Nature's Children

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Mark
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Re: Nature's Children

Post by Mark » Sun Jul 06, 2008 6:26 pm

{ But why do male bowerbirds choose their particular objects and how are they able to shape their habitat in this way?
It seems that bowerbirds know what they like. Really know what they like.
Dr Day said the male bowerbirds studied had shown a distinct liking for the colours green, white, grey and red, and placed objects of different colour in different locations.
"They like to use green glass, snail shells, bits of red wire, aluminium foil. They put the greys and whites and greens to the ends of the bowers and the reds to one side of the bower and the perimeter of the shrub the bower has been built under.

"If you paint an object half-grey and half-red, they put it halfway between where they typically put grey (objects) and red (objects).''
Professor Endler has found that great bowerbirds decorate their bowers in this manner in order to make their grey and black plumage stand out against the background of the bower and its ornaments.

Dr Day has demonstrated that great bowerbirds are able to make very fine distinctions between a preferred green colour which they place on the bower and a very similar colour which they toss far from the bower. This ability may seem unusual, but it is exactly how humans determine where to draw the line between, for example, a color they call yellow and one they call green.

"The bands of the rainbow that humans perceive are artifacts of the way we interpret what is really a smooth transition from short wavelengths of light to long wavelengths of light."
This way of perceiving colour -- known as categorical perception - appears to be shared by the bowerbird although his rainbow might look slightly different to ours.
The importance of this type of perception is that there are very definite boundaries between likes and dislikes and this type of strong regulation of preferences can have dramatic effects on the divergence of preferred signals between species and birds of the same species in different areas.}
http://209.85.135.104/search?q=cache:Pu ... s&ie=UTF-8

PS I remember one time my brother and I made an equilateral prism out of aquarium glass perhaps 8 inches on a side and masked a slide out of slide projector so that it shot a slit of bright light into the water-filled glass prism. Then there was this most beautiful prismatic rainbow that was cast upon the opposite wall in the darkened room. If you stood and slowly walked back and forth looking into the beam of color coming out of the prism from across the room, you could "almost capture" how one color transitions into another, or by moving your head side-to-side like some owl. It's an experience that I have that I always treasured, the colors so vivid and intense to the eye. Funny too, to have your whole body painted in rich colors as you moved around, the width of the spectrum about 5 feet across.
I couldn't even begin to find something comparable in brilliance searching Flickr or Google images. However I did come across this tidbit.

The place of indigo
All the Roy G. Biv mnemonics follow the tradition of including the colour indigo between blue and violet. Newton originally (1672) named only five primary colours: red, yellow, green, blue and violet. Only later did he introduce orange and indigo, giving seven colours by analogy to the number of notes in a musical scale.[15] Some sources now omit indigo, because it is a tertiary color and partly due to the poor ability of humans to distinguish colours in the blue portion of the visual spectrum.[16]There is also some evidence that Newton's use of the terms blue and indigo map to the modern hues cyan and blue respectively. [3]
Since rainbows are composed of a nearly continuous spectrum, different people, most notably across different cultures[who?], identify different numbers of colours in rainbows.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rainbows

PSS
I have about a dozen of those faceted lead crystal "prisms" people have given me, some kind of large and they make for some interesting patterns hanging in a sunlit window. I made a mobile out of them in college, but it's kind of distracting to have a million rainbows moving about your dorm room. ha
http://www.flickr.com/photos/insight27/2359406622/
Have you even noticed a lead crystal prism hanging from some car rearview mirror? You can be quite a distance away from the car and still get a strong glint of color when the light strikes your eye, like where did that come from?
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Re: Nature's Children

Post by Mark » Sat Jul 12, 2008 1:39 pm

I thought the last part was interesting about it just qualifying as a fish, a "peculiar" perspective.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B_W1okla98Q

And now a demonstration of the effect. ha
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FLR87ZUiHtI

"Electric eels have no known natural predators ..." ha
http://everything2.com/e2node/electric%2520eel

Curious design tidbits.
"The eels thick skin acts as protection against its own electric shocks.....injuries inflicted upon the eel can result in the eel electrocuting itself."
"Synchronization of electrocytic stimulation is a major problem to overcome because, in theory, the further away an electrocyte is from the brain, the longer in takes for the nerve impulse to reach the electrocyte......and thus more remote (further away from the brain) electrocytes would be activated after proxy electrocytes. This would result in a weaker, longer lasting discharge pulse as opposed to a short, intense, pulse."
To tackle this problem, certain modifications have to be to the motorneurons which deliver the "go ahead" signal from the brain.
1) The neurons which are connected to closer electrocytes take a longer path.

