We're here to teach you stuff.

Recreational education for those who seek it.

photo

jtotheizzoe:

Tripedal to the Metal
That’s some loco motion, huh? Found this neat little GIF showing how an ant’s legs move at a full gallop. While calmly strolling though the picnic grounds, ants have five of their six legs at a time in contact with the ground. But when it’s time to put the (tiny) pedal to the metal, they change their gait to this alternating tripod motion.
This pattern isn’t controlled by the insect’s brain, but rather by bundles of neurons in the leg called central pattern generators. While moving at such a clip, it just so happens that three legs is the minimum number it needs on the ground at a time to balance its rigid exoskeleton without toppling over.
Is that part of the reason that insects have six legs and not another number like four or eight? Or did the gait evolve to match the hardware? My guess is the latter, but I am not sure. What say you, insect folks? 
(GIF via NC State University)

jtotheizzoe:

Tripedal to the Metal

That’s some loco motion, huh? Found this neat little GIF showing how an ant’s legs move at a full gallop. While calmly strolling though the picnic grounds, ants have five of their six legs at a time in contact with the ground. But when it’s time to put the (tiny) pedal to the metal, they change their gait to this alternating tripod motion.

This pattern isn’t controlled by the insect’s brain, but rather by bundles of neurons in the leg called central pattern generators. While moving at such a clip, it just so happens that three legs is the minimum number it needs on the ground at a time to balance its rigid exoskeleton without toppling over.

Is that part of the reason that insects have six legs and not another number like four or eight? Or did the gait evolve to match the hardware? My guess is the latter, but I am not sure. What say you, insect folks? 

(GIF via NC State University)

(via biologicallyred)

text

egg-rolls:

when u stand up 2 fast n suddenly ur floatin thru space n time

Fun fact time:

This is called Orthostatic hypotension, it’s caused by a sudden fall of at least 20 Torrs (2,666Pa) in systolic blood pressure, or 10 Torrs (1,333Pa) in diastolic blood pressure when a person stands up from a sitting or reclining position

image

(via thismakessense)

Q&A

Anonymous asked: This is a more blog related question, but, would you consider doing current events and "History in the Making"? I think it would be interesting for someone to explore the background of the things going on today, things like why the Higgs boson is a big deal, why does the rest of the world care about what country Crimea is part of and why is it so easy to lose planes? I don't know, it's just a suggestion.

Hey, this is a really thoughtful suggestion, so thanks for that. We do post about current events, even though we don’t have a section for it on the blog. I’m pretty sure we’ve done, or at least reblogged a post on the Higgs boson (or rather the Higgs Field), and we’ve done at least some other current event posts.

But the main reasons we don’t (currently) have a separate “Current Events” tag are…

  1. Things in that tag would slowly become unfit for the tag as time progressed, so it would be a difficult tag to accurately maintain.
  2. Both of us are at college right now and it gets pretty hectic. We do have some free time, but when we do we’re usually too exhausted to put a lot of energy into this blog, which is why most of the posts are reblogs right now.
  3. Since most of our post volume is consisting of reblogs, the tag would be heavily composed of other blogs’ posts for a while, and tumblr is notorious for spreading semi-accurate, or twisted information, especially with current events. So it would be impractical to start that tag until we can make more of the posts for it ourselves because the amount of research that vetting other posts requires is comparable to the research we need to write them ourselves.

—Forrest & Emmett

photo


In a world rights deal, the Tolkien Estate has signed with HarperCollins to publish for the first time Beowulf: A Translation and Commentary by J.R.R. Tolkien. This new book has been edited by Christopher Tolkien, who comments:
‘The translation of Beowulf by J.R.R. Tolkien was an early work, very distinctive in its mode, completed in 1926: he returned to it later to make hasty corrections, but seems never to have considered its publication. This edition is twofold, for there exists an illuminating commentary on the text of the poem by the translator himself, in the written form of a series of lectures given at Oxford in the 1930s; and from these lectures a substantial selection has been made, to form also a commentary on the translation in this book.
From his creative attention to detail in these lectures there arises a sense of the immediacy and clarity of his vision. It is as if he entered into the imagined past: standing beside Beowulf and his men shaking out their mail-shirts as they beached their ship on the coast of Denmark, listening to the rising anger of Beowulf at the taunting of Unferth, or looking up in amazement at Grendel’s terrible hand set under the roof of Heorot.
But the commentary in this book includes also much from those lectures in which, while always anchored in the text, he expressed his wider perceptions. He looks closely at the dragon that would slay Beowulf “snuffling in baffled rage and injured greed when he discovers the theft of the cup”; but he rebuts the notion that this is “a mere treasure story”, “just another dragon tale”. He turns to the lines that tell of the burying of the golden things long ago, and observes that it is “the feeling for the treasure itself, this sad history” that raises it to another level. “The whole thing is sombre, tragic, sinister, curiously real. The ‘treasure’ is not just some lucky wealth that will enable the finder to have a good time, or marry the princess. It is laden with history, leading back into the dark heathen ages beyond the memory of song, but not beyond the reach of imagination.”
Sellic spell, a “marvellous tale”, is a story written by Tolkien suggesting what might have been the form and style of an Old English folk-tale of Beowulf, in which there was no association with the “historical legends” of the Northern kingdoms.’
This is the first book by J.R.R. Tolkien since the internationally bestselling The Fall of Arthur. Beowulf: A Translation and Commentary will be published by HarperCollins on 22nd May 2014 and in the United States by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

