I Re-read Nameless for Shits and Giggles. It’s More Shit than Giggles.

Happy Thursday, Aledan Merfolk! It’s been a busy week around here, mostly because my instrument at work has been acting wonky for the past two weeks. I finally figured out why yesterday afternoon: my dumbass switched two of the three columns and connected them to the wrong place. Whee! I’ve reconnected them to the correct places and now I’m waiting for my instrument to normalize again.

My instrument (HP 6890 ECD)
My instrument – a HP 6890 ECD

In writing news: I got my critiques back for the FE short story, and the plot seems to be pretty solid so I’m mostly working on making the words pretty now. I really suck at pretty words, so I have two new CPs to help me :) When this draft is finished I’m sending it to a final person (who’s read FE and has some idea of the world), and then I’ll be sending it in to the anthology and crossing my fingers!

Since I’ve been hanging out in FE world lately I decided to read Nameless for shits and giggles last weekend. HAHAHAHAHA! *cries* It turns out I learned a lot writing and editing StO last year. Nameless is going to need the first 2/3 re-written…again. The last third is solid, at least. And the plot is still good, it’s just the writing that sucks. I’m so glad I spent a whole year sending that abomination out to agents.

I need a drink.

Good thing Sunday is National Margarita Day! I tried to find a margarita-themed custom pony, but could only find drawings. In my searching I did find a few awesome customs to feature though – I’m just waiting on the OK from the customizers. Hopefully one of them will get back to me before Sunday so I can post CPotW this week!

I hope you have a wonderful weekend, Aledans :)

Science Tuesday: The Big Bang Is Bunk, The Dark Side Of The Moon, and Dino LSD.

Happy Tuesday, Aledan Merfolk! There was lots of science news in the past week, so let’s get right to it!

Researchers find evidence of dark matter at center of Milky Way: A team of researchers say they’ve shown that dark matter exists at the center of the Milky Way, according to a study published online in Nature Physics. They studied data about the movement of stars at the galaxy’s center to see how that varied with those distanced from the center, then figured out how fast those stars would be moving if only normal matter was pulling on them. The researchers found that two speeds didn’t line up, suggesting that dark matter plays a role.

Stars at center of strange nebula on course to merge and explode: A pair of white dwarf stars locked in a tight orbit with each other have been seen at the center of an unusually shaped nebula, according to a report in Nature. “When we looked at this object’s central star with [the European Southern Observatory’s] Very Large Telescope, we found not just one but a pair of stars at the heart of this strangely lopsided, glowing cloud,” said Henri Boffin, an author of the paper. Eventually the stars will merge and explode, the scientists say.

Armstrong’s souvenirs from moon landing on display at Smithsonian: Items meant to be left on the moon as excess baggage were kept by Neil Armstrong after the historic Apollo 11 moon landing in 1969 as personal mementos that his widow found after his death in 2012 and turned over to the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum. “What many of the astronauts did once things were surplus and basically not required for science or other missions … certain items that astronauts have managed to keep as sort of personal momenta. Control handles, or something like that,” said Apollo collection curator Allan Needell. Among the items now on display at the gallery are a camera used to film the landing and spacewalk, and a waist tether.

Researchers use microbes to create fuel from sunlight: A team of researchers has developed a system that uses microbes to convert solar energy into fuel, according to a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The team of Harvard scientists put Ralstonia eutropha into a jar, encouraging the bacteria to consume hydrogen, creating a “bionic leaf” that produced isopropanol, which can be used a fuel. “Imagine a system that can be created in a glass of water to produce new and useful chemicals. Efficiency will be our primary goal for the bionic leaf,” said study co-author Pamela Silver.

Study: Flame retardant chemicals found in livers of bald eagles in Mich.: Bald eagles in Michigan have high levels of flame retardant chemicals in their systems that researchers think came from eating contaminated fish or by other environmental means. The chemicals, which are no longer used, are still everywhere, said study leader Nil Basu. “They build up in the food chains so that top predators — such as bald eagles — accumulate high levels,” Basu said. While the bald eagle population is stable, other birds have shown signs of impaired reproduction, odd behavior and disruption of hormones, according to the study published in the Journal of Great Lakes Research.

Archivist finds early version of Magna Carta in U.K. county’s scrapbook: An early draft of the Magna Carta has been found in a Victorian-era scrapbook along with the Charter of the Forest during a search of the Kent County Council archives. The pair of documents date back to about 1300, and the city of Sandwich, where the scrapbook was found, has no plans to sell them. Though damaged, the Magna Carta could be worth up to £10 million, or $15.2 million, one expert estimates.

15th-century skull drilled for potent bone powder, study suggests: The mystery surrounding holes drilled into the skull of a 15th-century Italian martyr may have been solved, according to researchers at the University of Pisa in Italy. The scientists say the 16 holes in the skull were drilled to collect bone powder to treat diseases such as paralysis, epilepsy and stroke. Skull bone powder from martyred individuals who died a violent death was considered to be highly effective in treating those diseases during the Late Middle Ages, according to the study published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology.

Study: New quantum correction suggests universe wasn’t formed from Big Bang: By applying quantum correction terms to Einstein’s theory of general relativity, physicists have created a model in which the universe has always existed, accounting for dark matter and dark energy as well. “The Big Bang singularity is the most serious problem of general relativity because the laws of physics appear to break down there,” said Ahmed Farag Ali, co-author of the study published in Physics Letters B. That singularity can be resolved by the new model, which suggests that there is no beginning Big Bang and no end.

You know, just to completely blow your mind.

Young, inexperienced bees may contribute to colony collapse: Bees stressed because they started foraging when they were too young are a major factor in colony collapse, an international problem that threatens pollination of crops, according to research published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. “We found the bees that started foraging when they were younger, survived a fewer number of days, completed far fewer successful foraging trips and they also took longer on each foraging trip,” noted study co-author Andrew Barron, an entomologist. Ultimately, the researchers found, the young bees would not be able to support the colony, leading to its collapse.

Wasps use virus to force ladybugs to guard larvae, study finds: Parasitic wasps may utilize a virus to infect the brains of ladybugs, causing them to stand guard over a wasp larva while it gestates, according to research. The Dinocampus coccinellae plants an egg inside a ladybug, the larva emerges from its belly three weeks later, weaving a cocoon underneath the beetle, leaving it alive, but paralyzed. It guards the larva until it becomes an adult about a week later. Researchers found an RNA virus that the wasp injects into the ladybug along with the egg, according to the study published online in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

Pufferfish coat their young with layer of toxins, study finds: Female pufferfish may quickly abandon their offspring, but they don’t leave them undefended, according to a study published in Toxicon. When the female lays her eggs, she also slathers them in tetrodotoxin, and the remnants of the poison stick to the young pufferfish, who aren’t yet able to puff themselves or have enough of their own toxins built up after they hatch. The coating is just enough to ward off potential predators, researchers say.

16th-century mining pollution found in Andes ice cap: An ice cap in the Peruvian Andes holds traces of air pollution left by 16th-century Spanish silver mines, pre-dating the Industrial Revolution, researchers say. “Our study demonstrates that since the colonial time, mining and metallurgic activities performed by the Spanish did also have an impact on very distant areas,” said Paolo Gabrielli, author of the study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Women over 65 may benefit from moderate drinking, study suggests: Women aged 65 or older who drink moderately are more likely to live longer than those who don’t drink alcohol, but researchers stress that the health benefits of drinking are modest. The study, published in BMJ, looked at adults aged 50 and older and found that drinking didn’t have any impact on lifespan for women between 50 and 64, or for men aged 65 and up, though men aged 50 to 64 lived longer than those of that age group who never drank.

Cheers to that!

Lunar orbiter helps map the other side of the moon: NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter has been mapping the moon since 2009, and now scientists can see what the far side looks like. “It lacks the large dark spots, called maria, that make up the familiar Man in the Moon on the near side. Instead, craters of all sizes crowd together over the entire far side. The far side is also home to one of the largest and oldest impact features in the solar system, the South Pole-Aitken basin,” NASA said in a statement.

NASA: Sea ice declining despite gains in Antarctic: Increases in Antarctic sea ice in recent years do not offset the decline of sea ice in the Arctic, according to NASA. “When I give public lectures or talk with random people interested in the topic, often somebody will say something in the order of ‘well, the ice is decreasing in the Arctic but it’s increasing in the Antarctic, so don’t they cancel out?’ The answer is no, they don’t cancel out,’ ” said NASA climate scientist Claire Parkinson, who charted Arctic and Antarctic sea ice trends in a study published in the Journal of Climate. The study indicates that the losses of ice in the Arctic outweigh the small gains being made in the Antarctic.

Frozen Zoo saves genetic material from endangered species, sparks debate: Scientists are debating the best use of what’s known as the Frozen Zoo, a collection of genetic material gathered from more than 1,000 endangered or already extinct species or subspecies. The Frozen Zoo’s work is hailed for its value as a genetic archive that’s helped move forward studies of artificial insemination, cloning, in vitro fertilization and stem cell technology, but critics wonder how far that kind of research should go to reestablish struggling species.

Specially tagged amino acid may give doctors view of brain cancer growth: Doctors may be able to detect the growth of brain cancer tumors with great accuracy by injecting a specially tagged amino acid into patients, scientists say. Scans pick up the tagged amino acid glutamine, which the cancerous cells feed on, delineating the tumor, according to a study published in Science Translational Medicine.

Ancient fungus may have had hallucinogenic effect on dinosaurs: Dinosaurs may have ingested a hallucinogenic fungus that was an ancient precursor to LSD, according to a study published in Paleodiversity. Researchers found the 100 million-year-old fungus encased in amber in Myanmar. “This is an important discovery that helps us understand the timeline of grass development, which now forms the basis of the human food supply in such crops as corn, rice or wheat. But it also shows that this parasitic fungus may have been around almost as long as the grasses themselves, as both a toxin and natural hallucinogen,” said study author George Poinar Jr.

Dogs can distinguish between happy, angry human faces, study suggests: Dogs may be able to tell the difference between happy and angry human faces, researchers say. Scientists trained volunteer dogs to tell the difference between images of people making either happy or angry faces, with the canines getting the differences right more often that what would be expected with random chance. “With our study … we think we can now confidently conclude that at least some dogs can discriminate human facial expressions,” Corsin Muller, author of the study published in Current Biology.

I love when scientists “discover” things that dog owners already know ;)

NASA offers preview of possible submarine mission to Titan’s seas: NASA hopes to one day study the methane and ethane waters of Saturn’s moon Titan using a robotic submarine. Scientists recently displayed a video of a robotic submarine concept at the Innovative Advanced Concepts Symposium. The video shows a submersible studying the depths of Kracken Mare, Titan’s largest sea.

Rare exoplanet is densest, largest ever observed, researchers say: The largest and densest exoplanet discovered so far was spotted by two independent groups of astronomers in Heidelberg, Germany. Kepler-432b is 2,850 light-years from Earth and circles its red-giant star in small but elongated orbit that results in extreme temperature fluctuations. Researchers say Kepler-432b’s star is gradually expanding and will likely consume the exoplanet within 200 million years, according to research published in Astronomy & Astrophysics.

Hydrogen cloud will reach Milky Way in 30M years, researchers say: A massive hydrogen cloud is zipping its way toward the Milky Way, likely carrying extragalactic material, according to preliminary data. The Smith Cloud, a streak of hydrogen that resembles a comet, is about 40,000 light-years away and on track to crash into one of the Milky Way’s spiral arms in about 30 million years, researchers say. The Smith Cloud reinforces the idea that the space between galaxies is filled with “funny little clouds that seem to have a life of their own,” said Jay Lockman of the National Radio Astronomy Observatory. He presented the findings at the American Association for the Advancement of Science’s annual meeting.

We may not be looking for the right signs of alien life, scientists say: Scientists are suggesting the presence of a “shadow biosphere” made up of forms of life that don’t have the biochemical makeup we’re used to looking for, according to a discussion at the American Association for the Advancement of Science’s annual meeting. “Life did not choose DNA or RNA out of chemical necessity. There may have been many alternative paths to the evolution of life,” said Arizona State University’s John Chaput, a biochemist. California Institute of Technology geobiologist Victoria Orphan said that by only looking for the kinds of life we’re familiar with, we might be missing other organisms.

Lost civilizations found in remote areas thanks to drones, satellites: Remote sensing technology, such as drone flights and satellite imaging, have helped find well-hidden ancient civilizations, according to information presented at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Scientists have recently been able to learn about previously unknown civilizations in remote areas of the Sahara desert and the Amazon rainforest. “These new technologies have just opened up these regions to us,” said archaeologist David Mattingly, who is studying the Garamantes culture found using satellite images of the Sahara.

Changes in dissection techniques seen in hospital graveyard skeletons: Scientists have tracked changes in dissection practices by looking skeletons excavated from hospital graveyards and those stored by medical museums and universities. Jenna Dittmar of the University of Cambridge described early dissection techniques from between 1650 and 1900 in a talk at the American Association for the Advancement of Science’s annual meeting. She gleaned how tools evolved by studying cut marks left on the bones.

Cover Reveal: Michael, Path of Angels, by Patricia Lynne

Happy Monday, Aledan Merfolk! As I said on Twitter yesterday, I’m having a problem finding custom ponies to feature every week (no one checks their DeviantArt messages, apparently, and I don’t feature a custom unless I have permission from the customizer), but no fear! Today I have something just as awesome for your eyes to ogle: it’s Patricia Lynne’s book, MICHAEL, Book One of the Path of Angels series. Before we get to the cover, have a blurb:

There is only one path.

Born mortal along with his three brothers, Michael is an Archangel with a specific role: hunt fallen angels and send them back to Hell. He is determined in his mission, never straying from his appointed path, until he meets Lake Divine, and discovers there may be more to his beliefs than blind duty.

But Lake is not who he seems. Offspring of a human and a fallen angel, a Nephilim, Lake must choose his own destiny: give in to the coldness and embrace the dark, or seek the light and rise above the sins of his father.

Two paths lay before them, but only one has the potential to destroy them both.

Add to Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/24836590-michael

And now the part I know you actually here for, the cover!

perf6.000x9.000.inddI love the red and the blue – it really makes this cover pop! And who doesn’t love a flaming sword?

About the Author:

PatriciaLynneAuthorPicPatricia Josephine never set out to become a writer. In fact, she never considered it an option during high school and college. She was all about art. On a whim, she wrote down a story bouncing in her head. That was the start of it and she hasn’t regretted a moment. She writes young adult under the name Patricia Lynne.

Patricia lives with her husband in Michigan, hopes one day to have what will resemble a small petting zoo, has a fondness for dying her hair the colors of the rainbow, and an obsession with Doctor Who.


Twitter: https://twitter.com/plynne_writes

Website: http://www.patricialynne.com

Google+: https://plus.google.com/u/0/108938106639683446081/posts/p/pub

Wattpad: http://www.wattpad.com/user/patricialynne07

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/13460894.Patricia_Josephine

Forcing My “Reading Brain” to Edit

Happy Thursday, Aledan Merfolk! This week has been a roller coaster ride of awesomeness and busyness and a little bit of frustrated-ness. I got a critique back from one of my CPs and I’m expecting another any day. They both liked StO (yay!) but I still have some characterization to work on (boo!). I should finish the edits on my FE short story today, and I’ll be sending it off to a few new readers who don’t know anything about the FE universe to make sure it’s not confusing as all hell. Why are 100k word books so much easier to write and edit than 5k word short stories? (On the plus side, StO is now just under 100k)

TheEternaFilesI finished ATLANTIA (I’m disappointed to say there were never any mermaids in it, although I liked the ending) and started a CP project that I’m thoroughly enjoying so far. I tried listening to THE CITY STAINED RED audiobook, but as a fantasy there are too many strange names and I need to see the words because I’m a visual person. I’m going to see if I can read the free sample on Nook and hope it gives me enough of an idea of what the names are that I can continue listening to the audiobook without being completely confused. In the meantime I have THE ETERNA FILES to read, and I can’t wait.