2) The neurons connected to closer electrocytes are thinner, thus slowing down the action potential.

3) The axons have longer branches to nearer electrocytes than the more remote electrocytes.
http://www.chm.bris.ac.uk/webprojects20 ... iceels.htm
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Re: Nature's Children

Post by Mark » Sun Jul 13, 2008 1:46 am

The egg-laying, venomous, duck-billed platypus
"It has a very weird appearance because it's a mishmash of the bill of a duck, the eyes of a mole, the eggs of a lizard and the tail of a beaver," Dr Ponting told BBC News
"One big surprise was the patchwork nature of the genome with avian, reptilian and mammalian features," he added.
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/7385949.stm

http://missatomicbomb.blogspot.com/2008 ... typus.html

http://www.snorgtees.com/ourpowerscombi ... %7D12.html
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Re: Nature's Children

Post by Mark » Sat Jul 19, 2008 5:03 pm

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Re: Nature's Children

Post by Mark » Sun Jul 20, 2008 3:46 pm

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Re: Nature's Children

Post by Mark » Fri Aug 01, 2008 2:32 am

http://www.ryanphotographic.com/images/ ... ground.jpg (from Google images)

"Males can move their gonopodiums quite vigorously but, only in one direction. Some are right-gonopodiumed and some are left. There are no "switch hitters".
If the female's genital pore could be easily approached from either side, there would be no problem and no mystery.
The mystery is why the process of natural selection over millions of years has not eliminated what appears to be an impediment to Anableps' reproduction. It's assumed that there is some overriding advantage to this arrangement that science has yet to discover. The problem for hobbyists when trying for compatible pairings is that while the orientation of males can be observed, that of females can only be guessed at."
http://www.aquarticles.com/articles/bre ... Part2.html
http://www.aquarticles.com/articles/bre ... bleps.html

Fun drag the image perspective if you scroll down to the fish in water. ha
http://www.phy.ntnu.edu.tw/ntnujava/ind ... 274#msg274

"Mmm, talk about odd ball fishes... Being able to see and make sense out of four different optical fields of view simultaneously? Being livebearers that can/do only mate on one side, right-"handed" males with left-"handed" females and vice versa? Umm, the Anableps can live on land, moist for extended periods of time... tend to travel in schools... The family is known in the sciences as "the four-eyes, one-sided livebearers and white-eye"... I rest my case."
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/BrackishSubW ... ableps.htm
Last edited by Mark on Fri Aug 01, 2008 12:40 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Nature's Children

Post by Mark » Fri Aug 01, 2008 3:07 am

http://www.history.com/shows.do?action= ... eId=322750

Last night I watched a show on the History Channel on the evolution of eyes. This guy was holding a large clump/cluster of calcite crystals in his hand saying trilobites had eyes made of rocks - calcium carbonate.
http://hyperphysics.phy-astr.gsu.edu/hb ... lcite.html
http://hyperphysics.phy-astr.gsu.edu/hb ... e3.html#c1

Crystal Eyes
"Five hundred million years ago, trilobites looked at the world through clear calcite glasses.
Clear calcite is optically complex. If you break a large piece of crystalline calcite, you are left with a regular, six-sided chunk of the mineral--a rhomb--which treats light in a peculiar way. If a beam of light is shone at the sides of the rhomb, the beam splits in two, a phenomenon known as double refraction.
Trilobites offer visible evidence of the halfway point in optical history. We can feel a bond with the trilobite that would not have been apparent when nineteenth-century investigators first gazed upon the animal's stony eyes. "Look into my eyes," the trilobite now seems to say, "and you will see the vestiges of your own history."

"But there is another kind of trilobite eye. One of the commonest trilobites in the Devonian rocks of New York, Ohio, Ontario, Germany, and Morocco is the compact animal called Phacops. Its large, crescent-shaped eyes stand prominently atop the cheeks. Instead of lenses so minute that they require a microscope to be seen properly, Phacops's lenses can be recognized by our unaided eyes as tiny, perfectly formed balls, which line up quite conspicuously in rows. These eyes seem to have been turned out by a machine, neat as billiard balls arranged in a box. When sectioned, the eyes reveal their secrets."
"The problem with light traveling through a convex lens to a focus is that different rays travel different distances through the lens according to their trajectory. This means that the rays are bent to different degrees. The result is a fuzzy focus. Euan Clarkson and University of Chicago physicist Riccardo Levi-Setti discovered that something strange had happened to the calcite in the lower part of each Phacops lens: magnesium atoms were present in just the right quantity to correct the spherical aberration. For every bend to the left, there was a compensating bend to the right. This corrective layer made a bowl within the lens; the trilobite had thus manufactured what modern opticians term a doublet. The animals with these eyes may have seen more complete images of an object than their hexagonal-lensed fellows. All this 400 million years ago."
http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m ... tBody;col1

