Announcement: Join the FF Saturnalia Party 2017.

Categorized | Science

FF’s Lab Letters Issue #3

Hello lovers! Welcome to another edition of Lab Letters, FF’s weekly science micro-post!

Shock! Surprise! And more shock today as the Pope announces plans to abdicate by the end of the month. Within the first few hours of the announcement, Rome was already abuzz with rumors of possible candidates to replace Benedict XVI, including Manila cardinal Luis Tagle. Meanwhile, the job vacancy has attracted a bunch of interesting applicants eager to don the hat and Prada shoes: check out this cover letter from neuroscientist/comedian Dean Burnett!

Speaking of neuroscience…

Colorized fish brain. Great at parties.

(source: Muto et al., Current Biology)

Fish thoughts revealed using laser pointers and food

Japanese scientists have found a way to look inside a brain and watch how thought happens in real time. They did it with baby zebrafish brains, so the thoughts probably went like: “That Paramecium sure looks like a tasty treat!” The fish were bred so that their brain cells contain GCaMP7a, fluorescent proteins that light up when the neurons are active. When the fish saw something moving, say, a bright light or a potential snack, the region of their brains responsible for controlling eye movements lit up like fireworks. See for yourself, watch the video here.


Monopoly kitty: she will kill you with taxes and then her claws


Soft kitty, warm kitty, little ball of death

 A recent report in Nature estimates that cats – both domestic and stray ones – are responsible for a staggering amount of wildlife mortalities in the United States. Their primary targets are birds (2.4 billion/year) and little mammals such as chipmunks and mice (12.3 billion/year), making it a looming conservation crisis. Experts are calling for more adoptions, neuterings, and for cat owners to just keep Mrs. Tuffsy inside the house!


Owls and their twisty heads

Did you ever wonder how owls can twist their heads all around, and not break a neck or burst some blood vessels? A Johns Hopkins dream team of researchers including medical illustrators and neuroradiologists have found out: a combination of expandable blood vessels and extra space in the vertebrae that accommodate stretching/twisting arteries. Hey, you gotta figure something out if your eyeballs can’t move, right?

Here’s a perfect demonstration, among other things:


What’s that? You wanted to sleep tonight? Well tough.


Do you smell that? That’s the musky scent of love in the air. Let’s see how other members of the animal kingdom do it – as if they were humans! Those bonobos sure know how to party.

How cuttlefish get down. Look closer.



And finally, if you’re looking for something to do this Valentine’s Day, we got you covered. Leave your The Notebook DVD and your ice cream pint at home, and join us this Saturday on the 16th as we celebrate Darwin Day with a Darwin Date! We’ll talk about how evolution has shaped love and sexual selection, what the deal is with Pinoy DNA, and talk about Darwin as a freethinker. We even have a mating dating game planned for the more adventurous folks! RSVP here.

See you there, and see you next week for yet another FF LL!  

DISCLAIMER: The opinions in this post do not necessarily represent the position of the Filipino Freethinkers.