I know I’ve mentioned my weird writing cycle before, and right now I’m in the READ EVERYTHING phase of it, which is making edits slower than normal. If I was in my writing/editing phase they’d be done by now, but my brain just isn’t in that headspace right now. The next phase is for video games and HGTV, at which point my editing brain will be utterly useless, so I’m really trying to get these edits done now. Am I the only weirdo whose brain has these very specific phases of when it will work on certain things? I can’t wait for the writing/editing portion to come back around (it should be here around the end of Feb, which is the due date for this round of CPs to get StO back to me. Good planning, brain!)

In any case, I’m off to force myself to finish editing this FE short (if you missed last week’s Fie Eoin Friday it’s a cut scene from the short story) and do more CPing. Have a wonderful weekend, Aledans!

Science Tuesday: Two Naked Dudes Riding Panthers…Because #SCIENCE!

Happy Wednesday, Aledan Merfolk! Yesterday was busy busy, so this week’s science news post is a day late, but as you can tell from the title of the post, it’s well worth the wait ;) Let’s get right to it, because I know you’re curious…

Moon may hold evidence of how life started on Earth, study suggests: Evidence of how life began on Earth may be hidden on the moon, encased in what was once lava, according to scientists at Imperial College London. They suggest that organic compounds on asteroids or comets may have hit early Earth as well as the moon, which was covered in lava more than 3 billion years ago, and became preserved there. “Evidence of prebiotic evolution on asteroids and comets or the emergence of life on Earth and Mars could all be preserved. It is an ironic possibility that one of the best places to look for records of early life is our dry and lifeless moon,” said Mark Sephton, an author of the study published in Astrobiology.

Study: Gravitational waves could make entry into a black hole a bumpy ride: Gravitational waves could create turbulence for things approaching a black hole, according to a study that will be published in Physical Review Letters. If a black hole spins fast enough, it could create turbulence by emitting long-duration bursts of gravitational waves, scientists mathematically calculated.

INTERSTELLAR did it right! (I loved that movie, btw)

Two Eagles balloon lands near Baja after record-breaking flight: A pair of balloonists have successfully crossed the Pacific Ocean, landing Saturday just off the coast of the Baja Peninsula in Mexico. The helium-filled Two Eagles balloon lifted off Jan. 25 from Saga, Japan, carrying pilots Troy Bradley of Albuquerque, N.M., and Leonid Tiukhtyae of Moscow, 6,646 miles, or 10,696 kilometers. The journey unofficially broke records for distance and duration, 160 hours and 37 minutes. The records are pending review by international regulating organization Federation Aeronautique Internationale.

Researchers create transistor with silicene: A modest transistor made with silicene, an atom-thin sheet of silicon, has the semiconductor industry buzzing. Silicene didn’t exist seven years ago, but researchers, encouraged by the development of graphene, or carbon the thickness of a single atom, have been working on silicene, which could be revolutionary in achieving miniaturization. “Nobody could have expected that in such a short time, something that didn’t exist could make a transistor,” said Guy Le Lay, one of the first researchers to create silicene in a lab, but who was not involved in the creation of the transistor.

Pair of bronze statues may have been sculpted by Michelangelo: Two bronze sculptures depicting nude men riding panthers may be the last surviving bronzes by Michelangelo, according to researchers. The figures are 3.3 feet, or 1 meter, tall, and were in obscurity for over a century before researchers linked them to Michelangelo, though that link is yet to be confirmed. The sculptures are on display at the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge until August, and final conclusions about them will be disclosed in July.

These are way cool looking. Two naked dudes riding panthers? MEOW!

Birds share the burden of leadership when flying in a “V,” study finds: Birds take turns leading the flock as they travel in a “V” formation, according to research published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Scientists from Austria, the U.K. and Germany studied the flight of the northern bald ibis, noting that each bird took a turn at the energy-depleting lead spot, allowing other birds to use the extra lift provided by the leader.

Hubble could keep working through 2020: The already long-lived Hubble Space Telescope may last though 2020 or longer, according to scientists at the Space Telescope Science Institute. “We’re conducting what we’re calling the ‘2020 vision’ for Hubble, and that is to make sure that the observatory is ready to run for at least five or six years to get at least a year of overlap with James Webb, if not more,” said the institute’s Kenneth Sembach at the American Astronomical Society meeting. The plan is for Hubble to overlap with NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope, which is slated to launch in 2018, and possibly give scientists two perspectives on a target.

Ancient text found to be “Gospel of the Lots of Mary”: An ancient text written in Coptic is “The Gospel of the Lots of Mary,” according to scientist who deciphered the 1,500-year-old tome. It isn’t a gospel in the traditional sense, but contains 37 vaguely written oracles and was likely intended to be used for divination, said Princeton professor Anne Marie Luijendijk, who deciphered the writings.

Study: Gold may have formed during Earth’s early days with help of microbes: Microbes may have played a key role in the formation of gold in the early days of Earth, before oxygen became prevalent, according to research. Swiss Federal Institute of Technology’s Christoph Heinrich suggests that volcanic rain first dissolved the gold, which was then washed into river basins where mats of microbes precipitated it out into what is now the Witwatersrand Basin in South Africa. “We don’t know if the gold precipitated out during life or after they died, but basic chemistry tells us that organic life reduces gold chemically from the ionic to the elemental form,” he said.

Atlantic, Pacific fish may mix as Arctic waters warm up, study says: Fish and other sea creatures may move into new territory as temperatures rise in the Arctic Ocean, according to research published in Nature Climate Change. There is no physical barrier between the Pacific and Atlantic oceans, but the temperature of the Arctic has kept creatures in their own space, but researchers say that barrier may be lifted by the end of the century, allowing dozens of fish species to move from the Atlantic to the Pacific, and vice versa. Researchers at the University of Fribourg in Switzerland studied 515 fish species to see how they would respond to changes in climate.

Ancient bull-sized rodent had huge tusklike teeth, study finds: A bull-sized ancient rodent, the largest ever discovered, had large, tusklike incisors that it used for more than just eating, according to a study published in the Journal of Anatomy. “We concluded that Josephoartigasia must have used its incisors for activities other than biting, such as digging in the ground for food, or defending itself from predators,” said anatomist Philip Cox, first author of the study. Researchers created a computer model using a CT scan of the rodent’s skull to get a better idea of how its jaws worked.

Humans can detect magnetism with light, flexible sensor, researchers say: An extremely light and flexible sensor that allows humans to detect magnetic fields has been developed by scientists at the Leibniz Institute for Solid State and Materials Research, the Chemnitz University of Technology, the University of Tokyo and Osaka University. “[The sensors] are … imperceptible magneto-sensitive skin that enables proximity detection, navigation and touchless control,” according to the report published in Nature. “These ultra-thin magnetic field sensors readily conform to ubiquitous objects including human skin and offer a new sense for soft robotics, safety and healthcare monitoring, consumer electronics and electronic skin devices.”

NASA displays photos of Pluto taken by New Horizons probe: NASA has released photos of Pluto and its largest moon, Charon, taken by its New Horizons spacecraft, the first taken as the probe approaches the dwarf planet. NASA released the photos Wednesday to celebrate the birthday of Clyde Tombaugh, the late American astronomer who discovered Pluto in 1930. New Horizons will fly by Pluto in mid-July, giving astronomers the closest view ever of the dwarf planet.

Dynamite blast reveals channel of molten rock beneath Earth’s surface: A channel of molten rock has been found deep beneath the Earth’s surface by scientists using sound waves from dynamite explosions deep underground. The finding may help scientists learn more about the mechanics of plate tectonics, said geologist Tim Stern, co-author of the study published in Nature. “We think it’s a sort of lubricant that allows plate tectonics to work,” he said.

Fossilized teeth put monkeys in South America 36 million years ago: Fossilized teeth have helped scientists determine that monkeys lived in South America as far back as 36 million years ago, but how the monkeys got from Africa to South America remains a mystery. Researchers say the four molars found in eastern Peru belonged to Perupithecus ucayaliensis, which greatly resembled fossils of the ancient monkeys of Africa. “The primary hypothesis is that they floated on a raft of vegetation, but that is still a big question,” said Ken Campbell of the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, which led the study that was published in Nature.

Cockroaches have individual personalities, study suggests: Individual cockroaches have personalities, according to a study published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B. “Shy individuals are those that spend more time sheltered and explore less the arena or the surroundings. Instead, bold individuals are those that spend most part of the time exploring the surroundings and spend less time sheltered,” said researcher Isaac Planas Sitja. Scientists believe the personalities help the cockroaches improve their chances for survival in the face of disaster.

So basically you’re only killing the bold cockroaches when you squish them. The shy ones are still hiding and breeding.

Coral reefs thriving near Cuba: Coral reefs near Cuba are flourishing as other reefs around the world struggle to survive, and scientists say it’s because of the country’s environmental laws and the benefits of organic farming. “After the Soviets pulled out [in 1991], Cuba couldn’t afford fertilizers and pesticides, so they were essentially forced into organic farming — and that’s had a beneficial effect on corals,” said marine scientist David Guggenheim.

I can’t wait to visit Cuba. Good food AND good snorkeling? Sign me up.

Chimps adopt new calls when moved to new groups, study finds: Chimps who move into a new group change their calls to match those of their new friends, as humans do to match local terminology after a move, according to a study published in Current Biology. University of Zurich researchers studied a group of seven chimps moved from a safari park in the Netherlands to live with six chimps in Scotland’s Edinburgh Zoo and found that over three years, the Dutch chimps started using the Scottish chimps’ calls for the word “apple.” “We showed that, through social learning, the chimps could change their vocalizations,” said Simon Townsend, the study’s co-author.

Remains of ancient dog are really those of wolf, researchers find: Remains once believed to belong to one of the oldest dogs, dating back 31,680 years, instead belong to a wolf, calling into question when the domestication of the dog occurred, according to a study published in Scientific Reports. “Previous research has claimed that dogs emerged in the Paleolithic [era] but this claim is based on inaccurate analyses. We reanalyzed some of the fossil canids from the Paleolithic and show that they are, in fact, wolves,” said Abby Grace Drake, the study’s lead author. Drake and her colleagues say dog domestication likely occurred later, during the Neolithic era.

Scientists find a new evolutionary model in bedbugs: Bedbugs may be a good model to study how a species evolves, according to a study in Molecular Ecology. After nearly vanishing in the 1940s due to the use of DDT, the insects have come back strong with a resistance to pesticides, and that resilience has piqued some researchers’ interest. “For something that is so hated by so many people, it might just be a perfect model organism for evolutionary questions,” said study co-author Warren Booth, a University of Tulsa biologist.

Um, yay bedbugs?

Study: Sea slug can use photosynthesis for nutrition by taking gene from algae: The emerald sea slug steals a gene from the algae it eats, allowing it to get nourishment from photosynthesis, according to a study published in the Biological Bulletin. “There is no way on Earth that genes from an alga should work inside an animal cell. And yet here, they do. They allow the animal to rely on sunshine for its nutrition. So if something happens to their food source, they have a way of not starving to death until they find more algae to eat,” said Sidney Pierce, co-author of the study.

