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Aphids Sacrifice Themselves to Protect Their Home

“This is my house. I have to defend it,”, the protagonist of Home Alone named Kevin McCallister said firmly. But in the case of Nipponaphis monzeni (Japanese aphids), they literally sacrifice themselves to protect their home. With the intent to fix the holes on their nest, they suicidally erupt as it plasters its bodily fluids on the holes.

From The Atlantic:

Each of these aphids is a white bead, just half a millimeter across. In large numbers, they can compel Japanese trees to form large, hollow spheres called galls—roomy mansions in which hundreds or thousands of them can live. Like ants, bees, and termites, aphids divide their labor: Adults reproduce, while immature nymphs act as both workers and soldiers. If moth caterpillars tunnel their way into the galls, the nymphs stab these intruders to death, using the sharp mouthparts that they normally use to suck sap from trees. That deals with the caterpillar, but what about the huge hole that it leaves in the gall?
The aphid’s solution, discovered in 2003, is dramatic. Dozens or hundreds of the young soldiers will gather around a hole and discharge fluid from a pair of tubes on their backsides. This isn’t a gentle leak but a violent eruption, which drains the nymphs so thoroughly that they shrivel down to just a third of their initial volume. As they dry and die, they also use their legs to mix the fluids over the holes. These harden within an hour, sealing the gap and sometimes entombing the suicide plasterers.

How far would you go to protect your home?

(Image Credit: Mayako Kutsukake / The Atlantic)


In History: Gold Rush Turned Egg Rush

Two years after the discovery of gold deposits in Sutter’s Mill on the year 1848 in California, the population drastically increased from 800 to 20,000. The discovery of prompted one of the largest mass migrations that happened in the history of America.

From Smithsonian:

The feverish growth strained the area’s modest agriculture industry. Farmers struggled to keep up with the influx of hungry forty-niners and food prices skyrocketed. “It was a protein hungry town, but there was nothing to eat,” says Eva Chrysanthe, author of Garibaldi and the Farallon Egg War. “They didn’t have the infrastructure to feed all the hungry male workers.”
Chicken eggs were particularly scarce and cost up to $1.00 apiece, the equivalent of $30 today. “When San Francisco first became a city, its constant cry was for eggs,” a journalist recalled in 1881. The situation became so dire that grocery stores started placing “egg wanted” advertisements in newspapers. An 1857 advertisement in The Sonoma County Journal read: “Wanted. Butter and Eggs for which the highest price will be paid.”
The scramble for eggs drew entrepreneurs to an unusual source: a 211-acre archipelago 26 miles west of the Golden Gate Bridge known as the Farallon Islands. The skeletal string of islets are outcroppings of the continental shelf, made up of ancient, weather-worn granite. “They are a very dramatic place,” says Mary Jane Schramm of the Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary. “They look…like a piece of the moon that fell into the sea.”

I guess you could say that this became a “goldEGG opportunity” for the businessmen.

(Image Credit: New York Public Library via Wikicommons / Smithsonian)


Mush, Spot, Mush!

How strong is the Boston Dynamics quadruped robot Spot (previously at Neatorama)? Maybe we can measure that in horsepower! In this video, a team of ten Spots pull a truck up a one-degree grade. That's pretty strong for their size. And they had to throw in at least one creep factor -only the lead pair have heads. I'm surprised they didn't turn around and laugh at us -as one did in this video. -via Nag on the Lake


The Secret Jewish History Of Those Kosher Fruit Jelly Slices

The foods associated with Passover confound modern processed food manufacturers because they notably have to be kosher, but also have to contain no leavening. While changing recipes for one week's supply of food is not worth it for the largest food suppliers, small businesses fill in the gaps. There's an exception, though- candy. And no candy has become more closely associated with Passover than jellied fruit slices. They are kosher and Passover-ready any time of the year. To see why they became traditional for Passover (after all, the Hebrews did not have them), we need to know the history of the candy and how it is made. 

The fruit jelly slice is an American product invented sometime between the two World Wars in either Winnipeg, Manitoba, or in Boston (two companies claim to have invented it). The shape of the jelly, like the shape of the McDonald’s McRib, pays homage to something that it is not. That something happens to be the candied fruit, grandfather of all modern confections.

First, though, we need to know a little bit about sugar, and the first thing we need to know is that sugar is extremely difficult to work with. Even though it’s been cultivated in small amounts for 8,000 years, refining sugar is so laborious that creating it without government support was next to impossible. The first states with the resources for sugar production were Islamic. For centuries, European sugar was all imported; it wasn’t until the late 14th century that it was manufactured locally, and even then quality varied widely from batch to batch.

Whether you celebrate Passover or not, you'll learn something about the history of candy and sugar itself at Forward. -via Metafilter

Bonus: Make your own jellied fruit candy.

(Image credit: michael clarke stuff)


Simple Twitter Account Fights Sensationalized Science Stories

All the Tweets are the same: a link to a science story and the words "IN MICE." But that's the way it's meant to be. What may seem like an important medical breakthrough, according to the headline, turns out to be the results of an experiment in lab mice (or rats). That doesn't mean the research is bad; it just means that the story is overblown by publishers who want your attention. You've seen it happen before. Study results compete for space in science publications, which issue press releases, the papers take it up, then bloggers, and by the time you hear about it, cancer has been cured. Anyway, data scientist James Heathers came up with @justsaysinmice, launched it last week, and it's already a hit with scientists. He talked to Gizmodo about the idea.

How have people responded to the account?

Heathers: In general, scientists, especially biologists, have written to me and said, “I’m really glad you’ve done this. This is hella funny to me, personally.” And that’s from people who have run cancer centers.

