Comfort Zones

Research over many years has examined if and how the indigenous people of Siberia evolved to adapt to the extremely harsh winter climate there. Most evidence points to three major genetic adaptations that helped people survive and even thrive in average January temperatures of -25 °C (-13 °F). The three genes – UCP1, ENPP7 and…

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What We Talk About When We Talk About War (VI)

Mix equal parts of the broad-leaf herbicides 2,4,5-Trichlorophenoxyacetic acid (2,4,5-T) and 2,4-Dichlorophenoxyacetic acid (2,4-D) and you’ve got yourself a batch of what’s commonly known as Agent Orange, the defoliant made famous during the Vietnam War. Herbicidal warfare was used first in Malaysia in the 1950s against communist insurgents. Based on this earlier implementation, with the…

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Spring Song

It’s raining out today, so I don’t feel overly guilty about not being out in the garden after a week of imposed bed rest. I found these nifty images of lacewing eggs – something I’m hoping to find in our garden when I get back outside. Lacewing larvae aren’t as pretty as their eggs, nor…

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PSA

I’ve been laid low by a pernicious cold this week, and am not yet back up to the fighting stamina it takes to make a proper post. It’s bed rest and hot water with lemon juice for me. It offers some aesthetic comfort that the inside of a rhinovirus looks more or less like the…

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The Green Spot (2)

We were in western Ireland last week, and I was out on a run when I passed this beautiful piece of re-purposed farm machinery. A geared wheel as a fence.The fence in question was to a large pasture near Cong, on Lough Corrib. The sheep are marked here, as they are across Ireland, with big…

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Let’s Play Big Data

The other day I overheard a student next to me on a flight say, “I can remember the words to almost every song I’ve ever heard more than once or twice – if only the legal cases I need to learn were set to music, I could remember them all.” Optimistic, I know, but maybe…

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Fragile Horizons

Created in the first decade of the 1500s, the globe above is made of the bottom halves of two ostrich eggs, and was engraved by someone who was either influenced by Leonardo da Vinci, or worked directly in the workshop of the Renaissance genius. The globe  is the earliest known attempt to depict the Americas,…

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Rethinking Country Mouse, City Mouse

There was a period of my youth when my family lived ‘off-grid’ for the most part, in wood cabins on the forested coast of northern California. There were parts of that experience I didn’t like – hauling water by hand was certainly low on my list of preferences – but one aspect I liked very…

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The Green Spot

Not knowing much about Irish whiskies, I took the opportunity to do a bit of exploring during our trip to Ireland last week. The first dram recommended to me by the friendly bartender at the Porterhouse Temple Bar in Dublin turned out to be my favourite. For all its mild aroma of soft grain and…

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Snake Compass

Burmese pythons (Python bivittatus) are a successful invasive species in Florida that have been profiting from local wildlife and few natural predators. Native to Southeast Asia and listed by the IUCN as vulnerable or endangered in their original habitats, abandoned or escaped pythons have been thriving in the Florida Everglades, to the dismay of conservationists trying…

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