redroanchronicles: (farmersmarket-corn)
Seriously, you learn something new every day. Like, apparently Charles Darwin terraformed a barren volcanic island and turned it into a thriving cloud forest ecosystem, which at least one scientist thinks is promising for the future of terraforming on places like Mars.

John Gribbin thinks that perhaps our origins weren't so different: he theorizes that our universe was created, but by something far more like us than like a god. It's an interesting theory. It's also the kind of article that makes my brain want to explode.

William Gibson writes about, of all things, Google and its impact on our world, and he can pretty much do whatever he wants because he's William Freaking Gibson, but it's actually an interesting article, too.

I just learned about the Ig Nobel Prize, the awards ceremony for which sounds like a hilarious good time for geeks. As a bonus, the article will also tell you about interesting things like the sexual proclivities of fruit bats (er, that might make it nsfw actually) and how to collect samples of whale snot. Just in case you needed to do that.

China has launched a moon mission, while NASA just recently laid off 1200 people, and those layoffs are expected to axe 7000-9000 people just this year. I guess declining empires don't need space programs. This sucks.

The journals of British naval surgeons from the 18th century onward are pretty much totally awesome, and I guess are also helping to advance the study of medicine or whatever. The British National Archives have just completed a major recataloging project that has made these records much easier to comb through. Does it make me a total geek to think that it would've been awesome fun to get to read all of these journals for the purposes of cataloguing? Yes? I'm okay with that.

Climate scientists are going on the offensive against climate change deniers, in response to the new Republican-majority Congress apparently deciding that make-believe about climate change is going to be a priority for the next session. ILU, climate scientists. Fight the good fight.

In other news, Canadian scientists have transformed human skin into blood, apparently ants didn't get the memo about emancipation, there may finally be a way for even me to be good at math, the world's largest rainforest is probably drying out, and you might enjoy this case of evolution via religious selection.
redroanchronicles: Lee Pace and his pointer, Carl (leepace-carl)
National Geographic has an incredible collection of insect egg images made with a scanning electron microscope that you should definitely check out. The structures are incredible... like something created by H.R. Giger, only less appealing because there are actual bugs involved. I'm sorry, I know bugs are amazing, but they still give the willies.

In other News of the Freaking Awesome, researchers at Ithaca College have developed a totally sweet robo-chair for disabled babies. It's built from a Pioneer 3 robot and a Wii Fit balance board, and it moves in whatever direction the baby is leaning. Before you know it, disabled children the world over will be running around in M.A.N.T.I.S. suits! (I would make a joke about all of you being too young to have seen M.A.N.T.I.S., but I bet you're not. I bet you were just smart enough not to watch it. It really was awful.)

What, you want more science of awesome? Alright. How about restoring human vision with biosynthetic corneas? Or using frog skin to find solutions to antibiotic-resistant super-bugs?

Not thrilling enough? Okay, try this one on for size. When these tobacco plants are attacked by hungry caterpillars, they send out a chemical signal which attracts "big-eyed bugs," which then attack the caterpillar. It's sort of like My Bodyguard, if Adam Baldwin's part had been played by an insect.

In energy news, apparently thorium is the next big thing and frankly, after reading up about it a bit, I don't really get why we haven't been using it forever. This article claims that with a bold new thorium initiative, the US could end its dependence on fossil fuels in three to five years. Holy shit. Not enough info on thorium for ya? Here's a Google Tech Talk to tell you all about it.

In a horrifying intersection of bureaucracy, idiocy, and global food security lurching toward failure, researchers in Russia are fighting tooth and nail to preserve the Vavilov Institute of Plant Industry, which preserves rare plants and food stocks and conducts research into parasite and fungus resistance, plants that are capable of surviving extreme temperatures and other cool stuff like that. The Vavilov Institute has a long and dramatic history -- during WWII, the researchers watching over the facility starved to death rather than consume their precious seed stock -- and now the Institute's Pavlovsk collection is under threat from that most terrible of modern-day institutions: real-estate development. Apparently the developers successfully made the case in court that, because the Institute's collection is priceless, it is therefore impossible to assign a price to it, and by extension it is worthless. No, people, I am not making this up.

