TO A CAT
by Jorge Luis Borges (August 24, 1899–June 14, 1986)
Mirrors are not more silent
nor the creeping dawn more secretive;
in the moonlight, you are that panther
we catch sight of from afar.
By the inexplicable workings of a divine law,
we look for you in vain;
More remote, even, than the Ganges or the setting sun,
yours is the solitude, yours the secret.
Your haunch allows the lingering
caress of my hand. You have accepted,
since that long forgotten past,
the love of the distrustful hand.
You belong to another time. You are lord
of a place bounded like a dream.
Jorge Luis Borges, born on this day in 1899, was among literary history’s famous pet-lovers. Complement this delightful poem with T. S. Eliot’s cat verses and some vintage anti-feline humor by Mark Twain, Shel Silverstein, and more.
If you don’t think evolution is badass yet, here is a parasitic fungus that takes over EVERY tissue cell in the victim and the fruiting body eventually sprouts from the corpse in order to spread the infection. Some species affect the behavior of the host turning it into a zombie. Check out this video
four examples of deap sea bioluminescence in a sea worm and three comb jellies (ctenophores), known 1-4 as: tomopteris; mnemiopsis leidyi; beroe forskalii; lampocteis cruentiventer. from the IMAX documentary ‘into the deep’
If Earth Had Rings
First off, they would be really pretty to look at. They would also dominate the sky in both night and day at exactly the same place as they would never rise nor set. And at night you would see the Earth’s shadow swing across the rings, like in the 4th photo here.
However, life would be very different on Earth if this were the case. Nocturnal animals would have a hard time being nocturnal, as the light reflecting from the rings would illuminate the night.
Because we are closer to the Sun than Saturn is, the rings would be more rocky than ice, making them less bright but still pretty bright. In fact, you would see far less stars at night (living anywhere other than the equator or the arctic circle) because of the light pollution and not to mention ruin most meteor showers because of that.
During the day the rings would block sunlight in certain regions of the planet creating wild weather cycles and effecting plant life as well. So basically, they would be definitely pretty to look at but they would also make a whole lot of things screwy.
Illustrations by Ron Miller // io9
— Click the photos for captions
Minimalist posters celebrating pioneering women in STEM
Sounds from Wednesday morning by jacurley
David Didau (@LearningSpy) tweeted at 0:49 PM on Sat, Jun 22, 2013: Here’s the write up of my #educationfest presentation http://t.co/oK8DCErvtb (https://twitter.com/LearningSpy/status/348407422701928449) Get the official Twitter app at https://twitter.com/download
5 Reasons Why CLARITY Will Change the Life Sciences
We’ve all seen the gorgeous 3D constructions of the brain created by Karl Deisseroth’s group using a technique called CLARITY. This technique is more than just the eye candy we love so much on Tumblr. I recently attended a lecture by Deisseroth, and his work is nothing short of Nobel prize worthy.
Here are 5 reasons why CLARITY will change the molecular life sciences.
- CLARITY clears fatty molecules. Fats and other hydrophilic molecules absorb and diffract light, and by washing away the molecular structures that screen light, micrographs can be clear and crisp. These images show a visible difference.
- CLARITY links proteins in a mesh-like gel. Most of us know about formaldehyde and its ability to preserve biological matter. Using a similar chemical reaction, proteins are kept in tact in their relative position by being linked to each other. This means that even with the fatty parts washed away, the proteins will maintain their spatial organization.
- CLARITY holds on to proteins. As a consequence of the chemical linking, the proteins of interest stay in place even when the sample is washed. The amount lost is incredibly low compared to other methods of clearing, which means that the researcher will have a more realistic amount of protein in the sample. More proteins means more gorgeous micrographs.
- CLARITY means no more sectioning. One of the greatest challenges for neuroscientists has been capturing whole neurons in vivo. A single neuron can run the length of your leg. CLARITY creates “never-sectioned” samples, removing the guess work of reconstructing slices. Personally, sectioning is my least favorite activity.
- CLARITY allows for multiple labels. Drumroll please. Finally, Deisseroth’s group has shown that samples can be labeled multiple times with high reliability. The meshwork is tight enough that immuno-staining (i.e. labeling with antibodies) can be done multiple times with washing. Most techniques are limited to 2-3 molecular probes at a time. This provides an opportunity to visualize many protein targets. By stacking 3D images of each protein marker, the researchers create the colorful visuals seen above.
As you can guess, CLARITY resolves many of the largest challenges of molecular biology and related sciences, but there is one more bit of great news. The Stanford-based group released their protocol for everyone to use!
Viva la scientific revolution!
More like this at molecularlifesciences.tumblr.com
Chung, K., Wallace, J., Kim, S. Y., Kalyanasundaram, S., Andalman, A. S., Davidson, T. J., … & Deisseroth, K. (2013). Structural and molecular interrogation of intact biological systems. Nature 496.151
CLARITY is the method used to prepare samples, it makes tissue see-through. It is the confocal microscopy that focuses a laser on the sample an excites the fluorescent tags added by the researcher.
10 insects that look like they belong in an alien world. [Click images to enlarge & for descriptions.]
10. Puss Moth Caterpillar
With their soft bodies and high protein content, caterpillars are usually incredibly vulnerable. To fend off predators, they often resort to scare tactics. Sometimes it’s in the form of bright, flashy colors; sometimes it’s in the form of mimicry—looking or acting like another, more dangerous insect. The Puss Moth caterpillar opts for mimicry, forming a bizarre looking “face” that resembles a vertebrate face scary enough to send most curious predators the other way.