3 of Jupiter’s moons seen crossing the planet in Hubble photos: NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope has caught images of Jupiter as three of its largest moons passed across the planet’s surface. Hubble snapped the shots in quick succession to capture the relatively rare event, which occurs only once or twice a decade. The moons seen in the photos are Europa, Callisto and Io.

Stem cells heal brain damage from radiation in mice, study finds: Transplanting stem cells that can transform into oligodendrocytes appears to repair and replace the ones damaged by radiation therapy, according to a study reported in the journal Cell Stem Cell. Damaged cells that mature into oligodendrocytes, which covers nerve cells, become incapable of transmitting information, leading to some memory and brain problems. Mice injected with new cells in the forebrain exhibited better object recognition while mice injected in the cerebellum showed improved motor control after 10 weeks, compared with untreated rats.

Tides, ice ages may encourage seafloor volcanic eruptions, study finds: The eruptions of volcanoes on mid-ocean ridges are linked to tides and may be also linked to ice ages, according to a study published in Geophysical Research Letters. Scientists looked at seismic records of 10 eruptions and found that they occurred every two weeks near neap tide, noting that the amount of seawater above the volcanoes was slight lower, reducing the weight on them and prompted small temblors. Researchers also looked at the cycle of ice ages, which lower the sea levels, tying them to increased eruptions.

Book takes close look at whales, dolphins’ social lives: Whales and dolphins have complex social lives and behaviors, according to the book “The Cultural Lives of Whales and Dolphins.” “There is no way even the most outlandish scenarios can explain this pattern with genetics alone,” authors Hal Whitehead and Luke Rendell write.

And now I have a new book for my TBR pile.

Impact of invasive species on Great Lakes assessed: Researchers have assessed the future impact of invasive species on the Great Lakes basin, depending on how stringently measures are undertaken to curb their arrival. Researchers put forth pessimistic, status quo and optimistic scenarios to show the various impacts, including a scenario in which the U.S. and Canada work together to minimize invasive-species risks. “In addition to harmonized regulations on live trade, the two countries must coordinate early detection and rapid response to new threats — before an invasion has progressed beyond control,” said biologist Anthony Ricciardi, who supervised the study published in the Journal of Great Lakes Research.

National Weather Service studies murky rain that fell on Wash., Ore., Idaho: The National Weather Service is investigating reports of rain described as milky-colored, dusty or dirty that fell in Washington, Oregon and Idaho on Friday. Among the possibilities being considered are recent volcanic eruptions in Russia and Mexico. Scientists have collected samples of the strange rainfall to confirm what caused the murkiness.

Scientists find anatomical link among psychiatric disorders: A study in JAMA Psychiatry suggests depression, addiction, bipolar disorder, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder and schizophrenia originate from the same regions in the brain. An analysis of 7,381 patients and 8,511 controls who underwent voxel-based morphometry revealed that gray matter loss occurred in the dorsal anterior cingulate and the right and left insula. These structures form a network associated with executive functioning, which is implicated across a range of psychiatric disorders.

Why some corals are more colorful than others: Research at the Coral Reef Laboratory at the University of Southampton lets coral colours appear in a new light: as sunscreening pigments that help explain how corals adapt to environmental stress. The findings are published in the journal Molecular Ecology.


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The Flu, and I Just Discovered Audiobooks!

Happy Thursday, Aledan Merfolk! You’re definitely much more Aledan today, because for the past two weeks I’ve been working on a Fie Eoin short story for the anthology WOMEN IN PRACTICAL ARMOR. It takes place thirteen years after the third book in the FE series (which I haven’t written yet, but I storylined a few years ago if you remember this sticky). I like my main character in this short so much I’m really considering giving her an entire book. You know, after I write the other three that are still just sitting in my head…

TheMartianYou may have noticed the lack of promised Fie Eoin Friday last week, but that’s because on Weds I didn’t just catch the flu, we started having a serious relationship. Fever, chills, aches, you name it. Fun! Actually, it did give me a chance to start listening to my first ever audiobook (I never knew when would be a good time to listen, other than long car rides. Turns out having the flu is the perfect time to listen to an audiobook). I started THE MARTIAN by Andy Weir and holy science! My little chemist heart was so happy to listen because the science is spot on. I finished it last night and I can say that the sciencey goodness lasts the whole way through. The end is full of tension (and explosions), and I highly recommend it. Especially in audiobook form. The narrator was great.

TheCityStainedRedSo now I’m about to start listening to my next audiobook, THE CITY STAINED RED by Sam Sykes, and my short story is in the hands of a CP who’ll rip it to bloody shreds, because I already know it sucks, I just don’t know how to fix it yet.

I hope you all have a great weekend, Aledan Merfolk! I’ll be posting a Fie Eoin Friday tomorrow, and this Sunday I have a space-themed pony for Custom of the Week!

Science Tuesday: New Species of Human, “God’s Hand”, and Ebola May Be Mutating.

Happy Tuesday, Aledan Merfolk! I’m recovering from a nasty bout of the flu that left me with laryngitis today, but Science stops for no one. Today’s science news list may be a bit space-heavy because I’ve been listening to the audiobook of THE MARTIAN while sick. It makes my little scientist heart happy because the science is so spot on in the book. I very highly recommend it. Now on to the actual science news!

