Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Link List: Petrifying Lakes, Octopus Brains, Books, and More!

1) This lake is petrifying its visitors. Lake Natron in northern Tanzania has a high concentration of natron means that animals that die there--and that's any animal immersed in the water--are calcified. Photographer Nick Brandt saw the perfectly preserved bird carcasses on the shore and did what anyone would do: He posed them and took pictures.

They're somewhere between creepy and beautiful, and very suitable for Halloween contemplation.

Found on NewScientist.

2) The brain of the octopus is distributed rather than single-site, housed in a downright anti-social invertebrate, and generally not the sort of thing we humans think of when we think of thinking. And yet--octopi learn. They learn well, and they learn pretty quickly.Possibly they even used tools.

They can also be cranky, unwilling to keep wires in their heads so we can measure their brain waves and, having decided to pull the wires out, are flexible enough to enforce that decision.

In short, they're a fantastic way to study a completely alien brain without leaving earth, and a good way to tease ourselves with the ongoing question "What does it mean to be intelligent?" and "What equipment is required?"

Lots more analysis and comment in this Wired article!

Book News

I just found out that Tony Hillerman's daughter, Anne Hillerman, is continuing the Navajo mystery series. She's made Bernadette Manuelito (a relatively minor character in the series) a major character in Spider Woman's Daughter. It sounds to me like a winning solution: We readers get to have more of the Navajo mystery series, but by focusing on a different character, Anne Hillerman gets to tell her own stories.

It's not even unprecedented in the series as a whole; it started out focusing more on Leaphorn and then Chee moved into the spotlight with Leaphorn taking more of a support role, so if Anne Hillerman's work goes past the two works she's currently contracted for, it would be in keeping with the series as a whole to let Bernadette move forward to the lead and develop her own set of friends and relatives while Chee and Leaphorn move more to the back--without, one hopes disappearing completely!

I love the way she refers to Leaphorn and Chee as "adopted uncles."

From the publisher's description:
It happened in an instant: After a breakfast with colleagues, Navajo Nation Police Officer Bernadette Manualito saw a truck squeal into the parking lot and heard a crack of gunfire. When the dust cleared, someone very close to her was lying on the asphalt in a pool of blood.

With the victim in the hospital fighting for his life, every officer in the squad and the local FBI office are hellbent to catch the gunman. Bernie, too, wants in on the investigation, despite regulations strictly forbidding eyewitness involvement. Her superior may have ordered her to take some leave, but that doesn't mean she's going to sit idly by, especially when her husband, Sergeant Jim Chee, is put in charge of finding the shooter.

Pooling their skills, Bernie and Chee discover that a cold case involving his former boss and partner, retired Inspector Joe Leaphorn, may hold the key to the shooting. Digging into the old investigation with fresh eyes and a new urgency, husband and wife find themselves inching closer to the truth with every clue . . . and closer to a killer who will do anything to prevent justice from taking its course

Need I say I have the book on hold at the library?

Now I also want to read Tony Hillerman's Landscape: On the Road with Chee and Leaphorn by Anne Hillerman, which is about the Navajo country featured in Tony Hillerman's work and which I have to admit, I hadn't heard of until now.

2) Quirk Books is releasing sequels to Star Wars: Verily a New Hope! Verily a New Hope. The Empire Striketh Back will be out March 2014 and The Jedi Doth Return in July 2014. Both are by Ian Doescher, writer of Verily a New Hope.

In case you missed the trailer for Verily a New Hope, it's still available.

Random Cuteness

There's nothing like a lion cub learning to roar to brighten your day:

Found on Io9

TV Stuff

Did you know ABC was airing Toy Story of Terror on Wednesday, October 16 at 8pm/7pm Central on ABC? You do now! So do I, and you better believe I plan on watching.

With thanks to Io9 for the heads up.


  1. Octopuses are so weird and insane. (I inexplicably keep typing "octobuses".)

    1. I am developing an octo-obsession, I think.

      And I like the word octobus.