It's hard to keep your footing in a steep tunnel made of loose dirt while others are scrambling around and over your body. Harder still in pitch blackness. That's why fire ants build tunnels that will catch them when they fall—a strategy human engineers might want to steal.
"Slips and missteps are likely a constant, recurring feature of life underground," says Nick Gravish, a graduate student in Daniel Goldman's rheology and biomechanics lab at Georgia Tech. Yet ants have to traverse […]
Gravish, N., Monaenkova, D., Goodisman, M. & Goldman, D. (2013). Climbing, falling, and jamming during ant locomotion in confined environments, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1302428110
It’s time to stop scoffing at the synesthetes: linking music to colors is totally normal. It’s not really about the notes, though. Researchers say the colors we find in music are actually the colors of the emotions the music makes us feel.
Synesthetes are people whose sensory experiences overlap; they most often link letters or numbers to certain colors. Music-color synesthesia, in which hearing music triggers the colors, is rarer. In fact, when Stephen Palmer and Karen Schloss at
Palmer, S., Schloss, K., Xu, Z. & Prado-Leon, L. (2013). Music-color associations are mediated by emotion, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1212562110
"Simple" is often a compliment in the human world, used to describe low-fuss dinners or closet solutions. When scientists use "simple" to describe an animal, they mean something more like, "That sac of goo has no business acting clever." An especially simple creature—a sea slug—recently demonstrated that despite its humble resources, it can learn from experience and form new hunting strategies. Smaller goo sacs, beware.
Despite its squishy stature, the sea slug Pleurobranchaea
Noboa, V. & Gillette, R. (2013). Selective prey avoidance learning in the predatory sea-slug Pleurobranchaea californica, Journal of Experimental Biology, DOI: 10.1242/jeb.079384
All it takes is an antenna on a headband. If you've got a breathless video report on the dangers of wireless internet connections, that will help your case. It doesn't take much, though, to turn an ominous hint into a real headache.
Some people consider themselves sensitive to electromagnetic fields. They report symptoms such as burning skin, tingling, nausea, dizziness, or chest pain, and they blame their malaise on nearby power lines, cell phones, or WiFi networks. A recent
Witthöft, M. & Rubin, G. (2013). Are media warnings about the adverse health effects of modern life self-fulfilling? An experimental study on idiopathic environmental intolerance attributed to electromagnetic fields (IEI-EMF), Journal of Psychosomatic Research, 74 (3) 206-212. DOI: 10.1016/j.jpsychores.2012.12.002
Inkfish is three years old today!
One great thing about blogs that doesn't apply to real three-year-olds is that you can change their name and appearance at will. I'm getting tired of "Inkfish"—too mysterious, too many creepy arms. Too much guilt about mistakenly calling octopus arms "tentacles" on occasion.
So I'd like to give the blog a new name and a new look. Below are several directions I'm considering. I hope that you, readers, will weigh in.
Welcome! You Probably Got