m.y.a. ha
"The last of the trilobites disappeared in the mass extinction at the end of the Permian about 250 million years ago (m.y.a.)."
Because of their diversity and an easily fossilized exoskeleton, they left an extensive fossil record with some 17,000 known species spanning Paleozoic time.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Tril ... n_8127.jpg
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Koli ... _Pengo.jpg
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Asap ... elerii.jpg
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trilobite
Last edited by Mark on Fri Aug 01, 2008 12:15 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Nature's Children

Post by Mark » Fri Aug 01, 2008 3:16 am

"I wrote to professor Richard Dawkins to ask if I had stumbled on the outlines of a point, and he replied as follows:"

"Vestigial eyes, for example, are clear evidence that these cave salamanders must have had ancestors who were different from them—had eyes, in this case. That is evolution. Why on earth would God create a salamander with vestiges of eyes? If he wanted to create blind salamanders, why not just create blind salamanders? Why give them dummy eyes that don't work and that look as though they were inherited from sighted ancestors?"
http://www.slate.com/id/2195683/

"The best studied case is the comparison of blind and sighted forms of Astyanax, a fish that has species that live in surface waters and have eyes, and others that live in caves and have lost them.
The Jeffery lab has worked out the molecular details of eye loss, and it isn't as simple as messing things up, turning genes off, and causing loss-of-function mutations. To the contrary, all the genes for eyes are there and functional in the blind species. Simply transplanting small bits of organizing tissue from species with eyes to embryos of the blind forms can recruit host tissue to build a complete functional eye — that tells you the genes are still there. A comparison of gene expression patterns between the two also reveals that the blind species actually upregulates a majority of its developmental genes. Contrary to what Luskin claims, this is a positive change in development, not a loss, but an active suppression of eye expression."
http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2008 ... _mouse.php
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Re: Nature's Children

Post by Mark » Fri Aug 01, 2008 3:25 am

http://www.biologie.uni-hamburg.de/b-on ... ginkgo.htm

"The fertilization of ginkgo seeds occurs via motile sperm, as in cycads, ferns, mosses and algae. The sperm are large (about 250-300 micrometres) and are similar to the sperm of cycads, which are slightly larger. Ginkgo sperm were first discovered by the Japanese botanist Sakugoro Hirase in 1896.[9] The sperm have a complex multi-layered structure, which is a continuous belt of basal bodies that form the base of several thousand flagella which actually have a cilia-like motion. The flagella/cilia apparatus pulls the body of the sperm forwards."
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ginkgo_biloba

"During the time of the dinosaurs seed plants (spermatophytes) were well developed and were the most dominant vegetation on earth, especially the lush seed ferns, conifers and palmlike cycads. These primitive seed plants are called gymnosperms (meaning "naked seeds") because their seeds are not enclosed in a ripened fruit but are protected by cones or by a fleshy seed coat.
Most gymnosperms (and flowering plants) have both sexes on the same plant, but the Ginkgo is a dioecious gymnosperm, male and female are separate trees, its seeds have a fleshy outer layer.

The Ginkgo and the cycads are the only living seed-producing plants that have motile or free swimming sperm.
When the ovules are fertilized they develop into yellowish, plumlike seeds about 2,5 cm (1 inch) long, consisting of a large "nut" (the size of an almond) with a fleshy outer layer. The actual fertilization of the seed by free swimming sperm occurs mostly on the tree."
http://www.xs4all.nl/~kwanten/thetree.htm
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Re: Nature's Children

Post by Mark » Sun Aug 10, 2008 5:24 pm

Yesterday I saw one of those fast blue-tailed skinks in my backyard. And I thought about it, how many lizards have shared "my" backyard with me. So here is the list, believe it or not.

