Friday, July 14, 2006

Friday Links

Lots of links to ruin your productivity. Thanks to Sirius for most of these--a one-person link machine.

First off: mammoths with different hair colors.
Museum dioramas typically portray mammoths as having shaggy brown coats, but some of the hairy beasts might have been blonde, raven-haired or red-bodied in real life, thanks to a gene that controls hair color in humans and other mammals.

By examining DNA extracted from a mammoth bone frozen in Siberian permafrost and comparing it with sequences from other mammoth remains, researchers have concluded that the wooly creatures probably carried two versions of Mc1r, a gene whose protein product helps determine hair color in several mammals, including humans, mice, horses and dogs.

Eli 4.11 was blown away that there might have been blonde mammoths. Here's the link.

Here's a link to, well, this:
Gensou Hyouhon Hakubutsukan (”Museum of Fantastic Specimens”) is an online collection of creatures “curated” by Hajime Emoto. The three-story virtual museum consists of 9 rooms chock full of water- and land-dwelling monstrosities from all corners of the globe. Each specimen has a clickable thumbnail that links to additional photos and historical and background information (in Japanese). The basement contains a bookshop and a cafeteria serving dishes prepared with some of the beasts featured in the museum (such as umiushi sashimi, served fresh from the tank and wriggling on your plate, with a balsamic vinegar sauce).

All of the creatures showcased in the museum are sculpted from paper, modeling paste and bamboo and are completely imaginary, claims Emoto — perhaps a disappointment for hunters of the legendary tsuchinoko (center-right in the photo above) in search of an actual specimen, but an amazing collection of critters nonetheless.

The detail in these figures is amazing, and it's also amazing how realistic they seem. Very fun, and here's the link.

There's a fascinating article over at Wired titled "What Kind of Genius Are You?" Here's an excerpt:
What he has found is that genius – whether in art or architecture or even business – is not the sole province of 17-year-old Picassos and 22-year-old Andreessens. Instead, it comes in two very different forms, embodied by two very different types of people. “Conceptual innovators,” as Galenson calls them, make bold, dramatic leaps in their disciplines. They do their breakthrough work when they are young. Think Edvard Munch, Herman Melville, and Orson Welles. They make the rest of us feel like also-rans. Then there’s a second character type, someone who’s just as significant but trudging by comparison. Galenson calls this group “experimental innovators.” Geniuses like Auguste Rodin, Mark Twain, and Alfred Hitchcock proceed by a lifetime of trial and error and thus do their important work much later in their careers. Galenson maintains that this duality – conceptualists are from Mars, experimentalists are from Venus – is the core of the creative process. And it applies to virtually every field of intellectual endeavor, from painters and poets to economists.

It's a fascinating article, and you can find it here.

Here's an article that's subtitled "A microbiologist discovers our planet is hard-wired with electricity-producing bacteria." Here's an excerpt:
RICHLAND, Wash. – When Yuri Gorby discovered that a microbe which transforms toxic metals can sprout tiny electrically conductive wires from its cell membrane, he reasoned this anatomical oddity and its metal-changing physiology must be related.

A colleague who had heard Gorby’s presentation at a scientific meeting later reported that he, too, was able to coax nanowires from another so-called metal-reducing bacteria species and further suggested the wires, called pili, could be used to bioengineer electrical devices.

It now turns out that not only are the wires and their ability to alter metal connected—but that many other bacteria, including species involved in fermentation and photosynthesis, can also form wires under a variety of environmental conditions.

The full article is here.

Here's a link to "Strange and Unusual Vehicles," including prototypes. There are some amazing looking vehicles, and here's the link.

Here's a link to an article about both fanged kangaroos and the 'demon duck of doom'--both from Australia, naturally. The picture of the fanged kangaroo skull (formerly meat eaters, believe it or not) is fantastic. Here's the link (thanks Rob Clendenin).

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