This tumblr's for all the great men and women of science for whom we owe our current understanding of the natural world; their achievements, their failures, and even their quirks, we celebrate them all.
For Science. For Inquiry. For Humanity.
Awesome opportunity here, folks! This little shrewlike creature represents the oldest common ancestor of all mammals, and it needs a name. Check out the link above for more.
It’s just a nickname, so no complicated Latin, but might I suggest “Fur-Eve”?
Or “Dwight Shrewt”? Or “Fur Elise”? Or “Haha dinosaurs, who gets the last laugh!?”
Some of the strongest evidence in support of evolution are the telltale blunders the process leaves behind. A prime example of this is the recurrent laryngeal nerve, which supplies motor function to the larynx from the brain. To reach its nearby target, the laryngeal nerve drops down from the brain, right past the larynx, down into the thorax where it loops under the arch of the aorta, then all the way back up again where it connects to the larynx from below. In humans, this is a detour of several inches. In a giraffe, this amounts to about fifteen feet. That’s fifteen feet to reach a target approximately three inches away. If Darwin’s theory was untrue, there’s no explaining such and inefficient and nonsensical “design”, but from an evolutionary perspective the answer is simple - fish don’t have necks.
You never forget how to ride a bicycle — and now a University of Aberdeen led team of neuroscientists could explain why.Their research, published this month in Nature Neuroscience, has identified a key nerve cell in the brain that controls the formation of memories for motor skills such as riding a bicycle, skiing or eating with chop sticks. When one acquires a new skill like riding a bicycle, the cerebellum is the part of the brain needed to learn the co-ordinated movement. The research team, which includes scientists from the Universities of Aberdeen, Rotterdam, London, Turin and New York, has been working to understand the connections between nerve cells in the cerebellum that enable learning.
Original research here: Synaptic inhibition of Purkinje cells mediates consolidation of vestibulo-cerebellar motor learning (Wulff et al., 2009).
Calvin photoshopped adorably onto Mars, a trip that Spaceman Spiff sadly never got to take.
A fine accompaniment to Curiosity’s latest breathtaking self-portrait.
(Lots more Calvin and Hobbes photoshops to love at PetaPixel)
Although it might not seem that way, judging from the images of war and pain that are so relentlessly beamed into our eyes each day, Steven Pinker argues that humans have actually become far less violent in recent times.
In a long but enthralling essay from 2007, he offers several explanations, philosophical and biological, for this pattern of progress. One of my favorite tidbits, offered by philosopher Peter Singer:
Evolution bequeathed people a small kernel of empathy, which by default they apply only within a narrow circle of friends and relations. Over the millennia, people’s moral circles have expanded to encompass larger and larger polities: the clan, the tribe, the nation, both sexes, other races, and even animals. The circle may have been pushed outward by expanding networks of reciprocity, à la Wright, but it might also be inflated by the inexorable logic of the golden rule: The more one knows and thinks about other living things, the harder it is to privilege one’s own interests over theirs.
The DNA Replication Complex, an assembly of proteins that synthesizes new DNA before cell division. It consists of Helicase, Primase, Single-strand binding proteins, and DNA polymerase III. Because DNA strands can only be copied in one direction, the complex must pull out loops of one strand and replicate it in fragments. At this moment there are hundreds of trillions of these molecular machines in constant activity within your body.
In humans, this process is happening at the staggering speed of 3,000 DNA bases per minute. And in bacteria? Would you believe 30,000 bases per minute?!? That’s 500 nucleotides per second!!!
This is the adorable way that a physicist proposed to his girlfriend, who is also a physicist :)
“Taking these results into account, the author proposes to Christie the indefinite continuation of the study. The subject’s response to this proposal should be indicated below”
I trust this was peer reviewed, and passed with flying colors …
A Science Guy’s Place in the Sun: How Bill Nye keeps his home humming with solar panels, energy-efficient windows and a range of green gadgets.
Deep Sea Comb Jelly
This animal, which looks like a watery, pink football, is actually a fierce deep-sea predator (though it is only a few inches long). It is a ctenophore (aka “comb jelly”) called Beroe abyssicola.
Ctenophores are gelatinous animals that swim by waving tiny hair-like projections called “ctenes.” Beroe abyssicola also has tiny hairs that act like “teeth” that help it grab onto its prey. When Beroe bumps into another jelly, it grabs on using these teeth, opens its mouth (at left) really wide, and tries to swallow its prey whole.
(photo: George Matsumoto)