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October 18, 2021

25 Most Iconic Book Covers Ever

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[Peter Benchley, "Jaws"; cover design by Paul Bacon, 1974]



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[Anthony Burgess, "A Clockwork Orange"; cover design by David Pelham, 1972]



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[Ralph Ellison, "Invisible Man"; cover design by Edward McKnight Kauffer, 1952]



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[Aldous Huxley, "Brave New World"; cover design by Leslie Holland, 1932]



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[F. Scott Fitzgerald, "The Great Gatsby"; cover design by Francis Cugat, 1925]



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[Jane Austen, "Pride and Prejudice"; cover design by Hugh Thomson, 1894]


See them all here.

October 18, 2021 at 04:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

'Incredibly Ancient Tardigrade From 16 Million Years Ago Is Like a Ghost Across Time'


[The tardigrade highlighted is so tiny that it went unnoticed in the well-studied piece of amber for months. It was initially considered an inclusion in the corner, incidental to the three different ant species trapped in the amber along with a beetle and a flower.]

From Science Alert:

A fossilized tardigrade found in Dominican amber constitutes a rare branch of the family tree for these almost  indestructible creatures.

The specimen hails back to the Miocene, around 16 million years ago, and is only the third tardigrade preserved in amber to be fully described and named. Scientists say this scarcity is because they're so small, and their bodies don't produce minerals that survive the ages.

At any rate, the tiny creature, representing a new species, can help us fill in the evolutionary history of tardigrades, a phylum that somehow managed to survive every mass extinction we know of. Its discoverers have named it Paradoryphoribius chronocaribbeus, and identified it as a member of the modern tardigrade superfamily, Isohypsibioidea.


[This close-up lateral view of Paradoryphoribius chronocaribbeus shows how it looks through a stereomicroscope. The horizontal black scale line at bottom represents 0.5mm.]

"The discovery of a fossil tardigrade is truly a once-in-a-generation event," says biologist Phil Barden of the New Jersey Institute of Technology.

"What is so remarkable is that tardigrades are a ubiquitous ancient lineage that has seen it all on Earth, from the fall of the dinosaurs to the rise of terrestrial colonization of plants.

"Yet, they are like a ghost lineage for paleontologists with almost no fossil record. Finding any tardigrade fossil remains is an exciting moment where we can empirically see their progression through Earth's history."

Tardigrades have eight legs with claws at the end, a brain and central nervous system, and a sucker-like structure called a pharynx behind their mouth that can pierce food. Tardigrades are the smallest-known animal with legs.

Tardigrades are remarkable survivors. When conditions get nasty, they can dry out, reconfigure their bodies, and enter suspended animation — called desiccation — for years.

You can throw virtually anything at them: frozen temperatures, zero oxygen, high pressures, the vacuum of spacecosmic radiation, being boiled, and even being fired out of a gun. Yet their evolutionary history is shrouded in mystery.

The tiny, preserved tardigrade found in Dominican amber is microscopic, measuring just over half a millimeter in length. This was too small for the researchers to see with a normal dissecting microscope, so they turned to confocal microscopy.

The chitinous composition of a tardigrade's cuticle is easily excited by the lasers used in confocal microscopy, which means it fluoresces.

The result, the researchers say, is the best-imaged tardigrade fossil to date. In the images, they were clearly able to see the tardigrade's little claws, and its mouth apparatus, or foregut. This revealed that they were looking at something unknown.

"Even though externally it looked like a modern tardigrade, with confocal laser microscopy we could see it had this unique foregut organization that warranted for us to erect a new genus within this extant group of tardigrade superfamilies," says tardigradologist Marc Mapalo of Harvard University.

"Paradoryphoribius is the only genus that has this specific unique character arrangement in the superfamily Isohypsibioidea."

This also means that the scientists can better explore the evolutionary changes that tardigrades have undergone over a timespan of millions of years.

Paradoryphoribius represents the only tardigrade fossil from the current era, the Cenozoic. The other two are older: Milnesium swolenskyi, described in 2000, is from around 90 million years ago, and Beorn leggi, described in 1964, is from around 72 million years ago, both in the Mesozoic.

