Saturday, January 14, 2012

Blog Crawl Gems

This Week's Treasures

In an earlier BCG post, I mentioned Yeti crabs living around underwater hydrothermal vents associated with seafloor spreading ridges, and how they raise bacteria for food.  They've been getting a lot of attention recently, for example in Under the Sea Near Antarctica, 'a Riot of Life' Discovered in Super-Heated Water on the January 4 PBS Newshour:
"The most striking feature was just hordes of these crabs called yeti crabs that have sort of hairy chests and hairy arms that they grow bacteria on ...  It's remarkable that we can be in the 21st century and still not know fundamental things about what lives on our planet."
The Artful Amoeba posted about the diversity of biota and ecological communities of the various ridge systems in When You Think "Hydrothermal Vents", You Shouldn't Think "Tube Worms".  The habitats and inhabitants vary, as we're discovering.
At the same time that research on seafloor vent communities is ramping up, these habitats are being explored by mining companies.  Fluids that rise up through vents can be mineral-rich, and when they contact sea water and cool, precipitates form -- including high-grade massive sulphides with concentrations of metals such as copper, gold, zinc and silver.  For more, see “The unplumbed riches of the deep” in The Economist (source of map above).

Weathered rhyolite tuff.

Newly-discovered resources for geotripping! The latest post at the Utah Geological Survey blog announced the January 2012 issue of Survey Notes, a downloadable PDF.  In it I found a neat article on the Honeycombs in Juab County, part of their “Geosights” series.  I checked Geosights in previous issues via the archives, and found all kinds of neat places to visit -- with explanations, maps, photos, how-to-get-there's, etc.

The Ocelloid provides a rather mind-blowing post on evolution ... how one microbial thief consumed another only to be consumed by another thief which then had some of its organelles stolen ... all in the interest of gaining photosynthetic apparati that once belonged to cyanobacteria.   Another version at Skeptic Wonder gives a nice summary of the overall plot:

Dinophysis ingests plastids from the ciliate Myrionecta, who in turn stole them from a cryptomonad. Who, if you recall, obtained it a long time ago as a red algal endosymbiont. Who, of course, obtained the original plastid as a cyanobacterial symbiont. I think it ends there though. That poor cyanobacterial genome has been through a lot!”  Click on diagram to see some “major plastid hoarding events” in the evolution of life.

My EPOD choice for the week is Crescent Moon, Earthshine and Venus, a terrific photo.  Even better, thanks to the nifty diagram I now truly understand how it is that we can sometimes see the Dark Side of the Moon, illuminated by reflected light from Earth.

Two posts on blogging and writing caught my attention.  Sandatlas solicits suggestions for making his posts about sand derived from metamorphic rocks more appealing.  This raises the issue of why we blog, and how much if at all we should worry about our readership.  The Comments are interesting; perhaps you would like to add something yourself.
Samuel Johnson, the dictionary maker.

Johnson at The Economist blogs about commas, specifically the “dreaded comma splice”.  I struggle with commas.  I think I use too many and have made an effort to reduce my dependence on them.  Turns out comma splices are not something I use, as I realized once I figured out what the beast is.  But this is an entertaining post even so.  The Economist used to offer an online Style Guide, they say it will be back soon.  (Sorry, I had to include one dreaded comma splice in this post.)  In the meantime, we can browse the Johnson blog for edification.

Finally, January 6 was the 100th anniversary of Alfred Wegener’s lecture presenting his theory of continental drift.  You probably have come across a post or two about it, and of course the Alfred Wegener Song by The Amoeba People.  In case you haven’t ...

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