“The Tiny Fish That Break a Fundamental Rule of Vertebrate Life”

The story of cryptobenthics – a category of fish that is literally the fast food of coral reefs. They fulfil this role by having roughly 70% of their population on a typical coral reef eaten every week. In a (very real?) sense, the only reason that these fish are not extinct is that they reproduce, hatch and grow quickly enough to replenish their numbers as fast as they are being eaten.


P.S. They “break” the fundamental rule that vertebrate spend most of their life as an adult. Cryptobenthics barely make it to adulthood before they are eaten.

“Just what is science anyway?”

This 1999 essay by Roger Bradbury is an intriguing answer to the question posed by its title.

Unfortunately, I have been unable to find a particularly clean version of the essay on the ‘net. What is available (as of 2019-05-21) is a readable if somewhat grainy PDF of the essay which can be found by Googling for

"just what is science anyway" "Bradbury"

If you get the same results that I got, the second hit will be a link to the PDF file for Roger’s essay.

Regardless of whether or not the above search works, Roger expanded on his answer in what became chapter 2 of the 2006 book Complex Science for a Complex World published by the Australian National University (ISBN 1 920942 38 6). That book is online at the URL below. While the entire book is likely to be an interesting read, Roger’s contribution is chapter two which is titled “Towards a New Ontology of Complexity Science”.


“Confessions of the $100,000 waitress”

How does a waitress make the equivalent of $100K (before taxes)? It’s surprisingly straightforward: she works hard, she’s focused on providing truly excellent service, she “sometimes” forgets to declare her tipping income, and she works in a high-end location.

Note that I said “straightforward” which is definitely not the same thing as “easy”.


“Why this stunning dinosaur fossil discovery has scientists stomping mad”

A March 29, 2019 New Yorker article titled “The Day The Dinosaurs Died” describes the discoveries of a palaeontologist, Robert DePalma. In the article, DePalma claims to have found fossils from the first hour after the asteroid strike that ended the era of the dinosaurs (here’s the link to that article: https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2019/04/08/the-day-the-dinosaurs-died).

DePalma’s first scientific paper describing his discoveries fails to describe many of the claims made in the New Yorker article. Needless to say, this has the palaeontology community more than a little riled up for at least a couple of reasons – that failing to describe some of the discoveries in scientific terms makes it very difficult for other palaeontologists to vet the claims, and announcing scientific discoveries in non-scientific media is just not done.

Here’s the link to a Macleans’s article describing the controversy: https://www.macleans.ca/society/science/why-this-stunning-dinosaur-fossil-discovery-has-scientists-stomping-mad/

“During the Cold War, the C.I.A. Secretly Plucked a Soviet Submarine From the Ocean Floor Using a Giant Claw”

Interesting “cloak and dagger” story from the Cold War era.