The one I saw had a hint of light blue for a tail. They are greased lightning fast.
"If you've ever been hiking and seen a lizard that appeared to be moving at Mach 10, you may have seen a six-lined racerunner."
http://www.naturalsciences.org/funstuff ... racer.html
http://www.flickr.com/photos/adventurefish/2227681100/
http://coolsprings.org/6linedrace.jpg

I sometimes see these up against the house if you pull the grass back or the other day when mowing around a tree. Mine are usually about 3 inches long.
http://www.snakesandfrogs.com/scra/liza ... dskink.htm

I've caught this in my backyard and I think there are about three that I see from time to time but they stay hidden mostly. They differ from snakes, though, in that they have moveable eyelids, external ear openings, and inflexible jaws.
http://flickr.com/photos/turtlereef/167 ... 001113554/
http://flickr.com/photos/no_thneeds_needed/248671903/
http://flickr.com/photos/no_thneeds_needed/248664193/

This I see the most of.
http://www.flickr.com/photos/11970109@N03/2459666906/
Interesting read on the hair ties. ha
http://www.flickr.com/photos/sparkyleigh/283029171/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/dpfunsun/2699936486/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/23736263@N04/2705076460/


These guys work the lights around my house at night. The little ones get in my house sometimes and I put them back outdoors if I find one.
"By boats, trucks or planes, the Mediterranean Gecko is by far the most successful stowaway of all North American lizards."
Habitat and Range
"The most widely introduced lizard in the United States, the Mediterranean Gecko is found on all major Hawaiian Islands. The Mediterranean Gecko can be expected throughout Florida and the southern tier of counties in Georgia, Alabama and Mississippi. It is found at least in scattered colonies throughout most of Louisiana, and throughout the southern third of Texas, including the Big Bend region. North and west of this range (Arkansas, Arizona, California, Georgia, Louisiana, Missouri, Mississippi, New Mexico, Nevada, Oklahoma and South Carolina) these geckos are found in scattered locations centering on urban areas. As its name implies, its native range includes coastal areas around the Mediterranean and Red Seas, East Africa, the Arabian Peninsula and east to Pakistan."
http://www.geckoweb.org/profile/hemidactylus-turcicus
http://www.flickr.com/photos/lifechooser/2716167972/

Horned lizards are very rare here now. But I caught one in my backyard and fed him crickets. I had to back away from the sandy bucket I put him in before he would eat. He didn't like being observed I guess when eating. Funny little guy. I let him go after a few days.
"Blame pesticides, the loss of harvester ants (the toad's favorite fare) or the invasion of fire ants, but whatever the cause, horny toads are as scarce as cheap gasoline."
http://www.texasescapes.com/ClayCoppedg ... pnosis.htm

http://www.flickr.com/photos/sarowen/2622481255/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/boondocks/2314663721/
http://www.lefan.com/texashornedtoad/in ... e0013.html
http://myfwc.com/nonnatives/exotics/Spe ... p?SPPNO=34

"There are also isolated, introduced populations in the Carolinas, Georgia, and northern Florida."
"The horned lizard is popularly called a "horned toad," "horny toad", or "horned frog," but it is neither a toad nor a frog."
"The Texas horned lizard, along with at least three other species, also has the ability to squirt an aimed stream of blood from the corners of the eyes for a distance of up to 5 feet. This not only confuses would-be predators, the blood is mixed with a chemical that is foul-tasting to canidae predators such as wolves, coyotes, and domestic dogs."
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Texas_horned_lizard

All in an ordinary backyard.
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Re: Nature's Children

Post by Mark » Thu Aug 14, 2008 4:30 am

"More recently, neuroscientist Mriganka Sur at MIT took young ferrets and connected fibers coming from their retinas to their auditory pathway. They grew up with perfect vision."

"Cheryl Schiltz lost her sense of balance
after taking an antibiotic. Then she tried
Bach-y-Rita's tongue gear. An accelero-
meter in her hat transmits data on her
movements to a receptor on her tongue.
By keeping the tingling centered, Schiltz
can stand and walk again. The first time
she tried it, she started to sob: "My God,
I feel normal."

"Anything that can be measured can be transported to the brain," Bach-y-Rita says. "We can get it to the brain, and the brain can learn how to use it."
http://discovermagazine.com/2003/jun/feattongue

A little after the 6 minute mark, the same topic is discussed by Dr. Kenneth Ford, concerning the wounded soldiers in Iraq.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gvcTDrWn-dA

When I drive to work, I pass by a sign that reads "Institute for Human and Machine Cognition". A woman at the library said her husband who works there, could give me a tour of the place and she gave me a glossy booklet about IHMC. And yet for some reason another person mentioned the institute to me and said I should go see it. I wonder if they do any jam jar cognition. A fire jar that receives and responds to signals or stimuli would be keen. ha
Anyway, this Dr. Ford used to live here and is the director of the Florida Institute for Human and Machine Cognition. Thirdly, as I was eating lunch one day, the "plant lady" who waters our plants at the library mentioned she waters plants over there too and got to see some robot that has not been seen by the public yet that also has all those senses to stay upright and move about.

