Posts Tagged ‘links’

On Wednesday, we asked about examples for teaching evolution.  Confusedious talked about the lineage of whales–a wonderful illustration of the way evolution is not necessarily linear.  The pressures of survival can encourage adaptations that bring a species out of the water, and then eventually send them back again.  Some of the interim forms are… startling.  The alligator-like Ambulocetus natans doesn’t look like anything you’d want to get close to, even with binoculars.

MASI’s own Henderson linked to a piece on the rapid evolution of a lizard species, after being transplanted to a new environment.  Although evolution can also take place gradually, punctuated equilibrium suggests that faster change isn’t at all uncommon.

J. B. S. Haldane (he of the pre-Cambrian rabbits) was once asked what his studies of evolution had taught him about the Creator. Haldane gave the question due consideration, then announced: “He has an inordinate fondness for beetles.”  They make up about a quarter of all the species on Earth, so he had a point.  An Inordinate Fondness is a monthly blog carnival that covers beetles in all their glorious variation. Unrelated to the blog, there is also a book and a Flickr set. Researchers at Harvard are working on putting together the full beetle family tree–click through for the stunning photos on the first page, if nothing else.

The Evolving Planet Exhibit at Chicago’s Field Museum is one of the best places to get a feel for the scale and pattern of evolution.  It’s set up as a story, walking you from the origin of life through its many eras and extinction events, all the way up to the development of modern humans.  The Burgess Shale animation in Thursday’s post is from that exhibit.  The whole thing starts with this plaque:

That would make a great business card, convenient for handing out to people who think “theory” means “vague hunch.”  Or maybe it belongs on stickers, for putting inside the covers of high school biology texts.

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Paraweekly Link Round-Up

Over the last couple of weeks, we’ve discovered some fun new resources. The Public Art in Chicago blog focuses on our city’s local sculpture, with side trips into all the other art you can see without going inside. Wunderkammer is a journal of art inspired by the environment.

Somehow we missed this when it first came out: the Brainbow neuron-staining technique is gorgeous and useful. Also gorgeous and useful: advanced 3D printers that produce artificial insect wings. And finally, on this week’s topic of museums and conservation, remarkable conservation work on a dress made with 1000 beetle wings.

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Friday Link Round-Up

As we’ve made our introductions to the rest of the science-and-art blogosphere, we’ve found some awesome things.  On Twitter, if you blink you miss it, so here are our favorites from the past week:

Dark Roasted Blend has gathered a cool collection of optical illusion art.  We also  found an interesting size-estimation illusion at New Scientist.  While I’m at it, this one won an illusion contest in 2009, and still gets to me.  And the Adelson checker-shadow illusion is likely to bug my students all week.  (Their assignment is to use illusions to explain how human perception works, a common method in sensory research.  This is from the pile I gave them to get started.)

If you make science-related art, we found a few opportunities for you.  The 3rd annual Elegance of Art contest is now open at the University of Florida.  The Summit on Science, Education, and Entertainment is looking for proposals.  The Small World microscope photography contest is open.  The Kinetica Art Fair just happened, but maybe next year?  ETA: The Flying Trilobite just opened their Darwin Day contest–looking for 140 characters on this little piece of evolutionary surrealism before 12:01 AM on the 13th.

Then we have some things that are just plain gorgeous.  Yann Arthus-Bertrand’s Earth From Above photographs take my breath away and give an up-close view of humanity’s influence over the environment.  Here’s a video of traditional glassblowing, and here is some truly remarkable non-traditional glassblowing.

The Burgess Shale aquarium at Chicago’s Field Museum is a brilliant piece of paleontological illustration, and I can’t be the only person who came away wanting a pet hallucigenia.  This person crocheted one, and then asked a physicist which side goes up.  These ones, less cuddly, are made of neon blown glass.  Or you can always construct the whole Cambrian explosion with your kid!

So what have we missed?

Ruthanna Gordon

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