The responses I’ve liked and hated the most have been from people who say they have a kid with a disability, or that they have type 1 diabetes. And they’re saddened every time they have to read about how the next best thing is right around the corner, or their mum sends them something on Facebook, with headlines on how the next cancer cure will be ready in 20 minutes. And I really hate existing in this environment where people are trying to help, and what they think will help just doesn’t work that way. I hate being reminded of that.

But there have also been a few negative responses, not many—the response has been overwhelmingly positive.   

Read the rest of the interview at Gizmodo.


Music to Sleep By

Leaving the piano keys open in a house that has a cat is just asking for middle-of-the-night crescendos. Leaving the works open is just one more place for a cat to nap. This cat is out to prove that you do not evict a cat from his chosen napping spot, no matter what goes on around him. -via Laughing Squid


I Can't Adult Today

I Can't Adult Today Sad Robot

Why wear your heart on your sleave when you can wear your mood on your shirt? It's Wednesday and no adulting shall be done today. Instead choose to work and play with childlike abandon. The adulting can wait until tomorrow. 

Be sure to check out the NeatoShop for more great items. We specialize in hard to find sizes and carry up to 10XL shirts. We believe that fun and fabulous people come in every size. 


Researchers Debunk Sleep Myths

How many hours of sleep do you think adults should have? Four, five, or, seven?

Researchers at NYU (New York University) Langone Health’s School of Medicine conducted a study that was published last Tuesday, with Rebecca Robbins being the lead investigator. She states that there is a link between a person’s waking success and good sleep. But oftentimes, they find themselves debunking sleep myths whether to their families and friends.

From CNN:

Robbins and her colleagues combed through 8,000 websites to discover what we thought we knew about healthy sleep habits and then presented those beliefs to a hand-picked team of sleep medicine experts. They determined which were myths and then ranked them by degree of falsehood and importance to health.

Head over to the article to see the top 10 unhealthy assumptions we make about sleep. And please don’t doze off while reading the article. It is important.

(Image Credit: Yoshikazu TAKADA / Wikimedia)


Streets Blog's Parking Madness Tournament 2019

Parking lots are a drab to the cityscape. They're dull and dreary though they do provide shelter for people's cars. But much could be done to a space to make it more conducive for everyone in the city and that's what Parking Madness tries to highlight.

The second Final Four match in our annual Parking Madness tournament is here — so we’re on step closer to identifying the “Most Improved Parking Crater in (North) America.” Yes, things are getting interesting.

They will be pitting Toronto against Providence and Minneapolis against Pittsburgh for this Final Four.

We’ll be matching up the winners of both of these contests early next week for the championship and a chance at the “Golden Crater,” signifying the most improved former parking lot in a (North) American city.

(Image credit: Streets Blog)


Queso or Cheese Dip?: A Texan's Debacle of Explaining Queso to Out-of-Staters

Is it cheese dip or queso, shorthand for chile con queso? Of course, for the Texan, the answer is quite obvious but what happens when you are dealing with people who aren't familiar with the origins? How do you go about it?

The Texanist gives us a bit of help in this regard. Not to mention, it's just queso that's being name-butchered but guacamole is also being called "avocado dip".

(Image credit: Wackyrussell/Wikimedia Commons)


30 Incredible Bus and Van Conversions

Van Life is a growing subculture of people who transform vans and buses into remarkable mobile homes and then take their lives onto the open road. Because people crave escape from the stresses and problems of everyday life, they find having a minimalist lifestyle at least for a little while intriguing. These tiny mobile houses include all the necessities one would find in a normal house, using ingenious economy of space to fit everything in: ovens, stoves, desks, beds, closets and more.


There is a Species of Bee that Sleeps in Flowers - and It's as Squee as You Think

Bees are a vital part of the ecology, and of human civilization. They pollinate at least one-third of our food crops. However, after being "busy as a bee," they need to rest like any other living thing. Wildlife photog Joe Neely recently got some great pictures of two bees snuggling in a flower. His photos reveal a side of insect lives that humans rarely witness - or contemplate.


Capcom's New Retro Mini-Console, A Throwback to the Early Days of Gaming

With the way gaming has evolved from its graphics to the technology powering the systems, one thing is constant, the experience and joy that one derives from playing a video game.

Video games have been part of this generation's childhood and for those who were lucky enough to have been born during the early days, they have seen the way gaming has changed throughout the years.

But this new mini-console that Capcom will be releasing will put you in a nostalgic euphoria as you will have the chance to play some retro games from Capcom's collection like Street Fighter II: Turbo.

It will consist of 16 games that will throw you way back in the 80s and 90s. For the full list, check them out here.

(Image credit: Ciaran O'Brien/Unsplash)


The Five-Year Notre Dame Restoration Plan

The horrific fire that blazed through Notre Dame Cathedral has been put out and after assessing the damage it wrought, it would take a lot of time before it could be completely restored, says experts.

The French President Emmanuel Macron has vowed to rebuild the 850-year-old cathedral, a jewel at the center of France, within five years. There is much speculation as to how the fire started but it is said that an accident occurred during restoration work being done.

Several private companies have already pledged to contribute to the cathedral's restoration.

(Image credit: Tom S./Wikimedia Commons)


From Warm to Cool Earth: Its Mechanics

Researchers from the University of Reading are looking into the mechanisms in which Earth's climate would transition from a warm one to a very cold one through the fluctuations in solar radiation.

They believe that the Earth enters a "melancholia" state once every ten million years where the whole of Earth's surface will be blanketed in ice. They looked into two feedback mechanisms which would account for these phenomena. You may see the entire research on Physical Review Letters.

(Image credit: NASA/APS)

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