Results of a controlled forest-fire in BC. The fire was used to check the spread of an invasive insect (The mountain pine beetle).
Results of a controlled forest-fire in BC. The fire was used to check the spread of an invasive insect (The mountain pine beetle).

And we thought we were safe! Although Canada now contains over 5% or the world's forested land, it just may be doing the climate more harm than good! Studies now show that thanks to existing climate damage, insect infestations, and constant forest fires, canadian forests are now producing more CO2 than they've absorbed! Scary stuff. Check out the full article for more detailed info.

Witt, H. (2009, January 2). Canada's forests, once huge help on greenhouse gases, now contribute to climate change. Chicago Tribune, Retrieved January 4, 2009, from http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/nationworld/chi-canada-trees_wittjan02,0,539661.story


After Mr. Buntane told us about the wonderful creature called the hagfish, I forgot all about it. Until tonight, that is. While wandering around youtube, decided to search for videos of this lovely creature. Here's a cool one that shows off its ability to turn water into slime! Yummmmm....

(2007, February 10). Hagfish sliming video. Retrieved January 3, 2009, from Youtube Web site: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bb2EOP3ohnE


external image GR2008122900021.jpg

As I was being lazy and surfing the internet late at night (what else is new) I somehow came across this Washington Post Article about how industrial designers are looking more and more to nature for inspiration when manufacturing new textiles and fabrics. One interesting example (shown by the picture above) is how researchers used ultrafine laser technology to artificially recreate the surface of a lotus leaf molecularly. In doign so, they were able to create am environmentally friendly, water-resistant, self-cleaning surface. There are more examples in the article itself.

Eilperin, J. (2008, December 29). Inventors Find Inspiration in Natural Phenomena. The Washington Post, Retrieved December 30, 2008, from http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/12/28/AR2008122801436.html?wpisrc=newsletter


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Thought I'd do a bit of wiki-updating on the break. Well, I guess I kind of have to, but still... While being lazy late at night, I found this New York Times article about subconscious visual sense in the visually impaired. Thought you may want to see it too.

From the page...

"The man, a doctor left blind by two successive strokes, refused to take part in the experiment. He could not see anything, he said, and had no interest in navigating an obstacle course — a cluttered hallway — for the benefit of science. Why bother? When he finally tried it, though, something remarkable happened. He zigzagged down the hall, sidestepping a garbage can, a tripod, a stack of paper and several boxes as if he could see everything clearly."

Check out the link for more!

Carey, B. (2008, December 22). Blind, yet seeing: The brain’s subconscious visual sense. New York Times, Retrieved December 27, 2008, from http://www.nytimes.com/2008/12/23/health/23blin.html?_r=1


Hot stuff right there.
Hot stuff right there.

This top-ten article lists some of the weirder ways that animals find to procreate. The Anglerfish (shown above) is definitely right up there. Read if you want to remain single forever.

10 Bizarre Mating Techniques

(2008, July 5). 10 bizarre mating techniques. Retrieved December 14, 2008, from Scienceray Web site: http://www.scienceray.com/Biology/10-Bizarre-Mating-Techniques.157841



"Cetaceans are known to be among the most clever and intelligent of all mammals. They have brains that are roughly the same size as humans or larger, which are similarly or superiorly complex (although differently evolved in structure). This has led some marine biologists to speculate that whales, and other Cetaceans, could be as intelligent as humans, and may even have several unknown communicative abilities, that surpass our current understanding through sonar and other means."

Really cool article showing that animals aren't necessarily as dumb as we think! Check this link for the article:

Whale Article

(2008). Scientists begin to decode whale speak. Retrieved November 28, 2008, from Daily Galaxy Web site: http://www.dailygalaxy.com/my_weblog/2008/11/scientists-begi.html


You've seen 'em, right? Those hippie guru-types, often found in circus side-shows, that claim to be able to do all sorts of weird physical feats thanks to "an altered state of consciousness" or some other baloney? Well, I for one, enjoy seeing their methods revealed as phony. In this video, a study in Britain disproves a spiritual explanation for fire-walking, the practice of walking barefoot over hot coals. Interesting to watch, for sure.

(2008). Firewalking in the UK. Retrieved November 22, 2008, from Google Video Web site: http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=3127175426821457459


As if glowing cats wasn't enough, now we have some glowing mice to go with them!

Even cooler, though, is the potential implications this could have for stem cell research! Watch away.

(2008). Growing Nerve Cells. Retrieved November 9, 2008, from Youtube Web site: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n0UzdYRnMtY


"A handout released from Japan's natural science research center Riken shows a functional human brain tissue made from stem cells at their laboratory in Kobe. Japanese researchers said they had created functioning human brain tissues from stem cells, a world first that has raised new hopes for the treatment of disease."


Very cool discovery. Too bad that stem-cell research has such negative connotations in the U.S. More at this link:

Stem Cell Article

(2008). Japanese researchers make brain tissues from stem cells. Retrieved November 6, 2008, from Physorg Web site: http://www.physorg.com/news145171200.html


This video here is ridiculously cool, and kind of corresponds to the taxonomy sheet we did in class today... (It's a stretch, I know)

In this video, a researcher explains a bit about Bonobos, a kind of primate that are weirdly similar to humans in their behaviour and learning capacity. And this isn't just a bunch of monkeys throwing stuff around. These bonobos can communicate through symbols, make fire, drive (yes, drive!), even play pac-man! Very cool stuff, showing how we humans aren't exactly alone in terms of cognitive ability...


(2008). Susan Savage-Rumbaugh on apes that write. Retrieved October 15, 2008, from TED Web site: http://www.ted.com/index.php/talks/susan_savage_rumbaugh_on_apes_that_write.html


Ooh. Been a while since the last update. This one's kinda cool, though, so hopefully that makes up for it.

If you can make it through the horribly cheesy background music, this youtube video gives some information on a species of cicada that lives underground in its larval form for about 17 years before ever emerging. Very cool, with some time-lapse footage of the bugs movin' around.

(2007, June 20). Return of the 17-year cicadas. Retrieved December 30, 2008, from Youtube Web site: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RYLxxALTfAQ


GATTACA for real!?

Looks like... fun?

I think I remember Mrs. HW saying GATTACA was her favorite movie, so I couldn't pass this one up.

From the page:

" Some people might fear a world where widespread DNA testing would remove the mysteries of their futures or even strip them of privacy. But the testing company 23andMe, which was the host of what it billed as a “spit party” in the middle of New York Fashion Week, filled with celebrities, wants people to think of their genomes as a basis for social networking. As in: You are invited to join the group Slow Caffeine Metabolizers.
Co-founded by Anne Wojcicki, the wife of a founder of Google, the company, which has token financial backing from Harvey Weinstein and Wendi Murdoch, hopes to make spitting into a test tube as stylish as ordering a ginger martini.
'It’s fun to learn about your own genome,' the 23andMe Web site says. "

Click the title link for more creepiness.

Salkin, A. (2008). When in doubt, spit it out.. New York Times, Retrieved September 17th, 2008, from http://www.nytimes.com/2008/09/14/fashion/14spit.html?ex=1379044800&en=b99ab98bac5bad10&ei=5124&partner=digg&exprod=digg