In news of failures of camouflage, officials at a Thai airport snagged a smuggler when they x-rayed a suitcase full of stuffed tigers and discovered there were bones inside as well. They found a sedated tiger cub in the suitcase and secured a victory against wildlife trafficking. Screw you, wildlife traffickers. I hope you die in a fire.

Speaking of people who suck, Americans in general and judges specifically continue to be idiots about stem-cell research, and now the situation is more screwed up than ever. That's okay, America, it's not like we needed scientific advancement or anything.

And speaking of advancement, scientists in Australia are monitoring a population of skinks who appear to be a living example of evolution in progress: they're switching from egg-laying to live birth. Before you know it, they'll be hunting Sam Neill through an eerie island amusement park.
redroanchronicles: In Harness (in harness)
I've got a whole list of incredibly in-depth, thinky articles I need to write about all the breakthroughs I've been having in my horsemanship and myself. But you know what? I just can't do it right now. I can't even look at the list, much less write any of those things. Some days it's all you can do to drag yourself out of bed, much less make yourself useful. (Upstairs neighbors, please try sleeping at 4am instead of rearranging furniture. WTF are you doing up there, building a makeshift nuclear reactor?) Some days, there is simply nothing for a blogger to do but post links to some horse-related awesome via youtube. Enjoy.

Ever wondered what it's like to ride cross-country, but don't actually want to risk death and maiming like actual event riders? That's why they invented the helmet-cam, I'm pretty sure. Here's Peter Atkins riding at Ocala CCI* 2010.

Klaus Ferdinand Hempfling, with his horse at liberty in the wilderness. I don't know much about Klaus Hempfling, but I've been poking around a bit and I'm kind of fascinated. If I could say nothing else of him, I could say this: unlike basically every other horse trainer out there putting out a video, Hempfling apparently understands the necessity of production values. (Well, okay, Parelli gets that too. But I feel I shouldn't mention them on account of I work there. It's like... favoritism or self-referentialism or... some other word I made up. By which I mean our videos are good and you can buy them.)

Edward Gal aboard Moorlands Totilas put in a jaw-dropping performance at World Dressage Masters 2009. I don't really know much about dressage except that I like to watch it, but you know a pair has finished a nice round when every movement looks both flawless and effortless.

This crazy sport seems like a natural extension of the old British canal-boat horses, except ten times more rad. Yeah, I just used a word straight out of the 1980s. It is RAD, you guys.

A Ride in Middle England: 10 days and 250 miles of horse touring in the UK. I wish I could get Horse and Country TV here in the States. RFD is not nearly as awesome.

This demonstration of garrocha is impressive, and then you notice that he doesn't even touch the reins and your mind is BLOWN.

This working equitation speed test in Portugal is compared in the comments to the extreme cowboy race, only this looks, you know... much more difficult. And the horse is gorgeous, unlike American "cowboy races" where everybody's riding Quarter Horses. I'm sorry, okay? But I just don't like Quarter Horses. I'm prejudiced. I'm a breedist and I think Quarter Horses are the most boring horses ever bred.

The Metropolitan Mounted Police at Olympia. The part where they take off their saddles while riding still impresses me, a dozen viewings later. I am never, ever going to get tired of watching this. Ever.

Lorenzo the Flying Frenchman. You know what? I have to support any guy who calls himself "the Flying Frenchman." That's just too awesome. You're all, "Oooh, that's beautiful, a young man and his horses frolicking in the ocean waves! I wonder why they call him the Flying--" And then you see him roman-riding with six in hand, and you realize that though you may one day be known as a war hero for your sacrifices in the war against the jellyfish (it's coming people, prepare yourselves), you will NEVER be as awesome as Lorenzo the Flying Frenchman. You can also watch his performance at Olympia. I'm beginning to sense that this London International Horse Show is something I need to attend.

