Tag Archives | Science

Skydiving spiders show off their gliding skills

By dropping spiders from tree tops, researchers are discovering how they maneuver their bodies in the air.

via New Scientist:

These jungle spiders free fall with style. After being dropped from the tops of trees, the spiders shown in this video are typically able to soar to the nearest tree trunk, providing the first evidence that spiders can glide.

Stephen Yanoviak from the University of Louisville in Kentucky and his colleagues filmed spiders of the genusSelenops as they were released from a height of 24 metres during tests at a research station in the Amazon rainforest in Peru.

Characterised by a flat body, which has earned them the nickname “flatties”, they quickly right themselves and get into a posture similar to that of skydivers. Then they head for a tree trunk more than 90 per cent of the time, travelling up to 5 metres horizontally while steering with their forelegs.

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The Inner Forms the Outer

Eddi van W. (CC BY-ND 2.0)

Eddi van W. (CC BY-ND 2.0)

Lee van Laer via Parabola:

Human beings are peculiar creatures. We can think; and it sets us apart from other creatures, who can think some (consider the honeybee) but not much. Thinking, over the last 10,000 or so years (a rough estimate,) mankind has occupied himself, in the disciplines of science and philosophy, with the question of what, exactly, we are. This is, indeed, the question at the core of all the great traditions as well, which presume a spiritual — or inner — nature that forms the outer one.

Lo and behold! We are nothing like what we think we are; and even what we think is formed in different ways than we think it is. Scientists, investigating the question of the microbiome, that is, the billions or even trillions of tiny microorganisms that live in our bodies, have finally come to the realization that we form a holobiont: that is, we are not individuals, single entities, at all, but a collection, a community, of many organisms.

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America’s most lethal animal

Animal attacks have been in the news a lot. Late last year, a 22-year-old student in New Jersey was killed by a black bear he had been photographing. This summer, swimmers off the coast of North Carolina have suffered a record number of shark attacks, several of which resulted in amputations. And early in July, a 28-year-old Texas swimmer who ignored warning signs was killed by an alligator.

Of course, not all human-killing animals are so large. Each year, dozens of Americans die due to bites by venomous snakes, lizards and spiders. Other small animals such as ticks and fleas, though not naturally outfitted with their own lethal weaponry, can nonetheless kill by transmitting deadly infections, such as Powassan virus.

Worldwide, the animal responsible for by far the greatest number of human deaths is just such an insect that transmits a deadly infection: the mosquito.… Read the rest

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Two major US aquifers contaminated by natural uranium

The intensity of groundwater contamination via uranium (red) and nitrate (blue) is shown in two major aquifers and other sites through out the nation. UNL researcher Karrie Weber says the availability of uranium data pales compared to that of nitrate. Credit: University of Nebraska-Lincoln

The intensity of groundwater contamination via uranium (red) and nitrate (blue) is shown in two major aquifers and other sites through out the nation. UNL researcher Karrie Weber says the availability of uranium data pales compared to that of nitrate.
Credit: University of Nebraska-Lincoln

University of Nebraska-Lincoln via ScienceDaily:

Nearly 2 million people throughout the Great Plains and California above aquifer sites contaminated with natural uranium that is mobilized by human-contributed nitrate, according to a study from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Data from roughly 275,000 groundwater samples in the High Plains and Central Valley aquifers show that many Americans live less than two-thirds of a mile from wells that often far exceed the uranium guideline set by the Environmental Protection Agency.

The study reports that 78 percent of the uranium-contaminated sites were linked to the presence of nitrate, a common groundwater contaminant that originates mainly from chemical fertilizers and animal waste.

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New Evidence Shows William Shakespeare Smoked Weed

A stoner?

A stoner?

Could Shakespeare have been high when he penned his plays?

State-of-the-art forensic technology from South Africa has been used to try and unravel the mystery of what was smoked in tobacco pipes found in the Stratford-upon-Avon garden of British playwright William Shakespeare.

Residue from clay tobacco pipes more than 400 years old from the playwright’s garden were analysed in Pretoria using a sophisticated technique called gas chromatography mass spectrometry.

Chemicals from pipe bowls and stems which had been excavated from Shakespeare’ garden and adjacent areas were identified and quantified during the forensic study. The artefacts for the study were on loan from the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust.

The gas technique is very sensitive to residues that can be preserved in pipes even if they had been smoked 400 years ago.

What were they smoking

There were several kinds of tobacco in the 17th century, including the North American Nicotiana (from which we get nicotine), and cocaine (Erythroxylum), which is obtained from Peruvian coca leaves.… Read the rest

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The Synchronicity Movie “Time Is Art”

Alex_Grey_Gaia

The elements of the painting “Gaia” by Alex Grey are discussed with him in the film. Notice the Twin Towers on the right with a plane directly above it, all the smoke and the tree on fire. It was painted prior to 9/11. Synchronicity?

The Synchronicity Movie is a documentary film about an atheist who discovers that there is more than what we can see with our 5 senses. Hello friends, talk about strange things and Synchronicity right? As some of you know I get contacted by many people because of my writing. Readers, magazines, radio, TV, filmmakers and in this case NYC filmmaker Katy Walker. Yes, she read my article “Synchronicity and the Secret of the Co-creator,” said she really loved it and posted it at the site for her NEW Docu-Movie “Time is Art.” Although the film has been shot, it won’t be released until 11/11/15 waiting on final production.… Read the rest

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Can America cope with a resurgence of tropical disease?

Malaria-infected Red Blood CellNIAID (CC BY 2.0)

Malaria-infected Red Blood Cell
NIAID (CC BY 2.0)

Having stamped out a number of tropical diseases – including malaria – decades ago, is America today complacent about a rising wave of infectious disease?

One rainy Friday morning in March 2015, Dr Laila Woc-Colburn saw two patients with neurocysticercosis (a parasitic infection of the brain) and one with Chagas disease, which is transmitted by insects nicknamed ‘kissing bugs’. Having attended medical school in her native Guatemala, she was used to treating these kinds of diseases. But she was not in Guatemala any more – this was Houston, Texas.

For half a day each week, one wing of the Smith Clinic’s third floor in Houston is transformed into a tropical medicine clinic, treating all manner of infectious diseases for anyone who walks through the door. Since it opened in 2011, Woc-Colburn and her colleagues have treated everything from dengue and chikungunya to river blindness and cutaneous leishmaniasis.… Read the rest

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Did my brain make me do it? Neuroscience and Free Will (2)

Brain make me do it

This post was originally published on Philosophical Disquisitions.

Part 1.

Discoveries in neuroscience, and the science of behaviour more generally, pose a challenge to the existence of free will. But this all depends on what is meant by ‘free will’. The term means different things to different people. Philosophers focus on two conditions that seem to be necessary for free will: (i) the alternativism condition, according to which having free will requires the ability to do otherwise; and (ii) the sourcehood condition, according to which having free will requires that you (your ‘self’) be the source of your actions. A scientific and deterministic worldview is often said to threaten the first condition. Does it also threaten the second?

That is what Christian List and Peter Menzies article “My brain made me do it: The exclusion argument against free will and what’s wrong with it” tries to figure out.… Read the rest

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Dark and marked: Strikingly colored new fleshbelly frog from the Andean cloud forest

IMAGE: A N. MADRESELVA FRESHBELLY FROG SHOWS A LARGE IRREGULARLY SHAPED WHITE MARK, STRETCHING FROM ITS CHEST TO ITS BELLY.

A N. madreselva freshbelly frog shows a large irregularly shaped white mark, stretching from its chest to its belly.
Dr. Vanessa Uscapi

Pensoft Publishers via EurekAlert:

Carrying itself around with a dark brown mask on its face and a broad shapeless white mark on its chest and belly, a frog had been jumping across the Peruvian cloud forests of the Andes unrecognised by the scientific world. Now, this visibly distinguishable species has been picked up by Dr. Catenazzi of Southern Illinois University and his team from its likely only locality, a cloud forest near Cusco in Peru, at 2350 m elevation by Drs. Catenazzi, Uscapi and May. Their research is published in the open-access journal ZooKeys.

The new fleshbelly frog species, called N. madreselva, was discovered by Peruvian researcher Vanessa Uscapi in January 2011 amid leaf litter in the humid montane forest of the Andes. Locally abundant and active during the day, the leaping amphibian was found to be small of size and leading a predominantly terrestrial life.

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