Xingu River Ray (Potamotrygon leopoldi)
Also known as the white-blotched river ray or the polka dot river ray, Potamotrygon leopoldi is a species of freshwater stingray (Potamotrygonidae) that is endemic to Brazil. Where it primarily inhabits the Xingu River Basin. P. leopoldi prefers rocky river bottoms where it finds and feeds on freshwater snails and crabs.
Despite being listed as ‘least concern’ and occupying a large basin Potamotrygon leopoldi is currently facing threats from Habitat loss.
Polar bears range from Russia to the U.S. (Alaska), from Canada to Greenland, and onto Norway’s Svalbard archipelago—the five polar bear nations.
Biologists estimate there are 20,000 to 25,000 bears. About 60% of those live in Canada.
At the 2009 meeting of the IUCN Polar Bear Specialist Group, scientists reported that of the19 populations of polar bears:
- 8 are declining
- 3 are stable
- 1 is increasing
- 7 have insufficient data
By comparison, in 2005:
- 5 were declining
- 5 were stable
- 2 were increasing
- 7 have insufficient data
In May 2008, the U.S listed the polar bear as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act. In Canada, polar bears are listed as a species of special concern. Russia also considers the polar bear a species of concern.
What’s happening? Today, scientists have concluded that the threat to polar bears is loss of their sea ice habitat in the Arctic from global warming. Polar bears depend on sea ice for hunting, breeding, and in some cases, denning. Summer ice loss in the Arctic now equals an area the size of Alaska, Texas, and the state of Washington combined.
Lightning Ridge Black Opal - Twin Galaxy Gem Stones
Aside from Grey and White, Black Opal is the most precious and is at least 50 times more rare than diamond, yet these beautiful gems are also much more fragile.
The brilliant colors within the gems are iridescent, meaning that they will change color or flash as you rotate them. Deep down within the opal are silica spheres arranged in arrays and both the size and arrangement of the spheres will determine the color produced. The Twin Galaxy Stones will flash like lightning as you rotate them, hence the name Lightning Ridge in Australia.
This video is a bit graphic, but it’s also pretty amazing.
Most of us “think that the brain is sort of the consistency of a rubber ball,” says neurobiologist Suzanne Stensaas of the University of Utah. That’s because the only experience we have is with fixed brains soaked in formaldehyde.
When alive and firing, the brain is actually really soft and compressible, like a sack of goo. “It’s much softer than most of the meat you see in a market,” Stensaas says.
In this video, the neurobiologist explores the anatomy of 1,400 gram brain just freshly removed from an autopsy. The video gave me a whole new understanding and appreciation for how remarkable — and vulnerable — this amazing organ is.
Wear your helmets!
Video from University of Utah Brain Institute/Youtube.com
Get your head around that.
I realize that a lot of the people who watch and read It’s Okay To Be Smart might not regularly tune into the NPR show Marketplace, because one is about stock markets and economics and one is about science (mine’s the one about science). If you did tune in, though, then you got to hear me and Henry from MinutePhysics tonight, talking about the explosive rise of educational YouTube channels!
If you didn’t listen, that’s okay. I gotcha covered. Listen to it above!
After you’re done hearing me talk, head over and read the accompanying article on Marketplace’s website to see a rare behind-the-scenes photo of me shooting an episode of IOTBS.
Thank you to everyone who has made this trip from “grad student blogger” to “Ph.D. YouTube guy” possible. We’ve still got a lot of fun and interesting stuff to discover together.
That’s exactly what I’m thinking. There’s no reason for alien life on a completely different planet to look anything like us.
Christmas is coming, and since a few of you have asked me where to get these i thought i would just put them all in one list, so;
- Aerogel - (currently out of stock, sorry.)
- Ecosphere - Comes in many different shapes; Large Sphere, Small Sphere, Small Pod/oval and more.
- Could not find a Gomboc, sorry.
- Gallium - 20 grams, 40 grams, 100 grams
- Miracle Berries - A lot cheaper than i thought they would be!
- Ferrofluid/Magnetic Fluid - heres a bonus gif :D
I’ve been thinking a lot about strange fruits since last week’s episode on the ghosts of evolution that reside in our produce aisle. Lots of people liked that episode. That makes me very happy. In that spirit, I present this question:
What’s the most annoying fruit ever?