The caterpillars are bright green and will often have a row of white spots on either side of their body. On the head is a pair of black “eye spots”—directly above a gaping “mouth” through which the true head of the caterpillar protrudes. The effect is startling, but it’s even creepier in action: if the caterpillar is touched anywhere on its body, it will instantly turn its “face” directly towards the attacker. Touch it somewhere else, and the head follows you, like a Mona Lisa from hell.
And if that doesn’t work, it can always spray out a mist of formic acid from the two horns on its back.
9. Devil’s Flower Mantis Idolomantis Diabolica
One of the largest types of praying mantis, the Devil’s Flower Mantis is also one of the strangest. And that’s saying a lot when you’re talking about praying mantids. Females of the species can measure up to 5 inches (13 cm) long, and have developed a range of natural coloring that allows them to mimic the Devil’s Flower, a type of orchid.
Mantids are predators, and their hunting style usually involves sitting motionless until their prey comes within reach, and then whipping their forearms out at lightning speed to snag flies, beetles, even, in some cases, birds. The Devil’s Flower Mantis uses color patterns that mimic a flower to actually lure its prey within reach.
8. Brazilian Treehopper
The image shown here is a model created by Alfred Keller, a German sculptor, in the 1950′s. But don’t let the fact that it’s a model fool you—the Brazilian Treehopper is definitely a real insect, and it’s barely even the strangest looking member of the treehopper family.
Similar to cicadas, treehopper insects are sort of like the Addams family of the insect world. Many of them sport some sort of odd structure on their backs, and we’re still not sure what the point of most of them are. In the case of the Brazilian Treehopper, the ball-like appendages are hollow chitin, and may be for the sole purpose of making it harder to eat.
7. Extatosoma Tiaratum
Anybody who’s ever seen Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom should instantly recognize this monstrosity, commonly referred to as the Giant Prickly Stick Insect. As the largest known stick insect, the extatosoma tiaratum can reach lengths of 8 inches (20 cm) and is usually covered with large thorny spikes, which double as both camouflage and defensive armor.
Most of the time this insect attempts to blend in with its surroundings, but if it feels threatened it will rear up on its hind legs and spread out its front legs, like a scorpion. Interestingly enough, it also releases a chemical that is meant to scare away predators. To humans, it smells like peanut butter.
6. Pipevine Swallowtail Caterpillar
The Pipevine Swallowtail is a beautiful fluorescent blue butterfly that’s commonly found in North and Central America. Its larvae, on the other hand, is an armored congealed-blood-red caterpillar with tinted visor shades for eyes and a quadruple row of blunt horns running across its body.
The caterpillars live in groups while they are young, but over time they will wander off on their own before entering the chrysalis stage. They also change color as they grow, shifting from red to black, while their horns take on a bright orange hue. The bright colors are a warning—Pipevine Swallowtail caterpillars feed primarily on the Pipevine, a poisonous plant, and retain the toxins from the leaves in their own bodies.
5. Atlas Moth
Most of the time, it’s the caterpillar of a moth species that looks the strangest, while the moth itself is drab and uninteresting. Apparently, the Atlas moth didn’t get the memo. With a 10 inch (25 cm) wingspan, Atlas moths are believed to be the largest moth species on the planet. They also have a very unique trait—the front tips of their wings almost perfectly resemble a snake head poised to strike.
Nicknamed the Cobra moth for obvious reasons, Atlas moths are found in Southeast Asia, where they’re farmed for their silk.
4. Tailed Emperor Butterfly Caterpillar
Take a trip to the east coast of Australia around March or April and you might run into one of these strange creatures. The caterpillar of the Tailed Emperor butterfly looks pretty normal—from the neck down. Its head, though, definitely secures it a spot on this list.
From a broad, armor-plated forehead extend four bizarre horns that would be more at home on a dinosaur than anything from this millenium. The butterflies lay their eggs in groups, usually on Illawarra Flame trees, and the alien caterpillars emerge sometime around late March.
3. Spiny Flower Mantis - Pseudocreobotra wahlbergi
Another incredible looking mantis, the Spiny Flower Mantis (Pseudocreobotra wahlbergi) is, again, a flower mantis, pulling its bizarre ornamentation from the appearance of a flower. This mantis is very small, measuring only 1.5 inches (38 mm) and is found in select locations in Southern Africa.
And like most mantids, the Spiny Flower Mantis is a voracious cannibal, and the older they get the more likely they will be to eat other mantids that come across their path. Another interesting fact is that the female’s egg sac can be nearly three time larger than its own body.
While this insect looks like the result of some bizarre genetic experiment that spliced a scorprion stinger onto a wasp, that “stinger” is actually something much more innocuous: the fly’s genitals.
Nevertheless, it makes for a bizarre looking creature. Scorpionflies, or mecoptera, can be found all over the world, and have been around since the Mesozoic age. In fact, they’re believed to have been the forerunners of most of our modern moths and butterflies, collectively grouped in the Lepidoptera order.
1. Calleta Silkmoth Caterpillar
If Jackson Pollock and God had a design meeting, they would probably come up with something similar to the Eupackardia calleta larva, also known as the Calleta silkmoth caterpillar. With a massive color range and dangerous looking barbs, the Calleta silkmoth caterpillar is something most predators stay away from.
The moth is found in the Southern US, and the color pattern of the caterpillar changes based on age and environmental factors. It feeds mostly on the Mexican jumping bean, a plant found throughout Mexico, Texas, and Arizona.