Blue, green, grey, white, or black; smooth, ruffled, or mountainous; that ocean is not silent.

I know. The silence. And I'm guessing it will be continous silence with a few exceptions. However, last night I was watching a marine documentary when I became enlightened about the existance of this marvellous animal in the tree of life within the group of frogfishs - Antennarius ("Tångulk" in swedish). It's just plain awsome. If the hindus are right and we will all be reincarnated, I'l like to be one of those. Including a mirror.



2009 - best picture (according to me)

It's almost the eve of 2010, and I suppose this future year will bring plenty of sci-related news for us to indulge in. The highlights of 2009 are already being reviewed on several popular science, as well as science webpages, such as the New Scientist, Nature, and so on ans so forth.

A picture that's been stuck in my mind since I first saw it is from a funeral. No, not Michael Jackson's, but another primate. Her name was Dorothy, she was a 40 year old chimpanzee, and a much prominent member of her group. When carried away for her burial, the other chimps gathered in silence, holding arms, acting just as any group of grieving human would. The keepers at the chimp sanctuary were of course deeply moved, even the locals who have grown up in a culture where chimps were regarded as saturday dinner.

It's not new that chimps and humans are highly alike, but this picture is just a perfect example of the innate emotional life we share with them.

Image from http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/visions-of-earth/visions-earth-2009



It's a hard duck life

Image taken from http://www.dogbreedinfo.com/pets/duck.htm

I've written about the rough love-life of ducks before, and the Muscovy ducks are no exception. These birdies have gone through an evolutionary race leading to not just this sadistic mating behaviour but also in their penis ability. First of all, the females do prefer to pick out their sexual partner themselfs. They especially like male ducks with an appropriate courtship and attracting plumage. But the males are not innate gentlemen, no no no. If a female is unwilling to accept his invitation, he has no objections on forcing himself on her. And what's his weapon of choice? His penis. It's long (up to 40 cm) and screw-like and useful for raping a female Muscovy duck.

But the beauty of evolution has led to a response in female genitalia, because they have a reason for being choosy - they want to pick out proper males that might carry good traits for their offspring. Now, the female vagina twists in such a way that copulation becomes more difficult for males. The hypothesis for the reason behind this construction is that the females can somehow choose who's sperm she wants to be fertilized by, and if she herself has choosen to mate with a male, her relaxation of the muscles makes the reproduction process easier.



Smelly letters

Image taken from http://promega.wordpress.com/

Working with molecular techniques and thus, with the gut bacteria Escherichia coli have led my thoughts towards making images with bacteria on agar plates several times. But since I'm trained for GLP (good laboratory practice) these thoughts have remained thoughts.

Artist don't have these restrains on them, however (
controversy rather fuels them). And of course there's a bunch doing what I and probably many other molecular biologists have been thinking of. For instance, there's the creation of a "living font" made from E. coli, cultured on agar media, changing color while growing. The result is rather neat (pic above!) but it's not really suitable for writing long lasting texts, and I bet it's smelly. And it's not really safe, since E. coli can cause some harm when entering your body the wrong way. It's quite cool though.

More science-related art:


Blend in and wait

Image taken from http://de.academic.ru/pictures/dewiki/109/misumena.vatia.beute.wespe.1771.jpg

We all know that evolution can bring forth the most amazing types of camouflage. Here's a new story: The female crab spider
Misumena vatia likes to eat wasps. And these wasps likes to indulge in bright yellow flowers, but naturally they do not really like to be eaten while being there. So what does the crab spider? It becomes as yellow as the wasp's beloved flower, so that the spider just have to sit and wait for the unsuspected wasp to land. Then it's a helluva meal! Take a look at the pictures. I assume that we all would have a difficult time to spot this eight-legged creature....

Well, in order to really comfirm that it was good to be a yellow spider in a yellow plant, the researchers displaced these colored creatures into flowers with other colors. And the result was that wasps avoided these new combinations of predator and flower, suggesting that they could now spot the spider. Thus, these spiders benefit from being the same color as their flower... Changing color takes a while. White to yellow can take from 10-25 days, and the reverse about six days. I have no idea if the transition state is less effective in camouflaging the spiders, but juding from the result from these researchers I guess that is the case.

Image taken from http://www.jorgenlissner.dk/images%5CPictures%5CMisumena_vatia_hun_859.jpg

Source: Science - ScienceShots.

Since this genus is quite widespread, and since spiders are awsome, I thought I'd post some more pictures of other Misumena:

This one is awsome! The photographer has really managed to capture all the details (
click on it for full-screen). Just look at the eyes! Image taken from http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/7/7f/Misumena_vatia_female_Luc_Viatour_1.jpg




Bugging in the bed

A colluege of mine (we're in the same research group) had her latest result on bed bug chemical ecology posted on Science News today. Go read it! It has everything: gender conflicts, homosexual relationships, wild sex and violence. She doesn't know it but during my year here, she has actually becomed something of a role model for me even though we're not working with the same organism, or with the same methods. As I said, go and read it!


Glowing in the forest

Image taken from http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2006/10/photogalleries/glowing-fungi/images/primary/RB_24-03-06_36-big.jpg

I was in Amsterdam a few days this summer, enjoying a stay in one of Europe's most non-pretentious old cities where politically correct culture (Rembrandt, art museums, antique shops, Anne Frank's house, all old canals and houses, tulips...) goes hand in hand with tourist traps, naked women behind glass doors and "soft drug" propaganda. I had somewhat prepared myself for the latter, but I would never expect it to be e v e r y w h e r e . On almost every street, there was a coffee shop and/or a souvenir store where you could get "natural" things to mess up your CNS, i.e. cannabis and mushrooms. I've always been fascinated by subcultures, and in Amsterdam it became more obvious than ever how these hallucinogen-loving people all have a few characteristics in their appearance in common. Such as strange little fungi that's glowing. Maybe it comes with the territory. But to my surprise (which may be obvious to others), today I read this in Scientific American - that glowing fungi really do exist and you can see them without first displacing your perceptive equilibrium.

Image taken from http://www.wired.com/images_blogs/wiredscience/2009/10/mushroomsglow1.jpg

In the genus Mycena, the ability to bioluminescence exist in at least 65 species (perhaps more....you just have to find them). Some glow only in the caps, or the gills, others in the stem and others only in the mycelium. No one really knows why they glow; it may be to attract flies and insects for pollination, or it may be to attract predators on the fungi's predators, or it may be something completely different. And when a human gets fascinated, there's always room for business: here you can buy a batch of a glowing fungi culture to add a psychedelic touch to your home. Awsome.

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2006/10/photogalleries/glowing-fungi/photo2.html http://www.livescience.com/strangenews/080808-bts-bioluminescent-fungi.html

Cool pics: