Look at the stars, not your feet


Stuff from a girl who loves science, classic rock and Monty Python, but should really stop bringing her dignity to school because she is always losing it.

libutron:

Armadillo Girdled Lizard, Ouroborus cataphractus | ©Trevor Hardaker
Clanwilliam, South Africa.
Ouroborus cataphractus [Syn. Cordylus cataphractus F. Boie, 1828] is a lizard endemic to desert areas of southern Africa.
Armadillo lizards are named for their appearance when in a defensive position. When threatened, they curl up, grip the tail in their jaws, and form a tight, armored ball, resembling an armadillo. Rows of spiny osteodermate scales covering the neck, body, tail, and limbs deter predators from seizing or swallowing these lizards. This position protects the soft underside of the lizard, which is its most vulnerable area.
Like other species of armadillo lizards, Ouroborus cataphractus has the ability to drop their own tail (autotomy) when in danger, and can grow it back slowly. But, unlike many other lizards, in this species the tail is a necessary part of its unique defensive position. Because of this, the lizard will not part with the tail easily or quickly and tail autotomy is used only as a last resort. That is why in many of the photographs of these lizards is common to appear biting its tail.
The Armadillo lizards have an unusual appearance and are rather easy to catch. They are captured and sold in the commercial pet trade to other countries, although collecting this species is illegal.
This species is classified as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List.
Reptilia - Squamata - Cordylidae - Ouroborus - O. cataphractus
Source.
libutron:

Armadillo Girdled Lizard, Ouroborus cataphractus | ©Trevor Hardaker
Clanwilliam, South Africa.
Ouroborus cataphractus [Syn. Cordylus cataphractus F. Boie, 1828] is a lizard endemic to desert areas of southern Africa.
Armadillo lizards are named for their appearance when in a defensive position. When threatened, they curl up, grip the tail in their jaws, and form a tight, armored ball, resembling an armadillo. Rows of spiny osteodermate scales covering the neck, body, tail, and limbs deter predators from seizing or swallowing these lizards. This position protects the soft underside of the lizard, which is its most vulnerable area.
Like other species of armadillo lizards, Ouroborus cataphractus has the ability to drop their own tail (autotomy) when in danger, and can grow it back slowly. But, unlike many other lizards, in this species the tail is a necessary part of its unique defensive position. Because of this, the lizard will not part with the tail easily or quickly and tail autotomy is used only as a last resort. That is why in many of the photographs of these lizards is common to appear biting its tail.
The Armadillo lizards have an unusual appearance and are rather easy to catch. They are captured and sold in the commercial pet trade to other countries, although collecting this species is illegal.
This species is classified as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List.
Reptilia - Squamata - Cordylidae - Ouroborus - O. cataphractus
Source.
neuromorphogenesis:

