Red in tooth and claw

Very cool letter to Ecological Montenegrina about a rare phenomenon observed in the wilds of Macedonia: a centipede was eaten by a viper and retaliated by chewing its way out (or possibly just destroying all the snake’s innards). Unfortunately, both combatants died, locked in the eternal struggle or predator and also predator.

ARSOVSKI et al. 2014 fig. 1

The incident was aptly titled, “Two fangs good, a hundred legs better.”

D. Arsovski, et al. 2014. “Two fangs good, a hundred legs better: juvenile viper devouredby an adult centipede it had ingested.” Ecologica Montenegrina 1(1):  6-8.

Via: iflscience

 

Living reptile jewelry

Amazingly, small chameleons used to be worn collared and pinned to women’s clothing as trendy jewelry around the turn of the century.

Described in Julia Long. 2013. “Portable Pets: Live and Apparently Live Animals in Fashion, 1880–1925.” Costume: 43(1).

Image

Source NY Times

Of course, today, there are a wide variety of more humane options. Sparkly, with Prime shipping!

 

Strawberry DNA cocktails

This is a funny adult take on the classic extract DNA from strawberries classroom activity. I think it’s terribly clever how they found edible analogues for the standard classroom ingredients! Strawberry DNA cocktails – perfect for science pub events, though not terribly appealing as a drink.

Ingredients:

  • 3 Frozen strawberries (freezing breaks open the cells)
  • Pineapple juice (bromeline unwraps DNA)
  • Bacardi 151 (Pulls DNA out of the water solution)

And here’s the original experiment. I did this with the science classes I taught the Ohlone for Kids summer program at Ohlone College.

Ingredients:

  • Soap /detergent / shampoo (breaks open the cells)
  • Salt (unwraps DNA)
  • Isopropyl alcohol (Pulls DNA out of the water solution)

(Both) Also:

  • Plastic baggies (for mooshing the strawberries)
  • Cheesecloth / coffee filter (for straining strawberry chunks)
  • Measuring cups / beakers

Classroom spacetime simulator

The most impressive lab I remember from high school Physics AP, was building real circuits using a breadboard. It was a flexible and immediate way to tie calculations into visible results by switching out electrical components on the board.

This is an example of a physics demonstration that surpasses that for simplicity and effectiveness – using a sheet of spandex to simulate spacetime to demonstrate the concept of gravity under Einstein’s concept of general relativity. The “space is like a sheet of rubber” simile is frequently employed, but this hands-on demonstration is cheap and simple enough to actually get the idea across in the classroom. Wonderful for high school or college settings. Kudos to Los Gatos High School’s Dan Burns.

via Huffington Post
Instructions to make your own here.

In honor of the axolotl

I’ve never been a big fan of William Wordsworth – I always felt he was the schmaltziest – so I was thrilled to discover that one of his poems was perverted to glorify the strangest of all salamanders, the lovely axolotl.

Axolotl-and-tigerI Wandered Lonely as a Clod
(From MAD Magazine #43, 1958)

I wandered lonely as a clod,
Just picking up old rags and bottles,
When onward on my way I plod,
I saw a host of axolotls;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
A sight to make a man’s blood freeze.

Some had handles, some were plain;
They came in blue, red pink, and green.
A few were orange in the main;
The damndest sight I’ve ever seen.
The females gave a sprightly glance;
The male ones all wore knee-length pants.

Now oft, when on the couch I lie,
The doctor asks me what I see.
They flash upon my inward eye
And make me laugh in fiendish glee.
I find my solace then in bottles,
And I forget them axolotls.

And to cap off the fringed whimsy, please enjoy this axolotl song: