New yeasts found to be secret partners with known fungi and algae
By Emily Chung, CBC News Posted: Jul 21, 2016 2:35 PM ET Last Updated: Jul 22, 2016 8:42 AM ET
Most people know lichens as those flaky, light green things that grow on tree bark, and learned in school that they're a mutually beneficial partnership or "symbiosis" between fungi and algae.
But lichen scientists have made the shocking new discovery that many lichens are also made up of a previously undiscovered third partner — a new kind of yeast.
Not only does that potentially alter the fundamental definition of what a lichen is, but it "should change expectations about the diversity and ubiquity" of the organisms that form them, says a new study published Thursday in Science. (more)
See also the Christian Science Monitor article here.
Sony Files Patent for Contact Lenses That Shoot Video, Take Pictures
Krypton Radio May 2, 2016Sci / Tech, Science Fiction / Fantasy / Steampunk
You may soon be able to cross one more prediction of science fiction off the list. Sony has just filed a patent application for a smart contact lens that can not only record video and images but play them back for you as well. The patent even suggests that the video and images would be stored directly in the contact lens itself, with the option to download the images and movies to a smart phone. That’s what separates the Sony patent from one recently obtained by Samsung in South Korea for a similar device. The Samsung lens doesn’t feature on-board storage.
The patent hasn’t been approved yet, but it describes describes the lens as being capable of taking photos using eyeblinks as a trigger. It’s supposed to be able to tell the difference between an autonomic eye blink and one you meant to do consciously. The playback display is to be controlled by what they describe as a “tilt sensor”. The lens may even feature aperture control, autofocus and image stabilization to address the blur caused by the eyeball’s motion.
Oh fungus - I'd have to quote a huge chunk of this so I'm not going to bother - here's the title, (and a representative photo) click on it and you'll get the whole enchilada.
Helvítis Fokking Fokk! Iceland reacts to the Panama Papers.
"Everyone showed up! So quit now!"
Credit: Benedict Jóhannesson
(In case you were wondering, they handle things so well I rarely need to go on the site.)
Oh, right, Star Wars. Short form: fun, worth seeing. Long form, I am not going to worry about spoilers so just in case someone out there is even slower on these things than I am, but still gives a hoot, the rest of this article goes behind a LJ cut.
( In a Galaxy Far, Far Away... )
Officer Bobby White couldn't believe someone called in a complaint about kids playing basketball – so he decided to join them
The 40,000 mile long volcano
by William J. Broad
Jan 12, 2016
New York Times
Picture a volcano. Now imagine that its main vent extends in a line. Now imagine that this line is so long that it runs for more than 40,000 miles through the dark recesses of all the world’s oceans, girding the globe like the seams of a baseball.
Welcome to one of the planet’s most obscure but important features, known rather prosaically as the midocean ridges. Though long enough to circle the moon more than six times, they receive little notice because they lie hidden in pitch darkness. Oceanographers stumbled on their volcanic nature in 1973. Ever since, costly expeditions have slowly explored the undersea world, which typically lies more than a mile down.
The results can make the visions of Jules Verne seem rather tame.
The ridges feature long rift valleys and, down their middles, giant fields of gushing hot springs that shed tons of minerals into icy seawater, slowly building eerie mounds and towers that can be rich in metals like gold and silver. One knobby tower in the Pacific Ocean, nicknamed Godzilla, grew 15 stories high. Thickets of snakelike tubeworms and other bizarre creatures often blanket the hot features, as do hungry prowlers such as spider crabs.
The riot of life coexists with springs hot enough to melt lead or the plastic windows of mini submarines. With extreme care, humans and robots have measured temperatures as high as 780 degrees.
More to the point, there is now a two part underwater observatory along the Juan De Fuca Ridge, off the west coast of the Americas, keeping a continue eye on what's going on, and as usual when you stare at places you haven't been before long enough, getting QUITE an eyefull, and ear full and... Just go look at the link. OK, here's a quote from the part about the observatory:
It sits atop the Juan de Fuca Ridge. The volcanic spreading center — more than 300 miles long — lies in a slanted line off the West Coast, from British Columbia to Oregon. The observatory is divided into two parts. Canada operates the northern one and the United States the southern one, part of a larger program known as the Ocean Observatories Initiative.
All told, it cost roughly $500 million — far less than the next generation of optical telescopes under construction around the globe. The National Science Foundation, the federal government’s big funder of basic science, paid for the American part.
Together, the two sites feature more than 1,000 miles of cables, dozens of junction boxes and hundreds of sensors.
Instruments on the seabed include tilt meters, cameras, seismometers, temperature gauges, hydrophones, chemical probes, pressure sensors and fluid samplers. Also, mobile platforms crawl up and down long moorings to take readings higher in the water column. The observatory’s main cables run ashore at Port Alberni, on Vancouver Island, and Pacific City, Ore.