In a world rights deal, the Tolkien Estate has signed with HarperCollins to publish for the first time Beowulf: A Translation and Commentary by J.R.R. Tolkien. This new book has been edited by Christopher Tolkien, who comments:

‘The translation of Beowulf by J.R.R. Tolkien was an early work, very distinctive in its mode, completed in 1926: he returned to it later to make hasty corrections, but seems never to have considered its publication. This edition is twofold, for there exists an illuminating commentary on the text of the poem by the translator himself, in the written form of a series of lectures given at Oxford in the 1930s; and from these lectures a substantial selection has been made, to form also a commentary on the translation in this book.

From his creative attention to detail in these lectures there arises a sense of the immediacy and clarity of his vision. It is as if he entered into the imagined past: standing beside Beowulf and his men shaking out their mail-shirts as they beached their ship on the coast of Denmark, listening to the rising anger of Beowulf at the taunting of Unferth, or looking up in amazement at Grendel’s terrible hand set under the roof of Heorot.

But the commentary in this book includes also much from those lectures in which, while always anchored in the text, he expressed his wider perceptions. He looks closely at the dragon that would slay Beowulf “snuffling in baffled rage and injured greed when he discovers the theft of the cup”; but he rebuts the notion that this is “a mere treasure story”, “just another dragon tale”. He turns to the lines that tell of the burying of the golden things long ago, and observes that it is “the feeling for the treasure itself, this sad history” that raises it to another level. “The whole thing is sombre, tragic, sinister, curiously real. The ‘treasure’ is not just some lucky wealth that will enable the finder to have a good time, or marry the princess. It is laden with history, leading back into the dark heathen ages beyond the memory of song, but not beyond the reach of imagination.”

Sellic spell, a “marvellous tale”, is a story written by Tolkien suggesting what might have been the form and style of an Old English folk-tale of Beowulf, in which there was no association with the “historical legends” of the Northern kingdoms.’

This is the first book by J.R.R. Tolkien since the internationally bestselling The Fall of ArthurBeowulf: A Translation and Commentary will be published by HarperCollins on 22nd May 2014 and in the United States by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

(via iloveyouletmejumpinyourgame)

photos

stevencrewniverse:

What is a “Distance Model”?

When a character is seen in the distance, too much line complexity will create an over-complicated image. We drop detail to simulate the effect of seeing a character far away. If you’ve managed to notice this already, you’re not just seeing things- it’s quite intentional.

Because the show is animated by hand, we prefer not to scale down a complicated drawing- it becomes unclear and messy. Instead we use a distance model, which is a simplified version of that character.

Also they’re really cute.

Lead Character Designer: Danny Hynes

Character Designer: Colin Howard

Color: Tiffany Ford

Color Assist: Jasmin Lai

Distance Guide: Ian Jones-Quartey

(via moonpiefsn)

photo

biomorphosis:

Pangolin is odd-looking animal that belongs to the group of anteaters with scales. Their body is covered with hard, brown scales made of keratin. They do not have teeth so they swallow sand and small stones along with insects to facilitate grinding of food and digestion. Their very long, rod-shaped and sticky tongue which can be 16 inches longer than entire animal is very helpful allowing them to collect insects from termite tunnels.  
Pangolins are hunted for their scales, which are a sought-after ingredient in Chinese medicine making these incredible creatures one of the most endangered groups of mammals in the world.

