“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”.


“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/

“Beholding the Big Bang”

It will take the motor, coupled with the sets of reduction gears, 13.7 billion years (the estimated age of the universe) to complete one rotation of the last gear.

a sign on the exhibit at the MIT Museum in Boston
Interesting in a “Huh?” sort of way . . .

The video is dated 2013/06/20. I have no idea if the MIT Museum exhibit is still there.

“Inside the quest to save the banana from extinction”

Banana plantations around the world are under attack for the second time in the past 100 years by the fungus Fusarium oxysporum cubense (Panama disease). The disease causes a banana tree’s leaves to wilt and curl which soon leads to the death of the tree.

This article tells the fascinating story of how the worldwide banana industry switched in the 1950s from the then ubiquitous but susceptible to Panama disease Gros Michel banana variety to the somewhat less flavourful and more delicate but immune Cavendish variety. Unfortunately, history is in the process of repeating itself as the Cavendish variety is now under increasing threat by a different strain of Panama disease . . .


“Researchers Made 3,900-Pound Boulders They Can Move by Hand, Giving More Insights Into Ancient Engineering”

By using concrete of different densities and some careful design, researchers were able to make quite large and quite heavy (up to 1,770kg or 3,900lb) monoliths which one or two adults could relatively easily move around and use to assemble larger structures.


“Eugene Shoemaker: The Only Human Buried on the Moon”

Gene Shoemaker was a scientist who had long dreamed of walking on the Moon. Although he made various significant contributions to humanity’s exploration of space. For example, he co-discovered the Shoemaker-Levy comet that hit Jupiter back in 1994 and his study of meteor impact craters proved quite valuable when the time came for NASA to select Apollo mission landing sites. He also postulated that the end of the dinosaurs might have been caused by an asteroid hitting the Earth. Unfortunately, health issues caused him to be bumped out of consideration to be an Apollo astronaut.

Shortly after Eugene Shoemaker was killed in an automobile accident in 1997, one of his students suggested that some of his ashes should be placed on the Lunar Prospector probe which was about to be launched on a mission that was planned to end with the probe crashing onto the Moon. Less than six months later on January 6, 1998, the probe, with about 30 grams of Shoemaker’s ashes on board, crashed into the Moon. Shoemaker became the first human to have some of their remains deliberately placed onto a celestial body.