Hobbit shrimp???

I daresay the shade of J. R. R. Tolkien is laughing at this news. A student at the Netherlands’ Leiden University named Werner de Gier recently [discovered] … a pair of new shrimp species during a research project for his bachelor’s degree. One of the species was unique in that it had hairy feet and not one to let such an opportunity slip by, de Gier and his supervisor, Charles H. J. M. Fransen, decided to honor one very special hobbit. The shrimp’s official scientific name is Odontonia Bagginsi, which as you might have guessed is a nod to one

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Canny crustaceans?

I had to smile at this headline and article.  For the benefit of US readers, what we refer to as “shrimp” are usually called “prawns” in the UK. Prawns with shy personalities do better in the battle for survival Prawns have personalities and cautious crustaceans do better in the battle for food, new research suggests. Scientists studied rockpool prawns and found some were consistently shy, while others were bolder. But this bravery may come at a cost – as the risk-takers tended to do worse than other prawns when competing for food. There’s more at the link. Must be because

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Is stress passed on to our children through genetic inheritance?

A fascinating article in the Economist suggests that it might be. THE effects of child abuse can last a lifetime. Neglected or abused children have a higher risk of developing all sorts of ailments as adults, including mental illnesses such as depression but also physical ones like cancer and stroke. In fact, the effects may last even longer. Emerging evidence suggests that the consequences of mistreatment in childhood may persist down the generations, affecting a victim’s children or grand-children, even if they have experienced no abuse themselves. Exactly how this happens is not well understood. Rigorous experiments on human subjects

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Tentacles and space-suits, oh my!

I had to smile at this report. The paper … attempts to tackle the question of how life originated here on Earth. The researchers embrace a number of proposed explanations and discuss their implications, but one particularly interesting note is their proposal that cephalopods (squid, octopus and cuttlefish) may have originated somewhere other than Earth. Whoa. “Evidence of the role of extraterrestrial viruses in affecting terrestrial evolution has recently been plausibly implied in the gene and transcriptome sequencing of Cephalopods,” the researchers write. “The genome of the Octopus shows a staggering level of complexity with 33,000 protein-coding genes more than

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“The racial dot map”

Courtesy of a link at Mr. B’s place, I came across something called ‘The Racial Dot Map‘, from the Demographics Research Group at the University of Virginia.  Here’s a scaled-down representation (clickit to biggit).  I recommend consulting the original, scalable version to see specific areas in more detail. It’s very interesting to look at that map, and then compare it to this one, showing the results of the 2016 Presidential election by county. As Mr. B reminds us, ‘correlation does not imply causation‘ . . . but there’s an awful lot of food for thought in the visible correlation between

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Can “quantum radar” expose stealth aircraft?

A Canadian research institute is betting that it can. Researchers at the University of Waterloo are developing a new technology that promises to help radar operators cut through heavy background noise and isolate objects —including stealth aircraft and missiles— with unparalleled accuracy. . . . Stealth aircraft rely on special paint and body design to absorb and deflect radio waves—making them invisible to traditional radar. They also use electronic jamming to swamp detectors with artificial noise. With quantum radar, in theory, these planes will not only be exposed, but also unaware they have been detected. Quantum radar uses a sensing

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How technology is changing battlefield surveillance

A very interesting development shows up in the Trump administration’s budget request for fiscal 2019.  The USAF will replace one of its premier intelligence-gathering platforms – but not with what was expected. The decision … would terminate the Northrop Grumman E-8C JSTARS and cancel a three-way competition to replace the platform with a large business jet or a Boeing 737. The funding for the JSTARS recapitalization programme will be diverted to pay for development of an advanced battle management system, but details remain scant. As the E-8C enters retirement in the mid-2020s, the Air Force plans to have the first

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If you’ve never heard of the Coandă effect . . .

. . . it’s how this plane flies. The Coandă effect (named for its discoverer) is the way in which a jet of air (or, for that matter, water) will travel over the surfaces adjacent to it, whether they’re straight or curved.  This allows an aircraft utilizing the effect to direct air from its engines across the curved surface of its wing, providing greater lift at low speeds, which in turn shortens the takeoff and landing speed significantly. The 1970’s experimental Boeing YC-14 used the effect to . . . well, to good effect! The Boeing’s competitor at the time,

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Remember when Joshua made the sun and moon stand still?

You’ll find the Biblical account in Joshua 10:1-15.  Turns out there may be more to that story than meets the eye. Joshua may have asked the Lord to make the sun and moon stand still, but scientists have reconsidered previous objections, and now think the Book of Joshua describes a solar eclipse on October 30, 1207 B.C.E., over 3,220 years ago. . . . “That the eclipse occurred at exactly the time of the important battle that Joshua was fighting is either an amazing miracle of timing or else it was lucky chance (for Joshua!),” Dr. Humphreys wrote to Haaretz.

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