"I went to a baby shower with a huge uterus pinata. Is that Ann Arbor Amish?"
"Well… you wouldn’t see that on the other side of the state!"
I don’t know anywhere near as much as I want to know! I’m always learning :D
I studied Biology and Dairy Science in school.
For some interesting History of Medicine stuff, the National Library of Medicine has a good site - check out their collections and education resources for some really quick and fun lessons.
If watching things is your bag, “Blood and Guts: A History of Surgery" is one of my favorite BBC documentary series.
My favorite authors that you guys might love:
Everything by Mary Roach, especially Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers
Also everything Carl Zimmer, especially Parasite Rex
I’ve liked everything I’ve read by Richard Preston, too, especially The Hot Zone. Haven’t read every single one of his books, though.
Amy Stewart has the best bugs, plants, drinks…and illustrator. Wicked Plants is great.
Other good books:
Madame Curie: A Biography (by Eve Curie)
A Little Book of Sloth (…stay shushed)
For fiction, Douglas Adams, Christopher Moore (especially Fluke and Lust Lizard of Melancholy Cove), Terry Pratchett, Ursula K. Le Guin, and Marion Zimmer Bradley are my favorites.
Located in Hamelin’s Pool, a shallow area of Shark Bay in Western Australia, these odd formations aren’t rocks—they’re stromatolites, and they were built over millennia by single-celled cyanobacteria (also known as blue-green algae). 4,000 to 6,000 years ago, a huge bank of seagrass began to block the tidal flow into Hamelin’s Pool, which meant that the water became twice as salty as the open ocean. Animals like snails and chitons that would usually feed on the algae couldn’t survive, so the blue-green algae began to flourish. Gathered in colonies, they trapped sediment with their sticky surface coatings. This sediment reacted with calcium carbonate in the water and formed limestone, essentially creating a living fossil—this limestone is alive, its top surface layer teeming with active cyanobacteria. The limestone builds up slowly at a rate of about 1mm per year. The stromatolites in Shark Bay are estimated to be between 3,000 and 2,000 years old, but they’re similar to life forms in Precambrian times, 3.5 billion years ago, at the dawn of complex organisms. There are over 50 kinds of cyanobacteria in Shark Bay, and one is thought to have descended from an organism that lived nearly 2 million years ago, making it a part of one of the longest biological lineages.
I normally abhor the term “living fossil” but I’ll let it slide this time because AWESOME. Like little prokaryotic time capsules.
Let This Awesome Science Infect Your Mind
Ed Yong is one of the finest science writers in the world. His National Geographic blog is chock full of the weird, wild, and WTF-inducing stories that make our living world so darn interesting. So I was overjoyed when I heard he would be speaking at this year’s TED.
He didn’t disappoint. In his talk above, he unlocks the under-appreciated and often cringe-worthy world of mind-controlling parasites. They get no respect, I tell ya, no respect at all. Yet they are cornerstones of countless ecosystems, determining food availability and managing population sizes like armies of freaky fauna, each deployed in a Trojan Horse of evolution’s design. Every parasite’s life is a story, by definition, an elaborate chain that extends from host to host, and I think they’ve found their minstrel in Ed. I mean that as a compliment, of course.
Listen to him weave a tapestry of tapeworms, explain what makes flamingos munch on zombie shrimp, show you how a cricket is like a TARDIS, how a wasp turns a cockroach into a cocker spaniel, and how a brain-controlling protozoan reminds him of an Elizabeth Gilbert novel. My favorite part of this? The idea that ideas themselves may be parasites.
I haven’t loved a TED talk this much in a long time. Or maybe that’s just the parasite talking.