Monday, 23 May 2011

Mars, Water on The Moon, Earthquakes and Zebras

Mars: Picture by NASA.

Welcome (back) to Weirdbeautiful.

Today's scientific links are on Earthquakes and Distant planets, starting with the associated press story that "Millions of people in Europe, the Middle East and Asia are at risk from deadly tremors which can strike out of the blue in unmapped earthquake zones".

Meanwhile, one of the weirder stories in the past few weeks has been the New Scientist competition to win a part of Mars rock. The magazine wants competitors to suggest the first words that should be spoken by the first man landing on Mars: the next giant leap for mankind-

Sticking with the theme of astronomy, the press association has also published a story saying that "water may be as plentiful in the moon's interior as the Earth's". This statement is based upon a study of lunar rocks that were first brought to Earth in 1972, by the last manned mission to the moon, Apollo 17. Trapped water was found in tiny volcanic glass beads within the rock samples and it has now been suggested that "there could be 100 times more water in the lunar mantle, the thick rock layer beneath the surface crust, than was previously thought". The full article is online here-

Grey's Zebra Stallion: image by "Rainbirder" (this image has a creative commons 2.0 license- for details, click [here])

Good news was recently announced by Edinburgh Zoo, where two Grevy's Zebras have had foals. Grevy's Zebras are endangered in the wild- their population has now fallen to between 2,000 and 2,500 animals (less than 20% of what it was 30 years ago).

Finally, Xixiakou Wildlife Zoo in Weihai, Sahndong Province, eastern China has released a picture of a dog nursing liger cubs after they were abandonned by their mother. Ligers: the offspring of a male lion and a female tiger: are hybrid animals with interesting biology- not least, their tendency to grow much larger than either lions or tigers. You can find more on ligers [HERE]

and the zoo story (worth the detour for the picture alone)is online here-

Sunday, 22 May 2011

Links of the day- Panda Cubs and Komodo Dragons

Welcome (back) to Weirdbeautiful.

First link of the day today is this humorous article about the joys of keeping a Komodo dragon as a pet-

Weird link-of-the-day is this stunning picture of camel-thorn trees in Namibia, which, contrary to appearances, is a photograph, not a painting-

The other links-of-the day are to baby giant panda pictures for no reason other than whim- that and that baby pandas have been in the news recently-

for Baby Panda Picture 1, Click-[HERE]

for Baby Panda Picture 2, Click- [HERE]

for Baby Panda Picture 3, Click- [HERE]

finally, Baby Panda Picture 4 is of a 30-minute old cub from the Wolong Breeding centre- click [HERE]

Thursday, 19 May 2011

Quote of the Day: Conservation- the Dalai Lama

Pansies- Viola sp.

Welcome (back) to Weirdbeautiful. Quote-of-the-day today is on the theme of conservation-

"Ultimately, the decision to save the environment must come from the human heart. The key point is a call for a genuine sense of universal responsibility that is based on love, compassion and clear awareness"

- The Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso (in "Humanity and Ecology").

The first Link-of-the-day today is to this graphic on the "Information is Beautiful" science-in-society website. The graphic- "Mountains out of molehills" shows how the relative coverage of scientific events, disease outbreaks etc. is not very closely correlated to the severity of the incident-

Today's second, vaguely scientific link is this piece in The Guardian giving advice on spotting the space ship "Endeavour" in the skies over Britain in late May-

Sunday, 15 May 2011


Hi. Welcome (back) to Weirdbeautiful
Link of the day today is an article about an echidna being treated at Taronga Zoo (Sydney) for injuries he sustained when hit by a car-

Monday, 9 May 2011

Quote of the Day: Snails

"One [practitioner of science] is the educated man who still has a controlled sense of wonder before the universal mystery, whether it hides in a snail's eye or within the light that impinges on that delicate organ."
- Loren Eiseley (3rd September 1907– 9th July 1977),
American Anthropologist and Science Writer.

Women in science

Welcome (back) to Weirdbeautiful!

Today's links are about women in science.
The first is to the web comic xkcd, which partly inspired the other two links-
(thanks to Joe W. for that link)

The second is to the wikipedia entries for Lise Mietner and
Emmy Noether

It is said that most mathematicians make all their truly important contributions prior to the age of around thirty. Emmy Noether is a nice example of a mathematician who bucks this trend. The German mathematician and theoretical physicist Hermann Weyl described Noether's life's work as occurring in three "epochs"- the last of which, ran from 1927, when she was 45, until her death (from complications of surgery)in 1935.

Sunday, 1 May 2011

The Flowers of the Inca Trail

Welcome (back) to Weirdbeautiful!

Today’s installment of weirdbeauty is a guest post on the wild-flowers of the Inca trail, it was co-written and entirely illustrated by Lazáro Pina. All of these pictures were taken at high altitudes along the Inca trail:

“The Inca trail runs from Cusco city, in Peru to Machu Picchu, through the Andes Cordillera and takes four days to walk. I went there in January (this year).There were not very many flowers along the trail, but, because I was alone almost all the time, I was able to spend my time peacefully observing all the natural details and photographing those I saw. I found all of these flowers in separate places- these pictures were taken on different days and on different parts of the trail.

I believe that the plant above is a kind of lupin (there are between 200 and 600 species of lupin), possibly and Andean lupin. The bean of the Andean Lupin (see , Lupinus mutabilis (locally known as “tarwi”, amongst other names) were actually used as a food across the Incan Empire.

The trail is tiring to walk, because the air is thin- the Inca trail ranges in altitude from around 2800m above sea level, to 4215m at its highest point. Actually, at some points along the trail, local people have set up markets with stalls selling tea made from Coca leaves: the same plant that is used to make cocaine. People drink the tea because it helps with altitude sickness, although I am told that it has a very bitter, unpleasant and leafy flavour.

The plants and flowers on the Inca trail are very unlike those I am used to in Brazil; here the plants are very different as the weather is so much hotter and we don't have that high altitude. In fact, I could never have imagined a flower with just one petal, like the one above. The weather along the Inca trail was very cold and wet, at least, it was when I was there and, at night, it was below freezing.

The area around (lake) Laguna Cochapata is known as deer habitat, but I didn't personally see any animals at all on the trail, beside birds (there were a lot of birds).
These two pictures below were both taken in an Inca ruin- there were a lot of flowers here-in this one place, that had grown up between the rocks on the wall. The others flowers were rare, I just saw them once or twice during the entire trek. The flowers on the Inca trail are sometimes weird and sometime beautiful, but the scenery and views are all just amazing. For example, on the last day, I saw the sunrise at Machu Picchu, which was really outstanding.”

Guest post by Lazáro Pina- Images by Lazáro Pina, Text L. Pina & V. Neblik