Oct 22 at 5:05pm by Aileen
In the news this month we’ve learned about a neotropical jumping spider discovered by Christopher Meehan of Villanova University in Mexico and Eric Olson of Brandeis in Costa Rica that is the only species of spider observed to subsist on a primarily vegetarian diet. Previously, spiders had not been known to consume any type of solid food, apart from occasional pollen fed to young in a single species of orb-weaver. The new species has been named Bagheera kiplingi.
And on the subject of vegetation, plant biologists at the University of Delaware and McMaster University in Canada conducted a study of more than 3,000 mustard seedlings and discovered that young plants are capable of On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen explain why fresh eggs are more difficult to peel than older eggs. Bottom line: let your eggs sit for a few days before trying to make deviled eggs!
Apr 21 at 9:09pm by Aileen
Most school children have at one time or another encountered a photo of a twisted bristlecone pine tree in California purporting to have begun its life before Abraham left Ur [the 'Methuselah' tree at ~4767 years old]. Science Daily reported last week that a spruce tree has been discovered in the Dalarna province of Sweden that is twice that age!
Yes, this not very old-looking little tree has been dated by researchers at Umeå University’s physical geography department at ~9550 years old. Just as interesting is that this ancient tree is a genetically identical clone of a previous tree – from whose roots it sprouted all those many years ago – and which left a few scraps of old wood in the area for researchers to analyze and a laboratory in Miami, Florida to date via C-14.
Researchers combing the Swedish mountains from Lapland to Dalarna have discovered a cluster of about 20 spruces that are all more than 8,000 years old. Which has to qualify the grove as the most ancient stand of virgin timber on the planet.
Feb 15 at 6:06pm by Aileen
Part 5: Items 41-50
This is the final installment of our 50 Weird Science tidbits, odd factoids and strange-but-true trivia. There are of course more weird things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy. But these 50 should get you through at least one championship round down at the pub. By the way, the word “dreamt” is the only word in the English language that ends in “mt.” That’s a freebie!
41. Plants Have Family Values Too
Researchers from Canada found that plants can have complex social interactions despite being… um, vegetative. Plants will grow more aggressively near unrelated plants than when they grow near relatives from the same maternal family.
42. The World’s Most Dangerous Animal
The not-so humble mosquito wins this award hands down. Mosquitoes transmitting countless diseases kill more animals – including humans – than any other animal (or plant) on Earth.
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Feb 13 at 6:06pm by Aileen
Part 3: Items 21-30
Getting us past the halfway point in this series of things odd and quite possibly unknown, I’m going to go with some odd and interesting plant and animal facts, including an in-development “designer” breed of cat that just might steal my heart away from Maine Coons…
21. Did Tom Sawyer know these were under the raft?
These 7-foot, 220-pound Mississippi paddlefish are among the world’s biggest freshwater animals. Kin to sturgeon, they’re popular sources of meat and roe for caviar.
22. Designer Way to Help Endangered Tigers
Meet the Toyger! Breeding programs began in the 1980s to develop a breed of house cat that strongly resembles the mightiest of big cats. In 1993 Toygers were first registered with the International Cat Association [TICA], and now boasts grand champions. Must. Have. One…
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Nov 1 at 5:05pm by Aileen
And Things Nature Does to Rattle Our Perceptions
Lots of interesting science reports lately about all things neurological, in brains and in our remote sensor neurons. First up is a surprising (or maybe not so surprising) finding by a researcher at the University of Hertfordshire – the harder we try to mentally suppress our thoughts and desires, the more we will indulge in the activity we’re trying to suppress.
This research project dealt with something quite simple, chocolate. Which some say is addictive, but that’s a whole different area of research. Dr. Erskine of Hertfordshire divided 134 young (avg. age 22) people into two groups to investigate how our thinking affects our behaviors.
The participants were asked to try two brands of chocolate and answer questions about which they preferred and why. Then they were given two periods of thought verbalization where they were to talk about their thoughts while alone. On top of this they were told they must think about – or not think about – certain things. Including chocolate.