How do we hallucinate?
Think drug-induced hallucinations, and the whirly, spirally, tunnel-vision-like patterns of psychedelic imagery immediately spring to mind. But it’s not just hallucinogenic drugs like LSD, cannabis or mescaline that conjure up these geometric structures. People have reported seeing them in near-death experiences, as a result of disorders like epilepsy and schizophrenia, following sensory deprivation, or even just after applying pressure to the eyeballs. So common are these geometric hallucinations, that in the last century scientists began asking themselves if they couldn’t tell us something fundamental about how our brains are wired up. And it seems that they can.
Geometric hallucinations were first studied systematically in the 1920s by the German-American psychologist Heinrich Klüver. Klüver’s interest in visual perception had led him to experiment with peyote, that cactus made famous by Carlos Castaneda, whose psychoactive ingredient mescaline played an important role in the shamanistic rituals of many central American tribes. Mescaline was well-known for inducing striking visual hallucinations. Popping peyote buttons with his assistant in the laboratory, Klüver noticed the repeating geometric shapes in mescaline-induced hallucinations and classified them into four types, which he called form constants: tunnels and funnels, spirals, lattices including honeycombs and triangles, and cobwebs.
In the 1970s the mathematicians Jack D. Cowan and G. Bard Ermentrout used Klüver’s classification to build a theory describing what is going on in our brain when it tricks us into believing that we are seeing geometric patterns. Their theory has since been elaborated by other scientists, including Paul Bressloff, Professor of Mathematical and Computational Neuroscience at the Oxford Centre for Collaborative Applied Mathematics.
How the cortex got its stripes…
In humans and mammals the first area of the visual cortex to process visual information is known as V1. Experimental evidence, for example from fMRI scans, suggests that Klüver’s patterns, too, originate largely in V1, rather than later on in the visual system. Like the rest of the brain, V1 has a complex, crinkly, folded-up structure, but there’s a surprisingly straight-forward way of translating what we see in our visual field to neural activity in V1. “If you imagine unfolding [V1],” says Bressloff, “You can think of it as neural tissue a few millimetres thick with various layers of neurons. To a first approximation, the neurons through the depth of the cortex behave in a similar way, so if you compress those neurons together, you can think of V1 as a two-dimensional sheet.”
An object or scene in the visual world is projected as a two-dimensional image on the retina of each eye, so what we see can also be treated as flat sheet: the visual field. Every point on this sheet can be pin-pointed by two coordinates, just like a point on a map, or a point on the flat model of V1. The alternating regions of light and dark that make up a geometric hallucination are caused by alternating regions of high and low neural activity in V1 — regions where the neurons are firing very rapidly and regions where they are not firing rapidly.
To translate visual patterns to neural activity, what is needed is a coordinate map, a rule which links each point in the visual field to a point on the flat model of V1. In the 1970s scientists including Cowan came up with just such a map, based on anatomical knowledge of how neurons in the retina communicate with neurons in V1. For each light or dark region in the visual field, the map identifies a region of high or low neural activity in V1.
So how does this retino-cortical map transform Klüver’s geometric patterns? It turns out that hallucinations comprising spirals, circles, and rays that emanate from the centre correspond to stripes of neural activity in V1 that are inclined at given angles. Lattices like honeycombs or chequer-boards correspond to hexagonal activity patterns in V1. This in itself might not have appeared particularly exciting, but there was a precedent: stripes and hexagons are exactly what scientists had seen when modelling other instances of pattern formation, for example convection in fluids, or, more strikingly, the emergence of spots and stripes in animal coats.
…and how the leopard got its spots
The first model of pattern formation in animal coats goes back to Alan Turing, better known as the father of modern computer science and Bletchley Park code breaker. Turing wrote down a set of equations which showed how two interacting chemical components that start out in equilibrium, when nudged out of balance, can polarise to form patterns that have a high concentration of one chemical in some regions and a high concentration of the other chemical in others. If those chemicals produce pigments in the skin of an animal embryo, then, voilà, they give you its coat or skin pattern.
Neural activity in the brain doesn’t work in the same way, but there are analogies to Turing’s model. Neurons send signals to each other via their output lines called axons. The interaction separates them out into two interacting groups, akin to the two interacting chemicals: there are neurons which are excitatory — they make other neurons more likely to become active — and there are inhibitory neurons, which make other neurons less likely to become active.
Inspired by the analogies to Turing’s process, Cowan and Ermentrout constructed a model of neural activity in V1, using a set of equations that had been formulated by Cowan and Hugh Wilson. Although the equations are more complicated than Turing’s, you can still play the same game, letting the system evolve over time and see if patterns in neural activity evolve. “You find that, under certain circumstances, if you turn up a parameter which represents, for example, the effect of a drug on the cortex, then this leads to a growth of periodic patterns,” says Bressloff.
All this suggests that geometric hallucinations are a result of an instability in V1: something, for example the presence of a drug, throws the neural network off its equilibrium, kicking into action a snowballing interaction between excitatory and inhibitory neurons, which then stabilises in a stripy or hexagonal pattern of neural activity in V1. In the visual field we then “see” this pattern in the shape of the geometric structures described by Klüver.
Cowan and Ermentrout’s model was only the beginning, and scientists, including Bressloff, have since come up with more sophisticated models, that are more anatomically accurate.
Image1: Computer generated representations of form constants. The top two images represent a funnel and a spiral as seen after taking LSD, the bottom left image is a honeycomb generated by marijuana, and the bottom right image is a cobweb. Image2: The visual cortex: the area V1.
neuromorphogenesis:

How do we hallucinate?
Think drug-induced hallucinations, and the whirly, spirally, tunnel-vision-like patterns of psychedelic imagery immediately spring to mind. But it’s not just hallucinogenic drugs like LSD, cannabis or mescaline that conjure up these geometric structures. People have reported seeing them in near-death experiences, as a result of disorders like epilepsy and schizophrenia, following sensory deprivation, or even just after applying pressure to the eyeballs. So common are these geometric hallucinations, that in the last century scientists began asking themselves if they couldn’t tell us something fundamental about how our brains are wired up. And it seems that they can.
Geometric hallucinations were first studied systematically in the 1920s by the German-American psychologist Heinrich Klüver. Klüver’s interest in visual perception had led him to experiment with peyote, that cactus made famous by Carlos Castaneda, whose psychoactive ingredient mescaline played an important role in the shamanistic rituals of many central American tribes. Mescaline was well-known for inducing striking visual hallucinations. Popping peyote buttons with his assistant in the laboratory, Klüver noticed the repeating geometric shapes in mescaline-induced hallucinations and classified them into four types, which he called form constants: tunnels and funnels, spirals, lattices including honeycombs and triangles, and cobwebs.
In the 1970s the mathematicians Jack D. Cowan and G. Bard Ermentrout used Klüver’s classification to build a theory describing what is going on in our brain when it tricks us into believing that we are seeing geometric patterns. Their theory has since been elaborated by other scientists, including Paul Bressloff, Professor of Mathematical and Computational Neuroscience at the Oxford Centre for Collaborative Applied Mathematics.
How the cortex got its stripes…
In humans and mammals the first area of the visual cortex to process visual information is known as V1. Experimental evidence, for example from fMRI scans, suggests that Klüver’s patterns, too, originate largely in V1, rather than later on in the visual system. Like the rest of the brain, V1 has a complex, crinkly, folded-up structure, but there’s a surprisingly straight-forward way of translating what we see in our visual field to neural activity in V1. “If you imagine unfolding [V1],” says Bressloff, “You can think of it as neural tissue a few millimetres thick with various layers of neurons. To a first approximation, the neurons through the depth of the cortex behave in a similar way, so if you compress those neurons together, you can think of V1 as a two-dimensional sheet.”
An object or scene in the visual world is projected as a two-dimensional image on the retina of each eye, so what we see can also be treated as flat sheet: the visual field. Every point on this sheet can be pin-pointed by two coordinates, just like a point on a map, or a point on the flat model of V1. The alternating regions of light and dark that make up a geometric hallucination are caused by alternating regions of high and low neural activity in V1 — regions where the neurons are firing very rapidly and regions where they are not firing rapidly.
To translate visual patterns to neural activity, what is needed is a coordinate map, a rule which links each point in the visual field to a point on the flat model of V1. In the 1970s scientists including Cowan came up with just such a map, based on anatomical knowledge of how neurons in the retina communicate with neurons in V1. For each light or dark region in the visual field, the map identifies a region of high or low neural activity in V1.
So how does this retino-cortical map transform Klüver’s geometric patterns? It turns out that hallucinations comprising spirals, circles, and rays that emanate from the centre correspond to stripes of neural activity in V1 that are inclined at given angles. Lattices like honeycombs or chequer-boards correspond to hexagonal activity patterns in V1. This in itself might not have appeared particularly exciting, but there was a precedent: stripes and hexagons are exactly what scientists had seen when modelling other instances of pattern formation, for example convection in fluids, or, more strikingly, the emergence of spots and stripes in animal coats.
…and how the leopard got its spots
The first model of pattern formation in animal coats goes back to Alan Turing, better known as the father of modern computer science and Bletchley Park code breaker. Turing wrote down a set of equations which showed how two interacting chemical components that start out in equilibrium, when nudged out of balance, can polarise to form patterns that have a high concentration of one chemical in some regions and a high concentration of the other chemical in others. If those chemicals produce pigments in the skin of an animal embryo, then, voilà, they give you its coat or skin pattern.
Neural activity in the brain doesn’t work in the same way, but there are analogies to Turing’s model. Neurons send signals to each other via their output lines called axons. The interaction separates them out into two interacting groups, akin to the two interacting chemicals: there are neurons which are excitatory — they make other neurons more likely to become active — and there are inhibitory neurons, which make other neurons less likely to become active.
Inspired by the analogies to Turing’s process, Cowan and Ermentrout constructed a model of neural activity in V1, using a set of equations that had been formulated by Cowan and Hugh Wilson. Although the equations are more complicated than Turing’s, you can still play the same game, letting the system evolve over time and see if patterns in neural activity evolve. “You find that, under certain circumstances, if you turn up a parameter which represents, for example, the effect of a drug on the cortex, then this leads to a growth of periodic patterns,” says Bressloff.
All this suggests that geometric hallucinations are a result of an instability in V1: something, for example the presence of a drug, throws the neural network off its equilibrium, kicking into action a snowballing interaction between excitatory and inhibitory neurons, which then stabilises in a stripy or hexagonal pattern of neural activity in V1. In the visual field we then “see” this pattern in the shape of the geometric structures described by Klüver.
Cowan and Ermentrout’s model was only the beginning, and scientists, including Bressloff, have since come up with more sophisticated models, that are more anatomically accurate.
Image1: Computer generated representations of form constants. The top two images represent a funnel and a spiral as seen after taking LSD, the bottom left image is a honeycomb generated by marijuana, and the bottom right image is a cobweb. Image2: The visual cortex: the area V1.
dendroica:

Microbeads a major problem in L.A. River

Scientist Marcus Eriksen stood ankle deep in the murky Los Angeles River on Friday and dipped a net into the water, looking for a problem. Eriksen was searching for “microbeads,” bits of plastic no bigger than salt grains that absorb toxins such as motor oil and insecticides as they tumble downstream and into the Pacific Ocean.
The tiny polyethylene and polypropylene beads are an emerging concern among scientists and environmentalists. The beads come mostly from personal care products such as facial exfoliants and body washes. They are not biodegradable, however, and because they are not removed easily by wastewater treatment plants, they flow out to sea and enter the food chain.
"Microplastic is now a ubiquitous contaminant in the Pacific Ocean — and seas around the world," said Eriksen, a scientist with the 5 Gyres Institute, a nonprofit dedicated to researching plastics in the world’s waterways. "We believe that 80% of it comes from coastal watersheds like Los Angeles."
Eriksen is just starting to test the Los Angeles River to determine if it holds microbeads, and if so, their source. On Friday, he found what he was looking for in about 10 minutes. Near the confluence of the river and Arroyo Seco, about three miles north of downtown, Eriksen found a handful of algae and wriggling leeches speckled with tiny filaments, shards and beads that could have come from myriad sources: laundry wastewater, degraded plastic bags, stir sticks, personal care products.
"The scary thing is that the beads sponge up toxins, then get consumed by organisms from shellfish to crabs to fish" later eaten by humans, he said.
Scientists are only beginning to understand the hazards posed by microplastic pollution in the world’s oceans and inland waterways. In 2012, Eriksen and a team of researchers discovered large amounts of microbeads and other microplastic pollution in the Great Lakes. Those findings prompted a coalition of mayors of Great Lakes cities to ask the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to determine the possible health risks to lake ecosystems and humans.
A year later, 5 Gyres launched a campaign asking the manufacturers of personal care products to remove plastic microbeads and replace them with nonplastic alternatives such as crushed walnut husks and apricot kernels that will degrade naturally. Several companies have agreed to phase microbeads out of their product lines.
In a statement, the Johnson & Johnson Family of Consumer Companies, for example, said it has “stopped developing new products containing polyethylene microbeads.” The company expects by 2015 to have replaced microbeads with alternatives in half the products that currently use them.

