science

* I’ve posted before about Galaxy Zoo. Since the last time I mentioned it on this blog, there have been some huge and exciting changes. The mission of the main Galaxy Zoo site has moved on from the images provided by the Sloan Digital Sky Survey and on to images from Hubble. You can also participate in Moon Zoo, helping scientists to provide accurate crater counts from the moon’s surface.

* Send your face to space.

* Last week SpaceX successfully launched their Falcon 9 rocket and achieved low earth orbit. Since it looks like U.S. service to the ISS will be handled by private corporations for the near future, at any rate, this is a huge step.

* Here’s some high school students who figured out a way to take their very own pictures from space.

Today I want to showcase what I hope will be come a regular feature here in my little slice of cyberspace — those things that caused me to click a link, and then another, and get caught up in reading/learning about something new.

*New tiny tyrannosauroid may be missing link in evolution
*But how will she floss?
*I had no idea! Not for the faint of heart, and I’m purposely NOT linking to any of the video, which does exist on the Internet.
*A new book in one of my favorite worlds is set for release next year!
* Speaking of favorite worlds and new books, not concrete news yet on George R.R. Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire series or on Jean M Auel’s Earth’s Children series. These two are in a fierce competition to see how long they can keep fans waiting. At the moment, Jean has what appears to be a commanding lead at 5 years to 2 for George, but there are rumors whispering that Jean may have delivered a manuscript to her editor. Of course, she’s already the champion, having made her fans was 12 years for book 5. Let us all hope that she’s not trying to break her previous record.

Some scientists from IBM have imaged a part of nature that none of us have ever seen before: a single molecule. It’s not just the simple beauty that arrested me, though. It’s the fact that we’ve managed to figure out a way to image something that’s one million times smaller than a grain of sand. And that, in order to do it, they had to replace the tip of their instrument with one molecule of carbon monoxide.

That’s right. To get a picture of a single molecule, scientists had to make an instrument just one molecule wide to measure it. Um…wow?

Thre’s a few cool things going on in the animal world. The first is a new study about spiders that shows some of them decorate their webs with life-sized replicas of themselves!

“I don’t know of any animal that actively builds a decoy of itself. Our study seems to be the first to empirically demonstrate the function of animal-made decoys,” says Tso.

The decoys worked, too. More often than not, a wasp would attack a decoy rather than the spider, thinking it to be a tasty meal.

But all wasp strikes on spiders living on undecorated webs were directed straight at the spider.

“Decorations built by Cyclosa spiders function as a conspicuous anti-predator device instead of a camouflaging device. The benefit of successful escape from predator attack seems to outweigh the cost of increased detection,” says Tso.

This next is actually old news, but it’s the first I’d heard of it. Rats laugh. That’s right…rats can actually express delight through laughter!