Category Archives: General Science

A Fungus Amongus

Anybody know what this thing is? I saw it in the back yard while fertilizing the ixora.

It’s hollow, and those are holes in it, like a whiffle ball. I thought that it was some kind of toy at first.


At Michael Mealing’s suggestion in comments, I did a search on “stinkhorn,” and it does indeed resemble this. There wasn’t any noticeable stink to it, though (I got right down on it to smell it). Then again, I don’t have the most sensitive schnoz in the world.

[Another update]

Yes, it does look exactly like a clathrus crispus. It makes geographical sense, too, since the climate on the Virgin Islands is not dissimilar to that of south Florida. And this site says that it’s common in the Caribbean and Florida.

Tough Singles Scene

If you’re put off by dating, just be glad you’re not a male nursery spider:

Some male spiders pay the ultimate price for a few moments of pleasure when the female devours them after mating. Even worse, some males are eaten before they have the chance to mate.

To overcome this problem the nursery spider has devised a strategy of offering his thumbnail-sized mate a love-token, such as a dead insect.

But after presenting the gift the male immediately feigns death and collapses at her feet.

And as she becomes preoccupied with sinking her jaws into the insect treat, the male revives, creeps under her and begins copulating.

I think I’ll stick with flowers. Most of the women I know hate bugs.

I Blame George Bush

Here’s an interesting new theory–the large mammals of America may have been wiped out by a storm from a supernova:

Richard Firestone, a nuclear scientist at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, who formulated the theory with geologist Allen West, told Discovery News that a key piece of evidence for the supernova is a set of 34,000-year-old mammoth tusks riddled with tiny craters.

The researchers believe that in the sequence of events following the supernova, first, the iron-rich grains emitted from the explosion shot into the tusks. Whatever caused the craters had to have been traveling around 6,214 miles per second, and no other natural phenomenon explains the damage, they said.

Interesting, and as the article says, it’s testable. If it’s true, it’s a new kind of threat to worry about. I wonder if there would be any warning?

I don’t think that the precision in that paragraph makes sense, though–“around 6,214 miles per second”?

Pretty Smart

A fascinating disquisition on stupidity:

We all recollect occasions in which a fellow took an action which resulted in his gain and our loss: we had to deal with a bandit. We also recollect cases in which a fellow took an action which resulted in his loss and our gain: we had to deal with a helpless person. We can recollect cases in which a fellow took an action by which both parties gained: he was intelligent. Such cases do indeed occur. But upon thoughtful reflection you must admit that these are not the events which punctuate most frequently our daily life. Our daily life is mostly, made of cases in which we lose money and/or time and/or energy and/or appetite, cheerfulness and good health because of the improbable action of some preposterous creature who has nothing to gain and indeed gains nothing from causing us embarrassment, difficulties or harm. Nobody knows, understands or can possibly explain why that preposterous creature does what he does. In fact there is no explanation – or better there is only one explanation: the person in question is stupid.

[Via Geekpress]

Caught In The Act

Some Japanese marine biologists have taken video, for the first time ever, of a giant squid in its natural habitat:

The team led by Tsunemi Kubodera, from the National Science Museum in Tokyo, tracked the 26-foot long Architeuthis as it attacked prey nearly 3,000 feet deep off the coast of Japan’s Bonin islands…

…Mori said the giant squid, purplish red like its smaller brethren, attacked its quarry aggressively, calling into question the image of the animal as lethargic and slow moving.

“Contrary to belief that the giant squid is relatively inactive, the squid we captured on film actively used its enormous tentacles to go after prey,” Mori said.

“It went after some bait that we had on the end of the camera and became stuck, and left behind a tentacle” about six yards long, Mori said.

As a diver, I’m glad that they don’t often come near the surface.