Opossums help protect us from Lyme disease. While a number of woodland creatures are running around infested with ticks, opossums obsessively eat, scratch, lick, and chew at the ticks that live in their fur. A single opossum can eliminate an estimated 4,000 ticks  a week, which helps prevent the spread of tick-borne diseases. Source


Exquisite Anatomical Pendants of the Heart & Lungs by Deenie Wallace

Oregon-based artist Deenie Wallace composes exquisite glass pendants, which pay homage to the physical and metaphorical beauty of the lungs and heart. With an incredible eye to detail, the romantic pieces are a symbol of love and life.

Made of borosilicate glass, the miniature sculptures showcase a high skill level  as well as a visually pleasing result. Find them in their Etsy shop.

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The UN is finally going to declassify transgender as a mental illness

The World Health Organisation (WHO) is moving to declassify transgender identity as a mental disorder, as it updates its category of mental illnesses for the first time in decades.

The body, which is the public health agency of the United Nations (UN), is considering making the change in a revised categorisation of mental and behavioural disorders to be released in 2018.

News of the change comes just as a new study published in The Lancet Psychiatry this week advocates that transgender identity should not be diagnosed as a mental disorder.

“Stigma associated with both mental disorder and transgender identity has contributed to the precarious legal status, human rights violations, and barriers to appropriate care among transgender people,” says lead researcher Geoffrey Reed from the National Autonomous University of Mexico.

I happen to live near several First Nations reservations and know a good number of Native people. Never once have I met one who boasted of being one-eighth Swedish. However, a lot of white people are pretty stoked that their great-great-great-great-grandfather may have had an illicit affair with / raped a Cherokee princess, and that’s why they could probably handle a bow and arrow if a zombie apocalypse ever shows up.

In 2000, about 729,000 Americans identified as Cherokee. By 2010, that number had risen to 820,000. More than any other tribe, Cherokee is the one people are pretty sure they have an ancestor from, despite not being able to name the ancestor or show any proof of such an ancestor, because such an ancestor never existed. It’s not just guys who squint in the sun and look like Steven Seagal who think this way, either. Celebrities like Johnny Deep, Johnny Cash, and Miley Cyrus have all been pretty sure they’re Cherokee as well.

So if your boss isn’t Cherokee, why does he keep telling people he is every Thanksgiving? There’s a long, robust history behind this bullshit that first stems from a hint of reality and then gets shat about by idjits, as is the case with most things.

Bizarre Claims That Annoying People Use To Be ‘Unique’


This is Part 2 of our story about how cunning aquarists and colleagues cracked the code of comb jelly culture. Click here for Part 1.

Untangling comb jelly culture was a little fishy.

Even with decades of attempts, finding the Golidlocks point for cold-water comb jellies to feel “just right” and reproduce was as elusive as ever. But then, in March 2015, Senior Aquarist Wyatt Patry joined a Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI) expedition, led by marine biologist Dr. Steve Haddock, in the Gulf of California. 

And it just so happened that, Dr. William Browne—a professor at the University of Miami studying comb jellies from an evolutionary biology angle—was also onboard.

“Literally within 10 minutes of meeting, we delved into Mnemiopsis culturing,” Wyatt says.

In our exhibits, the aquarists had been feeding adult comb jellies—which are hermaphroditic, both male and female at the same time—baby brine shrimp and tiny crustaceans called copepods.

But Dr. Browne told Wyatt the key to keeping baby comb jellies alive is to feed their parents larval fishes.

Wyatt quickly got in touch with MacKenzie and advised her to switch the comb jelly feed to newborn zebrafish. Suddenly, MacKenzie’s innovative spawning methods worked.

“As soon as we started feeding the adults larval fish, we had super-healthy adults, and the quality and quantity of embryos exploded,” she says.

Where previous efforts had produced on the order of 10 baby comb jellies, the team was now spawning hundreds—even topping 1,000 at one point. 

“We grew so many that we had to find homes for them all,” Wyatt says. “Then we started applying the methods to other species.” 

After spawning three generations of Mnemiopsis in the Jelly Lab, the Aquarium team moved on to other species of comb jellies. The new method worked beautifully for Bolinopsis infundibulum and Pleurobrachia bachei, two popular display species.

Now, the jelly team is working closely with Dr. Browne to co-author a paper sharing this new culturing protocol with other scientists and organisations interested in starting their own comb jelly crop. 

Mackenzie for one is thrilled: “Comb jellies are awesome for so many reasons. I really hope there’s a comb jelly craze!”

A bloom of ctenophores in labs and aquariums worldwide may well shed a large radiating light on the massively understudied gelatinous community of the world ocean. 

Humans are confined to a life battling gravity. We’re surrounded by sturdy species that hold their form out of water, so we’ve naturally gravitated towards an appreciation of “solid” ocean animals, from whales to fish and crabs or squid. 

But the gooey, wiggly and jiggly locomoting loogies of the sea—like salps, pysoromes, siphonophores, larvaceans and pteropods [Editor’s note: those are are real worlds that describe actual animals]—were in the ocean first. And they’re still hard at work to this day.

From planktonic predators to prey for pelagic players, be it the ocean sunfish or the leatherback sea turtle, comb jellies and their mucus mates are integral parts of our planet’s daily show. And now that ctenophores have one less secret, we may soon learn just what it can mean to be an Earthling.

Thanks for reading everyone! If you’d rather veg out with this story, you can watch the video below!


Boring clam (Tridacna crocea)

The boring clam is a species of bivalve in the family Cardiidae. It is native to the Indo-Pacific region. The boring clam is the smallest clam in the subfamily Tridacninae and grows to a maximum shell size of 15 cm. It has two, thick valves joined together by a hinge which is typically between a third and less than a half of the width of the shell. The mantle, the soft body wall which covers the animal’s internal organs, projects from between the valves when they are open and is brightly coloured. It can be various shades of blue, green, purple, gold, orange or brown, often patterned with spots, stripes or squiggles. The boring clam is native to the Indo-Pacific. Its typical habitat is embedded in massive corals.

photo credits: meerwasser-lexikon, Nhobgood, Liné1

What is Brightness?

There has always been this nudge,right. The nudge to know what IS  brightness. The subtle divergence between what we perceive as dim and bright. What it really means!

The brilliance of the sun whose light emerges afar blinds us but yet the quotidian florescent light seems to oblivious to us. Why this madness ! It doesn’t make sense to me.

Light as a particle

Two light bulbs 100W and 20W respectively. It is obvious that the 100 W glows brighter than its counterpart. 

This is so because each photon ( a particle ) carries with it an amount of energy proportional to its frequency; E=hν. The energy dissipated per unit area is the energy per photon times the photons per unit area per second.

The 100 W bulb emits more photons per second than the 20 W bulb.

In this model, the photoreceptors in your eye undergo chemical reactions as a result of absorbing photons. The more photons absorbed per second, the brighter the light appears.

Light as a wave

In the picture of light as an electromagnetic wave, the energy carried by the light is proportional to the square of the wave’s amplitude.

In this model, the photo-receptors in your eye are oscillators. What is oscillating? Electric charge.

Charges are accelerated in response to the electric field of the light: the greater the electric field (or amplitude), the greater the amplitude of the oscillation, and the greater the electric currents in your eye (and the greater the brightness).

The human eye is truly a marvel. The level of serenity it brings to life is just enthralling.Have a great day!

- Post adapted from this stackexchange.