U.S. Lawmaker Proposes New Criteria for Choosing NSF Grants – ScienceInsider

As much as I would like to make my posts light-hearted and educational, this is just too important to ignore. Funding for scientific research and education has been gutted in recent years to levels that are already leaving the U.S. behind the curve compared to many other countries, particularly in Europe and Asia. If this country has any expectations to keep up with the rest of the world economically and educationally in the future, we need to vote nearly every last Republican out of office. I just don’t see any other way. The GOP as a party continues to demonstrate a level of ignorance that is short-sighted, harmful to our society, and irresponsible to future generations both here and around the globe.

U.S. Lawmaker Proposes New Criteria for Choosing NSF Grants – ScienceInsider


Do Sex Starved Flies Drown Their Sorrows in Alcohol?

ResearchBlogging.orgA recent study suggesting male fruit flies sexually rejected by females turn to alcohol (Shohat-Ophir et al. 2012) has received a lot of colorful (and questionable) media attention. The New York Times poetically suggests that males are “using alcohol as a balm for unfulfilled desire”, TIME magazine says “When she says no, the bottle beckons more brightly — for men and for fruit flies” and a blog for the LA Times eloquently proclaims this “confirms that the proclivity to get shit-faced after being sexually rejected isn’t exclusive to dive bar sad-sacks”. Colorful interpretations aren’t unique to the media; below is a figure from the Science perspective paper (Zars 2012):

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Solar-powered sea slugs are energy-efficient thieves.

Every animal needs energy to live, and they usually get it by ingesting other living things. We’ve all seen videos of predators hunting down and killing their favorite prey, or docile herbivores munching on grass, leaves, or berries. But one group of animals has evolved a strategy to harness energy that’s a bit more complex and far more clever than simply finding something and eating it. Sacoglossan sea slugs are close relatives of the more colorful and better-known group of slugs called nudibranchs.

Nudibranchs are carnivorous – they prey on sponges, cnidariansbryozoans, and even cannibalize other members of their own species. Sacoglossans, on the other hand, are more like their hippie vegan cousins. They feed on green algae using a specialized tooth-like feeding structure common to all snails and slugs called a radula. A sacoglossan sea slug uses its radula to pierce cell walls, allowing it to suck out all those sweet, sweet algal juices.

Close up view of functional chloroplasts in the tissues of Elysia crispata.
Photo courtesy of Patrick J. Krug.

Okay, so some sea slugs are vegan, but what’s so clever about that? Continue reading