Category Archives: Curiosities of Nature

Geology of Thrones

The folks at Generation Anthropocene have created a geologic history of the fictional world in George R.R. Martin’s Game of Thrones. They walk us through eight eras of geological development that explain the environment in which all the characters you like die horrible (plus one more explanation of how big the planet is). Each post helps you understand both geology and the Game of Thrones world a bit better.

Generation Anthropocene: ALL OF THE MAPS CREATED FOR THIS PROJECT ARE BASED ON MAPS CREATED BY JONATHAN ROBERTS, TEAR, AND THEMOUNTAINGOAT.  CERTAIN ARTISTIC DETAILS (SUCH AS MOUNTAIN RANGES) HAVE BEEN COPIED AND ADAPTED TO SUIT THE NEEDS OF THE GEOLOGIC RECONSTRUCTIONS.

Generation Anthropocene: ALL OF THE MAPS CREATED FOR THIS PROJECT ARE BASED ON MAPS CREATED BY JONATHAN ROBERTS, TEAR, AND THEMOUNTAINGOAT. CERTAIN ARTISTIC DETAILS (SUCH AS MOUNTAIN RANGES) HAVE BEEN COPIED AND ADAPTED TO SUIT THE NEEDS OF THE GEOLOGIC RECONSTRUCTIONS.

If you are interested in how people got around Westeros, you should check out Michael Tyznik’s stylish transit map.

5 Very Good Questions

Nature has published a comment by William P. Hanage suggesting ways to inoculate oneself against the hype associated with the burgeoning field of microbiome studies. As Bethany Brookshire (aka, SciCurious) notes, these questions should be applied to any and all research, not just the microbiome.

1. Can experiments distinguish differences that matter?
2. Does the study show causation or just correlation?
3. What is the mechanism?
4. How much do experiments reflect reality?
5. Could anything else explain the results?
-paraphrased from William P. Hanage in Nature

Mythology is Gross

Genealogy of the Olympians in Greek Mythology (Wikipedia)

Genealogy of the Olympians in Greek Mythology (Wikipedia)

The authors of this encyclopedia do a good job of illustrating that myths have many variant versions.

Samuel Arbesman has a fun, if creepy, post over at Wired on calculating how inbred the Greek gods were. Previously, here at The Finch & Pea, we’ve taken on the inevitable inbreeding that must have occurred in Adam and Eve’s family, which provides some additional explanation of what exactly geneticists mean by “inbreeding coefficient” and what the consequences of inbreeding can be.

I’ve thought about taking on the genetics of the Greek gods before on these grounds, but have always gotten overly hung up on the many variants of the origin stories that often exist for each god. For the gods’ sake, Aphrodite has an origin story that has her arising as a female clone from Uranus’ castrated testicles (most likely due to the SRY gene never being expressed during development).

Doing the things that a particle can…

Particle Clicker is a simple and addictive click-based game developed by undergrads at CERN Webfest. You are cast as the head of a particle accelerator lab striving to make breakthroughs in physics, without all the grant writing and begging governments for money.

Screenshot 2014-08-15 21.01.52

In addition to being aesthetically pleasing – I particularly enjoyed the smashed particle paths when you click on the detector, it is full of information about the physics phenomena you are investigating and humor about the research process.

In its current iteration, the gameplay can get repetitive, but it is well worth at least one play through, if only to read all the information boxes. Also, once you have accumulated enough competent staff, you can simply sit back and let the data accumulate while you enjoy the easy life of a high-profile PI1.

NOTES
1. According to reports, this is only an easy life by the standards of graduate students and post-docs with no hopes of advancement on their traditional career path.

SOURCE: Cory Doctorow at BoingBoing.

Sharks are Cool

This infographic from the California Academy of Sciences and Kristen Kong highlights some of the spectacular diversity of sharks as part of their #CelebrateSharks programming. “Celebrate Sharks” helps to promote scientific information and cultivate interest in these amazing creatures at a time when interest in sharks is stoked by the generally unscientific, fear mongering, and deceitful “Shark Week” on the Discovery Channel.

by Kristen Kong for the California Academy of Sciences (All Rights Reserved; Used with Permission)

by Kristen Kong for the California Academy of Sciences (All Rights Reserved; Used with Permission)

DISCLOSURE STATEMENT: I’ve always thought the goblin shark was the bee’s knees.