Additionally, the pangolin’s tongue is massive in comparison to its body. Like, it has connections to the pelvis. Also, these cool creatures are bipedal, those appendages that look like front legs are actually arms. They still walk horizontally, though, they just use their super long tails to counterbalance the front half of their bodies. So they walk like sneaky t-rexes:

AND LOOK AT HOW COOL THE BLACK-BELLIED AFRICAN PANGOLIN IS:

IT’S LIKE A REAL LIFE SANDSLASH BUT WITH AN EXTRA METER OF TAIL.
((And on the topic of poaching for scales: It’s a really big problem, two species of asian pangolin are endangered, and the other two asian species are near threatened. The scales provide no medicinal or nutritional value, keratin is literally the same thing your hair and fingernails are made out of.))

biomorphosis:

Pangolin is odd-looking animal that belongs to the group of anteaters with scales. Their body is covered with hard, brown scales made of keratin. They do not have teeth so they swallow sand and small stones along with insects to facilitate grinding of food and digestion. Their very long, rod-shaped and sticky tongue which can be 16 inches longer than entire animal is very helpful allowing them to collect insects from termite tunnels.  

Pangolins are hunted for their scales, which are a sought-after ingredient in Chinese medicine making these incredible creatures one of the most endangered groups of mammals in the world.

Additionally, the pangolin’s tongue is massive in comparison to its body. Like, it has connections to the pelvis. Also, these cool creatures are bipedal, those appendages that look like front legs are actually arms. They still walk horizontally, though, they just use their super long tails to counterbalance the front half of their bodies. So they walk like sneaky t-rexes:

AND LOOK AT HOW COOL THE BLACK-BELLIED AFRICAN PANGOLIN IS:

IT’S LIKE A REAL LIFE SANDSLASH BUT WITH AN EXTRA METER OF TAIL.

((And on the topic of poaching for scales: It’s a really big problem, two species of asian pangolin are endangered, and the other two asian species are near threatened. The scales provide no medicinal or nutritional value, keratin is literally the same thing your hair and fingernails are made out of.))

(via theworldisconfused)

photos

libutron:

Water Flea - Ceriodaphnia

Ceriodaphnia is a little fresh water crustacean (less than 1 mm), living in freshwater lakes, ponds, and marshes in most of the world [1].

Ceriodaphnia feed by filtering water with their thoracic appendages and eat any phytoplankton that drift by their carapace opening.

Besides being one of the most efficient bacteria consumers of all the zooplankton species [2], Ceriodaphnia has been suggested to be a good ecotoxicity test organism (bio-indicator) for assessing acute aluminum oxide nanoparticle toxicity in fresh water environment, due to higher sensitivity and shorter growth span [3].

Animalia - Arthropoda - Crustacea - Branchiopoda - Cladocera - Daphnidae - Ceriodaphnia

Photo credit: ©Rogelio Moreno G. | Ceriodaphnia lateral view (top) and ventral view (bottom)

(via somuchscience)

photo

First off: I keep seeing this image up with it being called “heat imaging”, and this is meant as a sort of snope.

What you see in this picture isn’t heat imaging at all, it’s the product of a Finnish study of over 700 people on where emotions were felt. So even if it isn’t the space-age-looking awesomeness in the picture, it’s still really interesting. See, they took all of these people and had them think about each emotion and map where they felt it (warm colors, red, yellow, orange), where was neutral (black), and where they felt was deactivated (blues).
This is cool for two reasons: first off, it’s kind of neat to know that (generally speaking) we all feel emotions in strikingly similar ways. Secondly though, this stuff isn’t random. Lauri Nummenmaa, the guy who ran the study, attributes the similar reactions to the nervous system’s reactions to outside stimuli. For fear, your fight or flight response would be activated, and with it your lungs, muscles, and heart.
This is just one study, but can you imagine if this were brought down to an exact science? No more guessing if your girlfriend is mad at you, no need to ask “You mad brah?”, and you could finally tell what Chuck Norris was feeling behind his stone-cold face. I’d get all emotional over science like that. 
If you’re still interested in this after reading, you can still help them out with this study by going to this link: [x]
(Source: “Mapping Emotions On The Body: Love Makes Us Warm All Over” by Michaeleen Doucleff. NPR News) 
-alinatotheleft

First off: I keep seeing this image up with it being called “heat imaging”, and this is meant as a sort of snope.

What you see in this picture isn’t heat imaging at all, it’s the product of a Finnish study of over 700 people on where emotions were felt. So even if it isn’t the space-age-looking awesomeness in the picture, it’s still really interesting. See, they took all of these people and had them think about each emotion and map where they felt it (warm colors, red, yellow, orange), where was neutral (black), and where they felt was deactivated (blues).

This is cool for two reasons: first off, it’s kind of neat to know that (generally speaking) we all feel emotions in strikingly similar ways. Secondly though, this stuff isn’t random. Lauri Nummenmaa, the guy who ran the study, attributes the similar reactions to the nervous system’s reactions to outside stimuli. For fear, your fight or flight response would be activated, and with it your lungs, muscles, and heart.

