Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Yay for my being linked to terrorism! Also; some cool science news!

` I was in my psychology class today when two security officers came down to talk to me. I said 'what's going on? Did someone break into my car? Am I a witness to a crime?' They couldn't actually tell me what was going on until we were in the security office, so I got to play a fun game of 20 questions on the way.
` Well, it turns out that when you let something really melodramatic slip, even if it's in a goofy voice, and it happens to be something like, 'Have a good day and don't explode suddenly because everyone loves you and we'll miss you! Also, the blood and all is a real pain to clean up!' you can get into trouble if the person you told it to is your journalism teacher who apparently has nothing but school shootings on her mind at the moment and no time to consider that your twisted comments are merely your sense of humor instead of some insight into yet another school shooting.
` Whoops. I'd completely forgotten about that! Strangely, this is because I have no interest in general news at all. So, why be in a journalism class? I prefer science news only! I don't want school shootings and bombings to be on my mind because it affects me very badly. Who knows? I could even take someone's stupid joke way out of context!!

` Speaking of science news, I found a whole bunch of cool stuff in Nature News. Here are my three favorites:

` First, a piece of Predictive News: There was this article about alien plants! Why? Because if there are alien plants, and we could figure out what color they would be, then maybe we could discover which planets look like they have plant life!
` Nancy Kiang is the NASA biometeorologist behind this strange scheme. Already we know that Earth has purple photosynthetic bacteria, red and brown seaweeds and green land plants. They show these particular wavelengths because those are the ones that get blocked out.
` Our sun gives off a whole lot of green light compared to other colors - yet land plants block it out! It was once thought that absorbing green light was not biologically possible for some reason and was just another example of one of those weird and inefficient limitations of evolution. However, considering the fact that red light is more rich in photons and that blue light is higher in energy, it appears that this may simply be because red and blue light are more nutritious than green.
` And, since blue is so high in energy, the team thinks that any kind of photosynthesizer would be eager to soak up blue light - so bright blue leaves may only be as likely on other planets as on earth.
` As for planets lit by red dwarf stars - which barely emit any visible light compared to our sun - photosynthesizing life forms would probably absorb all the available light. Hence, those alien plants would likely be black.

` Now for something brand new: Two years ago, a piece of Tyrannosaurus flesh was discovered, and finally a protein from those remains has been sequenced! This protein - the triple-helix connective molecule known as collagen - was compared to be closest to a chicken's more than any other animal that it could be compared to. (Not much of a surprise there - the oocytes were found to be most similar to those of an ostrich.)
` Of course, T. rex's collagen may be even more similar to that of a crocodile, but there was none available for study. Also not available are the protein sequences of other dinosaurs, though co-author Mary Schweitzer encourages the dissolving of more dinosaur bones in the hopes that any other proteins may be found.
` "Most curators of dinosaur palaeontology don't like me," she says "They like to keep their bones intact."
Then again, if more people do as she does, perhaps someday we'll find some more dinosaur proteins, which could help to establish who's most related to whom!

` My last article of note relates to the kinds of stuff we are taught in psychology class: The German research ministry has done a real first by commissioning nine German neuroscientists, educationalists, psychologists etc. specializing in music to systematically review the literature on the claimed effects that music has on intelligence.
` These claims were started because of Frances Rauscher's work on finding that people are better at recognizing patterns or folding paper after they had listened to Mozart for ten minutes. Though many subsequent studies found this phenomenon to be elusive or temporary, and to apply to any type of music or even story reading, the 'Mozart effect' had taken on a life of its own in the music industry and the media.
` In fact, it became so confused that even studies showing that the brain is affected by learning to play a musical instrument were mixed up with the idea that passively listening to music has the same kinds of effects. All in all, the 'Mozart effect' itself is nonsense, though there may yet be some merit in playing a musical instrument.

` Well, it's late now and Lou has gone to Portland for the night because he has an audition there in the morning. I do hope that goes well. If it does, he could wind up being a creepy guy in a horror movie who says things like 'I should always listen to mother...'.
` I know, it's amazingly retarded, but would probably be a good source of income and Vitamin B 12!


Dan said...

Yay for being linked to terrorism? What's next? Being an actual terrorist? :)

I hope Lou gets that role. Maybe they could use you as an extra?

Galtron said...

Yes, it would be a shame if you weren't in the movie somewhere. Didn't you once say you were an extra? Maybe this time you could move up to someone who explodes melodramatically?

You know, that's a good idea, to not follow the news! It skews people's minds and yours is skewed enough! ...... in a good way!!!

Also I want to say I found that the planet Hjwprk is visibly full of blue plants so the hypothesis that blue plants are too inefficient goes out the window!
Unless those are giant fleas. I can see... they're moving! YEARRRRRRGH!

Anonymous said...

Interesting science facts, Miss Quine. Especially the "music makes you clever" one.

Mozart may make a person more intelligent, but I suspect that it'll take more than a few episodes of "American Idol" to drastically raise our IQs. :)

S E E Quine said...

` Aw, you can handle them, Galtron! Surely you can do something that will make them all collectively groan; "Raid!?!"

` Well, Winters, that's why I never have watched American Idol. Hey, what are you doing watching that if you live in France? Don't tell me they have that show over there?! My God! The poor Frenchies! Being exposed to American Stupidity!

Aaron said...

Sometime I feel threatened by your presence Spoony... or maybe it's the presence of nociceptor. I could see why you'd be a 'person of interest' for the powers that be ;)

locomocos said...

where are yooooooooou???

did Lou get into that film? you GOTTA fill us IN!!!

Crabby said...

ugh huh. So...you're basically innocent?
bwaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa ha ha ha ha ha!

S E E Quine said...

` Sorry I've been relatively absent, guys. I will have a new post up before too long.

` I agree, Aaron! Not only that, but the way I look shiftily around is definitely cause for suspicion... that I have eye strain from doing too much computer homework! ;D

` Cassie, we haven't heard back from the film people, so we don't know how Lou did. Well, hey, it's been a week and a day today, I figure if they were interested they would have called him back by now....

` I'm glad you're ah, innocent, Crabby. ...Of what I don't want to find out! ...Except now I do because you got me all curious!

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