The Tripod fish (Bathypterois grallator) is named for its two elongated pelvic fin rays and tail, which the fish uses to balance on the ocean floor. They are deep sea, benthic fish, and they face into the current, waiting for prey to flow to them. They have very small eyes and presumably sense prey by vibration. Their front fins are very sensitive and, when prey is detected, these fins act like hands and guide the prey into their mouth. [photo of tripod fish found here]
Tripod fish are hermaphrodites; and, possibly because of sparse distribution, both sets of sex organs mature at the same time and, if they cannot find a mate, a tripod fish is capable of fertilizing its own eggs and reproducing alone.
The years have passed far too quickly.
Our eldest daughter, Bailey, is moving out this weekend: an exciting new chapter in her life.
I’m left with a bittersweet sensation: I’m filled with pride and optimism for Bailey’s future, but there will be an emptiness in our home.
To anybody who knows Bailey, or meets her in the future: Please respect her and learn to love her unique perspectives on life. Help keep her safe, happy, peaceful, healthy, and warm.
And to Bailey: Thanks for enriching my life, and never forget that I’m only a phone call away.
Sometimes I think I’m about to be left behind, in the dust of progress…
MyRobots is a social network for robots and other smart objects; and, like Facebook, signing up is free.
The MyRobots network is a hub that is intended to allow intelligent devices to form a data/sensory-information network, thereby enhancing their abilities. The MyRobots site claims that it will enhance robotic capabilities because of the computational capacity of its network, which will streamline access and response (the site uses the term Cloud Robotics — branded after cloud computing — to describe the functionality that interconnects and enhances).
As soon as your device/robot is connected (at MyRobots.com), you will be able to monitor it via the web, give commands, and receive alerts.
I’ve probably read too much science fiction in my life, but a part of me is paranoid: I envision a future dystopia when machines have interconnected, become sentient super-minds, and have overthrown the puny-minded humans. Nevertheless, if the idea floats your boat, I can’t think of a logical reason to pass on it (but first make sure there is a human behind the curtain).
“If there’s one lesson that runs through pretty much every Buddhist tradition, it’s this: there are no magic solutions. Our belief in magic solutions that may happen some day in the future keeps us from doing what we really need to do right here and right now.”
from a Tricycle article, ”A Minty Fresh Mind” by Brad Warner
Are we about to plunge further into the cyborg era?
Nokia, once the largest cell phone supplier in the world, has filed a patent application for a tattoo that will alert users when their phones are ringing.
The tattoo is able to detect a magnetic field and transmit a ‘perceivable stimulus’ — from an incoming call, text, status updates, or low-battery signal — to the user. There will be an option for several different vibration signals — similar to different ringtones — to differentiate callers.
I can envision some applications (e.g.: emergency workers) where this could be a useful invention; but, for the average person, the idea seems a little too weird.
Note: the user won’t be forced to acquire a tattoo, there are several other options: stamping a ferromagnetic pattern on the skin; spraying the ferromagnetic pattern onto the skin; attaching adhesive tape (containing the ferromagnetic pattern) onto the skin; and drawing the ferromagnetic pattern onto the skin.
The ‘perceivable stimulus’ can be any stimulus; including, but not limited to, vibration and/or impulse movement of the skin. I assume itching, tickling, and heat sensations are possible.
Note: before reading this review, you may want to consider the following: I liked the movie Blade Runner, and I thought it was superior to the PKD novel it was based on (Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?).
The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch (1965), a novel by Philip Kindred Dick (PKD), was written during what was arguably his greatest creative period (nineteen of his novels were published during the 1960s). The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch is one of the many I didn’t read when I was younger, but I’ve been hesitant to read any of his novels because I recently read two that I wasn’t particularly fond of: Martian Time Slip (about schizophrenia, which PKD was sure he had) and Ubik. Both novels were interesting, but they were written with PKD’s all-too-common clunky prose style (I was expecting more, particularly since Time had listed Ubik as #46 on its 100 best English-language novels since 1923 …really?!).
Unfortunately, The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch didn’t thrill me either. The novel is populated with cardboard characters who struggle through a typically disjointed PKD universe (a certain level of incoherence is purposeful, but the writing is rushed and ungainly. It is well documented that PKD wrote his 1960s novels while on amphetamines, although he insisted the drugs were ineffective). The novel leaves the reader with philosophical questions to ponder; but, for me, there is not enough depth to save the book from its pulpy prose. PKD churned out novels like there was no tomorrow during this phase of his career, and it shows. The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch is better than average PKD, but I’d only recommend it to readers who enjoyed Ubik and Martian Time Slip and want more of the same writing style and very similar themes (a search for identity and reality in a conflicted, confusing milieu).
