shichahn: (Feets!)
Anchiornis huxleyi, a troodontid (big brained little theropod, cousins of the dromaeosaurs like Velociraptor), is our first full-color dinosaur! For those who haven't been keeping up, recent studies of dinosaur feathers on a microscopic level have revealed that melanosomes, the part of a cell that produces melanin, which gives things color, have different structures depending on which color they produce. Based on that discovery, we can now identify what colors dinosaur feathers had if the melanosomes were preserved in the fossil. So exciting!

And so adorable! )

Okay guys, I'm seriously thrilled by this. I know some of you probably realize how much I love dinosaurs. I used to draw them a lot - even before we knew they had feathers, but especially since then. And now we get to learn how pretty they really were! omg I love biology.
shichahn: (Feets!)
Anchiornis huxleyi, a troodontid (big brained little theropod, cousins of the dromaeosaurs like Velociraptor), is our first full-color dinosaur! For those who haven't been keeping up, recent studies of dinosaur feathers on a microscopic level have revealed that melanosomes, the part of a cell that produces melanin, which gives things color, have different structures depending on which color they produce. Based on that discovery, we can now identify what colors dinosaur feathers had if the melanosomes were preserved in the fossil. So exciting!

And so adorable! )

Okay guys, I'm seriously thrilled by this. I know some of you probably realize how much I love dinosaurs. I used to draw them a lot - even before we knew they had feathers, but especially since then. And now we get to learn how pretty they really were! omg I love biology.
shichahn: ([Boosh] Naboolio)
Lauren Helton
Attn: MAPS
Central Coast Ranger Dist
PO Box 400
1130 Forestry Ln
Waldport, OR 97394-0400

Send me some awesome mail, guys.

Anyway, I'm not going to recap all of the last two weeks. Man, it feels like so much longer than that, too. Grants Pass is a great place to camp, we caught tons of birds, and everyone in the NW MAPS crew is so awesome. We even had a guy from Wales who was a fellow Boosh fan, and he recommended a bunch of new stuff for us to watch and download, whooo. And another intern from California is in fandom and loves Doctor Who and so we're working on hooking her on Boosh as well.

And then on Wednesday, this made my day:

Yes that is me )

Isn't she gorgeous? She's very pale, even for a juvenile red-shouldered hawk. I got her in one of our mist nets - she'd tried to catch one of the warblers we had caught and got stuck herself, of course. We don't really have any means to band raptors since we're set up for songbird banding only, but it was still awesome to get her out and have a look at her before letting her go.

Friday was the last day of training, and that afternoon I arrived at my current location, the Oregon coast. Portland crew, you guys have to come banding with me! Or at least come visit me and we can hang out at the beach. I'll be pretty busy this month, setting up our sites here in Siuslaw (we did two today and oh god the rainforest is so beautiful) and down in Fremont National Forest, where our staff biologist's other crew will be staying.

We set up two banding sites today, and man, I will never grow hungry out here. Between the two sites, I found:

blackberry
raspberry
blueberry
huckleberry
salmonberry
thimbleberry
salal
oregon grape
stream violet
nettle
oxalis
bracken fern
dandelion

Needless to say, there will be some epic salads this summer. Plus awesome salsa because our biologist, Ramiro, is from Oaxaca and makes incredible salsa. So. It will be an exciting and delicious summer.
shichahn: ([Boosh] Naboolio)
Lauren Helton
Attn: MAPS
Central Coast Ranger Dist
PO Box 400
1130 Forestry Ln
Waldport, OR 97394-0400

Send me some awesome mail, guys.

Anyway, I'm not going to recap all of the last two weeks. Man, it feels like so much longer than that, too. Grants Pass is a great place to camp, we caught tons of birds, and everyone in the NW MAPS crew is so awesome. We even had a guy from Wales who was a fellow Boosh fan, and he recommended a bunch of new stuff for us to watch and download, whooo. And another intern from California is in fandom and loves Doctor Who and so we're working on hooking her on Boosh as well.

And then on Wednesday, this made my day:

Yes that is me )

Isn't she gorgeous? She's very pale, even for a juvenile red-shouldered hawk. I got her in one of our mist nets - she'd tried to catch one of the warblers we had caught and got stuck herself, of course. We don't really have any means to band raptors since we're set up for songbird banding only, but it was still awesome to get her out and have a look at her before letting her go.

