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 Jeremy

Coffee goes really well with information about plant immune responses.

The plant behaves as an integrated organism, but communication from one part of the plant to another is not the same as having a central nervous system.  We might try to imagine what it feels like to be a plant (normally or when under attack), but even if the plant is a unitary creature, its sensory awareness doesn’t have to be ‘conscious’ or centralized for it to be an example of the integration of many parts into a whole.

From CJ

Oh, the stories that whale’s earwax could tell!

Whale earwax is a fat-rich deposit that stores the same chemical data as blubber. But it also records time — similarly to the rings of a tree, the wax is laid down in light and dark bands, with each band correlating roughly to a six-month period. In baleen, or filter-feeding, whales, earwax forms a solid plug that may be tens of centimetres long and remains intact even after its death.

A nicely timed (although slightly profane) complement to CJ’s post last week on science funding.  Do you really f*&#ing love science?

If you really love science, you’ll start making noise about this issue.  You’ll start asking why the US is shooting itself—and the world—in the foot, by putting science on the back burner.  We can spend as much as we want on other things, but in the end, if we’re not funding science, we’re moving backwards.

From Amy

Do you ever feel like you just don’t have enough time to understand contemporary genius’ and their theories? It can’t just be me or this really awesome video – Stephen Hawking’s big ideas made simple – would have been sent to me personally. 

From Noah

It’s like where Neo does that thing with the bullets in the Matrix – except with animals and actual data. Small animals perceive time on a different scale than larger animals and can use that to escape predators with lightning fast reflexes.

“Flies might not be deep thinkers but they can make good decisions very quickly.”

From Sarah

Did you catch Bill Nye on Dancing With The Stars? Some wonder if his performance was a little counterproductive.

His dance did end with fans cheering his name, and he had the biggest social media buzz of any contestants. But I think his over-the-top performance on “Dancing With The Stars” on Monday night was a disservice to the science community by reinforcing stereotypes that scientists are nerdy, old white men who can’t dance.

And finally – the  top 10 – nay – the top 20 – important questions in science. From “What is the Universe made of?” to “Can we travel in time?” with a little “What’s the deal with prime numbers?” in between. Get ready for some brain bending.