My two favorite people right now are Bill Nye and Neil deGrasse Tyson. If you know me, it won’t surprise you when I say the natural offshoot of my admiration for these two science heroes was wondering what their child would look like. And because the internet can do amazing things, my curiosity was soon satisfied.
Being a fan of rigor in all things, I repeated the simulation several times with various combinations of photographs of our heroes. At least at MorphThing, the various combinations were fairly consistent.
In closing, I’ll leave you with pictures of our heroes in their black-and-white photo days.
First, thank you to everyone who liked, commented on, and shared my previous post! Your response was amazing!
I got a clear message that you like cuteness. So I have a cuteness challenge for you: baby sea otters (and sea otters in general). Read on if you dare, because this post will be peppered with presh pictures that will probably make you squee.
And I don’t want to give you the impression that only the pups are cute. Adult sea otters are incredibly endearing. Sea otters are a delight to watch, even (especially?) when snoozing or simply wrapped up in kelp.
March 23 is National Puppy Day! This unholiday is the perfect day to admire the ephemeral cuteness of puppies, and by admire I mean click through online photo galleries. Here are a few puppy pictures (with a gallery link in the caption) to get you started:
Here is my own contribution, a pic of my spaniel when she was 4 months old:
Awhile ago I came across this fantastic paper sculpture of a human torso, complete with removable organs, built by Horst Kiechle. The anatomical detail is spectacular, considering Kiechle constructed the sculpture entirely from 200gms/sqm white card. You can even build your own organs, using instructions found here.
I soon found that the internet abounds with paper art crafted by science geeks, much of which is origami. Below are some of the more interesting creations out there.
Origami is derived from the Japanese words “ori” meaning “fold” and “kami” meaning paper. The traditional concept of origami is folding paper to create objects using only one piece of paper with no cuts or glue.
And, while not officially origami (the use of two paperclips and several staples is involved), the Origami Embryo is probably the most clever tutorial on embryonic development I’ve seen. Using three sheets of paper, Dr. Diana Darnell demonstrates how the ectoderm, mesoderm, and endoderm fold upon one another to create embryonic organs. Working through this tutorial would likely help countless biology undergrads who are primarily tactile or visual learners get a better grasp (har har) on early organogenesis.
Finally, an origami post would be incomplete without at least one Eric Joisel (1956-2010) creation. Here’s to you, beloved pangolin:
Sometimes the line between science visualization and art is a blur. Brendan Fitzpatrick’s series of floral X-rays is a perfect example, where a scientific technique that relays structural information about the subject is also incredibly beautiful. Below are my favorites; many more images can be found on Brendan’s website.
A striking, close-up, photo of a wild lion eating his prey is just one of many treasures that resulted from an innovative project by Burrard-Lucas Photography, a two-brother team from the UK. Will and Matt Burrard-Lucas built a pair of remote controlled buggies designed to capture on-the-ground images of wildlife, dubbed BeetleCams. One BeetleCam was equipped with an armored, lion-proof carapace and the second with more advanced capabilities including HD video recording, wireless live-view and remotely operated camera tilt.
Their newest project captures unique, ground level photographs of African wildlife — specifically the lions of the Masai Mara in Kenya. You can read an account of their journey and see a selection of BeetleCam images on their blog (and even more images through a directory found here). A selection of my favorites:
Apes are subject to “naturally” occurring pathogens like Ebola and Simian Immunodeficiency Virus (SIV) as well as some diseases we humans transmit. Both types of disease are important sources of mortality in wild chimpanzees and gorillas.
In a paper published in PlosOne (December 2011), Dr. Sadie J. Ryan and Dr. Peter D. Walsh present their findings based on an analysis of the consequences of non-intervention for infectious disease in African great apes. In short: wild great ape recovery from disease is slow, and a single outbreak can devastate a population.
We found that the predicted recovery time for this specific gorilla population from a single outbreak ranged from 5 years for a low mortality (4%) respiratory outbreak, to 131 years for an Ebola outbreak that killed 96% of the population. This shows that mortality rates comparable to those recently reported for disease outbreaks in wild populations are not sustainable.
Given the grave impact a single infectious disease outbreak may have on ape populations, the researchers evaluate how to best impede such outbreaks from occurring. Both non-interventionist actions, like limiting tourist access to apes and community health programs, as well as more direct actions like vaccination were proposed as ways to protect great apes from disease:
Based on our research here, we suggest that the great ape conservation community should pursue and promote treatment and vaccination, as weapons in the arsenal for fighting the decline of African apes. This should include rigorous assessments of both safety and cost-effectiveness, and should emphasize program sustainability, with particular attention to the training of African veterinary personnel.