(via latimes.com)
bornwanderer:

1/6/14 - 1/7/14
Corcovado Wildlife
bornwanderer:

1/6/14 - 1/7/14
Corcovado Wildlife
bornwanderer:

1/6/14 - 1/7/14
Corcovado Wildlife
bornwanderer:

1/6/14 - 1/7/14
Corcovado Wildlife
bornwanderer:

1/6/14 - 1/7/14
Corcovado Wildlife
bornwanderer:

1/6/14 - 1/7/14
Corcovado Wildlife
bornwanderer:

1/6/14 - 1/7/14
Corcovado Wildlife
bornwanderer:

1/6/14 - 1/7/14
Corcovado Wildlife
bornwanderer:

1/6/14 - 1/7/14
Corcovado Wildlife

I’M SO PSYCHED I’M STARTING A MOOK ON MONDAY F*** YEAH

1 note

sagansense:


What happens when you ask a synthetic biologist to mix you up a cocktail? You learn how to isolate strawberry DNA. (The sticky stuff on the toothpick up there.)
Wanna know how to make a strawberry DNA cocktail yourself? We’ve got you covered.
In this animated how-to video, TED Fellow / synthetic biologist Oliver Medvedik shows you how to use pineapple juice and Bacardi 151 to isolate strawberry DNA for a very nerdy adult beverage. Watch the whole thing here» 
A biology lesson and a cocktail recipe in one? You’re welcome. Drink responsibly and read more about the video here.

Source: tedx
sagansense:


What happens when you ask a synthetic biologist to mix you up a cocktail? You learn how to isolate strawberry DNA. (The sticky stuff on the toothpick up there.)
Wanna know how to make a strawberry DNA cocktail yourself? We’ve got you covered.
In this animated how-to video, TED Fellow / synthetic biologist Oliver Medvedik shows you how to use pineapple juice and Bacardi 151 to isolate strawberry DNA for a very nerdy adult beverage. Watch the whole thing here» 
A biology lesson and a cocktail recipe in one? You’re welcome. Drink responsibly and read more about the video here.

Source: tedx

-hewastheirfriend:

jonasbrothers:

justintimerblake:

babemagneto:

does the ‘science side of tumblr’ actually exist???

science side of tumblr what do you think?

protons

thank u science side of tumblr

273,589 notes

tedx:

How a failed attempt to 3D print a cake led to beautiful sugar sculptures you can eat … or drop into your coffee
In grad school, designers Liz and Kyle von Hasseln wanted to bake their friend a cake. The only problem? They didn’t own an oven. They did, however, have a 3D printer.
In a talk at TEDxManhattanBeach, the duo explains how this problem led to a breakthrough: they couldn’t print a cake, but they could print a cake topper.
Now, Liz and Kyle now spend their days designing and (3D) printing edible sugar sculptures — from corkscrews for your coffee to latticework for your cocktail.
Watch the whole talk to find out more about how these super sweet designs are made»
(Photos: the sugar lab)
tedx:

How a failed attempt to 3D print a cake led to beautiful sugar sculptures you can eat … or drop into your coffee
In grad school, designers Liz and Kyle von Hasseln wanted to bake their friend a cake. The only problem? They didn’t own an oven. They did, however, have a 3D printer.
In a talk at TEDxManhattanBeach, the duo explains how this problem led to a breakthrough: they couldn’t print a cake, but they could print a cake topper.
Now, Liz and Kyle now spend their days designing and (3D) printing edible sugar sculptures — from corkscrews for your coffee to latticework for your cocktail.
Watch the whole talk to find out more about how these super sweet designs are made»
(Photos: the sugar lab)
tedx:

How a failed attempt to 3D print a cake led to beautiful sugar sculptures you can eat … or drop into your coffee
In grad school, designers Liz and Kyle von Hasseln wanted to bake their friend a cake. The only problem? They didn’t own an oven. They did, however, have a 3D printer.
In a talk at TEDxManhattanBeach, the duo explains how this problem led to a breakthrough: they couldn’t print a cake, but they could print a cake topper.
Now, Liz and Kyle now spend their days designing and (3D) printing edible sugar sculptures — from corkscrews for your coffee to latticework for your cocktail.
Watch the whole talk to find out more about how these super sweet designs are made»
(Photos: the sugar lab)
thenewenlightenmentage:

Yale researchers find rare genetic cause of Tourette syndrome
A rare genetic mutation that disrupts production of histamine in the brain is a cause of the tics and other abnormalities of Tourette syndrome, according to new findings by Yale School of Medicine researchers.
The findings, reported Jan. 8 in the journal Neuron, suggest that existing drugs that target histamine receptors in the brain might be useful in treating the disorder. Tourette syndrome afflicts up to 1% of children, and a smaller percentage of adults.
Continue Reading
doctorwho:

lumos5001:

finished crocheted Adipose, i’m so pleased with this… this is the first time i have made anything without following a pattern and it turned to so well
sciencesoup:

