Book Review: Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void

Sci has very little shame when it comes to certain things. Book procurement is one of them, and when she found out that Mary Roach (the author of Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers, and Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex) was coming out with another book, she had no hesitation in going right to the source and sending a polite begging letter (with remarkably little fan-girling) asking for a review copy.
And when it arrived in the mail, Sci may not may not have danced around a little. And she definitely put aside everyone else she was reading and pounced on the book (sorry, guys).
Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void, by Mary Roach.
packing for mars.jpg

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Here there be dragon drool!!!

Sci was going to save this one for a Friday Weird Science, but it’s just so awesome that she couldn’t bring herself to save it. She had to blog it NOW! It’s not neuroscience, but it’s awesome. Also, there’s dragons.
Not this kind:
dragonage origins.jpg
(Anyone else think Dragon Age Origins is really awesome?! Well, Sci spends a lot of her time wondering why the ladies are so dang naked. You’re climbing a high mountain pass in the winter! Your cleavage will suffer frostbite!!!)
It’s this kind:
giants_komododragon_l.jpg
(Aieee!!!!)
I’m sure you all know that dragons have TERRIBLE breath, but what about that whole “poison” thing?
ResearchBlogging.org Bull et al.”Deathly Drool: Evolutionary and Ecological Basis of Septic Bacteria in Komodo Dragon Mouths” PLoS ONE, 2010.

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Mitosis

Since Sci wrote so recently about the preservation of somatic cells and gametes for species regulation, she thought it might be a good idea to run through some basic concepts. REALLY basic. Like the stuff you had in high school and forgot. That kind of basic. She was also inspired in this post by reading so recently about HeLa cells, and how they allowed scientists to make great strides in the deeper understanding of mitosis and the dysregulations that occur.
Why, you ask? Because basic is important, and because mitosis is PARTICULARLY important. Mitosis, when it happens, and how it happens is behind a lot of the things that concern many people today, things like aging and cancer, and who isn’t concerned about those? And also, mitosis means lots of pretty pictures!
Sci wanted to cover mitosis from the original guy who started it all, Walther Flemming (yes, it’s spelled ‘Walther’, though the English translation is Walter), but unfortunately all the best original documents are in German. Sci doesn’t have too much German (ok, she doesn’t have ANY), but if someone is willing to play translator for me (GrrlScientist? I know you’re working on your German! :)) I’d love to play around with the original work!
As it is, we’re just gonna go through it, with lots of pretty pictures and lots of pointing arrows. And a lot of explanations.
Your first picture: My-tosis
my tosis.jpg
(Sci-s toses. Note the penguins and snowflakes in honor of this year’s Snowpocalypse)

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Book Review: The Manga Guide to Molecular Biology

Often, Sci gets books, and even though she’s totally excited about them, has to move them to the bottom of the pile, in a vain effort to go through things in the order she receives them, and try to stay on top of it all (there’s a pile of books next to Sci’s bed a good two feet tall. Really). But when I got this one…it moved right to the front. I mean, how could it NOT!?
The Manga Guide to Molecular Biology by Masaharu Takemura.
manga molecular bio.png

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SFN Neuroblogging: The paralyzing effects of CO2

Sci is back from SFN, but she is by no means done with the neuroblogging! Unfortunately, due to a crazy schedule and spotty wireless, Sci was not able to get as much neuroblogging in as she wanted. So she’s going to continue for a few more days, with some of the coolest things she saw at this year’s conference.
For this post, we’re going to basic principles, made extra cool by two things: crayfish and videos!
*S. M. BIERBOWER, R. L. COOPER;
Univ. Kentucky, Lexington, KY
Synaptic mechanisms underlying carbon dioxide’s induced paralysis

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Friday Weird Science: The Hyena Mating Game

Editor’s Selection IconThis post was chosen as an Editor's Selection for ResearchBlogging.org (w00t!)
Today’s post comes to you courtesy of Laelaps. Sci’s been wanting to cover sex in other species for a while now (I mean, it’s so WEIRD!), and Laelaps has kindly provided a whole series of great articles!!! This is good, as Pubmed is not particularly informative on other species. The weird science is flowing today. Or maybe oozing. I imagine weird science likes to ooze.
So. Hyenas. Having sex. Which they don’t really seem to do very often. And there’s a good reason. The females don’t have it very easy. What they have…is masculinized genitalia.
Warning: pics below the fold. Does it count as NSFW if it’s a hyena pseudopenis?
ResearchBlogging.org Szykman et al “Courtship and mating in free-living spotted hyenas”. Behavior, 2007
And these scientists are DEDICATED. I know it takes a long time for me to get through grad school, but these folks spent 11 YEARS making various trips to watch hyenas on the savannah. While it’s a much better and more exciting location than my graduate work calls for, it still might get kind of old. Eternal vigilance with low hope of success must grind you down after a while. Their perseverance impresses me.

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Bornean Frogs: Feelin’ Ultrasonic

So we b0rked the blog last night, but the wearing of sackcloth and ashes and the libations we have placed on the altar of the Overlords have gotten it fixed! I am eternally grateful.
And now, on to the science. Let’s all feel supersonic together:

(oh yeah, Sci went there. Let’s all be moody and wear our fake Beatles’ glasses together, shall we)
Now let us all pause for a moment and be glad that there is no species that uses Oasis songs as its mating calls. Ok, there was a brief period in the 90’s where the human species almost fell, but we hoisted ourselves back up again.
No, I can’t think of any species that uses “Supersonic”. But there ARE lots of species that use ULTRASONIC. Until now, interestingly, those species of animals using ultrasonic communication didn’t include frogs, really. Until now.
ResearchBlogging.org Arch et al. “Pure ultrasonic communication in an endemic Bornean Frog.” PLoS ONE, 2009.
First, the subject:
bornean frog.jpeg
What a cutie pie, huh?!

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