grunsfeld describes what it’s like to rocket into space. Astronauts first spend two hours strapped in on the launchpad, “flipping switches and thinking about our training and the jobs we have to do.” They count down to ignition, mindful of the 4.5 million pounds of…

Making Waves

On Built on Facts, Matt Springer writes that “there’s really no such thing as a purely continuous monochromatic light wave” and “any pulse of light that lasts a finite amount of time will actually contain a range of frequencies.” Pass this pulse of light through a medium such as glass, which “can have a different…

Reaching for the Moon

The moon entrances us—it is near yet far away, familiar, yet unremittingly mysterious. In synchronous rotation, it has a face it never shows. It pulls the oceans; it stirs the blood. It beckons into the unknown. On Universe, Claire L. Evans says that in 1969, six artists snuck “a minuscule enamel wafer inscribed with six…

Reassessing Genetic Patents

On Bioephemera, Jessica Palmer considers the evolving relationship between patent law and DNA, as the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit hears the appeal of Association for Molecular Pathology v. U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. At stake are patents that Myriad Genetics holds on two genes—BRCA1 and BRCA2—that it earned in the 1990’s. These…

What Makes a Planet?

Greg Laden draws our attention to an object named Vesta, which by itself makes up 9% of the asteroid belt. Greg says “if you take the largest handful of objects in the asteroid belt, Ceres, Vesta, Pallas and 10 Hygiea, you’ve got half of the mass of the entire thing, according to the most current…

On Tetrapod Zoology, Darren Naish acquaints us with all manner of vesper bats, a group which comprises 410 of the 1110 bat species worldwide. In Part I, Darren provides an overview of the group as a whole, including their snub-nosed morphology, invertebrate eating habits, echolocation frequencies, and migratory tactics, which may have “evolved at least…

Science, Hot off the Press

Bridging new media and old, The Open Laboratory takes the best scientific blogging of the year and prints it on actual paper. For 2010, forty reviewers narrowed down nearly 900 submissions to fifty of the very best. This year’s edition also includes six poems and a cartoon! Editor Jason G. Goldman announces availability of the…

Using Less Electricity

On Casaubon’s Book, Sharon Astyk sees a future filled with nuclear power, deepwater drilling, hydrofracking, and mountaintop removal. To hell with the consequences, just give us the juice! But when the oil, gas, and coal are gone, the landscape pulverized, and the depleted cores of uranium piling up in the background, we’ll have to change…