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Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

Posts Tagged ‘biology

[NEWS] Four links on Antarctica: ancient Godwanaland forests, mantle plume, American infrastructure

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  • Elaina Zachos reports on the discovery of a remarkable intact petrified forest in Antarctica more than a quarter-billion years old, legacy of ancient Godwanaland, over at National Geographic.
  • D-Brief reports on the remarkable adaptations of the forests of Godwanaland, now Antarctica, to six months without light.
  • Universe Today reports that a hitherto unsupected plume from the mantle underneath Antarctica may be partially responsible for the ready melting of that continent’s ice sheets.
  • Justin Gillis and Jonathan Corum report on how the infrastructure of the American presence in Antarctica, including McMurdo station, is in desperate need for investment to compensate for decades of neglect, over at the New York Times.
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Written by Randy McDonald

November 18, 2017 at 10:30 pm

[BLOG] Some Tuesday links

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  • Bad Astronomer Phil Plait notes how evidence of exoplanets can be found in a spectrum of Van Maanen’s Star taken in 1917.
  • blogTO notes that Michelle Obama is coming to visit Toronto.
  • Dangerous Minds notes that someone has scanned in the copies of 1980s periodical The Twilight Zone Magazine.
  • D-Brief notes the tens of thousands of genders of fungus.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze notes a paper calculating circumstellar habitable zones and orbits for planets of binary stars.
  • The Frailest Thing’s Michael Sacasas argues it is much too late to retroactively add ethical concerns to new technologies.
  • Language Log notes the struggle of many to pronounce the name of the president of Catalonia, Carles Puigdemont.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money notes an alarming increase in mass shootings in the US over the past decades.
  • The LRB Blog argues that a moral panic over “pop-up brothels” helps no one involved.
  • Roads and Kingdoms reports</u. on Zubaida Tariq, the Martha Stewart of Pakistan.
  • Starts With A Bang’s Ethan Siegel likes the new Discovery episode. I wonder, though: hasn’t Trek always been a bit science fantasy?
  • Window on Eurasia argues Russian policies which marginalize non-Russian languages in education may produce blowback.

[BLOG] Some Friday links

io9 looks at the surprising things we are continuing to learn from Tycho’s supernova, SN 1572. https://gizmodo.com/a-famous-supernovas-mysteries-are-still-unraveling-hund-1818816208

Anthrodendum has a thoughtful interview between two anthropologists about their experiences as ethnographers. https://savageminds.org/2017/09/25/explaining-ethnography-in-the-field-a-conversation-between-pasang-yangjee-sherpa-and-carole-mcgranahan/

Centauri Dreams reports on the LIGO/VIRGO detection of gravitational wave #GW170814 https://www.centauri-dreams.org/?p=38557
D-Brief also notes the detection of #GW170814 http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/d-brief/2017/09/27/gravitational-wave-virgo/
as does Starts With A Bang https://www.forbes.com/sites/startswithabang/2017/09/27/ligo-virgo-detects-the-first-three-detector-gravitational-wave/

The Crux notes how ancient rocks on the Québec-Labrador frontier have preserved traces of very early life. http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/crux/2017/09/27/earth-oldest-rocks-life/

D-Brief notes the potential discovery of a biomarker for CTE, something that may well help professional athletes. http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/d-brief/2017/09/27/cte-biomarker/

Dangerous Minds looks at the time the Pet Shop Boys and Liza Minelli collaborated on an album. http://dangerousminds.net/comments/results_when_the_pet_shop_boys_met_liza_minnelli

The Dragon’s Gaze looks at evidence that a sub-Saturn gas giant is forming around T Tauri star TW Hydrae. http://thedragonsgaze.blogspot.ca/2017/09/tw-hydrae-is-forming-subsaturn-gas-giant.html

Hornet Stories looks at the four lessons a professor took from gay porn, about sexuality and its representation. https://hornetapp.com/stories/gay-porn-professor/

Language Log looks at how Joseon Korea once used the wrong Chinese dialect to talk officially to China. http://languagelog.ldc.upenn.edu/nll/?p=34693

Lawyers, Guns and Money notes an odd defense of Hugh Hefner by a conservative. http://www.lawyersgunsmoneyblog.com/2017/09/hugh-hefner-good-now

The LRB Blog notes the oddly convention nature of Hugh Hefner. https://www.lrb.co.uk/blog/2017/09/28/august-kleinzahler/the-conventional-mr-hefner/

The Map Room Blog argues that faults found with fantasy maps actually reflect deeper issues with fantasy literature. http://www.maproomblog.com/2017/09/the-territory-is-not-the-map/

Marginal Revolution notes that IBM employs more people In India than in the United States.
http://marginalrevolution.com/marginalrevolution/2017/09/india-fact-day-3.html

The NYR Daily notes a new art exhibition of work by Peter Saul dealing with Trump. http://www.nybooks.com/daily/2017/09/27/a-carnival-of-desecration-peter-saul-trump/