Photos show passing asteroid has its own moon: The asteroid that passed close to Earth on Monday was accompanied by its own moon, according to NASA. Asteroid 2004 BL86 is the nearest asteroid this large to pass close to Earth until 2027, giving scientists a unique view of the celestial object with its surprising moon following behind. “We should be getting some great radar images of this asteroid. Radar would be the key to study the asteroid’s surface, give an idea of its shape, whether it has rocks and that kind of stuff on it,” said Paul Chodas of NASA’s Near Earth Object Program Office.

Scientists decode rain’s earthy scent: When raindrops hit the right kind of soil at just the right velocity, they produce a unique, earthy scent, and a pair of scientists from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have figured out why. The falling drop of water traps tiny air bubbles that pick up molecules in the soil, which are then released back into the air when the bubbles pop. “The sweet spot has to do with the velocity of the droplet and the qualities of the soil,” said Cullen Buie, co-author of the study published in Nature Communications.

Researchers turn thirst off, on in mice brains: Scientists have found a way to switch thirst on and off in mice. They used optogenetics to identify two distinct sets of neurons that, when stimulated with a laser, would either cause the mice to drink even if they weren’t thirsty or stop them from drinking, according to the study published in Nature. The researchers say that learning what causes feelings of thirst in the brain may help scientists better understand disorders in which people drink too much or too little.

Study: Telomere extension reverses aging in cultured human cells: A new technique uses modified ribonucleic acid to increase telomere length by about 10%, reversing the internal clock of cultured cells, according to a study in The FASEB Journal. The findings can be applied to regenerative medicine and cellular studies, according to researchers.

Snakes have been around much longer than once thought: Snakes have been around millions of years longer than previously thought, according to an examination of four of the oldest-known fossils, the oldest of which dates back 167 million years. Previously, the oldest snake fossil was 102 million years old, but Eophis underwoodi beats that by 65 million years, followed by Portugalophis lignites and Diablophis gilmorei, both 155 million years old, and Parviraptor estesi at 144 million. The fossils were described in a study published in Nature Communications.

Jawbone fossil may be new species of early human, scientists say: A jawbone with large teeth still attached found by fishermen off the coast of Taiwan may be a new species of ancient human that lived as recently as 10,000 years ago, says a study published in Nature Communications. Scientists speculate that the big-toothed human, dubbed Penghu 1, may have lived alongside Homo sapiens. “The available evidence at least does not exclude the possibility that they survived until the appearance of Homo sapiens in the region, and it is tempting to speculate about their possible contact,” said Yousuke Kaifu, co-author of the study.

Medical supplies found on remains of Blackbeard’s pirate ship: Archaeologists have found medical equipment among other artifacts aboard the wreckage of the Queen Anne’s Revenge, the flagship of the notorious pirate Blackbeard. The ship ran aground in 1718, and researchers say the medical equipment indicates Blackbeard went to great effort to keep his crew healthy. “Treating the sick and injured of a sea-bound community on shipboard was challenging in the best of times,” said archaeologist Linda Carnes-McNaughton, who described the finds in a paper presented at the annual meeting of the Society for Historical Archaeology.

Kepler finds ancient solar system born in early universe: A small solar system of five planets smaller than Earth formed not long after the birth of the universe has been discovered by NASA’s Kepler space telescope. “By the time the Earth formed, the planets in this system were already older than our planet is today. This discovery may now help to pinpoint the beginning of what we might call the ‘era of planet formation,’ ” said Tiago Campante, who led the research described in the Astrophysical Journal.

Giant asteroid may once have held flowing water, study suggests: Images of the giant asteroid Vesta suggest that it once held liquid water. “Nobody expected to find evidence of water on Vesta. The surface is very cold and there is no atmosphere, so any water on the surface evaporates. However, Vesta is proving to be a very interesting and complex planetary body,” said Jennifer Scully, lead author of the study. Images sent from NASA’s Dawn spacecraft indicate curved gullies similar to debris-flow channels found on Earth when water moves dirt and rocks, leading researchers to think water may have once flowed on the asteroid.

New images give scientists better view of Ceres as Dawn orbiter nears: As NASA’s Dawn spacecraft moves closer to Ceres, it is recording the best images of the dwarf planet yet taken, a vast improvement over images snapped by the Hubble Space Telescope in 2003 and 2004, as well as those Dawn itself took earlier this month. The images are grainy, but they are providing scientists with a lot of new information ahead of Dawn’s March entry into orbit. “This is just starting to illuminate the fact that Ceres is one of these unique bodies that has astrobiological potential … and it’s just continued to become more intriguing as we’ve been marching inexorably closer,” said Carol Raymond, deputy principal investigator.

Scientists demystify metal explosions: The explosive reaction between alkali metals and water has been demystified by scientists in the Czech Republic and Germany, who suggest the reaction is caused by positive charges repelling each other. Researchers used computer simulations and video taken by an ultra-high-speed camera to capture the explosive moment when the metal hits water. “If you want to have an explosive reaction … you need a lot of contact between the reactants. And this is exactly what we don’t have here,” said Pavel Jungwirth, an author of the study published in Nature Chemistry.

Skull found in Israel may shed light on human migration from Africa: Clues about the migration of modern humans might be gleaned from an ancient skull found in a cave in Israel. “This is the first evidence that shows indeed there was a large wave of migrants out of East Africa, crossing the Sahara and the Nubian desert and inhabiting the eastern Mediterranean region 55,000 years ago. So it is really a key skull in understanding modern human evolution,” said Tel Aviv University’s Israel Hershkovitz, an author of the study published in Nature.

