When Dr. Kathleen Pryer and her team at Duke University’s herbarium discovered a new species of fern that produces spores that grow into male, female, or bisexual plants, their minds turned to–who else?–Lady Gaga. “We wanted to name this genus for Lady Gaga because of her fervent defense of equality and individual expression,” said Pryer. “And as we started to consider it, the ferns themselves gave us more reasons why it was a good choice.” One of those reasons was in the plant’s genetic code: when a graduate student discovered the sequence “GAGA” in the fern’s base pairs, it seemed only obvious that the plants would be named “Gaga germanotta” (Gaga’s real name is Stefani Germanotta) and “Gaga monstraparva” (translation: “Little monster”). “‘Born this Way’ is enormously empowering,” adds Dr. Pryer, “especially for disenfranchised people and communities like LGBT, ethnic groups, women — and scientists who study odd ferns!”
I’d just like to say that my new life goal is to have a “Born This Way” dance party at the Duke herbarium. Botanists know how to party. [Rolling Stone]
This weekend, the streets of Los Angeles were graced with a sight much more spectacular than the usual gridlock as the Space Shuttle Endeavor was moved to its new home at the California Science Center. As breathtaking as it is to see a space shuttle rounding a corner next to a Sizzler, my palms are sweating on behalf of whoever had to steer that thing. Seriously, look at the tiny amount of clearance between the wings and those light poles! So stressful. Check out more amazing shots of the move over at NASA’s Flickr page. [NASA]
Ladies and gentlemen, meet Pegomastax africanus, a newly discovered dinosaur about the size of a house cat, with self-sharpening fangs and porcupine-like quills. It looks vicious, but scientists believe Pego (that’s its nickname from now on, OK?) was an herbivore who used those fearsome teeth for nothing more than foraging yummy plants and defending its adorable little self. Another bombshell? Paul Sereno, a paleontologist at the University of Chicago, insists that if this long-extinct creature were still around today, “it would be a nice pet—if you could train it not to nip you.” Well fancy that. I’ve been wanting to get a Pomeranian, but suddenly I want a Pegomastax instead. Amelia, would you and Lucca care to join us for a walk? [National Geographic]
When astrophysicist Carl Sagan said, “We’re made of star stuff,” he was speaking about the fact that human beings are quite literally composed of elements that were forged within the cores of stars that went supernova. “Some part of our being knows this is where we came from,” he posited, “because the cosmos is also within us.” Photographer Ignacio Torres wanted to illustrate this amazing concept, so he used glitter, dust, and dramatic lighting to produce a series of photos like this one, which “suggest [a] celestial creation.” Check out more of his stunning images, presented in GIF form, on his website. [Scientific American]
Finally a team of physicists has devoted the proper time and effort to answering the age old question, “Is it better to bite into a round piece of candy, or continually suck on it?” In a paper poetically titled, “Sticky physics of joy: On the dissolution of spherical candies,” researchers from the University of Graz in Austria described the results of an experiment in which they placed spherical candies in a water bath made to replicate the pH levels and movement of a human mouth and observed the way they dissolved over time. The researchers expected the candy to vanish exponentially, but their findings indicated that the candies dissolved at a constant linear rate instead. What does this mean for candy enthusiasts? Keep reading »
I am certain that I am a woman. Here’s proof: these two mammary glands, my monthly menstruation and, oh yes, I am utterly addicted to chocolate.
The way I eat chocolate — the way I fiend for it — you’d think there was some Darwinian motivation behind it. Throughout my life, I have always kept a bar in the freezer or surreptitiously brought the chocolate chips back to my bed for a midnight to three a.m. snack. And I’m not alone; the US consumer eats about 12 pounds of chocolate a year.
So, why am I craving the brown stuff almost every day? I know people dub themselves “chocoholics,” but is there any proof that doing cocoa is actually physically addictive? And if we’re chowing down the 3,400-year-old treat like it is going out of style, is it really that bad for us? It seems like I had only heard conflicting reviews of my go-to taste bud charmer, so I wanted to sit the jury down myself and get a verdict once and for all. Keep reading »
Want to know a neat trick? Apparently if you add pink lemonade concentrate to gin (or vodka) and tonic, you’ll have a pretty pink cocktail that turns into a crazy bright aquamarine OUTER SPACE DRINK under a black light. So round up your friends, mix up some of these Aurora Borealis cocktails, re-watch the footage of the Curiosity landing, and play a rousing game of “Pin the mohawk on Bobak Ferdowsi.” Cheers! [Boing Boing]