Seven-year-old Malea Emma Tjandrawidjaja sure can sing! Watch her rock the national anthem before a soccer match in California.
Biologist Toshihisa Yashiro of the University of Sydney and colleagues have discovered the first-known asexual termite colony in the world. But why get rid of the males?
So why did all-female populations evolve at all? To puzzle out the answer, Yashiro and his colleagues pitted the asexual and sexual termites head-to-head—literally. When they measured the noggins of soldier termites from the all-female and mixed-sex colonies, the researchers found that, unsurprisingly, those in female-only colonies looked a lot more alike. But in this case, uniformity wasn’t necessarily a bad thing.
With their relatively unarmored bodies, termites aren’t built for the offensive. Instead, when the colony is under attack, the insect’s main mode of defense often involves plugging the entrances to their nests with their own heads. A variety of head sizes could actually be a burden rather than a boon, meaning the loss of males may have actually empowered these female fighters to survive an assault.
Read the rest over at this article by Katherine Wu over at the Smithsonian
Photo: Mature termite queen surrounded by workers and soldiers. (CSIRO/CC BY 3.0)
Eighteen-year-old teen Aldi Novel Adilang's job was to keep the lamps aboard a fishing hut lit to attract fish - but when heavy winds knocked the floating hut off its mooring, he was swept out to sea:
Aldi had what the Jakarta Post described as "one of the loneliest jobs in the world," as a lamp keeper for a floating fish aggregator called a "rompong." The vessel is compromised of a modest hut on top of a raft of logs. Aldi's job was to keep the lamps lit at night to attract fish for a period of six months.
Stationed 125 kilometers (77 miles) out to sea off the coast of Indonesia's North Sulawesi region, Aldi's only human contact was a weekly delivery of supplies or via a walkie-talkie.
But on July 14, strong winds unmoored the small vessel, which had no engine and no paddle on board, and blew it thousands of miles away from home toward the remote US island territory of Guam.
After his supplies ran out, Aldi began catching fish from the sea and burning small portions of the rompong's wooden base to cook them on.
Read the rest over at DW
San Francisco is a lovely place to visit, offering tons of charm and history, but if you want to live there, it's going to cost you dearly. The laws and regulations that made the city a struggle for lowly working people and their families go back to its early days as a seaport enriched by the Gold Rush. It began with zoning restrictions on boarding houses and laundries, supposedly to set decent living standards, but the desired effect was to drive out Chinese workers. That kind of "local control" continued into the 20th century to favor landowners over various immigrants, minority groups, and the poor. City officials introduced urban renewal projects to fight "blight," the federal government contributed redlining through the FHA, and neighborhoods had their own discriminatory covenants. San Francisco refined its land use and building codes over time, with both intended and unintended consequences that marginalized longtime residents without money or clout. It continued with a rezoning effort in 1978.
It’s clear that many San Franciscans were well aware this rezoning would lead the city toward a housing crisis. The planning commissioners, however, were not moved. Their testimony throughout the hearings made it clear they valued maintaining the city’s predominately suburban layout over affordability. In response to a homeowner who was unhappy that his property would be downzoned to allow fewer units, commissioner Sue Bierman gave a quintessential anti-growth response—countering that San Franciscans were concerned about parking, traffic, and sunlight reaching their backyards, embracing a shift toward zoning that would preserve “more comfortable neighborhoods.” Instead of listening to those folks worried about becoming homeless, the commissioners focused on the single-family homeowners worried about shadows on their yards and parking for their cars.
In the final minutes of the June 27, 1978, meeting, San Francisco’s planning commissioners prepared to approve the EIR, along with its damning final clause, which explained that the project would reduce the amount of housing that could legally be built in San Francisco. “As a result the cost of housing may increase, and that with increasing housing costs, some population groups may find it difficult to live in San Francisco. The proposed zoning will affect the low- and moderate-income households more than any other group and mitigation measures are proposed to help alleviate this impact.”
But commissioner Bierman said she was “troubled” by this statement, and commissioner Nakashima agreed, complaining that it wasn’t the solely the planning department’s fault if housing prices continued to rise. Commissioner Rosenblatt suggested removing the clause entirely—and that’s exactly what they did, erasing their acknowledgement of the plan’s disastrous effects from the document moments before approving it.
Read a substantial history of city planning that led to today's housing crisis in San Francisco at Collectors Weekly.
The 2019 senior class of North Farmington High School of Farmington Hills, Michigan dressed up for their school id cards as their favorite celebrities, memes, and movie/television characters. The students use a simple #NFID19 hashtag to catalog them on twitter. This tradition has been going on at the high school for years. The senior class of 2018 was able to get everyone involved.
Check out all the current senior year's id photos at
If my school had id cards back in the day, it probably would have been full of Ferris Buellers and Material Girl Madonnas!
(Image source: redditor Nopeasuoli)
Can you read what this wall painting is supposed to say? The words are placed fairly randomly, and one is even split in two. The original saying is "May all who came as guests leave as friends," but those words were put into a jar and shaken before they were thrown at the wall. At least no one was expected to eat them.
(Image source: redditor peacelovinhippy)
And you have to wonder what the original purpose for this bowl was, since it does not hold food. These are just two examples of inexplicable attempts to make a restaurant memorable. Or maybe there was no real attempt at all. You'll find all 19 compiled at Buzzfeed.
You know how naturalists of the Middle Ages described (or imagined) strange animals as combinations of known animals? You can make your own now! Kajetan Obarski and Igor Hardy made an online generator that combines two animals, illustrated by 17th century engraver Matthaus Merian, into a new animal. Try out the Hybridizer yourself, and see how weird a new creature you can create. -via Nag on the Lake
Lucas, the adorable young spider animated by Joshua Slice, is a jumping spider. That's nice to know, but it turns out that jumping spiders do not spin webs. But don't tell Lucas that he can't do something. He'll show you!
Scientists from Yale-NUS College and the University of Fribourg have discovered a novel color-generating mechanism used by the iridescent rainbow weevil to create a spectrum of colors:
... the researchers determined that the scales of the insect were composed of a 3D photonic crystalline structure made from chitin, the main ingredient in insect exoskeletons. They further discovered that the vibrant rainbow colors on this weevil’s scales are caused by two factors: the size of the crystal structure that makes up each scale, and the volume of chitin used to form the crystal structure. Larger scales have a larger crystalline structure and use a larger volume of chitin to reflect red light; smaller scales have a smaller crystalline structure and use a smaller volume of chitin to reflect blue light.
“The ability to produce these structures, which are able to provide a high color fidelity regardless of the angle you view it from, will have applications in any industry which deals with color production,” said Yale-NUS professor Vinodkumar Saranathan. "We can use these structures in cosmetics and other pigmentations to ensure high-fidelity hues, or in digital displays in your phone or tablet, which will allow you to view it from any angle and see the same true image without any color distortion. We can even use them to make reflective cladding for optical fibers to minimize signal loss during transmission."
(Image: Dr. Bodo D. Wilts)
Got an idea for a TV show? Good luck. That idea is just the beginning of a long and stressful process of getting a show made. It involves lots of money, a bunch of people, changes at every step of the way, and then you have a pilot. That's when it gets really interesting, but no less stressful. Vanity Fair takes us through the process quickly, and you can see how risky it is to work in the industry. But it can also be very rewarding. -via Tastefully Offensive