Friday, February 20, 2009

Top 9 Articles in the Journal Science in the Past Few Months

As part of my job, I have to read scholarly journals so I can stay up do date on, um, science things. One such journal is Science. Now, I usually only read the articles that are related to developments in neuroscience, but every once in a while, there's a gem that you can't ignore. The lesson is this: there are millions and millions of dollars being spent on figuring out how bugs do it and what noises they make while doing it.

9. Queen Ants Make Distinctive Sounds That Are Mimicked by a Butterfly Social Parasite

Francesca Barbero, Jeremy A Thomas, Simona Bonelli, Emilio Balletto, and Karsten Schönrogge, published 6 February 2009

Sounds made by queen ants denoting rank are copied by the larvae and pupae of a parasitic butterfly, facilitating their infiltration into ant colonies.

"We conclude that acoustical mimicry provides another route for infiltration for ~10,000 species of social parasites that cheat ant societies."

Finally, the scientists are speaking for the ants.

8. Broadband Ground-Plane Cloak
R. Liu, C. Ji, J. J. Mock, J. Y. Chin, T. J. Cui, and D. R. Smith, published 16 January 2009

An automated design process arranges thousands of metamaterial components to cloak an object on a metal surface.

"The possibility of cloaking an object from detection by electromagnetic waves has recently become a topic of considerable interest."


7. Strong Release of Methane on Mars in Northern Summer 2003
Michael J. Mumma, Geronimo L. Villanueva, Robert E. Novak, Tilak Hewagama, Boncho P. Bonev, Michael A. DiSanti, Avi M. Mandell, and Michael D. Smith, published 20 February 2009

Earth-based spectrometers have detected seasonal variations of methane emissions from certain locations on Mars in 2003.

"In northern midsummer, the principal plume contained ~19,000 metric tons of methane, and the estimated source strength (≥0.6 kilogram per second) was comparable to that of the massive hydrocarbon seep at Coal Oil Point in Santa Barbara, California."


6. Avian Paternal Care Had Dinosaur Origin
David J. Varricchio, Jason R. Moore, Gregory M. Erickson, Mark A. Norell, Frankie D. Jackson, and John J. Borkowski, published 19 December 2008

The large egg clutches of troodontid and oviraptor dinosaurs and evidence that fossils of brooding dinosaurs were males shows that paternal care was ancestral to birds.

"To assess parental care in Cretaceous troodontid and oviraptorid dinosaurs, we examined clutch volume and the bone histology of brooding adults."

Heh, heh... broody dinosaurs boning.

5. Brown Clouds over South Asia: Biomass or Fossil Fuel Combustion?
Örjan Gustafsson, Martin Kruså, Zdenek Zencak, Rebecca J. Sheesley, Lennart Granat, Erik Engström, P. S. Praveen, P. S. P. Rao, Caroline Leck, and Henning Rodhe, published 23 January 2009

Biomass burning accounts for at least one-half of carbon-rich aerosols in the Asian atmospheric brown cloud that forms each winter.

Brown Clouds over South Asia: Biomass, Fossil Fuel Combustion... OR AWESOME PROG-ROCK CONCEPT ALBUM TITLE!?!?!?!

4. The Spreading of Disorder
Kees Keizer, Siegwart Lindenberg, and Linda Steg, published 12 December 2008

Upon observing signs of social disorder (such as littering or graffiti), individuals are more likely to disobey a variety of social rules, including prohibitions against theft.

"Imagine that the neighborhood you are living in is covered with graffiti, litter, and unreturned shopping carts. Would this reality cause you to litter more, trespass, or even steal?"

Wait, wait, wait... what's wrong with unreturned shopping carts? You can't play with them if you return them!

3. Selfish Genetic Elements Promote Polyandry in a Fly
T. A. R. Price, D. J. Hodgson, Z. Lewis, G. D. D. Hurst, and N. Wedell, published 21 November 2008

Genes that confer a deleterious sex ratio in Drosophila also decrease male fertility and promote repetitive mating in females, providing a possible explanation of polyandry.

"It is unknown why females mate with multiple males when mating is frequently costly and a single copulation often provides enough sperm to fertilize all a female's eggs."

Yah, tell me about it. HOLLER!

2. A Great-Appendage Arthropod with a Radial Mouth from the Lower Devonian Hunsrück Slate, Germany
Gabriele Kühl, Derek E. G. Briggs, and Jes Rust, published 6 February 2009

Fossil evidence for the great-appendage arthropods extends to more recent periods by about 100 million years.

"Schinderhannes bartelsi shows an unusual combination of anomalocaridid and euarthropod characters, including a highly specialized swimming appendage."

Yeah, those arthropods better have a radial mouth if their appendages are so great. (Prehistoric entomology and blowjob jokes do mix!)

1. Harmonic Convergence in the Love Songs of the Dengue Vector Mosquito
Lauren J. Cator, Ben J. Arthur, Laura C. Harrington, and Ronald R. Hoy, published 20 February 2009

Male and female mosquitoes change their wing beat frequencies to match each other as a prelude to mating.

"These findings revise widely accepted limits of acoustic behavior in mosquitoes."

Awwwwww, groundbreaking and adorable!

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