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This article explains how scientists created a new species of lizard not by genetic engineering, but by crossbreeding.  The hybrids are typically not fertile but can reproduce by parthenogenesis.  Whiptailed lizards can wind up with two sets of genes from different species.  But apparently some hybrids are sexually fertile because there have been species with three and even four sets of genes -- created by a monogenetic male mating with a female who has multiple sets.

Most of the time I posit that interspecies sex would not produce viable or fertile offspring in science fiction.  But several times I've written a basis for interspecies procreation, and it tends to be because the alien species is predisposed  to reproduce with the assistance of a different species.  On Earth, for example, there is the cuckoo; and now this, with actual crossbreeding.  It would be interesting if the alien species had the parthenogenesis option.
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NASA just emailed a wrench to space.

While everyone else is geeking out over the idea of emailing a wrench, I'm over here thinking, "Damn, that is a great way to save on cargo weight!  Instead of expending  massive effort to send everything astronauts might need, we can instead send a smaller amount of materials to make stuff they need, and they can make exactly what they need when they need it."  That will work for everything that can be made of currently 3D printable materials and isn't needed all the time.  Send basic high-need supplies and stuff we can't just fab up yet.  Use the 3D printer to make the rest.  Even a very small  savings in cargo weight adds up very fast.

Space just got a lot more habitable.  :D
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
Some languages connect to others through translation.  English is by the far the strongest in this regard.  Russian, French, Spanish, German, and Chinese also make good hubs.  That gives these languages more global influence.
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
 Just in case you thought only modern art needed a secret decoder ring, check out this Anglo-Saxon stuff.
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Here's an interview about Lucy, one of my all-time favorite fossils. 
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
 ... apparently stays there even if the language is discontinued.

I think the weirdest effect I've gotten is that the Spanish in my brain kept growing  after I stopped studying it.  I can parse things now that I know we never studied in class.
ysabetwordsmith: (moment of silence)
Famous TV producer Glen A. Larson has passed away.  Among my favorites were his shows Battlestar Galactica  (the original) and Knight Rider.
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
This article includes a soundtrack of comet sounds

I have written a poem about it, "The Singing Comet," which also fills the "magnetometry" square for the Science Bingo fest.  9 lines, Buy It Now = $5
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
 ... in mythical creatures like unicorns, and gym teachers who aren't sadists, because every once in a while people sight them.
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
Hormones in breast milk communicate things about the mother to her baby, which influence the baby's development. 
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
Here's an article about how time itself could end.

In my observation, nature is cyclical.  So then, entropy and syntropy are equal and opposite forces which maintain a balance that keeps the universe -- or multiverse -- functioning.  Things wind down, and then wind up again.  Rain falls, runs down rivers to the ocean, evaporates and becomes rain again.  Gassy, fiery stars die, and beget solid lifebearing planets.

Think of time like gravity.  When you are living a life, it seems linear, the way when you're on a planet gravity seems to be for sticking you to the ground.  But between lives, time is perceptible as a mass; just as in space, gravity is what connects large moving bodies in a complex dance.  The same thing can seem quite different from different perspectives.  So don't think that time is static or mortal.  It is a many-splendored thing, and you cannot see all of it from where you're standing now.
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
No, not spies on television.  Televisions that spy on people.  Things like this are why I'm getting less and less inclined to buy new stuff.  It tends to come with dealbreaker features.  Given a choice between being abused or going without important goods and services, I usually choose to go without.  This frustrates me.  With a television, not so much, because they've pretty much lost my eyeballs forever for a million different reasons.  But other stuff moving in the same direction really worries me.
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
If you live in Hawai'i then you have to accept that this is Pele's home.  She might decide to cover it with lava at any time.  This is a thing which happens.  If having your home covered with lava bothers you, then you should not live near a volcano.  It is vitally important not to piss off the Fire Goddess because when she throws a tantrum, the amount of lava getting flung about is really quite a lot larger.

I am still amused by the people some years ago who, before evacuating, set out an offering table for Pele with the best wine and white linens and a splendid feast.

The lava stopped a few feet short of their yard, parted around the house, and demolished the rest of the neighborhood.  There was a picture of it in a magazine.  :D
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
Here's an article about parallel universes.  My thoughts ...

1) I really don't understand some people's obsession with insisting that everything must make sense.

2) Good luck getting all of my universes upside-down at once, or indeed, oriented in any other congruent direction simultaneously.  


ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
Here is a chemical comparison of different types of blood in Terran lifeforms: red, blue, green, and violet.  So if you want to make alien blood a different color, these are guaranteed viable.
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
Here's a comparison of media sources by trustworthiness across different social groups.  I think I'd put Al Jazeera and BBC at the top of my list, although I prefer the non-American version of Al Jazeera when English is available from it.  I have found Mother Jones and Huffington Post pretty reliable; Daily Kos and Think Progress have some useful stuff.  In general, I distrust American media now, as most of it is propaganda meant to flatter corporate owners.  I prefer venues with a variety of viewpoints to monofocal ones, because anyone with an ulterior interest or party line makes me suspect they're cropping the data to fit it.
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
This crowdfunding project focused on clothes for people with Down syndrome, who often have different body proportions from average.
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
This article claims to be about decision-making during sleep, but it's actually about learning during sleep.  See this one for the part about decision-making.  Basically, your brain keeps going while you sleep.  How sophisticated its behavior is during that time depends on a combination of innate talent and learned skill.  Both of these things -- sleep-learning and decision-making -- are easy for some people, achievable for others, and out of reach for some.  If you have the potential, you can develop it.

Sleep-learning is about backloading the subconscious part of your mind with information.  In my experience, this is most effective with iceberg material, where the majority of import lies within the subconscious mind.  For example, in learning a foreign language, vocabulary and grammar tend to go in the conscious mind but pronunciation, tone, native intuition, etc. go into the subconscious mind.  So playing that language while you sleep will help you learn how it's supposed to sound, and then when you wake up, you speak it better.

Decision-making works the opposite.  You go to sleep with everything already in mind, your subconscious processes it, and spits out an answer that comes to you when you wake up.  This works by letting your mind mull over things without being distracted by what you think  you should be thinking.

And of course, if you're a writer or other creative person, you probably have the experience of waking up in the middle of the night with a really hot idea.  Because your creative brain is kind of like a toddler just waiting for waking-you to fall asleep so it can pull everything out of the cupboards, see what fits together, and wake you up with a terrific crash.

There are have been people who say these techniques do not work.  That does not stop those of us who are using them from getting great results.  They're just things that not everyone can do, and they're not in an easy place to study or measure.  But there are starting to be glimmers of confirmation.

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