Tripedal to the Metal
That’s some loco motion, huh? Found this neat little GIF showing how an ant’s legs move at a full gallop. While calmly strolling though the picnic grounds, ants have five of their six legs at a time in contact with the ground. But when it’s time to put the (tiny) pedal to the metal, they change their gait to this alternating tripod motion.
This pattern isn’t controlled by the insect’s brain, but rather by bundles of neurons in the leg called central pattern generators. While moving at such a clip, it just so happens that three legs is the minimum number it needs on the ground at a time to balance its rigid exoskeleton without toppling over.
Is that part of the reason that insects have six legs and not another number like four or eight? Or did the gait evolve to match the hardware? My guess is the latter, but I am not sure. What say you, insect folks?
(GIF via NC State University)
Request (sorta) by karamundy: something picturing non-dinosaurs that are often wrongly considered dinosaurs.
There’s probably other stuff I could’ve put in, but that’s basically everything I could think of.
Fun fact: this chart also doubles as a chart depicting what I can and cannot draw well.
I’m just going to put this on a t-shirt so I don’t have to explain it anymore haha.
Useful chart is useful.
Disappointed about the dragons, though.
Today’s shoot involves a sword. #scienceiscoming
Rachel Sussman’s photographs of the oldest living things in the world – a masterpiece at the intersection of art, science, and philosophy.
With an artist’s gift for “aesthetic force” and a scientist’s rigorous respect for truth, Sussman straddles a multitude of worlds as she travels across space and time to unearth Earth’s greatest stories of resilience, stories of tragedy and triumph, past and future, but above all stories that humble our human lives, which seem like the blink of a cosmic eye against the timescales of these ancient organisms — organisms that have unflinchingly witnessed all of our own tragedies and triumphs, our wars and our revolutions, our holocausts and our renaissances, and have remained anchored to existence more firmly than we can ever hope to be.
Above all, however, the project raises questions that aren’t so much scientific or artistic as profoundly human: What is the meaning of human life if it comes and goes before a patch of moss has reached the end of infancy? How do our petty daily stresses measure up against a struggle for survival stretching back millennia? Who would we be if we relinquished our arrogant conviction that we are Earth’s biological crown jewel?
See more here.
I guarantee you that Rachel Sussman’s ten-year quest to chronicle the oldest living things on Earth will be the best thing you read about today. It will change the way you look at your life, and the life around you. It will change your perspective regarding your time on Earth, that everything, from fleeting mayflies to ancient mosses struggles for existence daily, and no matter how many sunrises we see, we should relish in each of them for their impermanence.
(Emphasis mine. Seriously… go to Brain Pickings and check out the rest. You can buy Sussman’s book here.)
Today I stepped inside the target bay of one the world’s most powerful lasers, capable of creating the conditions inside a white dwarf in an area the size of the period at the end of this sentence. (This is exactly how it looked through my super-stylish laser glasses)
I suppose there are worse problems to have.
What if I let you guys vote on them?
Also, what do you want to know about?
Yuichi Takasaka’s lunar eclipse photo is better than your lunar eclipse photo.
Taken over Waterton Lakes National Park in Alberta. See those other specks chasing the Moon? Those aren’t lens flares, they’re fellow celestial bodies including Mars, Jupiter, and the star Spica.
Time for spring cleaning! Dust yourself off and sci again while learning the science behind dust:
Oh, PBSDS, you are so punny.
I forgot to mention that I think this might be the prettiest video thumbnail I’ve ever made.