Western vs. English showdown! Or is it Western ♥ English? It's hard to tell. It's one big inter-disciplinary lovefest, is what it is.

Do you enjoy the Musical Ride? Of course you do. It's Mounties on horses. What's not to love? If you enjoyed that (and I know you did), you might also enjoy the King's Troop Royal Horse Artillery, which does a Musical Drive, and you know what? Those maneuvers look harder with teams of six and cannons. CAAAAAAAAAANNONS! I'm shouting a lot today, aren't I? It's just because I'm so excited about the cannons.

In other news of awesome videos, some time ago the ex-roommate and I were watching a program of highlights from stadium jumping at Spruce Meadows, and there was a clip of a rider -- I could swear it was Ian Miller, but my google-fu is turning up nothing... maybe it was Rodrigo Pessoa? -- who loses his reins halfway over a very large combination jump, and just goes on to jump without them. It was kind of epic and I wanted to share it, but I cannot for the life of me find any reference to this online. Anyone know what I'm talking about? Got a video link? It was pretty sweet and I want to share it with the world.

And while you're at it: entertain me! (Dance, monkeys, dance!) Share a link to some awesome horse video I might not have seen. I wish to make it my mission in life to watch every single awesome horse video that the web has to offer. It's the sort of job that lasts a lifetime, but as a dedicated student of the horse, I'm okay with that.
redroanchronicles: Seasons (seasons)
When Gashaw Tahir returned to his native Ethopia and found it horribly deforested, he didn't just cry into his Cheerios. he hired 450 young people, mobilized the local community, and planted a million trees. And yeah, just typing that made me tear up a little. I'M NOT ASHAMED.

Here's some interesting research on using sound pollution to produce hydrogen fuels. I still don't understand the "we'll make fuel from water!" thing though, honestly. Surely everyone realizes by now that major water crisis is looming in our near futures.

Poachers are now hunting rhinoceros by helicopter. Also, caviar hunters are pushing sturgeon to extinction.

Apparently, octopuses are totally into the new HD thing when it comes to televisions. I'm so glad you did that research, science.

Okay, kids. We're about to get real, by which I mean real sexy. Well, not sexy, actually. But we're going to talk about sex. Among pipefish and ducks. BRACE YOURSELVES.

Here's a factoid about male pregnancy, which only occurs (as far as we know) in seahorses, pipefish and seadragons. Apparently male pipefish can selectively abort eggs that come from females they have dubbed sub-standard. (Here's some more on male pregnancy and pipefish at Discover's "The Loom" blog with Carl Zimmer.) That is so fucking cool, you guys. I've heard of lizards that can do that, and some birds can eject semen that they weren't real interested in keeping, but it's just insane some of the adaptations that species have developed to allow them greater control over reproduction.

For instance, most sex among ducks is forcible. It doesn't seem pleasant at all. So faced with multiple breedings by males she has not selected, the female duck has developed an amazing defense: her vagina is a crazy corkscrewed house of mirrors. She can guide an undesirable male's ejaculation into blind alleys and empty chambers (if she could lure the male in and knife him in the back, she probably would. That'd be awesome.) So of course the male has adapted to this, as well. In addition to his iron-clad instinct to mate with other ducks -- including other male ducks, dead ducks, and things that sort of looked like ducks but the next morning he has to admit to himself were actually chickens -- he also has an explosive corkscrew penis.

I know, you're thinking, "WTF, how does anybody even know that?" Well, there's science. Somebody out there is actually studying duck penises. With video.

You can watch it here. And YOU'RE WELCOME.

It's actually quite interesting. As the article notes: Of course, drakes don’t mate with the air. Having made this video, Brennan still needed a way to see how a duck penis actually performs its appointed task. Unable to film duck penises in a real female oviduct, she built a fake oviduct out of silcone. She then managed to get a drake to mate with it. But the overwhelming force of the explosive penis broke the fake oviduct.

Nice. NICE, ducks. You are real gentlemen. YOU SHOULD BE ASHAMED OF YOURSELVES.


redroanchronicles: Juno - Kiss Me (Default)

August 2011

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