WFMU has a delightful show on Wednesday nights called “Night People.” They start from square one and figure out a new subject each week. My favorite episode so far is the one embedded below, “Luck & Fate Explained!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” The best part is when Dave postulates that both Free Will and Determinism are operative, but each applies at different times under different circumstances.
Via raindrop power:
Bedbugs like to “keep it in the family“:
And bedbugs’ eagerness to mate with their kin is one reason their populations have taken off so dramatically. Inbreeding comes naturally to them, and it doesn’t seem to hurt their offspring much, as is the case with most other creatures.
“When we look at the genetic makeup of an apartment building, we found that most of the time, the bugs are all related to each other,” entomologist Coby Schal tells Shots. “That suggests that there is a lot of inbreeding occurring.”
He and another entomologist named Ed Vargo examined genetic markers of apartment-dwelling bedbugs in New Jersey and North Carolina. They found remarkable genetic similarities among bedbugs living under one roof.
Schal says all it takes is one mated female to check into a room for the bedbug party to get started. Once her sons and daughters become adults —about 35 days — they will mate with each other. Their offspring will repeat the cycle and so on.
“Inbreeding allows bedbugs to establish a large population with a small start,” Schal says. The amount of genetic similarity among the offspring suggests that outside bugs are rarely getting in on the action.
The New York Times has an article on the nascent study of urban evolution:
Dr. Munshi-South has joined the ranks of a small but growing number of field biologists who study urban evolution — not the rise and fall of skyscrapers and neighborhoods, but the biological changes that cities bring to the wildlife that inhabits them. For these scientists, the New York metropolitan region is one great laboratory.
White-footed mice, stranded on isolated urban islands, are evolving to adapt to urban stress. Fish in the Hudson have evolved to cope with poisons in the water. Native ants find refuge in the median strips on Broadway. And more familiar urban organisms, like bedbugs, rats and bacteria, also mutate and change in response to the pressures of the metropolis. In short, the process of evolution is responding to New York and other cities the way it has responded to countless environmental changes over the past few billion years. Life adapts.
“[i]solated urban islands” reminds me of this post over at metafilter that addresses the threats to islands from invasive species and also notes that islands “make up only about 3% of the earth’s land area but host about 20% of all species and 50 to 60% of endangered species.” You can infer from this that the isolation of islands fosters biological diversification. It also reminds me of the story of the Peppered Moth.
(One could call the biotech industry “industrial evolution”?)
The neat thing about skipping stones is that it is a process through which the act of skipping the stone improves both the skipability of the stone and the enjoyment of the activity. I imagine a squarish, rough-surfaced, dense, heavy stone being picked up, against all odds, once upon a time, and skittered across the water. This same stone became slightly more suitable for skipping and, many years later, found another skipper who employed the same stone in skipping. Over hundreds and hundreds of years, this ugly stone became both beautiful and attained the perfect form and function for skipping–the very activity to which it was originally so ill-suited.
Everything’s bigger in Texas, including ignorance.