Badass Scientist of the Week: Dr. Aprille Ericsson
Aprille Ericsson (1963–) is an aerospace engineer and the first African American woman to receive a Ph.D. in Engineering at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.
Ericsson spent her childhood in Brooklyn, New York, where she cultivated an interest in science and mathematics. She attended the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) where she received a Bachelor of Science in Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering, and during her undergrad, she worked on a variety of projects geared towards manned space flight, which motivated her to attend Howard University to gain her Masters and her PhD in Mechanical Engineering (Aerospace).
She went on to receive a PhD in Engineering at the Goddard Space Flight Center, becoming the first African American female to do so, and has applied to NASA’s astronaut program.
Eriscsson is currently working as an aerospace engineer at GSFC, where she designs and tests spacecraft, so if you think of any major space missions over the last twenty years, there’s a good chance Ericsson was involved in their success.
She’s also a motivational speaker and a mentor to mainly girls and minorities, and has commented: “I feel obligated to continue to help spur the interest of minorities and females in the math, science and engineering disciplines. Without diversity in all fields the United States will not remain technically competitive.”
Among other honours, Ericsson has also won four NASA awards for excellence and the 1997 ‘Women in Science and Engineering’ award for the best female engineer in the federal government.
ichthyologist:

Tripod Fish (Bathypterois sp.)
Bathypterois is a genus deep sea fish known as the tripod fish. As their name suggests, the fish stands on the sea floor using three fins as support. In some species, these fins can be up to 1m long.
The fish perch on the substrate with their heads facing the current. The fins allow for their heads to be at the right level to catch drifting crustaceans and small fish.
Due to the complete darkness of the deep sea, the fish does not rely on eyesight to catch prey. Instead, it faces its pectoral fins forward and uses tactile and mechanosensory cues to identify food. Once they feel prey and realise it is edible, the fins sweep the food into the fish’s mouth.
ichthyologist:

Tripod Fish (Bathypterois sp.)
Bathypterois is a genus deep sea fish known as the tripod fish. As their name suggests, the fish stands on the sea floor using three fins as support. In some species, these fins can be up to 1m long.
The fish perch on the substrate with their heads facing the current. The fins allow for their heads to be at the right level to catch drifting crustaceans and small fish.
Due to the complete darkness of the deep sea, the fish does not rely on eyesight to catch prey. Instead, it faces its pectoral fins forward and uses tactile and mechanosensory cues to identify food. Once they feel prey and realise it is edible, the fins sweep the food into the fish’s mouth.
kemetically-afrolatino:

eBay removes anti-Zimmerman artwork the same day Zimmerman’s painting sells for $100k

D’Antuono posted the following note two days after Zimmerman’s painting was sold:
"I’m sad to announce that eBay removed my “A Tale Of Two Hoodies” auction from their site. They allowed George Zimmerman to profit from his crime, yet I was denied the opportunity to raise funds to help the very foundation named in honor of Zimmerman’s victim.
As the bidding started to gain momentum, passing the $25,000 mark, they took it off, deeming my auction “hateful and discriminatory.”
According to eBay: 
“[t]he painting you listed appears to contain images or icons associated with the KKK which are not allowed to be listed on our site as they represent an organization that glorifies hate and violence.”


hmm. a quick search on Ebay and I find:

Details about  Ku Klux Klan Memorabilia Women of the KKK Roanoke VA 1931 
first of all, WTF. WTF WTF WTF. how the fuck? why the fuck?
like, not only does he,— but then they,—- but this guy fuckin—- and who the fuck would—- and they what? but this guy is givin—- and they also— like what? huh?!?!?!?!!
this is fuck shit on top of fuck shit on top of fuck shit.
and. AANNND. the mothafucka is accused of plagiarizing the painting from a stock photo online. LIKE?!

wow. no wonder satirical sites like The Onion is quitting becuz you cant even make a satire bout shit anymore, ridiculous unexplainable fucked up shit is ALREADY HAPPENING IN THE REAL WORLD, FOR TRUTH. it all makes sense now.
i can’t even.