Given the paucity of fossils, the discovery of even one gives us a wealth of information against which comparisons can be made. Even just by dating the amber, the team was able to place a minimum age on Isohypsibioidea.

"If you look at the external morphology of tardigrades, you might assume that there are no changes that occurred within the body of tardigrades," Mapalo said.

"However, using confocal laser microscopy to visualize the internal morphology, we saw characteristics that are not observed in extant species but are observed in the fossils.

"This helps us understand what changes in the body occurred across millions of years. Furthermore, this suggests that even if tardigrades may be the same externally, some changes are occurring internally."

The discovery also confirms that amber can serve as an untapped resource for tardigrade fossils. Because the animals tend to inhabit moist environments, where trees might be found, and because their tiny frames are not easily otherwise fossilized (or just live forever, who can say), amber seems like the best bet.

However, because they are so small, it's possible that tardigrade fossils in other amber deposits may have been overlooked.

The researchers hope that their discovery might inspire others to take a closer look at amber samples, in the hopes of learning more about this enigmatic, hardy phylum of animals.

"We are just scratching the surface when it comes to understanding living tardigrade communities, especially in places like the Caribbean where they've not been surveyed," Barden says.

"This study provides a reminder that, for as little as we may have in the way of tardigrade fossils, we also know very little about the living species on our planet today."


[Above, an artistic reconstruction of present day tardigrades often found living in moss.]


Read the original paper, "A Tardigrade in Dominican Amber," published October 6 in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B, here.

Wait a sec — what's that bestselling book from 1944 I'm recalling?

And the hit 1947 movie based on the novel?

October 18, 2021 at 02:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (2)

'Invisible Church' — Borgloon, Belgium

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From ArchDaily:

"Invisible Church," also known as "Reading between the lines," is a project by the duo Gijs Van Vaerenbergh, a collaboration between young Belgian architects Pieterjan Gijs and Arnout Van Vaerenbergh.

Their 2011 construction in a rural landscape is based on the design of the local church.

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"Invisible Church" consists of 30 tons of steel and 2,000 columns, and is built on a fundament of reinforced concrete.

Through the use of horizontal plates, the concept of the traditional church is transformed into a transparent object of art.

Depending on the perspective of the viewer, the church is either perceived as a massive building, or dissolves — partly or completely — into the landscape.

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Those viewers that look from the inside of the church to the outside, on the other hand, witness an abstract play of lines that reshapes the surrounding landscape.

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In this way, church and landscape can both be considered part of the work — hence also its title, which implies that to read between the lines, one must also read the lines themselves.

October 18, 2021 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

SELL! SELL! SELL! (If you have a seizure disorder, clicking on the link below is prolly NOT a good idea)


Res ipsa loquitur.











October 18, 2021 at 10:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

3D Fugu Japanese Blowfish Dissection Puzzle — 'Poisonous fish assembly game'


Good fun right before you head out to a Japanese restaurant that serves fugu.

From the website:

All of Megahouse's 3D Dissection Puzzles are fun but the 3D Fugu Japanese Blowfish Dissection Puzzle goes beyond that.

That's why it's accompanied by a certificate!

Dissecting fugu, a poisonous blowfish, is a matter of life and death and only chefs who have been through special training are licensed to do it.


So now, with this puzzle you have the chance to understand what is dangerous and what is not inside the fish considered one of Japanese cuisine's top delicacies.

The 3D Fugu Japanese Blowfish Dissection Puzzle consists of 34 pieces, nine of which are colored red


and feature a skull mark


to indicate that they are the fugu's poisonous organs.

Use the miniature Japanese chef's knife included in the kit


to separate the right parts and lay them out as sashimi on the included plate — just like the real thing!


And when you are done, assemble it again and put it on the stand that also comes with the kit to demonstrate that you have truly earned your fugu specialist certificate!


Features and Details:

• 34 parts

• Materials: PVC, paper

• Instructions: Japanese

• Dimensions: 4.3" x 2.1" x 1.9"

• Recommended for ages 6 and above

• Includes display stand, toy kitchen knife, fugu chef certificate 



Susan Orlean, you know this is what you want for Christmas.

October 18, 2021 at 08:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

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