Nature involves Science, too! (Nobody Cares...)

CronoCloud Creeggan

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That monkey has a "dafuq" look on their face at the end. "that leaf became a bug? WTF?"

So I was just looking up the people you mentioned vis-a-vis their work with dolphins, and with this guy I think I dug a little too deep and boy was I punished for that transgression.
The dolphins trying to have sex with humans? Like when a dolphin kept running its penis against Carl Sagan?
 

Dakota Tebaldi

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The dolphins trying to have sex with humans? Like when a dolphin kept running its penis against Carl Sagan?
No no. Dolphins are already notorious for that. This was....different.
 

Dakota Tebaldi

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danielravennest

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We are not Alone - Earth has a couple of pet asteroids that inhabit the L4 region ahead of us in our orbit around the Sun. The second one was just confirmed to be of the "Trojan" type.

2010 TK7 is about 400 meters in diameter, and 2020 XL5 is about 1200 meters in diameter. Assuming they are similar to the two nearby asteroids we recently visited and extracted samples from, i.e. rubble piles with a density of 1.26, their combined mass would be around 1.18 Gigatons. Their orbits are exactly one year long, so they keep pace with Earth, but they are tilted. So visiting them would require doing an out-of-plane flyby of Earth after nearly escaping, then coming back for the flyby, and finally fully escaping and go in their direction.
 

Govi

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We are not Alone - Earth has a couple of pet asteroids that inhabit the L4 region ahead of us in our orbit around the Sun. The second one was just confirmed to be of the "Trojan" type.

2010 TK7 is about 400 meters in diameter, and 2020 XL5 is about 1200 meters in diameter. Assuming they are similar to the two nearby asteroids we recently visited and extracted samples from, i.e. rubble piles with a density of 1.26, their combined mass would be around 1.18 Gigatons. Their orbits are exactly one year long, so they keep pace with Earth, but they are tilted. So visiting them would require doing an out-of-plane flyby of Earth after nearly escaping, then coming back for the flyby, and finally fully escaping and go in their direction.
What does this mean: "but they are tilted"? Lagrange points are co-planar with the secondary's (Earth's, the Sun being the primary) orbit. Or are these "Trojans" orbiting L4 at a substantial orbital diameter? Such an L4 orbit would suggest that they're only temporarily at L4 and will be gone soon. Just how big can an orbit around L4 be?

For that matter, how big is the Webb Space Telescope's orbit around L2?
 

danielravennest

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What does this mean: "but they are tilted"? Lagrange points are co-planar with the secondary's (Earth's, the Sun being the primary) orbit. Or are these "Trojans" orbiting L4 at a substantial orbital diameter? Such an L4 orbit would suggest that they're only temporarily at L4 and will be gone soon. Just how big can an orbit around L4 be?

For that matter, how big is the Webb Space Telescope's orbit around L2?
The Lagrange "points" are mathematical solutions where gravitational forces balance out. L4 and L5 are stable points, meaning a stationary object will be drawn towards them. Imagine a very shallow bowl. If you release a marble it will role towards the center, then climb the other side. If you send it sideways it can roll around in circles and not reach the bottom. That's what is happening with the two Earth trojans, and the thousands of Jupiter Trojans. The first picture is a map of the Sun-Earth situation. But in reality it is three dimensional. Asteroids can bob up and down as well as move horizontally, and still stay in the area. So their orbits do in fact bob up and down, on an annual cycle, amounting to a 19 and 13 degree tilt relative to Earth's orbit.

Both asteroids are in fact temporary. That's because Venus' orbit brings it fairly close to them sometimes, and changes their orbits. The new one is expected to wander away in about 4000 years. Theoretically Mars would too, but Venus is 8 times as massive as Mars and physically in a closer orbit to Earth's

The second picture is the Solar System out to Jupiter's orbit, which is the outer blue circle. The blue dots on the lower right and left sides of that circle are the Jupiter Trojans, of which there are 11,626 currently known. Jupiter is halfway between them above the letter y in "by" in the bottom text. It's hard to see the circle marking it due to bad color choice. There are also three clumps of small green dots just inside of Jupiter's orbit. Two are near the Trojans, and one is at the top. Those are some of the 5,254 "Hildas" who are in a 3:2 resonance orbit with Jupiter. They go around the Sun 3 times for every two Jupiter does. Trojans are in a 1:1 resonance, going around at the same speed. Resonant orbits act somewhat like Trojans, because the planet is in the same relative position frequently. Pluto is in a 2:3 resonant orbit with Neptune, making it Neptune's gravitational bitch, another reason it isn't a real planet.

