What’s a book that changed how you view the natural world?
I got a call from a sentient typewriter named Ishmael and we issued a challenge to all the book-lovers out there.
Last week I teamed up with Call Me Ishmael to issue a challenge: Share the story of a book that changed how you look at the natural world.
Here’s one of the responses that came in, about the Titanic, fear, and thinking about big icebergs.
"Now there’s a healthy dose of something more powerful in there. Awe."
Want to share yours? Watch this first. Can’t wait to hear your stories :)
This man could narrate my life. And I would be completely OK with that.
"Only in very hard times, when the pride is extremely hungry, will issues of priority be settled by fighting."
This man could narrate me opening a jar of mayo and make it sound like Earth’s most epic struggle for existence.
Source: Laughing Squid
A fish slingshot for helping our finned friends get over dams is now being tested in the wild:
"Originally designed for fruit, Whooshh turned its technology into a tool to help safely send fish over dams blocking the course on the Columbia river in Washington state. Under tests right now with the Department of Energy and the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, the Whooshh tubes could be shooting more fish over dams in the near future. A test this past summer showed that fish will voluntarily enter the tube. When they swim into the entrance, the vacuum sucks them in and gives them initial boost; after that, elevated pressure behind the fish keeps them moving at about 15 to 22 miles per hour till they go flying out the other end."
(Via Alexis Madrigal’s 5 Intriguing Things newsletter)
We are mighty.
Humans kill a lot of sharks. Like, A LOT OF SHARKS. More than three every second to be exact. If we keep it up, several shark species will be extinct within the next few decades.
What would happen in a world without sharks?
That’s the question posed in this week’s episode of It’s Okay To Be Smart. From ecosystems to food chains to depressing death tallies to how much a shark is worth in $$$, there’s plenty of brain chum to watch and share with your fellow shark lovers.
Because lawyers, we’re calling it “Several Consecutive Calendar Days Dedicated to Predatory Cartilaginous Fishes" instead of… well, you know. And unlike certain cable TV channels, our videos are non-fearmongering, unsensationalized, and dedicated to celebrating and protecting sharks , not turning them into bloodthirsty monsters. This should go without saying, but all of the S.C.C.D.D.P.C.F. videos are 100% true, factual and not made up in the least bit, unlike some other shark-related programming.
Check out the full playlist of shark science videos from your favorite channels here, or you can watch it embedded below:
NEW VIDEO! Meet the oldest living things in the world…
I hope this video changes how you view a “lifetime”. Every organism you’re about to meet represents a single individual that has been alive for more than 2,000 years. Some of them have been around since before human society even existed.
This week, with the help of artist and photographer Rachel Sussman (whose photographs are collected in the amazing book The Oldest Living Things In The World), I explore some of Earth’s senior citizens.
A 5,000 year-old pine tree. An 80,000 year-old grove of aspens. A 100,000 year-old meadow of sea grass. Even 500,000 year-old, continuously-living bacteria… how did they get so old? Why do they live so long? Can these survivors survive us? And what others might be out there?
Dip your toe into deep time, and think about this: Is every moment a lifetime? Or Is every lifetime just a moment?
Watch the video below, and if you enjoy, please share and subscribe:
they’re like tiny 8-legged cats
how can anyone hate them
Look at these nerds.
Don’t fear the spiders!
Dark Skies of Utah is a timelapse film by Ron Risman, featuring photography captured by his students during a timelapse workshop in Moab, Utah. I would like to take that class.
This is beautiful stuff.
Go full screen, turn up the sound, and feel you some nature feels. Have a great weekend.
Meet Anoxycalyx joubini, an Antarctic volcano sponge (it’s the one not wearing a wetsuit). It’s estimated that some slow-growing specimens may be up to 15,000 years old, making them the oldest living animals on Earth. Most live in such deep, frigid waters that they will never be seen face-to-face by human divers, whose entire known history has occurred in less than one spongy lifetime.
Image via Project SCINI/Cal State
The Secret Social Lives of Plants
(well, they’re secret to US, anyway)
From danger calls to nutrient exchange, plants have evolved a wide array of chemical communication strategies thanks to molecules they emit to the air and through the soil. Those stems may seem stoic, but veggies are far from vegetative when it comes to chatter. Via MinuteEarth.
Bonus: This great vid also features the newly-discovered Boquila mimic ivy, able to disguise itself as two plants simultaneously. Read more about this plant chameleon at Not Exactly Rocket Science.
I'm Joe Hanson, a Ph.D. biologist and science writer based in Austin, TX. I'm the creator/host/writer of PBS Digital Studios' It's Okay To Be Smart. Subscribe on YouTube by clicking below:
"Everyone's favorite Feynman of the Tumblr era" - Maria Popova
Joe's science book recommendations, from brains to biology to space to art to physics.
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