Friday coffee break


Every Friday at Nothing in Biology Makes Sense! our contributors pass around links to new scientific results, or science-y news, or videos of adorable wildlife, that they’re most likely to bring up while waiting in line for a latte.

From Sarah: Dolphins have been discovered imitating whale songs—in their sleep.

Researchers discovered the dolphins’ midnight melodies by accident. Ethologist Martine Hausberger of the University of Rennes 1 in France and her colleagues had hung underwater microphones in the tank because little is known about what dolphins sound like at night.

From Devin: Academic labs in many fields are going paperless.

One piece of equipment, however, is conspicuous by its absence: the humble paper notebook. Michelle James uses her iPad to jot down notes, check protocols and monitor the progress of her experiments on techniques for the early detection of Alzheimer’s disease. Since she first brought the device into the lab around four months ago, it has essentially replaced her former hardback notebook. “Paper has nothing to offer me,” declares James.

And from Jeremy: A big new study strongly supports the conclusion that Morgellon’s disease—a condition in which patients feel crawling sensations on their skin and develop skin lesions that sometimes sprout thread and lint—is psychosomatic.

Just because I don’t think that Morgellons is due to parasites doesn’t mean that I think that sufferers from Morgellons disease are crazy or “making it up” somehow. In fact, they are suffering. We don’t know why they are suffering, but we can say that it isn’t due to parasites and that the fibers that they on or in their skin are consistent with textiles, such as clothing, and superficial skin injuries due to scratching.