Tattoo found on 5,300-year-old ice man mummy: An additional tattoo has been found on the skin of the mummified 5,300-year-old ice man known as Otzi, according to researchers documenting the markings. Like his 60 other tattoos, the new one found on his ribcage is made up of black lines, and researchers suspect the tattoos may have had some therapeutic use. Otzi was found in the Italian Alps in 1991.

Long-necked dinosaur may have influenced China’s dragon mythology, researchers say: The remains of a dinosaur with a neck half as long as its body is a new species, according to a study published in the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, and it may have inspired much of ancient China’s dragon mythology. “There is one theory that the Chinese got an inspiration for the dragon by looking at a dinosaur skeleton in the ground. They stumbled upon a long-necked creature like this and they didn’t know what it was,” said Tetsuto Miyashita, who studied the remains of a dinosaur, called Qijianglong, or “Dragon of Qijiang,” referencing the place it was found. Researchers say Qijianglong lived about 160 million years ago.

Researchers to examine northern lights with space probe: A space probe launched Wednesday by NASA and Utah State University will study the northern lights. “The successful launch of the Auroral Spatial Structures Probe will enable scientists and satellite operators to better understand the energy processes during auroral activity in the thermosphere and its effects on satellites as they orbit Earth,” said principal investigator Charles Swenson, director for the university’s Center for Space Engineering. The large main probe also released six small probes in midflight to make a network of measurements, the scientists said.

Cometary globule “God’s Hand” seen in detail by ESO telescope: The European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope has captured a detailed image of the cosmic cloud of gas and dust known as “God’s Hand,” or CG4. The cometary globule, called such because the cloud appears to have a head and a tail like a comet, is about 1,300 light-years away from Earth in the Puppis constellation. The image is part of the ESO’s “Cosmic Gems” initiative, which uses images taken with ESO telescopes for education and outreach.

Bubbles of radioactive nickle may have made holes in Cassiopeia A, researchers say: Expanding bubbles of radioactive nickle may be responsible for holes seen in the supernova Cassiopeia A, which exploded 340 years ago 11,000 light-years from Earth, according to a study. Researchers say their bubble theory could also account for large rings seen in the outer regions of Cassiopeia A, and their next step is to search for iron deposits left behind by the exploding bubbles. “We’re like the bomb squad. A bomb’s gone off and I want to understand how that bomb exploded. … The first thing I’m going to say is: Where did the debris go?” said Dan Milisavljevic, the study’s co-author.

Early Paleo-Indians hunted large game with spear-throwers, study finds: Paleo-Indians, long considered one of the first American peoples, used spear-throwers to propel their spear heads at big game, according to a study of microscopic fractures on spear points. It’s long been assumed that the Paleo-Indians used spear-throwers, but until now, there had been no empirical evidence to support that theory. “If the spear-thrower originated in the Old World, then it only made sense that it must have shown up with early [North American] colonists,” said Karl Hutchings, author of the study published in the Journal of Archaeological Science.

Study: Isolated starlings prefer to view photos of other starlings: Lonely starlings in captivity prefer to stare at photos of other starlings versus landscapes or other creatures, according to a study published online in Animal Cognition. Researchers isolated starlings for four days in separate cages with large-screen monitors that would show either a life-size photo of an unknown starling, a suburban landscape or monkeys, depending on which sensor the starling poked with its beak. The starlings more frequently triggered the sensor to bring up the other starling’s photo, suggesting a natural yearning for social interaction, researchers said.

Scientists: Ebola virus may be mutating: Scientists at the Pasteur Institute in France have warned that strains of the Ebola virus in Guinea have mutated and they are investigating whether the changes have made it more contagious. There have been several cases in which the patients showed no symptoms, according to a Pasteur geneticist.

Civil War submarine starting to reveal its secrets after 150 years: Scientists are finally getting a look at the hull of a Civil War submarine that sank after taking down a Union ship off the coast of Charleston, S.C., 150 years ago. The hand-cranked Confederate sub H.L. Hunley was raised 15 years ago, but the hull was encased in concretion that scientists have been working to dislodge. About 70% of the hull has been uncovered, and researchers are just starting to uncover clues about what may have caused the submarine to sink.

Baird’s beaked whales form complex relationships, study finds: Baird’s beaked whales have a complex social structure in which they prefer the company of specific individuals within their community, according to researchers who have identified individual whales by the patterns of scars on their bodies. The creatures, also known as giant bottlenose whales, are difficult to study, researchers say, because they rarely spend time on the surface. The study was published in Marine Mammal Science.

Scientists twist light into Mobius strips: Scientists at the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Light in Germany have created a Mobius shape with light, according to a study published in Science. Peter Banzer and his colleagues followed up on predictions by Isaac Freund and took two polarized green laser beams and scattered them off a gold bead smaller than the wavelength of light, giving it a Mobius-like structure by introducing a polarization pattern with three or five twists.

Long period of frequent droughts linked to ancient city’s demise: The Mesoamerican city Cantona, east of today’s Mexico City, was abandoned about 1,000 years ago due to frequent long-term droughts, research suggests. Scientists looked at the climate before and after Cantona’s decline, studying sediment cores and samples taken from a lake not far from the site. “In a sense the area became important because of the increased frequency of drought. But when the droughts continued on such a scale, the subsistence base for the whole area changed and people just had to leave,” said Roger Byrne, an author of the study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

3D map reveals ancient ice layers in Greenland: Using information from airborne radar and ice cores, scientists have created a detailed 3D map of Greenland’s ice sheet, including the island’s oldest ice from the Eemian Period, 115,000 to 130,000 years ago. Scientists hope to find clues about future climate changes by studying those of the ancient past.


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