Tuesday, March 27, 2007
Tangled Bank #76 at balancing life
Science, they say, is a way of life. Now, I don’t know when I started living the scientific life, but I surprisingly can remember some of my earliest experiments as a little child. As a toddler some three years old, I loved mangoes, knew that mangoes came from mango trees, knew mangoes had seeds, and knew that trees grew from seeds. So I thought it would be simplicity in itself to eat a mango, save the seed, and plant it so that it would become a tree and give me as many mangoes as I could possibly gorge. I took the mango seed to my backyard and dug a little hole in the mud where I planted it. And every morning for the next four days, I watched and waited for a mango tree to grow.
And then I learnt that seeds need water and care, and trees take years to grow. I loved learning how things worked, and especially how the natural world functioned. So, without any more ado, here’s a tribute to that mango seed’s lessons in a mangolicious edition of The Tangled Bank.
(Mangoes, like all fruits, have dozens of distinct species, each with a taste, smell, shape, texture and history of its own, and to me are more than just fruit).
Mike from 10000 birds is down in Texas, stalking the golden cheeked warbler. That little bird is as beautiful as a juicy golden alphonso. Unlike their golden-yellow cousins the leopards, the clouded leopards are small, dark, and perhaps more elusive than the golden cheeked warbler. But they’re just as beautiful. Grrlscientist writes about the clouded leopards of Borneo, which are now officially a separate species, distinct from other clouded leopards found across South Asia. This edition of the Bank is particularly good for rare animal species. Grrlscientist also writes about a rare bird, the long-whiskered owlet, being seen in the wild. Apparently, this sighting is the first in years. Now, if only the long-whiskered owlet would audition for the next Harry Potter.
While still talking about animals, it’s time to visit Greg Laden’s blog where he has an absolutely fascinating post on cloned wolves, wolf behavior, wolves as social animals, and why wolves won’t breed in zoos. On the other hand, Matt at the Behavioral Ecology Blog is interested in sex and the single fur seal, as he sums up studies on polygyny and the laziest males who get some action.
There’s little from the world of fossils this week, but Matt Celeskey at the wonderful Hairy Museum of Natural History writes a fascinating post about a 95 million year old fossil of a lizard which has taken limb shortening to extreme levels. It’s almost a snake. Speaking of fossils, there’s good news from what I think is one of the most impressive organizations in America, the Smithsonian. Joshua, thinking from Kansas, keeps a close eye on happenings at the Smithsonian, and talks about the long overdue resignation of Lawrence Small, the secretary of the Smithsonian. Good riddance, that.
We’ve talked about animals and birds and even fossils, so let’s not leave out plants. Over at the agricultural biodiversity blog is an excellent post on mapping underutilized genomes, and the sequencing of the taro genome, and why it can be tremendously useful. Taro, mango, all good.
Langda in space? Why not?
There’s always room in the Tangled Bank for odd science, and the great outdoors (space). Mark Rayner at the skwib talks about tracking and destroying asteroids with lasers. If you’re worried that the end of the world is near, thanks to a rogue asteroid headed for earth, head over there. Over at Daylight atheism is a beautiful post reminding us that the Earth is not at the center of the universe, and there’s a universe out there to explore.
Bainganapalli in winter? I think not.
Perhaps thanks to Al Gore’s recent effort in Washington there are a good number of posts this week on climate change, global warming, conservation and consumerism.
Jeremy Bruno over at the Voltagegate wonders aloud about celebrities endorsing conservation, and consumerism.
Phil for humanity has some facts about global warming that even a kid can understand. I think he does kids a disservice. They’re smart, and learn. It’s us adults who refuse to believe facts.
Over at the bioblog is an excellent post on the constantly changing definition of drought and the effect of human action on the amount of water around. Wyatt at foggy bottom lantern thinks Al Gore’s description of global warming in terms of a fever is a great idea, and goes on to describe fevers and global warming.
Sweet Chausa and spicy Totapuri slices:
Over at A blog around the clock Bora summarizes a recent paper which shows the importance of glucocorticoids (cortisol) in the regulation of circadian cell cycle rhythms. Bora’s summary is excellent. Meanwhile, at Fight aging, there’s a nice summary of recent interest in microglia, and their role in degenerations of aging, as well as emerging putative roles of nitric oxide in aging. I’m particularly fond of nitric oxide, so, go read that post!
Ourobros has a fascinating post on longevity vs evolutionary fitness and describes why traits that might shorten the lifespan of an organism might be positively selected for if it improves reproductive fitness.
I dream of mangoes:
To finish off this edition of the Tangled Bank are some posts that are lost or are almost philosophical. At The price of rice, Barry asks if death is really necessary, talking of Kurzweil’s prediction that we’ll reverse engineer our brain some day, and overcome death. Meanwhile, over at sharpbrains, Jeffery Gonce, a high school psychology teacher, shares one of his student’s essays titled “Tis better to give than receive”: oxytocin and dopamine. The Ominouscomma seems to have a rather talkative subconscious mind, which responds to the conscious mind. At OhCash are his observations and thoughts on why dogs love people.
And to end the Tangled Bank, here’s some advice from Paddy K on understanding women. It’s a doomed effort, but some readers might want to try.
That’s it for this edition of the Tangled Bank. The next one should be up in two weeks, at Tara Smith’s Aetiology.