Whatever you do about them hyperactive kids, think hard before medicating them! The Addiction Inbox reviews why it may be time to say goodbye and goodnight to Codeine, perhaps the most prescribed opiate in the world. I wonder, though, what those ever drunk fruit bats think of that, given their extraordinary ability to hold their liquor. Emily Willingham writes about a fascinating study of drunk-echolocating which suggests that alcohol may even drive speciation in bats.
Joerg Heber blogging at All That Matters is celebrating the Physics Nobel Prize going to work on graphene, but urges caution on the actual uses to which this amazing form of carbon may or may not end up being applied. Meanwhile, Akshat Rathi ponders the implications of something we lament all too often these days, the commercialization of the university, where academic productivity is increasingly measured by bean counters not necessarily in terms of quality of teaching and research, but by the amount of grant monies brought in by professors. In another post, young Akshat also joins the growing debate over peer review, and what’s to be done about it, raising some questions of his own in response to the Curious Wavefunction’s post about Nobel Laureate Harry Kroto’s recent rant against the peer-review system.
Benoit Mandelbrot, who invented fractal geometry, the geometry of things which have no geometry, to measure the roughness of our world, died today at the age of 85. Here he is, in his last TED talk a few months ago, recapping his life’s work in pursuit of roughness:
An angry brooding sky greeted us, stopped us in our tracks as we stepped out of a Costco store in Fresno a few evenings ago. Not sure what had got the clouds all roiled up boiling like that. Took my breath away just looking at the dark grey storm clouds, tinged with the fiery red of the setting sun. Threatening as they were, the clouds didn’t burst on us though. Just sprinkled a bit. Then hurried on eastward instead, to keep some elemental appointment with the mountains looming in the distance behind us. Meanwhile, with a scarce anxious upward glance or two, the restless grind of suburbia carried on underneath. Thus did the summer’s late heatwave break as we entered October, hoping these clouds were harbingers of another wet winter to come. Still parched as ever, California sure can use some more rain.
… not attending another faculty senate meeting, but traipsing through this meadow in full bloom under darkly brooding skies, cooling my heels in the tranquil streams, and catching the occasional cloudburst of the late monsoon!! I wish!
This and other similarly fantastic images come from Kaas, part of the Deccan Plateau in Maharashtra, India, as captured through Ganesh’s lens. Go lose yourself in the gallery, escape from your Monday afternoon blues, imagine a better world…
Here’s another image, a more intimate view of a single flower and a little bug enjoying a walk along its stalk.
I’m guessing the headline on this CBS newreport is based on / derived from / linked to this analysis from the US Fish & Wildlife Service. Birdwatching does seem to be a growing hobby in this country, which is great news, and has significant economic impact as well! Although I wonder how the recession plays into it.
But what I can’t find, is the basis for the claim that birding is the second fastest growing hobby in the states! So what’s the first then, eh? Is it really beer can collecting?
Grasses are all supposed to be wind-pollinated, right?! So what’s this sideoats grama doing flashing its bright red anthers so flagrantly? Watching the sweat bees carefully at work collecting pollen from these grass flowers, in this languid hi-def video (check out the 720p version in full screen!), you can also see puffs of pollen being launched into the still air by the bees! So are the bees providing an assist to the flowers in their normal wind-driven sex, even as they steal pollen? Do the flowers actively attract the bees or are they mere victims of pollen robbery? But if the bees are helping, and the flowers want to attract them, what are they doing with bright RED genitalia?! Those are among the questions that come to my mind, and those of several commenters over at the Myrmecos blog of Alex Wild, the biologist behind the smooth hi-def camerawork in this video. You should also check out some of his other HD videos of insects in action.
What blows me away further is knowing that this wonderful cinematography comes through a proper macro lens on a digital SLR camera! Alex has one of the new Canon 7D model that can do HD video – and this clip now has me wishing for one to enhance my own amateur photography! Now how do I justify it on my next grant?! 🙂
A reprint request came in the mail today, for a report and a paper from surveys I had done in Arunachal Pradesh early in my graduate career – two decades ago! Given that I wrote those articles some years before even Mosaic had made it to the Mac Classic in my graduate advisor’s lab at UCSD, they remain, thus far, rather beyond the reach of Google’s tentacles. I did have an electronic reprint from one paper, which had made the transition to digital form courtesy of the scanners at Interlibrary Loan (at Arizona State University; I think that’s where I’d managed to obtain an e-print of that paper), despite having been published in a low-budget journal. The report was going to be harder to find, I told the young Indian grad student who had emailed me, prompting him to ply me with some more questions about the survey (which I may write about here at some point).
So I took the plunge into the deeper, darker, far less frequented neighborhoods etched on the whirling platters of my current laptop’s (now a Macbook Pro!) hard drive, hoping to find a copy among folders that had faithfully been copied over from pc to mac to mac through dozens of upgrades (or sidegrades) over the course of two decades, give or take. And there, like tumbleweed blowing across a deserted Western town, what should flit across my screen but the following essay I had written around the same time, but had completely forgotten about!
So now that I’m completely distracted (no sign of that report yet), I figured it might be worth sharing this distraction with some of you. So if you’re interested in reading one of my earliest blog posts (you know that’s what it would’ve been if written today) from before there were blogs, read on below the fold. Hey, just for you, I’ve even spruced it up with… um… what d’you call em?… links! (But I haven’t changed anything else, not one comma; except for the double spaces between sentences – ugh!)
And I mean real Indians, like me, from the country of India. Not Native American Indians, whom you expect to find camping in teepees anyway – right?!.
I ask because, on the second evening of our recent camping trip in Rocky Mountain National Park, an American neighbor walked into our site wearing a t-shirt from India (which he used to strike up the conversation), and started talking about his travels in India and so forth. Both our families hit it off so well that we ended up roasting s’mores together by the campfire that night. But one of the first things he remarked upon was how unusual it was to see an Indian (i.e., from India) family camping at all!! Which is why I felt we must invite them over for s’mores later – because how often is that going to happen, right? Eating s’mores roasted on a campfire by Indians? 🙂
Funny as that struck us all, I wonder how much truth there is to the observation that Indians don’t go camping much in this country. I mean, I know some who do – but that’s my friends. What about the rest of them(us)? Case in point: in our 17 days on the road when we visited / camped at 5 National Parks/Monuments through Colorado and Utah, we only ran into one other Indian family (not counting our friends whom we had invited to join us in the Rockies) camping – an astrophysicist from Bombay and his mom who was visiting him; i.e., another academic, whom we might as well count among the small circle of our friends who camp. What about “regular” Indian immigrants in the US? How many are “outdoor nature freaks” – as another young Indian friend (a not-camping type of fellow) teased us on this trip?
Anyhow, I was reminded of this: