March 3rd, 2010

dandelion

Links for you

In case you don't spend as much on the internet as Roger Ebert does (NO ONE does--the guy is turning into a character from Snowcrash) or don't subscribe to the National Geographic twitter feed (you should--much less annoying than getting the magazine sent to you in a plastic bag) here's some stuff I found interesting lately:

Not to be outdone, the Atlantic Ocean has it's own giant plastic trash gyre. It's mostly invisible, composed of tiny flecks that look delicious to animals that eat tiny flecks of translucent floating debris. I assume they are mostly fragments of plastic bags, like the kind National Geographic sends their magazines in.

Anyone who has kept mice or rats in a tiny cage knows that they get overweight in no time. Unfortunately for the body of knowledge we've been building up based on them, it screws up the results.

By now you know that the Chile earthquake shortened the length of the day and knocked the planet off its axis, but have you seen the tsunami pictures?

Using the worst headline I've ever seen on a zoo website, San Diego Zoo tells us that kangaroo rats will nest in sand that smells of mountain lion urine, because smaller predators treat it like plutonium.

One Facebook friend keeps pressuring me to like Neko Case, but I don't see it happening. I heard the Carolina Chocolate Drops on Fresh Air, however, and I like them.

And finally, I often hear from people wondering why they have to endure ticks and mosquitoes and other parasitic organisms. This abstract from a paper on the subject says it beautifully:

"Taking into account that most of the known living organisms are parasites and that they exert a strong influence on the functioning of ecosystems, we can consider parasitism as a successful strategy for life. Because of the harm that parasites can inflict on man and domesticated animals, which can be expressed as economic loss, many parasites become pests. In natural ecosystems, parasites contribute to the prevention of continuous exponential growth of populations and, therefore, they also need to be conserved."