"Our human-centered approach often results in systems that can be regarded as cognitive or perceptual prostheses, much as eyeglasses are a sort of ocular prosthesis. These systems fit the human and machine components together in ways that exploit their respective strengths and mitigate their respective weaknesses."
"IHMC research partners have included: DARPA, NSF, NASA, Army, Navy, Air Force, NIMA, NIH, DOT, IDEO, Nokia, Sun Microsystems, Fujitsu, Procter & Gamble, Boeing, Lockheed, SAIC, and IBM among others."
http://www.ihmc.us/about.php
http://www.ihmc.us/research/

In watching a previous clip on youtube the phrase "cognitive prostheses" came up, which to me sounded kind of inspiring, as if little fragments of "life", if you will, are being toyed with. It's seemingly insignificant now perhaps, but how strange the future may be.
I don't know why it is at night that it happens, but that's when I see bugs in a different light. It's possible those little wondrous "robot" spiders and such, invaders that I see lurking in my house from time to time, going about their curious world, may one day have some Turing friends.
I wonder how conscious or "alive" an insect or spider really is? I wonder if they have some sense of the world that we do not, some unknown perspective in their mysterious universe. What siren's song might they hear? What myth might they believe?
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Re: Nature's Children

Post by Mark » Fri Aug 15, 2008 2:21 am

Coincidentally, pertaining to my previous post, I was reading a book I checked out entitled "Physics of the Impossible," by Michio Kaku. So today I happened upon a chapter on psychokinesis and it mentioned a fellow who had a chip implanted in the top of his brain. From this lead, I found the Nature article with some movies to boot. Check out the funny structure on top of his head and watch him use his thoughts control some devices. The structure on his head had the look of something scientists have hooked up to the head of monkeys.
Anyway, this link dovetails nicely with the previous post.

"The following seven films show Matt Nagle control computer programs and electronic devices using thought power alone."
I liked the second and sixth clip, still in it's infancy, but it makes you wonder how good we will get in the future if we have transmitters in our brain to do things like make cell phone calls and drive a car at the same time. ha
http://www.nature.com/nature/focus/brai ... index.html
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Re: Nature's Children

Post by Mark » Sun Aug 17, 2008 1:55 pm

The hh loss of function mutant phenotype causes the embryos to be covered with denticles (small pointy projections), much like a hedgehog.
Some clinicians and scientists criticize giving genes frivolous or quirky names, calling it inappropriate that patients with "a serious illness or disability are told that they or their child have a mutation in a gene such as Sonic hedgehog."[12]
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sonic_Hedgehog

The names are causing problems for doctors who have to counsel patients about genetic defects with names like “sonic hedgehog” and “mothers against decapentaplegia.”
Many of those genes were given weird names when first discovered. Scientists have come up with names for genes in fruit flies, for example, that may be mystifying (“faint sausage,” “fear of intimacy”), cute (“tribbles,” “groucho” and “smurf”), or macabre (“sex lethal” and “death executioner Bcl-2.”)
Dr. Doe said that while he considers himself a fan of colorful gene names — and gives his own discoveries the names like Prospero and Miranda, from Shakespeare’s “Tempest” — he recognizes the potential danger.
“It’s a cute name when you have stupid flies and you call it a ‘turnip,’ ” Dr. Doe said. “When it’s linked to development in humans, it’s not so cute any more.”
“People get to be very, very fond of the names of things they’ve discovered,” she said. “They don’t like somebody who doesn’t know much about it telling them what to call it.”
http://www.nytimes.com/2006/11/12/weeki ... ref=slogin

"There's a sign on the wall but she wants to be sure
cause you know sometimes words have two meanings
In a tree by the brook there's a songbird who sings
Sometimes all of our thoughts are misgiven"
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lKg4g9zMeHI

I am reminded of a warning from my big, metal lathe instructions, paraphrased Chinese if you will, "do not enjoy beer while operating lathe." I suppose everything is susceptible to being mangled if the instructions are not followed. The idea/language is still there, but in a different way.
Caveat - view at your own risk.
http://mollylambert.tumblr.com/post/437 ... kemon-gene
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Re: Nature's Children

Post by Mark » Fri Aug 22, 2008 12:42 pm

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