Saturday, November 19, 2011

Whaddaya Mean, Who's Carl Zimmer?


The Loom is a blog written by Carl Zimmer, a gifted science writer.

If you’re a regular reader of the Loom, you’re no doubt familiar with the parasite Toxoplasma gondii. If you’re not, now is the perfect time to meet this sinister creature which may very well be residing in your brain. It seems like every year or two, it gets more remarkable, and today it’s taken another step into awesomeness. Read all about it here.

Also . . .

What is a Tartigrade?

According to Carl Zimmer:

Tardigrades make the world their hiding place. They live invisibly in the ground, in the muck of ponds and deep-sea sediments, in dunes, in moss, in stone walls, on the tops of mountains, and deep inside glaciers. They go unnoticed thanks to their miniature dimensions: the biggest tardigrades don’t get bigger than a poppy seed. When the naturalist Johann August Ephraim Goeze discovered tardigrades in 1773, he dubbed them kleiner Wasserbär, meaning little water bear. Their stocky bodies and stumpy legs do give them an ursine cast, but there aren’t many bears that have eight legs, or daggers in their mouths that pierce smaller animals or algae cells.

There are also aren’t many bears that could be taken aboard a spacecraft, left out in the vacuum of space for ten days, and still be alive when they returned to Earth. But tardigrades have made this journey. Here on Earth, they can survive without water by going into a state of suspended animation. Even after nine years a splash of water can revive them. No one is quite sure how tardigrades manage all this. Some experiments hint that they can turn their bodies into a liquid that’s as hard as a solid.

Scientists call it biological glass.

Tartigrades. Truth is indeed sometimes stranger than fiction.


Yesterday I doubled the length of my daily fitness walk: two miles in the morning as usual, then another two miles in the late afternoon. Might just do the same thing today.

Or not . . .


Q. Why can't a bicycle stand up by itself?
A. It's two tired.

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