Sunday, July 27, 2014

3D Printing Now

I'm interested in 3D Printing and like to keep up with the latest developments. See for yourself. 3D printing technology can be used for everything from art and fashion to prosthetics or food

Eager to find out more? I save the latest and most interesting 3D applications and updates on my 3D printing Pinterest board, here

I'm just back from 2 weeks vacation on the Oregon coast. More next time. Go science!

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Even Crawfish Need a Break

Crayfish (aka crawfish, crawdads or mud-bugs) are freshwater crustaceans, closely related to lobsters. And if you live in the South, you have had your share of crayfish boils, since most people don't relate to crayfish except as dinner. 

So it was interesting to read how Daniel Cattaert, of the National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS) in Talence, France discovered that nocturnal crayfish have high levels of the neurotransmitter, serotonin. 

Cattaert found crayfish responded the same way as humans when given an anti-anxiety drug (which affects serotonin levels) during a dark and light maze test after experiencing stress. 

In essence, the crayfish were all adventurous and curious before the stress but kept to the dark areas after. Following treatment with the anti-anxiety drug, they ventured out into the far parts of the maze again without hesitation. Hmm... I guess the take home message for humans is Keep Calm and Stay the Course.  Go Science! 

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Birds - Best of Both Worlds

I love birds. Mostly the smaller ones. Oh, I know the snowy egret is a wonder, but cardinals and bluebirds just make me smile as I start my day. 

Recently, I came across a research article on the brilliantly colorful Tanagers, who make up fully 10% of all songbird species. Anyway, a graduate student, Nick Mason, at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology wanted to see if Darwin's theory that brightly colored birds don't have

complex songs and dull colored birds are singing divas was accurate. He decided to look at the hugely diverse Tanagers by measuring  the plumage of 303 species using a spectro-photometer and analyzing 2,700 recordings of bird songs. 

The research  team studied nine feather color variables and 20 song variables to develop a “complexity” score for both plumage and sound. Mason used the Macaulay Library of bird songs (world's largest/oldest scientific archive of biodiversity audio and video recordings) for his research.

When the feathers had settled, the team found that there weren't widespread limits on the evolution of showiness vs. singing. 

So contrary to what Charles Darwin speculated, birds, or tanagers at least, can be "beautiful and mellifluous, or drab and hoarse, or anything in between."
Go science!

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Science in the Wild West

Summertime offers time to visit family, friends and places you might have only read about. Recently I ran across a PBS series hosted by Alan Alda on science of the western United States. 

In "The Wild West," Alda rounds up science stories with a distinctly western flair, including scorpions and rattlesnakes, tales told by bones, a search for diamonds, a cowgirl's use of physics to throw a better lasso and a visit to Biosphere 2 (Arizona) to learn about the seven biomes.

The best thing about the series is that they include classroom curriculum tie-ins and resources. It offers a treasure trove of history, science, and social studies activities. 

Not only is the series fun and entertaining, but you get to learn a lot about my part of the country. Go science!