Friday was the last day of training, and that afternoon I arrived at my current location, the Oregon coast. Portland crew, you guys have to come banding with me! Or at least come visit me and we can hang out at the beach. I'll be pretty busy this month, setting up our sites here in Siuslaw (we did two today and oh god the rainforest is so beautiful) and down in Fremont National Forest, where our staff biologist's other crew will be staying.

We set up two banding sites today, and man, I will never grow hungry out here. Between the two sites, I found:

blackberry
raspberry
blueberry
huckleberry
salmonberry
thimbleberry
salal
oregon grape
stream violet
nettle
oxalis
bracken fern
dandelion

Needless to say, there will be some epic salads this summer. Plus awesome salsa because our biologist, Ramiro, is from Oaxaca and makes incredible salsa. So. It will be an exciting and delicious summer.
shichahn: (Doctor)
So, the Kepler Space Telescope will be launched on March 5th. It will allow us, for the first time, to easily spot Earth-sized extra-solar planets based on the shadows they create when passing in front of their suns. Kepler will be followed up by two more telescopes - the Terrestrial Planet Finder, and Darwin - sometime within the next 10-12 years, which will aim to observe light reflecting off these planets, and analyze spectra so that we may discern the gases present in their atmospheres. Planets at a comfortable distance from their sun, harboring an atmosphere rich with nitrogen, oxygen, and carbon dioxide, would make ideal candidates for further astrobiological exploration.

Awesome, if you ask me. But while reading about this, I started to wonder. What is it about us as a species, that we seem so desperate to prove that we're not alone? And why is the idea of not just alien life but advanced alien civilization so exciting to us? Because while looking for life in general is interesting, we don't really want to find bacteria or algae, do we. No even an extraterrestrial cow will satisfy. No, the real goal is and always has been to find someone out there like us. I'm sure many people have their own independent reasons, and there are certainly those who don't find this exciting at all, who would prefer that we are unique, or who fear what we might find out there. But it seems to me that the general populace really, really want to find someone else out there. I know I do.

Now, sure, you could look at it from a practical perspective and say that we want to expand trade and profit, discover new technologies, and have fantastic Starfleet-esque adventures, to infinity and beyond. But I think there's more at work than that simplistic imperial view. It's not the same as the early parts of the last millennium, although I understand that maybe it's hard for me to imagine that when I wasn't there myself. What we hear about now are explorers who traveled long distances over land and sea to create trade routes and exploit local peoples, but there probably were sailors back then who found the prospects of discovering a long-lost civilization exciting in and of itself. But as alien as the Gweagal were to Captain Cook, or the natives of the West Indies to Columbus and his men, those they found were not only undoubtedly human, but also considered inferior and quickly subjugated. Columbus himself wrote that he was personally disappointed by his discovery, as the "Indians" had nothing he felt was worth trading for. I hope that if we manage to find anyone else out there, we will act toward them with much greater respect than European explorers showed the people they came across. Perhaps luckily, if we do find other technologically advanced cultures, they will be much harder to reach.

Are we lonely, as a species? Are we just afraid that we're the only kid on the playground, and all we want is a friend who will play on the monkey bars with us? It's hard for me to say. I don't feel particularly lonely. I do agree with Carl Sagan's famous quotation, paraphrased from an earlier sentiment by Thomas Carlyle - "If [the stars] be not inhabited, what a waste of space." But neither do I think that that is our motivation for looking, despite our innate sense for aesthetics.

So, I don't have an answer. Maybe some of you do. Why do we look? Why are we so desperate to find someone else to talk to? What is so fascinating about the prospect of having galactic neighbors? Will we go to cookouts together? Will we share our toys?
shichahn: (Doctor)
So, the Kepler Space Telescope will be launched on March 5th. It will allow us, for the first time, to easily spot Earth-sized extra-solar planets based on the shadows they create when passing in front of their suns. Kepler will be followed up by two more telescopes - the Terrestrial Planet Finder, and Darwin - sometime within the next 10-12 years, which will aim to observe light reflecting off these planets, and analyze spectra so that we may discern the gases present in their atmospheres. Planets at a comfortable distance from their sun, harboring an atmosphere rich with nitrogen, oxygen, and carbon dioxide, would make ideal candidates for further astrobiological exploration.

