Beetle byte (16 December 2013 edition)

A few days late, but not a single dollar short… because it’s free, as always.

The hazards of field work (via @Cerabilia)

Eventually, I was able to flick the latches and dislodge my backpack which enabled me to shoot out from underneath the boulders, and was taken down a few more rapids, getting hammered against the rocks. Finally, I saw a log sticking out of the bank, grabbed it, and shimmied up it to the shore. I woke up on the ground about two hours later. It was dark, and I didn’t have any gear – no light and no radio – nothing. Just me.


Tardigrades (via @Mozziebites)

Tardigrades have been experimentally subjected to temperatures of 0.05 kelvins (–272.95 degrees Celsius or functional absolute zero) for 20 hours, then warmed, rehydrated and returned to active life. They have been stored at –200 degrees Celsius for 20 months and have survived. They have been exposed to 150 Celsius, far above the boiling point of water, and have been revived. They have been subjected to more than 40,000 kilopascals of pressure and excess concentrations of suffocating gasses (carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, nitrogen, sulfur dioxide), and still they returned to active life. In the cryptobiotic state, the animals even survived the burning ultraviolet radiation of space.


Boycott Nature, et al.?

Schekman said pressure to publish in “luxury” journals encouraged researchers to cut corners and pursue trendy fields of science instead of doing more important work. The problem was exacerbated, he said, by editors who were not active scientists but professionals who favoured studies that were likely to make a splash.


Some winter poems


One of my favorite winter poems, by William Carlos Williams

Thus having prepared their buds
against a sure winter
the wise trees
stand sleeping in the cold.


A Canuck existential crisis

If I told you that I had never had a cup of Tim Hortons coffee, what would you conclude about me? That I am a left-wing, pacifist peace monkey because I do not drink the brew that fuelled our soldiers in Afghanistan? That I am a pretentious yuppie whose knowledge of Italian actually extends no further than Vente and cappuccino? That I condescend to the hard-working folk of our rural communities who are the backbone of the country? That I am, in a word, un-Canadian?