The Planetary Society Blog notes the Earth pictures taken by the OSIRIS-REx probe. http://www.planetary.org/blogs/emily-lakdawalla/2017/0928-earth-flyby-osiris-rex.html

The Power and the Money’s Noel Maurer notes a worrying new analysis justifying an American strike on North Korea, despite Seoul. http://noelmaurer.typepad.com/aab/2017/09/the-hawks-make-their-case-to-fight-north-korea.html

Drew Rowsome notes an amusing-sounding mystery, Undercover, playing at the Tarragon. http://drewrowsome.blogspot.ca/2017/09/undercover-case-of-comic-mystery.html

Towleroad links to fascinating ethnographic work of LGBT members of American street gangs. How do they do it? http://www.towleroad.com/2017/09/gay-gang/

[BLOG] Some Tuesday links

  • Bad Astronomer Phil Plait notes a new study suggesting some hypervelocity stars were ejected from the Large Magellanic Cloud.
  • Crooked Timber’s John Holbo wonders how else Trump can transgress the norms of the presidency.
  • The Crux notes the exceptional hardiness of the tardigrade. These forms of life might well outlive the sun.
  • Gizmodo notes the evidence for a recently frozen subsurface ocean on Pluto’s Charon.
  • Joe. My. God. notes the Israeli government’s effective, if confused, opposition to same-sex adoption.
  • Unicorn Booty looks at the significant impact RuPaul’s Drag Race has on music sales.
  • Window on Eurasia notes how Putin’s political allies have been having trouble coming up with a positive future.

[BLOG] Some Sunday links

  • Bad Astronomer Phil Plait looks at some stunning imagery of the Great Red Spot of Jupiter.
  • Inkfish notes that some jumping spiders do not just look like ants, they walk like them, too.
  • Language Log has gentle fun with the trend to develop heat maps for American English dialects.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money looks at the idea of disgust as it is made to relate to the homeless.
  • Siva Vijenthira at Spacing considers the particular importance of biking for the independence of women.
  • Starts With A Bang’s Ethan Siegel considers whether or not terraforming Mars is worth it. (Yes, but it will be costly.)
  • Window on Eurasia suggests that China is displacing Russia, despite the latter’s efforts, as the main trade partner of smaller post-Soviet countries.
  • Arnold Zwicky shares an amusing photo of the Wonder Bears of Provincetown.

[LINK] “How geologists found the world’s oldest fossils in Canada”

In an interview with the discoverers, Meagan Campbell of MacLean’s explores how fossils 3.8 billion years old were found in a rock formation in northern Québec.

The oldest proof we have of life on Earth is in Quebec, according to a team of international researchers. On the edge of the Hudson Bay, geologists and biologists from England, Australia, the United States and Canada collected fossils of microscopic lifeforms. On March 1, they published an article in the journal Nature, suggesting that these lifeforms existed 3.7 to 4.3 billion years ago, before the planet had oxygen or oceans—meaning life could begin in other barren parts of the universe, too. For a look behind the scenes of the discovery, Maclean’s spoke with Jonathan O’Neil, a geologist at the University of Ottawa who dated the fossils.

Q: Can you describe the moment of discovery?

A: I was with some of my colleagues at the Carnegie Institution for Science in Washington. The first moment, you don’t even believe it. You say, “that can’t be.” So you reanalyze it, and you get the same result. You redo it again, redo it again, redo it again, and you start coming back with the same data, same results, same numbers, and you start to believe it. It’s a weird feeling. It pushes everything back.

Q. Why is the finding controversial?

A: Rocks are always dated with radioactivity. We use that as a timer. The golden standard for us is we’re trying to date a certain mineral, a Zircon. We’re excellent at it. We can get super nice and precise and robust dates. The only drawback is you need Zircons to do it. These rocks from northern Quebec, they don’t have them. We used a different clock. It’s only good for rocks that are 4 billion years old. We’ve done it for some rocks from the moon, but it’s the first time we’ve done it on Earth.

Written by Randy McDonald

March 2, 2017 at 10:30 pm

[BLOG] Some Thursday links

  • blogTO notes the continued rise in rental prices for apartments.
  • Centauri Dreams looks at a time in the Earth’s history when there was a lot of atmospheric oxygen but not much life.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze links to a paper suggesting there is an authentic lack of gas giant planets beyond 10 AU.
  • Itching for Eestimaa notes the British politicians who favoured the recognition of the Soviet annexation of the Baltics, and notes that those imperialist times of old are back.
  • The Map Room Blog notes that Trump voters tend to prefer Duck Dynasty and Clinton voters preferred Family Guy.
  • Marginal Revolution notes California’s ban on funding travel to jurisdictions which discriminate against people on grounds of sexual orientation or gender.
  • Peter Watts describes a trip on hallucinogens.
  • The NYRB Daily shares Masha Gessen’s concerns about the threat of moral authority.
  • Spacing links to some article about improving bike infrastructure.
  • Window on Eurasia warns of a new consolidation of Russian federal units.