What makes life alive?

24 02 2010

Pebble plants (Lithops salicola) among rocks. What distinguishes one from the other?

What is it, exactly, that makes a thing alive? Why do we call a rabbit alive, but not a rock? Here’s a little dialog to help clarify the problem. This is hardly comprehensive and I reserve the right to make sweeping edits in the future! But here it is, just below the fold:

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David Attenborough and More on Youtube!!

17 01 2010

The man himself! Sir David Attenborough.

The unparalleled naturalist David Attenborough has participated in a huge number of fantastic nature documentaries over the year, and it turns out a fair number of these are available on youtube! Having stumbled on these yesterday and spent several hours enjoying them, I felt compelled to share them with you, the public hungry for knowledge!

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More New Tunes from John Boswell

6 01 2010

Ooooh, Johnny, lay another dose of those sweet scientific sounds on me! The new track is titled “The Unbroken Thread,” and it features David Attenborough, Carl Sagan, and Jane Goodall. Here it is:

Until next time!

-Neil





Fascinating Animals 1: Whales

3 12 2009

Two majestic marine mammals

Greetings, faithful blog readers!  My name is Sam and I’m going to take you on a fascinating tour of the animal kingdom over my next few posts, as well as whatever other scientific topics strike my fancy.  Today, I’d like to talk about our fishy friends, the whales (not actually fish, though we’re sure you knew that), and the fascinating topic of animal intelligence.

Everyone knows that the dolphins at SeaWorld can learn tricks, but the assumed limits of whale intelligence are being shattered regularly.  Dolphins are capable of recognizing their own reflections (a sign of self-awareness), singing the “Batman” theme song (reproducing rhythm and pitch) and most recently, hunting with sponges to protect their noses (tool usage).  Clearly, the cognitive ability of our marine amigos is not to be underestimated!

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All Episodes of Carl Sagan’s Cosmos Are Available Online!!

30 10 2009
carl_sagan

Just look at him. As majestic as the Milky Way.

 

Holy Moley did I cry with joy when I learned this. Our friends at Hulu have put up all thirteen episodes of Carl Sagan’s magnum opus, Cosmos. If you’re unfamiliar with Cosmos, it’s an awesome series. Sagan explores a different topic each episode, outlining a particular feature of our wonderful universe with his characteristic awe and infectious enthusiasm. Stars, galaxies, the formation of the Earth? The origins of the elements, the subtleties of star death? You’ll find it here! I whole heartedly recommend you watch every single episode. Dang, it’s just so cool!
Go now! Go and be entertained and educated!

 

-Neil





Are We Alone?

19 08 2009
The Earth, my home and yours.

The Earth, my home and yours. It looks lonely, doesn't it?

I recently received an email. It’s a good one, and the discussion it concerns is important.

Sam writes:

Hey guys,

I really enjoyed the Hubble post.  That was a pretty amazing video!  Between that, and seeing “District 9” this weekend, I was wondering what you thought the odds are that we are alone in the universe?

Thanks,

Sam

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Email Question Bonanza

11 08 2009
The moon! Photo by Luc Viatour.

The moon! Photo by Luc Viatour.

Hello! I’m sorry for the drought of posts these past few days. Let me try to make it up to you with two great posts at once! Wow! I want to answer two questions I received in emails (dangthatscool@gmail.com). If I continue to receive emails on a regular basis, I’ll make this a regular sort of post. A kind of grab-bag. If I get emails with enough regularity, I might even be able to make it a weekly feature! Grab-bag Tuesday, or something. Anyway, here goes.

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