Webb's orbit around L2 is shown in the third picture. It's larger than the Moon's orbit around Earth. The three views are from the top, side, and front relative to Earth's orbit plane. The first picture shows red inwards arrows at L2. So gravity is attracting you if you circling in that plane. If you are closer or farther from Earth, you get pushed away. But since Webb's orbit is on both sides of the right distance, it averages out. The reason they are circling rather than sitting at L2 is avoiding the Earth and Moon's shadows. It needs solar power to operate, and going in the shade would mess up the temperature controls and telescope focus.





 
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Govi

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In our quest to find what makes humans unique, we often compare ourselves with our closest relatives: the great apes. But when it comes to understanding the quintessential human capacity for language, scientists are finding that the most tantalizing clues lie farther afield.
These parallels have motivated an explosion of research in recent decades, says ethologist Julia Hyland Bruno of Columbia University, who studies social aspects of song learning in zebra finches. “Lots of people have made analogies between language and birdsong,” she says.

Hyland Bruno studies zebra finches because they are more social than most migratory birds—they like to travel in small bands that occasionally gather into larger groups. “I’m interested in how it is that they learn their culturally transmitted vocalizations in these groups,” says Hyland Bruno, coauthor of a paper in the 2021 Annual Review of Linguistics comparing birdsong learning and culture with human language.
 

bubblesort

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The name 'gypsy moth' offends the romani, so the Etymological Society of America came together to rename it the 'spongy moth'. Looks like a good change to me.

 
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bubblesort

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I thought I'd help the situation, by making a warning sign for falling deer:

 

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When we think of evolution, we often think of slow, gradual changes made over millions of years. However, new research suggests that the process could be happening quite quickly, driving major changes over the course of a single year in response to seasonal changes.

The paper describing that research was released last week and studies evolution in fruit flies over around 10 generations, with each generation of flies spanning less than a dozen days. While fruit flies are notoriously short-lived, and the distance between their generations is tiny, evolution could be happening quicker than previously anticipated even in longer-lived organisms.
 

Beebo Brink

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I just finished a book about primate/hominid fossil hunting (Fossil Men) that touched on how the conventional assumptions about evolution (slow, gradual, incremental changes in DNA through mutations) are being upended.

For instance, there was a lot of hulabaloo about humans and chimps sharing 98.8% for our DNA. Turns out, however, that a lot of very different and widely divergent species still share a large percent of DNA. Humans share 90% of our DNA with cats, 85% with mice. Slugs come in at 70% shared DNA! So very small changes in DNA obviously have a very large effect.

An emerging theory is that animals share the DNA for basic body parts, as if they were common toolkits. What makes the expression of those body parts so different is a host of genes that regulate the rate of growth. So the big differences in morphology between species may in fact be the result of small tweaks in the timing and rate of the growth of body parts during fetal and infant stages. I immediately thought of the way that all puppies tend to look very much alike (and not that different from bear cubs), until they start growing into their breed profile. Chihuahua versus Great Dane, it's all in the where you take the body parts.

The implications for evolution are intriguing. What appear to be puzzling and wide-spread "gaps" in the fossil record, where species seem to suddenly appear in an ecosystem, may not be due to missing transition specimens. The appearance of giant leaps in morphology may in fact BE exactly that -- a sudden leap to a new configuration.
 

Veritable Quandry

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The assumption of slow, gradual evolution were pretty well upended when Eldredge and Gould published the first paper on punctuated equilibrium, which proposes that most species are stable for the majority of their range until events lead to the need for rapid change, at which point they adapt or become extinct in a short period of time. Published in 1972.
 
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Beebo Brink

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The assumption of slow, gradual evolution were pretty well upended when Eldredge and Gould published the first paper on punctuated equilibrium, which proposes that most species are stable for the majority of their range until events lead to the need for rapid change, at which point they adapt or become extinct in a short period of time. Published in 1972.
The new DNA theories provide the "how" to punctuated equilibrium, which adds more validity to the entire paradigm.
 
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