Friday, April 13, 2012

Blog Crawl Gems

Recent Treasures:  geology of Sicily and the Colorado Plateau, old trees, really tough tulips, fake plant parts, laser-equipped sharks, the beta on purple yams, unbelievable Japanese silk paintings, and how to donate much-needed music to nursing homes.

I'm way behind in my blog cruising ... work is to blame.  Some of these treasures are not so recent, but they are treasures just the same.

In case you missed metageologist’s post way back in mid-March on cool Sicilian geo-things ... check out this quick tour, from the stable African platform into an accretionary wedge, with views of trace fossils, ancient Greek temples atop a thrust wedge and mud volcanos:  Sicily’s other volcanoes.
A peek at the Sicilian geologic puzzle, from Carrado et al. 2009, Structural evolution of the sedimentary accretionary wedge of the alpine system in Eastern Sicily; click to view.

CHIMERAS took a break from posting about DNA, genomes, viruses, epigenetics and the like to share beautiful photos from the Colorado Plateau, including Monument Valley and Canyonlands National Park.  I especially like the view of the Green River taken from Dead Horse Point, Utah.
Two of the curious mittens in Monument Valley.  Photo by Moritz Zimmermann.

For botanists, here’s an interesting post on charismatic megaflora :)   People love ancient trees, but old trees aren’t necessarily the big ones.  What do old trees look like? is from The Broadleaf Papers, a plant blog I recently discovered at Blogs from the Earth Institute (Columbia University).

Left:  bristlecone pine, White Mountains, California.  Courtesy USDA Forest Service, Ancient Bristlecone Pine Natural History.

And now plants and rocks.  In mid-March Wooster Geologists posted striking photos of bright red desert tulips growing on rough Cretaceous limestones in Israel ... unreal!

I came across several great posts by the Artful Amoeba.  Planthoppers of Iran: Are You OK? is about neither plants nor rocks, but these insects sure do look like plants!  And that is only one of the fascinating aspects of their lives.  They produce honeydew and transmit phytoplasmas, which are amazing plant parasites -- for one thing, they have really tiny genomes.  If these things don’t tempt you, there is a video of a beautiful planthopper, the Lantern Fly.  The AA has an entire post devoted to honeydew-producing insects:  The Surprising Culinary Delight of Honeydew, aka Plant Bug Poo.  Check out the gecko snacking on yummy honeydew from a leafhopper ... video by David Attenborough, one of my heroes.
A leaf with eyes!  cotinis’ photostream features many great nature shots, all available for non-commercial use with attribution.

One more non-plants, non-rocks post ... but how can anyone not be fascinated by a shark that captures prey using beams of light.  Check out “First recorded use of weaponised light by an elasmobranch” (2012) at Catalogue of Organisms.  How cool that we are still discovering such fascinating creatures.

Beautiful ube cake, courtesy Powella.
Lola at Lola Jane's World commented on my recent yam post:  

"I wanted to add that you can buy purple yam in a powdered format, and reconstitute it to use for cakes. It will give you that lovely purple color.  Filipinos (like me) love this purple yam which we call "UBE", pronounced ou-beh, and use it to add to ice cream, filling for breads, and to color and flavor many of our desserts. What can I say, we love our purple yam!   If you are interested in learning about a dessert that uses purple yam (called "halo-halo" or mix-mix), please visit my blog,  Also, one can shop for powdered ube on line at ethnic food purveyors, if you don't have easy access to an Asian store where you are."

Cool! thanks, Lola.

There is a wonderful exhibition of Japanese nature art at the National Gallery in Washington, DC. This PBS Newshour program features the 18th-century Japanese silk paintings by Itō Jakuchū now on display, coinciding with the National Cherry Blossom Festival.  Birds, leaves, flowers, insects, shells and a bit of geology (rocks) are painted on vertical silk scrolls.  The beauty and level of detail are mind-boggling.  They have been described as dream-like, fantastical and mesmerizing -- I totally agree.

The National Gallery has a nice website about the exhibit, including “Haiku inspired by Itō Jakuchū’s Colorful Realm of Living Beings” with 13 of the scrolls.  Viewers are invited submit original haiku.  Haiku instructions are provided.

Left:  Mandarin Ducks in Snow; view here, and read haiku by poets past and present, young and old.  This is my favorite, still working on my haiku.

Finally, some recent news that is traveling fast, which is good.  See “Give an iPod” and other ways to spread music in nursing homes at Music and Memory.

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