Awesome, if you ask me. But while reading about this, I started to wonder. What is it about us as a species, that we seem so desperate to prove that we're not alone? And why is the idea of not just alien life but advanced alien civilization so exciting to us? Because while looking for life in general is interesting, we don't really want to find bacteria or algae, do we. No even an extraterrestrial cow will satisfy. No, the real goal is and always has been to find someone out there like us. I'm sure many people have their own independent reasons, and there are certainly those who don't find this exciting at all, who would prefer that we are unique, or who fear what we might find out there. But it seems to me that the general populace really, really want to find someone else out there. I know I do.

Now, sure, you could look at it from a practical perspective and say that we want to expand trade and profit, discover new technologies, and have fantastic Starfleet-esque adventures, to infinity and beyond. But I think there's more at work than that simplistic imperial view. It's not the same as the early parts of the last millennium, although I understand that maybe it's hard for me to imagine that when I wasn't there myself. What we hear about now are explorers who traveled long distances over land and sea to create trade routes and exploit local peoples, but there probably were sailors back then who found the prospects of discovering a long-lost civilization exciting in and of itself. But as alien as the Gweagal were to Captain Cook, or the natives of the West Indies to Columbus and his men, those they found were not only undoubtedly human, but also considered inferior and quickly subjugated. Columbus himself wrote that he was personally disappointed by his discovery, as the "Indians" had nothing he felt was worth trading for. I hope that if we manage to find anyone else out there, we will act toward them with much greater respect than European explorers showed the people they came across. Perhaps luckily, if we do find other technologically advanced cultures, they will be much harder to reach.

Are we lonely, as a species? Are we just afraid that we're the only kid on the playground, and all we want is a friend who will play on the monkey bars with us? It's hard for me to say. I don't feel particularly lonely. I do agree with Carl Sagan's famous quotation, paraphrased from an earlier sentiment by Thomas Carlyle - "If [the stars] be not inhabited, what a waste of space." But neither do I think that that is our motivation for looking, despite our innate sense for aesthetics.

So, I don't have an answer. Maybe some of you do. Why do we look? Why are we so desperate to find someone else to talk to? What is so fascinating about the prospect of having galactic neighbors? Will we go to cookouts together? Will we share our toys?
shichahn: (PK)
Have I ever mentioned how much I adore David Attenborough? Because I do. Just, you know. Thought I'd get that out there.

If ever there was a list of Superheroes of Biology, he'd totally be on it. Near the top.

Edit: Totally unrelated, but lawl.

ArbitraryCoho: THIS MESSAGE VIOLATES THE CYBER-BULLYING ACT OF 2007!!!!! PLEASE REPORT IT TO THE FBI!!!!!!
shichahn: (PK)
Have I ever mentioned how much I adore David Attenborough? Because I do. Just, you know. Thought I'd get that out there.

If ever there was a list of Superheroes of Biology, he'd totally be on it. Near the top.

Edit: Totally unrelated, but lawl.

ArbitraryCoho: THIS MESSAGE VIOLATES THE CYBER-BULLYING ACT OF 2007!!!!! PLEASE REPORT IT TO THE FBI!!!!!!
shichahn: (Default)
Going to respond to posts and maybe do a followup thing re: my weird shipping analysis at some point today. But first, I must re-post this XKCD for you. Because biology rules.



(Also, IT IS STILL SNOWING. WE HAVE 10+ INCHES. I DON'T EVEN KNOW WHAT TO THINK WHEN I LOOK OUT THE WINDOW ANYMORE.)
shichahn: (Default)
Going to respond to posts and maybe do a followup thing re: my weird shipping analysis at some point today. But first, I must re-post this XKCD for you. Because biology rules.



(Also, IT IS STILL SNOWING. WE HAVE 10+ INCHES. I DON'T EVEN KNOW WHAT TO THINK WHEN I LOOK OUT THE WINDOW ANYMORE.)

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