The Epic Metroid Organism

By ©2014 Barrett Biggers, the Peoples’ Geek Artist.

The Metroid as envisioned as a realistic creature from Zebes in outer space and even possibly a larvae microscopic medusa from the Tourian deep sea. Inspired from the classic Nintendo Title “Metroid”. 

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Featured Curator of the Week : Archan Nair [archanN]

Nunzio Paci lives and works in Bologna. His fascination with anatomy begins with an analytical look, observing the matter while dissecting it. Only then does he move ‘from the phenomenon to the complexity of the symbol and of culture.’

“My whole work deals with the relationship between man and Nature, in particular with animals and plants. The focus of my observation is body with its mutations. My intention is to explore the infinite possibilities of life, in search of a balance between reality and imagination.” - Nunzio Paci

Pando in Autumn

This may look like nothing other than a grove of similar trees with the autumn leaves changing color, but its actually much more remarkable than that. This is, effectively, a single organism.

This grove consists of a total of 47,000 trees, all of which are genetically identical, and all of which share the same root system. The trees are clones of each other, grown upward out of the root system at depth. It is believed to be the most massive organism ever discovered, with a mass of about 6 million kilograms and covering half a square kilometer.

It’s unclear quite how old the organism actually is. It almost certainly dates back several thousand years as it would take at least that long for the roots to grow, but it could also have sat at a near steady state for some time and could potentially have lived through some of the previous glaciations.

The system is actually under threat today; overgrazing by deer and elk in the area are preventing vary many new trunks from taking hold in the area. To preserve this marvel, the US Forest Service has undertaken a conservation campaign, including fencing off a portion of the tree and undertaking controlled burns to allow germination of new shoots in the protected area.


Image credit: US Forest Service

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Deep sea ‘mushroom’ may be new branch of life

A mushroom-shaped sea animal discovered off the Australian coast has defied classification in the tree of life.

A team of scientists at the University of Copenhagen says the tiny organism does not fit into any of the known subdivisions of the animal kingdom.

Such a situation has occurred only a handful of times in the last 100 years.

The organisms, which were originally collected in 1986, are described in the academic journal Plos One.

“Finding something like this is extremely rare, it’s maybe only happened about four times in the last 100 years,” said co-author Jorgen Olesen from the University of Copenhagen.

He told BBC News: “We think it belongs in the animal kingdom somewhere; the question is where.”

The new organisms are multicellular but mostly non-symmetrical, with a dense layer of gelatinous material between the outer skin cell and inner stomach cell layers. (more)

Doesn’t it really astonish you that you are this fantastically complex thing…. and that you’re doing all of this and you never had any education in how to do it? You never learned but you’re this miracle? The point is that from a strictly physical scientific standpoint, this organism is a continuous energy with everything else that’s going on. And if I am my foot; I am the sun. But we have this little partial view, this idea, that no I’m just something in this body; the ego.. Well that’s a joke. The ego is nothing other than the focus of conscious attention. It’s like a radar, a trouble shooter; is there anything in the way? Conscious attention is a designed function of the brain which scans the environment for any trouble making changes. If you identify yourself with your trouble shooter, then naturally you define yourself as being in a perpetual state of anxiety. (Laughter)
—  Alan Watts

DNA: Celebrate the unknowns | Philip Ball

On the 60th anniversary of the double helix, we should admit that we don’t fully understand how evolution works at the molecular level, suggests Philip Ball.

This week’s diamond jubilee of the discovery of DNA’s molecular structure rightly celebrates how Francis Crick, James Watson and their collaborators launched the ‘genomic age’ by revealing how hereditary information is encoded in the double helix. Yet the conventional narrative — in which their 1953 Nature paper led inexorably to the Human Genome Project and the dawn of personalized medicine — is as misleading as the popular narrative of gene function itself, in which the DNA sequence is translated into proteins and ultimately into an organism’s observable characteristics, or phenotype.

Sixty years on, the very definition of 'gene’ is hotly debated. We do not know what most of our DNA does, nor how, or to what extent it governs traits. In other words, we do not fully understand how evolution works at the molecular level.

That sounds to me like an extraordinarily exciting state of affairs, comparable perhaps to the disruptive discovery in cosmology in 1998 that the expansion of the Universe is accelerating rather than decelerating, as astronomers had believed since the late 1920s. Yet, while specialists debate what the latest findings mean, the rhetoric of popular discussions of DNA, genomics and evolution remains largely unchanged, and the public continues to be fed assurances that DNA is as solipsistic a blueprint as ever.

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