The answer, of course, is the pomegranate. But this isn’t about the pomegranate. It’s about the mango. And the mango comes in a very close second on my Fruit Annoyance Scale™.
I’m pretty handy in the kitchen. I know how to cut one. I’m just left disappointed every time. So much deliciousness remains stuck to that wacky, disc-shaped seed. My only choices are to throw it away or to gnaw at it like I’m afflicted with some sort of crazed, herbivoric bloodlust, covering myself in stickiness and drawing many a raised eyebrow from my wife.
But that little trick, that hidden seed, is part of the mango’s evolutionary magic, its very key to survival and reproduction.
If you watched the video, you remember that the avocado, with its ridiculously big seed, evolved to get swallowed whole, and be pooped out later, so they could grow far away and free from big tree competition. The only problem is that the moving truck-sized ground sloths and prehistoric elephants that munched on them in central America are extinct. Yet the avocado lives on, strangely, no longer subject to that cooperation. It’s an evolutionary anachronism.
That’s the story behind the mango’s über-annoying seed. In southeast Asia, the mango’s native lands, forest rhinos and Asian elephants, who love mangos, are some of Earth’s last remaining examples of the megafauna that dispersed so many of the world’s weird fruits (including papaya, durian, avocado, and many others).
The mango has evolved a stringy flesh that clings to its seed (and whoever took the photo above clearly spent hours excavating that thing). Rhinos and elephants find that just as annoying as we do, so they swallow them after only the tiniest bit of munching. After a long, strange trip through the belly of the giant mammal, that seed gets dropped off with its great reward: A dallop of fresh fertilizer.
When you look at an elephant or rhino, you’re looking at the last giant mammals to still roam dry Earth. Sadly, nearly all of them are critically endangered. I and others have often referred to those strange fruits as “ghosts of evolution”, but those great creatures are close to becoming ghosts themselves. That’s really sad. Sure, we’ve taken over for the large mammals in the mango-growing department, but we shouldn’t save one ghost to spite another.
I hope that you’ll never look at a mango, or avocado, or papaya quite the same way again. And maybe, when you consider the mango, you’ll consider these beautiful creatures:
Let’s do what we can to keep them from becoming ghosts, too.
We just might have a Thanksgiving miracle on our hands—after appearing to disintegrate during its close pass by the Sun, the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) caught photographs of something curving around the Sun and heading away from it. The initial photos also showed this object beginning to brighten again, possibly hinting that ISON—or at least a part of it—had survived its 1.1 million kilometer rendezvous with the star. However, more recent photos are now showing the comet fading again. While this could mean that the comet has actually met its demise, it could also be just another part of ISON’s bizarre brightening and fading trend that it’s been going through since its approach.
While scientists continue to review the data coming from SOHO and NASA’s STEREO observatories, it’s too soon to estimate just how much of the comet remains after the encounter and what will happen to ISON as it continues traveling away from the center of the Solar System. Although the comet was not as dazzling as some had hoped on its first pass by the Earth, stargazers may have a second chance to view the comet if it fully survives. The next few days will be very telling about the future of the comet as more data is collected and the remnants move further away from the harsh environment of the Sun.
Read more about the fate of Comet ISON here: http://goo.gl/gBtlB6
#NASA #Penny4NASA #ISON #SOHO
The rising Moon and Mercury above the city lights of Brisbane in Queensland, Australia. (Image by Stephen Mudge, April 2012)
(Via The Sun Today)
(GIF’s Source: SOHO Real Time GIF Movies)
Earth vs the other Solar System planets, starting from the Sun.
Down but not Oort?
Comet ISON, presumed dead after its sun-grazing trip yesterday, may have survived … maybe. Something survived, anyway. This NASA image from the SOHO satellite shows a smaller, diffuse tail reforming on Nov. 29th:
Frankly, comet-watchers are pretty stumped by ISON. That’s ok. Science is messy. Considering that this particular chunk of frozen space stuff has been hanging out in the Oort cloud for a few billion years, we’d be forgiven for not knowing everything about it.
Phil Plait has all your updates and background on the ISON undead-comet saga, and future, at Bad Astronomy.
Who’s up for renaming this thing “Comet Icarus”?
(Most excellent comic at top via xkcd)