Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Link List: Oddities and Wonders

Happy New Year!

I debated whether or not to post anything today, but I decided a link list of oddities and interests might just be a good way to ring in the new year.

1) The Most Amazing Science Images of the Year, on Wired. There are some marvels here! I'm especially taken by the spider in amber myself, though the single-cell algae is a close second.

2) Villa Epecuen: The Town That Was Submerged For 25 Years. An Argentinian village was submerged for 25 years before the water subsided and left some haunting ruins--and one man determined to move back in (found via io9).

3) And, because I can't resist parrots, here are two articles on parrot music preference. The io9 is titled The One Type of Music That All Parrots Everywhere Despise, which seems a bit misleading because both the io9 and the Telegraph article it cites, Parrot Listens to Scissor Sisters' Music, mention only a couple of parrots, and parrots have varying personalities. I am curious about this, though, and hope to follow up on it. My own lovebird likes music, but not oldies. These liked music but not electronic dance music. Who knows if there is a universal like or dislike?

Note: Kizuri's preferences aren't nearly as scientifically studied as those of the birds in the article. She doesn't have her own radio or web connection, though I think she'd enjoy it. She is however very good at making her pleasure or displeasure known; she'll sing along with music she especially likes, and (if on my shoulder) has been known to nip my ear if I change to music she doesn't like. I will also add that her tastes don't always reflect mine. I do like oldies, at least sometimes, and I'm not that fond of opera. Fortunately, both of us like a good range of classical music.

4) And on another note, LiveScience has a great article here on China's Terracotta Warriors. I knew they were multitudinous and elaborate. I did not know that the army included acrobats, and that those acrobats were posed enough that researchers can guess that "they are not indigenous to central China, but probably come from the south – probably the Burma area." I'm going to try to get hold of at least one of the books mentioned.

5) And worms, common garden worms of the sort used for composting, "can turn metals into semiconductors", if, that is, someone feeds them the right metals--cadmium chloride and sodium tellurite), to be precise. In detoxifiying themselves "The worms ended up making tiny particles of cadmium telluride, a crystalline compound that is also a semiconductor. Those tiny particles — called quantum dots — were then taken out of the worms' tissue." Since another spot in the article mentions the worms excreting toxins, I'm wondering if a more patient researcher might be able to wait for the worms to do their thing and harvest them, much as one harvests "worm gold" in the garden. There isn't enough detail in the article, though, for me to be clear on that point.

6) Oh, yes, and in October of 2012 a shark fell from the sky onto a golf course.

Probably a peregrine falcon or an osprey dropped it, though no one knows. Also strange--and wonderful--is that the workers at the golf course did their level best to save it and drove it back to the ocean, where it swam away, possibly to tell tales of strange sights to other sharks. Or maybe it only warned against birds, but one hopes that it at least lived.

Happy New Year, everyone. Here's hoping your coming year is full of wonder and strangeness and beauty and sudden small joys.

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