Randall Munroe of xkcd fame has outdone himself with his new "What if?" segment. I love that he uses math to actually calculate what we all (well, at least all us science nerds) are thinking. In this particular one, he postulates what a mole of the little furry animals would look like. It gets gloriously "gruesome." - LINK
On another note, what if I actually am able to keep up with this blog thing throughout the year?
Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal brings up an interesting point - there are lots of parasites that alter the behavior of their hosts, in many cases making their hosts more prone to predation, which ensures the parasite a new host. The Toxoplasma gondii protozoa is a brain parasite that likes to be in the gut of cats. So what happens when it gets eaten by a rat? It moves into the rat's brain, then "erases" the rat's fear of cats. Once the rat is no longer afraid of cats (though still afraid of everything else), it won't run away when a cat attacks it and eats it. Thereby eating the Toxo parasite. Thereby putting the parasite right where it wants to be: in the cat's intestines.
Funny thing is, the Toxo parasite has also infected a certain percentage of human brains (and hides pretty well). Infection varies by country - France and Germany, for example, have a high rate of infection while South Korea has a very low rate of infection.
What is to stop these parasites from changing human brains like they do to rats? Do they perhaps make people more prone to loving the primary host, the cat? Do they turn people into crazy cat ladies? If one parasite can do this, what other parasites are in our bodies altering our behavior? And finally, if they vary by country, are they to some extent influential on the culture of a people?
Who is Riss?
"No one warned me that life would involve science, except my science teacher. But, of course, he's going to say that. He's got a job to protect."
- Stephen Colbert, I Am America (And So Can You)
E - The Environmental Magazine
Environmental News Network
Environment News Service
Information is Beautiful
NASA Goddard Institute
National Science Foundation
WUNC NPR News
WUNC The State of Things