This is just one study, but can you imagine if this were brought down to an exact science? No more guessing if your girlfriend is mad at you, no need to ask “You mad brah?”, and you could finally tell what Chuck Norris was feeling behind his stone-cold face. I’d get all emotional over science like that.

If you’re still interested in this after reading, you can still help them out with this study by going to this link: [x]

(Source: “Mapping Emotions On The Body: Love Makes Us Warm All Over” by Michaeleen Doucleff. NPR News)

-alinatotheleft

photos

neuromorphogenesis:

The logistics of learning

Learning and memory are made possible by the incessant reorganization of nerve connections in the brain. Both processes are based on targeted modifications of the functional interfaces between nerve cells – the so-called synapses – which alter their form, molecular composition and functional properties. In effect, connections between cells that are frequently co-activated together are progressively altered so that they respond to subsequent signals more rapidly and more strongly. This way, information can be encoded in patterns of synaptic activity and promptly recalled when needed. The converse is also true: learned behaviors can be lost by disuse, because inactive synapses are themselves less likely to transmit an incoming impulse, leading to the decay of such connections.

How exactly an individual synapse is altered without simultaneously affecting nearby nerve cells or other synapses on the same cell is a question that is central to Michael Kiebler’s research. Kiebler, a biochemist, holds the Chair of Cell Biology in the Faculty of Medicine at LMU. “It is now clear that the changes take place in the cell that is stimulated by synaptic input – the post-synaptic cell – and in particular in its so-called dendritic spines,” he says, “and particles that are known as “neuronal RNA granules” deliver mRNA molecules to these sites“. These mRNAs represent the blueprints for the synthesis of the proteins responsible for reconfiguring the synapses. Kiebler‘s team has developed a model, which postulates that these granules migrate from dendrite to dendrite, and release their mRNAs specifically at sites that are repeatedly activated. This would ensure that the relevant proteins are synthesized only where they are needed within the cell.

In spite of the potential significance of the model, the molecular mechanisms required for its realization have remained obscure. mRNA-binding proteins, including Staufen2 (Stau2) and Barentsz, are essential components of the granules, and Kiebler’s team, in collaboration with Giulio Superti-Furga’s group (CeMM, Vienna), have now used specific antibodies to isolate and characterize neuronal granules that contain either Stau2 or Barentsz.

Surprising diversity

It has generally been assumed that all neuronal RNA granules have essentially similar compositions. However, the new findings indicate that this is not the case. A comparison between Stau2- and Barentsz-containing granules reveals that they differ in about two-thirds of their proteins. “This suggests that the RNA granules are highly heterogeneous and dynamic in their composition,” says Kiebler. “And that makes sense to me, because it would mean that the granules can perform different functions depending on which mRNAs they carry.” Furthermore, the researchers have shown that the granules contain virtually none of the factors known to promote the translation of mRNAs into proteins. On the contrary, they include many molecules that repress protein synthesis. This in turn implies that the process of mRNA transport is uncoupled from the subsequent production of the proteins they encode.

In a complementary study, Kiebler’s team also characterized the mRNA cargoes associated with the granules. “Until now, none of the RNA molecules present in Stau2-containing granules in mammalian nerve cells had been defined, but we have now been able to identify many specific mRNAs,” Kiebler explains. Further experiments revealed that Stau2 stabilizes the mRNAs, allowing them to be used more often for the production of proteins. Moreover, the researchers have shown that specialized structures within these mRNAs, called “Staufen-Recognized Structures” (SRS), are essential for their recognition and stabilization by Stau2. “This allows us to propose a molecular mechanism for RNA recognition for the first time,” says Kiebler.

Taken together, the two new papers provide novel insights into the molecular mechanisms that underlie learning and memory. The scientists now want to dissect out the details in future studies. “In the long term, we are particularly interested in the question of how an activated synapse can alter the state of the granules and induce the production of protein,” Kiebler notes. It is becoming increasingly clear that RNA-binding proteins play essential roles in nerve cells. Disruption of their action can lead to neurodegenerative diseases and neurological dysfunction. Clearly, not only classical conditions such as Alzheimer‘s or Parkinson’s disease, in which RNA-binding proteins are always involved, but also cognitive defects or age-associated impairment of learning ability must be viewed in this context,” Kiebler concludes.

(Cell Reports 2013, Doi: 10.1016/j.celrep.2013.11.023Doi: 10.1016/j.celrep.2013.11.039)