Science Tuesday: Drug Lord Hippos, Plants Can Hear, and White Holes.

Happy Tuesday, Aledan Merfolk! It’s been a looooong time since I’ve posted a Science Tuesday, but I went through all my July science emails on Monday and picked out a few gems for you. It’s a long list, so let’s get started!

Microtubes made of human protein clears e. coli from water, study suggests

Heightened odors caused by parasite draw mosquitoes to malaria carriers

Biotech wheat could benefit celiac-disease patients

Scientists modify blood cells to carry therapeutic loads throughout body

Evolution of Triceratops’ horns took more than 2M years, study finds

Drug lord’s hippos pose a big problem for Colombia <–This may be the strangest thing you’ll read all week.

Kangaroos’ tails operate as a 5th leg when they walk, study finds

Study: Devil rays’ brain warming mechanism may be explained by deep dives

Team creates new approach to isotope enrichment

Plants can hear predators, study suggests

Gene that helps Tibetans cope with high altitude came from Denisovans, study suggests

Carbon-dioxide tracking satellite put into orbit

Researchers grow human corneal tissue from limbal stem cells

Planet similar to Earth found in binary system

Massive impact may have created Mercury

1,500-year-old skeleton shows signs of Down syndrome

Satellites give scientists view to possible flooding candidates

Archaeopteryx’s leg feathers for display, researchers suggest

Researchers identify messages in chimpanzees’ gestures

Ancient extinct bird sported massive wingspan, study suggests

Remains of 16th-century warship offers glimpse of ocean’s “battlefield”

Researchers study strange ditches that predate Amazon rainforest

Bees can give off strong proprietary signals, study finds

New map shows how water sculpted Mars’ highlands

Blood test for Alzheimer’s could be 2 years away, researchers say

Nearly everyone carries age-related disease gene mutation, study suggests

Duck-billed dinosaurs left thousands of tracks in Alaska

Ancient giant sea scorpion wasn’t a fearsome predator, study suggests

Ants remove their dead from colonies to remain healthy, study suggests

Study: Genes for reading, math abilities linked

Voyager 1 senses solar “tsunami” in interstellar space

Researchers study cosmic-ray hotspot near Big Dipper

Frogs may be building immunity to lethal fungus, researchers say

Gorillas control scents in different situations, study suggests

Fish flourish among familiar faces, study suggests

Satellites help researchers track polar bears in remote areas

Salts in Mars soil can melt ice, research suggests

Hubble views beads of blue stars surrounding elliptical galaxy collision

Study: Electrical forces keep geckos attached to surfaces

Chimpanzees inherit intellectual ability from parents, study suggests

Certain cancers may raise VTE recurrence risk, study finds

  1. girl “functionally cured” of HIV shows signs of virus

Evolution stalled because of oxygen fluctuations

Sharks can adapt to low salinity, according to study of ancient teeth

Organically grown food has higher antioxidant levels, study finds

Simple eye, odor tests for Alzheimer’s in the offing

Extinct elephant relative was on the menu for ancient Clovis culture

Beetle may be Ariz.’s answer to its tamarisk tree problem

3 spider species may be wrongly accused of necrotic bites, studies suggest

Study: Common traits in tame animals may be due to neural crest changes

Could tiny fern hold answers to Earth’s polar past, warm future?

NASA scientists optimistic about finding evidence of extraterrestrial life

125M-year-old dinosaur could fly before birds, study suggests

Seizure of giant snails raises concerns about the invasive pests

Study: Deep sea fish glow in their dark environment to add splashes of color

Venus Express successfully dives into planet’s upper atmosphere

Full moon may affect sleep patterns, study suggests

Curiosity spots 3 meteorites on Mars

Well-preserved remains of ancient sea creature found

Bitter weed may have helped ancient people keep their teeth clean

Tomb painting depicts life along Nile about 4,300 years ago

Australia’s coral reefs ill due to sediment, study suggests

Researchers track magma’s journey to Mount Rainier

Gene therapy shows potential in restoring normal heart rate

Images reveal Rosetta probe’s target to be conjoined comets

USGS map gives researchers most detailed view of Mars ever

Black holes may explode into white holes, physicists theorize

Physicists catch peek of Higgs boson at work

Indus River dolphin habitat disturbed by dams, study finds

Researchers reprogram cat parasite into promising cancer treatment

New technology could end malaria by changing mosquito DNA

Spaceflight panel recommends return to moon as precursor to Mars visit

Studies reveal new clues about Iron Age bog bodies

Researchers work to find observational evidence of multiverse

Dogs lived alongside prehistoric women, study finds

Experts debate which species could dominate Earth (Hint: it’s not Apes, it’s Ants.)

Scientists find gene that is key to stem cell development

Seals see offshore wind farms as hunting areas, study suggests

ESA’s Gaia satellite encounters more space dust than expected

Mojave Desert woodrat eats toxic plant with help from microbes

Genetic studies shed light on spiders, web-weaving

German-Russian mission sends live animals, plants into space

Transiting exoplanet Kepler-421b has longest year (704 Earth Days!)

Reintroduced Mexican wolf species gives birth to first pups in wild

Polarized light helps bats navigate, study suggests

Elephants have more scent genes than dogs, rats (Well, those noses…)

Optical fiber produced from thin air by lasers

Gene-editing method could remove HIV from infected cells, study finds

Rocks show evidence of ancient oxygen oases, study suggests

New test may end debate over Voyager 1 and interstellar space

Dogs appear to feel jealousy, study suggests (if you have more than one dog, this didn’t surprise you)

Studies of worm neurons may lead to answers about human brain

Cancer drug exposes hidden HIV in immune cells

Tracks point to tyrannosaurs moving in packs

Cave housing trove of fossils will be opened to scientists

Defaced-then-restored carving of Egyptian god found in Sudan

Many newly identified species of birds are already endangered

Isolated Amazon villagers likely contracted flu in visit with settled tribe

Researchers get a taste of Mars living at Hawaiian volcano

Arctic past glimpsed in 250-year-old logbooks

Significant groundwater loss in Colorado River Basin, researchers say

Zoos work to keep rare species going

Blood-sucking insects lived during Cretaceous period, study suggests

Starling flocks make turns in a wave, study suggests

Most precise measurement taken of exoplanet, researchers say

Stem cells boost muscle repair and growth following exercise, study finds

Opportunity rover breaks decades-old off-Earth driving record

Study: Rocks containing Earth fossils may be on the moon

Study: Dinosaurs might have survived if asteroid struck at a different time

6th mass extinction may be ahead for Earth, researchers say

Study of social octopus species a challenge for researchers

Study points to flaws in evolutionary trees built with microRNAs

Cassini images show 101 geysers on Saturn moon

Pink moon rock recreated by scientists on Earth

Milky Way has less dark matter than Andromeda, simulation suggests

Study: More coral damaged due to Gulf oil spill than once thought

Study: Mineral-rich Sahara Desert dust may feed bacteria in Bahamas

Eggshells limit UV light to bird embryos, study finds

Mycoplasma contamination plaguing cell research, study finds

Technique rapidly generates virus-specific T cells against 5 infections

The moon isn’t round, study suggests

Binary systems may cause alien planets’ bizarre orbits, study suggests

Ancient species of cricket discovered in forgotten trove of amber

Ohio Valley mammoths, mastodons stayed close to home, study suggests

Study: Origin information can be gleaned from lead in teeth

Discovery could improve stem cell production, scientists say


If you want to receive the same daily science emails I do, you can sign up for the Sigma Xi SmartBrief here.

Mermaid Nails and a Creepy Story

Happy Thursday, Aledan Merfolk! There’s no #WriteMotivation this month, so there isn’t a whole lot to update you on. I finished that awesome Erie scene that I talked about last week, and am working on the next Finn chapter, although I can already tell there isn’t enough tension and I’ll need to re-write it. So I took yesterday off from writing to a) paint my nails mermaid color, b) shop for new living-room lamps, and c) read a tension-filled short story called THE DEMON BARKER OF WHEAT STREET, which is in the (now on sale) Anthology CARNIEPUNK. There’s another short story in the book called “Daughter of the Midway, the Mermaid, and the Open, Lonely Sea” which is what I’m reading next, because DUH.

Mermaid's Tale nail polish - I'm obsessed!

Mermaid’s Tale nail polish – I’m obsessed!

I’ve been a little bit obsessed with the new mermaid nail polish this week, and since I’m REALLY bad at painting my nails and not screwing them up I’ve had to redo it a couple times. But it looks so good now. I put Mermaid’s Tale over a shimmery green and now I just want to stare at my nails all day long. Which is funny, because up until two months ago I went out of my way to hide my nails from the world.

So yeah, with all the wet nail polish, lunch-time shopping trips, and good short stories, I haven’t been writing as much as I usually do, but now that the nails are dry, the lamps shining, and the short story that I’ve been dying to read is read, it’s time to start writing again! Especially since my little sister finally caught up with StO and is bugging me to finish :)

Have a good weekend, Aledans, and I’ll see you on Sunday for a glow-in-the-dark custom pony!

The Final July #WriteMotivation Update

Happy Thursday, Aledan Merfolk! As you may have seen in my Custom of the Week post, I had food poisoning on Saturday, so I spent the day reading through everything I’ve already written for StO. I found a lot of weak spots, and it helped me figure out what needed to come next, so I was able to start writing again. I’m about to hit a REALLY BIG SCENE in which my mermaid gives my humans a giant middle finger, and then it should all be very fast-paced, downhill writing from there :D

Erie the mermaid practices a naughty gesture Finn taught her.

Erie the mermaid practices a naughty gesture Finn taught her (this is why I don’t draw).

In an effort to make sure these scenes are as accurate as possible I had to contact PETA, which was kind of fun. I emailed them that I was writing a book about [it’s a surprise!] but didn’t mention the mermaids. They wrote back and said they’d need more info in order to help, so then I had to tell them about the mermaids. I’m sure they spent a good several minutes laughing when they received that email, but they wrote back with a very detailed response full of helpful advice! They even listed a couple things I hadn’t thought of, so I’m glad I emailed them even though I sounded like an idiot :)

#WriteMotivation is taking a break next month, but let’s see how I did on the final day of July:

  1. Actually finish the first draft of StO this month. For reals. Yeah, that didn’t happen. BUT, I’m very close! I’m hoping to finish the first draft by WriteOnCon.
  2. Start switching Erie’s POV in the first half of StO. This didn’t happen either. I’ll start once I finish the first draft (and most of the weak spots I noticed on my read-through were Erie parts, so this will help).
  3. Catch up on Science Tuesdays because I still haven’t done that… Hahahahahahahaha >.<
  4. Morning Swims! I’ve actually done really well with this one! I even went to yoga yesterday for the first time in months… which is why I didn’t swim this morning – I can barely move my arms :P
  5. Don’t forget to cheer on the other bloggers. How is this seriously the hardest goal?

So not great, but not too terrible either. And honestly, the morning swims/getting healthy thing is probably the most pressing order of business, because it’s still beach season and this tummy needs to take a hike.

I also just realized that tomorrow is August, and I need to get everything ready for PonyFest14! I learned a lot last year, so there’ll be some changes coming to this year’s contest. And, of course, even more prizes! Get ready for the blog-takeover, Aledans :)

A Hectic Month (and a #WriteMotivation Update)

Happy Thursday, Aledan Merfolk! It’s been a while since I last updated you on my life, because life went a little nutso for a while. The beginning of the month had a trip to the grandfolks and a staycation, and last week my computer was down all week with the Blue Screen of Death. It was sad. And annoying. Mostly annoying.

I have been writing steadily, but I’ve also read a crap-ton in the past month. Starting with SHATTERED by Kevin Hearne, which I loved! It’s definitely my favorite book of the Iron Druid Chronicles so far. Then OF POSEIDON by Anna Banks, which was ok, but didn’t leave me wanting to read the rest of the series. Then THE VAST AND BRUTAL SEA by Zoraida Cordova *finally* released, and I devoured it. Such a good end to a great mermaid series. Then I finished JUST BREATHE by Tamara Mataya, which was interesting because the MC has synthasia (she could feel sounds). I topped it all with TAMING FATE by Amalia Dillin, which was a nice little novella that tied into her FATE OF THE GODS series. I’m now reading THE RED QUEEN by Phillipa Gregory as a beach book, and HALE MAREE by Misty Provencher as my pool book (yes, I have separate beach and pool reads).

All that creativity in such a short time left me dying to stretch my analytical brain muscles, so last week I put out a call on Twitter for new WiPs to CP. I lined up three, and then my computer broke >.< But I did finish the first one and get it back to the author, and I’m waiting on a version of the second that I can open (for some reason my computer didn’t recognize the file as a word doc, so the author is re-sending). I’m still waiting on the third author to send theirs, but I don’t expect to get it until August. All the CPing worked, though – my analytical brain stopped being so pushy and let the creative side back out.


See? I made that with my creative side :) It was a pain in the ass.

This is my first #WriteMotivation update for the month, so let’s see what’s going on:

  1. Actually finish the first draft of StO this month. For reals. With the broken computer this isn’t going to be quite finished by the end of the month, but I’m hoping to have it done by the time WriteOnCon comes around.
  2. Start switching Erie’s POV in the first half of StO. This isn’t going to happen until August.
  3. Catch up on Science Tuesdays because I still haven’t done that… Yep, still haven’t done that…
  4. Morning Swims! I’ve been pretty good with this! Although when I tried to go to the pool this week it rained :( I took the dogs for an extra-long walk that night instead.
  5. Don’t forget to cheer on the other bloggers. With a broken computer I haven’t been very good at this, but now that the computer’s back, I’m hopping back on the cheer wagon!

Not too bad, I think, although I was really hoping I’d be further along with StO by now. But hey, life happens. It’s not like I’m under any deadline that isn’t self-imposed.

Have a good weekend, Aledans, and I’ll see you on Sunday for an awesome Custom Pony!

Cover Reveal Take 2: THE PAPER MAGICIAN by @CNHolmberg

Happy Wednesday, Aledan Merfolk! I know I’ve been mysteriously absent so far this month, but that’s because I was taking a staycation and reading, reading, reading! But you’ll hear more about that tomorrow – today I’m here with a Cover Reveal. You might recognize the title, because I did a cover reveal for the same book in May :) But the cover has changed, and I wanted to show you the updated version!


I loved the old cover, but this one is so clean looking that I adore it too! Can’t remember what THE PAPER MAGICIAN is about? Have a blurb:

Ceony Twill arrives at the cottage of Magician Emery Thane with a broken heart. Having graduated at the top of her class from the TagisPraff School for the Magically Inclined, Ceony is assigned an apprenticeship in paper magic despite her dreams of bespelling metal. And once she’s bonded to paper, that will be her only magic…forever.

Yet the spells Ceony learns under the strange yet kind Thane turn out to be more marvelous than she could have ever imagined—animating paper creatures, bringing stories to life via ghostly images, even reading fortunes. But as she discovers these wonders, Ceony also learns of the extraordinary dangers of forbidden magic.

An Excisioner—a practitioner of dark, flesh magic—invades the cottage and rips Thane’s heart from his chest. To save her teacher’s life, Ceony must face the evil magician and embark on an unbelievable adventure that will take her into the chambers of Thane’s still-beating heart—and reveal the very soul of the man.

You can add THE PAPER MAGICIAN to your Goodreads shelf here. Or learn more about Charlie at her website.

CharliePic1.1Born in Salt Lake City, Charlie was raised a Trekkie alongside three sisters who also have boy names. In addition to writing fantasy novels, she is also a freelance editor. She graduated from BYU, plays the ukulele, owns too many pairs of glasses, and hopes to one day own a dog. The Paper Magician is her debut novel and the first in a whimsical series exploring a world of magicians who animate manmade materials. She currently lives with her family in Utah.

Braindead (and a #WriteMotivation Update)

Happy Thursday, Aledan Merfolk! I’m still a bit brain-dead from training my ducklings, and not sleeping well last night, so don’t expect much out of me today. This will be my final #WriteMotivation update for the month, but I’ve already signed up for next month, since I failed this month’s goals.

This is totally me today. No wonder Bou is such a momma dog :)

This is totally me today. No wonder Bou is such a momma dog :)

1. Either finish drafting StO, OR finish changing Erie’s POV to first person. I’m almost ¾ finished with StO! I’ve been working steadily on it, just not quickly. I thought I’d have this entire week to work on it, but Hubs’ trip ended up being postponed, so I don’t have all the alone-time I thought I would (trust me: I’m NOT complaining! I’d rather have him home :))

2. Catch up on Science Tuesdays. There are so many emails that I’m scared to look at them right now. I’ll try to put up one giant “all of June” post on Tuesday.

3. Morning Swims! Last week I completely bombed on this, but this week I swam a few laps on Sunday, and a decent number the past two mornings. I plan to do it again tomorrow.

4. Don’t forget to cheer on the other bloggers. Bombed this again >.< How can cheering people on be the hardest part?

Next month I should actually finish StO and start working on switching Erie’s POV over to first person in the first half of the book. I’m disappointed, because there’s no way in hell I’ll have it ready for #PitchWars, but ah well, there will be other contests.

If you missed last week’s return of Custom of the Week, you should definitely check out the amazing (posable!) merpony: Mandarin. And check back this Sunday for another stunning custom! Have a good weekend :)

My Little Ducklings (and a #WriteMotivation Update)

Happy Friday, Aledan Merfolk! This is going to be a short update, because my brain is fried from training two new people at work this week. I feel like a momma duck with her ducklings following in a line behind me, quacking their questions.

It’s a #WriteMotivation month, so let’s get right to it:

1. Either finish drafting StO, OR finish changing Erie’s POV to first person. I’m steadily plodding along on finishing the first draft. I wrote my favorite couple of chapters this week, despite my mushy brain, so things are going well with this goal.

2. Catch up on Science Tuesdays.

3. Morning Swims! I did swim once this week, but there’s been a cold going around the lab, and I think I’ve been fighting it off, so I’ve been too exhausted to wake up early and work out the past couple days.

4. Don’t forget to cheer on the other bloggers. I started out strong early this week, but I haven’t had time to do much in the cheering realm the past few days. I’ve barely been able to hop on Twitter, much less read blogs. I should have more time next week.

And that’s it for this week – time for me to get back to my little ducklings. Have a good weekend, Aledans!