There have been at least two PKD novels that I enjoyed: A Scanner Darkly and, in particular, The Man in the High Castle, which I thought was brilliant when I read it years ago (and I’m planning to reread it soon…).
He sings a primordial lament
As Her luminous essence
Drifts across the night,
Always out of reach.
It begins with an inaudible sigh;
But soon the first note
Oscillates outward, carving
A furrow into nothingness.
Echoes upon echoes
Spill fractal vibrations:
An evolving vivacity;
An ever-brightening resonance,
Imbuing the void
With melancholic warmth.
She rides the sky,
casts elusive shadows
And eventually fades into
The burgeoning blush
Of the new day.
His song, a susurrus now,
Is almost finished.
The final note sounds; a brief sustain,
And then he is swallowed
“In the course of his geologic studies, Darwin came across many fossils of extinct mammals. Among the most interesting to him were those of giant armadillos. Nowhere else in the world were surviving species of these strange armored mammals found. Was it only a coincidence that extinct armadillos were also found buried in these same South American plains? Here again Darwin encountered tangible evidence of change and history.”
from Biology, by Helena Curtis (Worth Publishers, Inc., 4th edition, pg. 882-883)
[Photo credit: Luiz Claudio Marigo/naturepl.com]
The giant armadillo is the largest existing armadillo species (it grows up to 1.5 meters in length (~ 5 feet), with a weight up to 25 kg (~ 60 lbs)), although the extinct glyptodont — which evolved during the Miocene era in South America — was considerably larger (close to the size of a Volkswagen beetle). At one time, the giant armadillo was spread over most of the tropical forests and grasslands east of the Andes, from Venezuela to Argentina; currently, due to over-hunting and the loss of habitat to human development and agriculture, the species is at risk of extinction.
Posted by db johnston under Interesting stuff
| Tags: big-eyed bug
, Danny Kessel
, Geocoris paliens
, herbivore-induced plant volatiles (HIPVs)
, Manduca sexta
, Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology
, Nicotiana attenuata
, phytodistress signals
, tobacco hornworm
, wild desert tobacco plant
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Tobacco is definitely bad for humans, but it can be imminent death for insects.
The wild tobacco plant (Nicotiana attenuata) is a desert weed that has evolved a pair of useful defense mechanisms to combat insect predators.
[photo credit: Danny Kessler]
Its first line of defense is a poisonous neurotoxin, nicotine, which is effective against a wide array of insect species. Nicotine was once commonly utilized as an insecticide, but now nicotine-analogs are produced and distributed world-wide to battle insect infestations (e.g.: Imidacloprid — probably the most widely used insecticide in the world — for agriculture, animals (fleas and ticks), gardens, home protection, et cetera).
The tobacco plant’s secondary line of defense is a release of terpenes (herbivore-induced plant volatiles (HIPVs)), which are phytodistress signals synthesized and released in response to an insect assault. If insects graze on tobacco leaves, the bug’s saliva triggers the production of terpenes from chewed and untouched leaves. For example, when the nicotine-resistant tobacco hornworm (Manduca sexta) grazes on the tobacco plant, the plant emits terpenes that attract the big-eyed bug (Geocoris paliens), which just happens to be a predator to the hornworm (and consumes the hornworm and its eggs).
I think from now on I’ll be extra kind to plants, just in case there is a terpene that attracts grizzly bears.
Arthur & George, by Julian Barnes, is a fictionalized account of a real-life occurrence (The Great Wyrley Outrages; apparently quite famous, though I was ignorant of the events until I read the book): George Edalji was falsely accused of a brutal crime, and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (yes, the author of the Sherlock Holmes stories) took up the case in an attempt to prove George’s innocence.
The book begins with short, alternating biographies of Arthur and George as they mature, and the sections slowly lengthen as the men age. Barnes seems to have done some exceptionally thorough research (and, for the most part, added his fictionalizations judiciously).
Among other themes (prejudice, love, Victorian/British chivalry, family bonds, et cetera), the novel delves into concepts of time and metaphysics, and these two subjects endure until the novel’s final words.
The metaphysical elements are especially intriguing because the protagonists’ personalities and views are disparate: Arthur is very imaginative, George is not.
Barnes plays some interesting games with tense: Arthur’s sections are in the past-tense until he meets the love of his life, when he decides that ‘”Their love is different. It has no past, and no future that can be thought about; it only has the present.” (p. 204 in the Vintage Canadian trade edition); and George’s sections are in the present-tense until he is judged guilty of the crime, which destroys his carefully constructed world-view.
Barnes did a marvelous job of creating atmosphere, and the two main characters are well drawn. I’m not a huge fan of historical fiction, and it wasn’t quite my cup of tea, but it’s a wonderfully conceived book.
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