Now Playing Tracks



Details about the marine life of 9000 species that inhabit Antarctica, from tiny microbes to large cetaceans were collected for the first time in an atlas on the remote and icy southern seas.

The Biogeographic Atlas of the Southern Ocean was developed over four years by an international team of marine biologists and oceanographers and contributions of more than a hundred scientists from Australia, New Zealand, USA, France, Belgium, Spain or Chile.

This work, coordinated by the Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research (SCAR) and presented at a scientific conference held in New Zealand this week, contains 66 chapters, complete and comprehensive data of some 9,000 species and 800 maps and 100 color photographs. Researcher compiled data on the occurrence, evolution, genetic changes and effects of climate change on all of them.

  • The database described from microorganisms to large cetaceans
  • Over a hundred of scientists have worked on the atlas for four years
  • Still fall outside the description 1,000 to 2,000 species
  • First chapter is available free


Lighting up the Night

Humans are not nocturnal creatures. Our eyes have adapted to living in the light, and over the last few hundred years, we have slowly brightened the night so we can inhabit it more freely. Half the world is haloed in networks of light that shine so brightly they can be seen in space, but while they may look beautiful from above, there are consequences. Badly-designed lighting often shines light in all directions instead of just where it’s wanted, and this extra light washes out the darkness and pollutes the sky with brightness, altering natural light levels. Because light is such a powerful biological force, this messes with the rhythms animals including ourselves have adapted to—for example, birds migrating at night become disoriented by unnatural light, and are especially apt to collide with brilliantly-lit buildings. The vacant orange haze that light pollution casts across the sky also empties it of stars. This is why most observatories are located in isolated places, which is sad because the average person can no longer lift their eyes to see the universe above—the infinite canvas of stars and planets and galaxies is unknown to them. Remedying this pollution is relatively simple: altering the design of light installations can immediately block wasted light, helping to save energy and reduce carbon dioxide emissions. Flagstaff, Arizona, made one of the earliest efforts to minimise light pollution to protect the nearby Lowell Observatory, and it became the first International Dark Sky City in 2001. Many other places have made the same efforts and have become Dark Sky Preserves—sanctuaries free from artificial light, where the darkness is kept so pristine that the universe soars above.

(Image Credit: Jim Richardson)


In which direction is the cube spinning? Now blink, or look away and look back. Is it still spinning in the same direction?

A Necker Cube is an ambiguous line drawing. Our brain can create different interpretations of it.

This clip was part of the Christmas Lectures 2011 presented by Professor Bruce Hood - Lecture One: What’s in your head? Watch it in full on the Ri Channel.


Radio and television broadcasting may be only a brief passing phase in our technological development. When we imagine alien civilizations broadcasting signals with radio telescopes, are we any different from earlier generations who imagined riding cannon shells to the moon? Civilizations even slightly more advanced than ours may have already moved on to some other mode of communication, one that we have yet to discover or even imagine. Their messages could be swirling all around us at this very moment, but we lack the means to perceive them just as all of our ancestors, up to a little more than a century ago, would have been oblivious to the most urgent radio signal from another world. 

But there’s another more troubling possibility: Civilizations, like other living things, may only live so long before perishing due to natural causes, or violence, or self-inflicted wounds. Whether or not we ever make contact with intelligent alien life may depend on a critical question: What is the life expectancy of a civilization?

- Episode 11: The Immortals, Cosmos: A SpaceTime Odyssey


This year’s Longitude Prize is focused on the growing problem of antibiotic resistant bacteria. They’ve put together a nice image, shown here, which showcases what they term ‘the ten most dangerous antibiotic resistant bacteria’. You can read more detail on each of them here:

The prize offers a £10 million prize fund for the development of a cheap, accurate, and easy to use bacterial infection test kit, which will allow doctors to prescribe the correct antibiotics at the correct time for patients, to try to help minimise the development of antibiotic resistance.

By Erik Stokstad 29 August 2014 ||  Science/AAAS | News 
Reporting on the article by Camp, Funk, and Buchwalter, “A Stressful Shortness of Breath” in Freshwater Science, Vol. 33, No. 3, September 2014.

When an insect gets too big for its exoskeleton, it sheds it. This process—known as molting—might sound matter-of-fact, but it’s not. Insects stop eating, many lie still, and they become more vulnerable to predators. Now, a study of mayfly larvae has revealed another difficulty: While molting, insects can’t breathe. Alarmingly, the respiratory impairment grows more severe with higher temperatures, suggesting that climate change and other stressors could make molting an even greater challenge.

Continue reading

“It’s like having your lungs ripped out,” says Joseph Bernardo, an ecologist at Texas A&M University, College Station, who was not involved in the research. Although it was fairly common knowledge among entomologists that the tracheal linings come out—and likely block the trachea in the process—the impact on respiration hadn’t been measured.

IMAGE: The shed exoskeleton of a larval mayfly. The small filaments are tracheal linings. (A. A. CAMP ET AL., FRESHWATER SCIENCE, 33 (3) (2014))


On July 29th, a whale was reported in distress at the entrance to Halifax harbour. Upon arrival, we found a minke whale bobbing vertically in the water with its tongue completely swollen. Based on the small size of the animal, it may have been still dependent on its mother, which was nowhere to be seen. Due to its young age and severe injury, the animal was unlikely to survive. After consulting with veterinarians, representatives from MARS, DFO and DNR responded the following day to determine the best course of action for this young whale, but found that it had died overnight. While retrieving the carcass we discovered it had been entangled in some old, lost fishing gear. The carcass was taken to the Agricultural College in Truro where a necropsy was conducted. We found that there were signs of a physical injury to the animals jaw. It’s possible, while anchored by the fishing gear, the animal was hit by a vessel causing its tongue to swell. The remains were left at the Agricultural College for a study on composting.


Just another example of our trashing the ocean damaging and killing its inhabitants. 


5000 Wasps Spend the Night Together
Keep those spare bedroom windows *shut*
POSTED BY Matthew Cobb AT Why Evolution Is True blog

A couple in Winchester, England, had not been in their spare bedroom for several months. What they did not realise is that they had left the bedroom window open. In the intervening period, a wasp queen had come in and started to make a nest. The point of wasps (like the point of everything) being to make more wasps, that’s exactly what she did.

Pest Control worker John Birkett said:

“I thought ‘what a shame’, but I had a job to do and the client was terrified. Afterwards, the entire room was filled with dead wasps. It was like the apocalypse.”

Photo: M&Y 

To Tumblr, Love Pixel Union