“We have the most advanced cabled observatory on any volcano in the world’s oceans,” said Deborah S. Kelley, a scientist at the University of Washington who directs the American segment. “There’ll be lots of discoveries.
I've got another shameless ad for you, friends and fellow-fen. My bloodline of peculiar cats has finally gotten official recognition -- and a new name. Now I'm going to need help expanding the breed. Here's an ad which I put in the local paper, hoping for local fans to come help. I'd really prefer to have people from nearby, since cats don't travel well, but good homes and willing participants are more important than proximity. We can always figure out something.
To Help Develop a New Breed:
Thanks to the luck of mutation, I’ve come up with a new breed, which I call Silverdust, just recently awarded Experimental Breed status by The International Cat Association. At present, we have only two generations of them, and a total of three cats and seven kittens. That makes just ten of them in the whole world. That’s not enough for the breed to survive. We need to breed a third generation, and at least 10 more Silverdust cats, to guarantee that the breed survives -- and I can’t do it alone.
The Silverdust is derived from the Oriental Shorthair, which in turn descends from the Siamese, and these little creatures do indeed have the slender body-build, big ears and eyes, personality and voice of the Siamese. There the resemblance ends, for the Silverdust has a roaned-grey silver coat, gold-green eyes, workable thumbs on each forepaw, a larger-than-normal skull with a larger-than-normal brain inside, and a remarkably high intelligence. Silverdusts are also very friendly and people-oriented, and are shameless petting-sluts.
I need two or three dedicated cat-lovers, right now, to take breeding pairs of the kittens:
to raise them, get them their shots, breed them when they’re old enough, and then select the next generation of breeders from among their kittens. Please stay in contact with me so we can track the breed’s progress. Also, I have developed a reliable way to find good homes for non-breeder kittens.
Please contact me for more information at 602-373-0320 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Oh, what the heck - I doubt he'll mind my sharing one photo from the page - a Bride's whale pooping...
When I got home that night, I noticed the smiling jack-o-lantern in my front yard was crushed, weeping seedy tears as the garden gnome raised his club for another hit. “Hey! I told you, not to come back here!”
The gnome turned around, smirking. “It’s Halloween, I can go anywhere and do anything I please for the night”.
“Then why are you wasting your time here smashing bitty little pumpkins? Why not collect the other gnomes and march on the big display in the park?”
“Thanks for the suggestion,” he sneered, “Maybe I will. After I ruin the porch!”
I reached behind me and pulled my new acquisition from the seat. “And maybe you won’t either.” With a roar, the chainsaw came to life, and I advanced on the little pest…
February 23, 2010
Things I Won't Work With: Dioxygen Difluoride
Posted by Derek
The latest addition to the long list of chemicals that I never hope to encounter takes us back to the wonderful world of fluorine chemistry. I'm always struck by how much work has taken place in that field, how long ago some of it was first done, and how many violently hideous compounds have been carefully studied. Here's how the experimental prep of today's fragrant breath of spring starts:
The heater was warmed to approximately 700C. The heater block glowed a dull red color, observable with room lights turned off. The ballast tank was filled to 300 torr with oxygen, and fluorine was added until the total pressure was 901 torr. . .
And yes, what happens next is just what you think happens: you run a mixture of oxygen and fluorine through a 700-degree-heating block. "Oh, no you don't," is the common reaction of most chemists to that proposal, ". . .not unless I'm at least a mile away, two miles if I'm downwind." This, folks, is the bracingly direct route to preparing dioxygen difluoride, often referred to in the literature by its evocative formula of FOOF.
(update - the blog it was in moved, so updated the link to the still quite interesting article...)
We have known about the water on Enceladus for a while now. Hydrothermal vents at its southern pole shoot water vapor into space, high enough and big enough to be seen hundreds of thousands of miles away. But now, thanks to some clever analysis of the wobble in its orbit around Saturn, we now know something else about it: that water comprises an ocean that spans the entire globe, just under its solid crust.
NASA worked out the answer to the puzzle of whether Enceladus had a global ocean using research from Cassini, a spacecraft launched in 1997 that arrived at Saturn in 2004 and has spent the last decade studying the planet and its many moons.
Enceladus isn’t the only worldlet in our Solar System that jets liquids from its surface, and once Cassini arrived in orbit around Saturn it was to confirm that the moon was spouting water. But while there had been suspicions that Enceladus had a subsurface sea, nobody really knew for sure how big that sea was. In this latest study of the gathered data, however, the researchers noticed a wobble in its orbit that “can only be accounted for if its outer ice shell is not frozen solid to its interior.”
In other words, Enceladus sloshes.