Science round-up: what am I looking at this week?

Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve been a bit distracted from the blog because of boring things like writing papers, book chapters and reports. And I am aware of the irony that all of those things will probably not get read as frequently as my blog does. However, I’ve been looking at various things, and here are four sciency-based items that caught my attention (for various reasons) over the past week:

  • Oceans are acidifying faster than ever before (very bad news if you’re calcium carbonate-based);
  • Lyme disease is encroaching northward in North America (“here’s a drawing of a spirochaete!” – Ralph Wiggum, The Simpsons);
  • A new species of frog has been discovered in the middle of New York City (no, it’s not a voracious predator of overpriced hotdogs); and, finally, in the realm of awful first-world problems:
  • How to make ice cream smoother and with fewer icky ice crystals (yes, really).

It's a spirochaete! Image credit here.

Continue reading

Monday Awesome: Cadel Evans wins in Corsica.

Over the weekend, Cadel Evans won the Criterium International, a 3-stage race in Corsica, France.

Some highlights below (in French):

And in other Australian cycling-related results, our new pro team GreenEDGE has chalked up another win, with Swiss import Michael Albasini winning the Volta a Catalunya, a 7-stage race in northern Spain.

Yay for cycling!

Not any faster than normal.

an electron emitting a photon

More on the “are neutrinos faster than light or not” debate.

A rival experiment to the original OPERA one that found the neutrinos going faster than light – which since has been found to be doubtful, see previous post – called ICARUS (these physicists do seem to like a good acronym) has recorded neutrinos travelling from CERN in Switzerland going as fast as light, but no faster. Link to news report here.

Phew. That was a rather ungainly sentence. But we can all rest easy knowing that the special theory of relativity still holds. For now.

Monday Awesome: All aboard!

Today’s Awesome comes via icanhascheezburger.com, where last night I saw this video. Sloths and pygmy marmosets are just too cute, and the idea of taking a sloth to go anywhere is pretty funny. “I’m just taking the sloth to the market, back in 3 days!”

Parasites on parasites is called ‘superparasitism’ (e.g., tiny mites that infest a flea). I’m not sure what the correct term for marmosets on a sloth is though.

Dolphins can’t taste sweet….

… which is just as well, because cupcakes are hard to come by underwater.

"That was really lame. Hey, can you toss a pilchard my way?"

OK, it was pretty bad. But it’s not entirely ridiculous, as research published in PNAS and reported on the ABC News website shows that some carnivores have lost the ability to taste sweet, savoury and bitter flavours. Continue reading

Enlighten – fun in Canberra.

I should preface this post by saying that I am a terrible photographer at the best of times, and these photos were shot using an iPhone, so apologies for the poor quality!

The Canberra Festival is on at the moment, and one aspect of the festival is Enlighten. It’s an after-dark event where some major buildings get bathed in light with images designed specifically for each building. It was run for the first time last year, and I didn’t get to it. I was expecting it to be some pretty colours on the sides of buildings, but was very pleasantly surprised to see how intricate and interesting the displays were.

Continue reading