More Mars porn

Want to know what it’s like to land on Mars be lowered onto the surface of our neighbor planet by a Sky Crane? Well, here you go:


Tuesday Morning Science

Stories and links of interest from the past week…

Monkeys in Florida? Apparently so, and according to this story in the NYTimes at least one of them has escaped and is currently living large in the suburbs of Tampa. Story goes, back in the 1930’s an enterprising river cruise operator decided to introduce Rhesus monkeys to an island in the Silver River hoping to encourage tourism. Of course, the monkeys escaped from the island and now inhabit the jungle/swamp along the Silver and Ocklawaha rivers, and occasionally wander into nearby towns. Guess I know where our next kayak adventure will be!

Okay, now this is cool: some neuroscientists up at Woods Hole decided to hook up a squid to an iPod. See below for the result, click here to find out more.

Monday morning science

Two science related links for a Monday morning (what? It’s Tuesday you say? Bah!):

First off is the very excellent new series what if? from Randall Munroe, creator of the webcomic xkcd, where Randall answers your random physics questions. This week: what if everybody on earth squished up real close together and then jumped at the same time?

Next up is – a website all about aquaculture and seafood. Dr. Rafik Orhun, now of NOAA/NMFS in Miami runs this blog/news site and updates the news section almost daily. A comprehensive source for all your aquaculture and seafood related news in one spot!

That’s all for now. Goliath grouper spawning season has begun, so the FSU Grouper lab will be very busy for the next few months poking and prodding and slowly piecing together the story of how these incredible beasts reproduce.

Recent headlines

It has been a while, but here are some stories that have caught my eye recently. And there is a research update!! Click here to read about what’s been keeping me busy lately.

Good news on the endangered turtle front: loggerhead nests have been found in Mississippi for the first time in more than 20 years. This could mean, of course, that habitat degradation in their natural range has sent them searching for sub-optimal habitat elsewhere. Or it could mean that the loggerhead turtle population is increasing so much that they are expanding their range. I, for one, choose to be hopeful that it is the second scenario.

Climate change. Apparently we are still trying to convince people that it is real. Why am I convinced? Simple: I took physics and chemistry in college. All of these complicated models we hear about are based on fundamental principles of the molecules involved. Understanding these principles is, er, fundamental to understanding climate change, but that doesn’t mean they are complicated! A recent Dot Earth (an Ellissurf recommended blog) post focused on this issue and includes a nice presentation on the topic.

For those with the talent, this is a very cool way to communicate complex ideas.

Finally today, something a bit more dense: a consideration of false dichotomies and how it hurts the conservation movement. The take home message – we must recognize that there is a fundamental conflict between economic growth and environmental protection. But as G.I Joe taught the males of my generation years ago, knowing is half the battle. We must recognize this dichotomy (economy versus environment) in order to best chart our path to a future where both coexist. Because of course, an economy without an environment cannot exist.

NASA, not just about space

I’ve been seeing this very cool video popup quite often lately. It’s from the fine folks at the NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center Scientific Visualization Studio, and it shows an animated loop of the world’s ocean currents over the span of 2 years!


I know I’ve blogged about the underfunding of NASA before, but recently I came across this editorial about why investing in science is always in our best interest. Whenever the topic of science budgets comes up, NASA is often the target of criticism. Why should we be spending money in space when that money could be put to better use here on earth? Well, astronomer Phil Plait reports on how technology developed by NASA is being used to help fight fires. A technology called cool-wall vortex combustion helps to keep rocket fuel tanks cool during liftoff by spinning the fuel in the tank which creates a vortex that keeps the fuel closer to the center of the tank and the walls of the fuel tank cool. This same system can be added to fire-fighting equipment with some astonishing results: during a test run, a single firefighter was able to control a living room fire in 17.3 seconds using 13.6 gallons of water. Using the standard system, the same fire would require multiple firefighters, over 200 gallons of water and nearly 2 minutes to control! When we invest in science, either through NASA, or NOAA, or even the Department of Defense, we collectively benefit, often in ways that we can’t predict.

Asparagus pee

Two quick things to post today, the first is this story about how during World War II officers in the OSS who were stationed in the Pacific were given canned asparagus in their emergency rations. The reason for this is that apparently asparagus pee attracts fish! So officers were given the cans of preserved asparagus in hopes that, besides being nutritious itself, the asparagus would help the stranded officers catch more fish and stay alive.


The other note is a plug for my research blog (click here or on the tab above that says “Research”) where I’ve just posted about what it costs to do research in the Florida Keys.