Apple has tried to trademark “startup.” Facebook has tried to trademark “book.”
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Let This Awesome Science Infect Your Mind
Ed Yong is one of the finest science writers in the world. His National Geographic blog is chock full of the weird, wild, and WTF-inducing stories that make our living world so darn interesting. So I was overjoyed when I heard he would be speaking at this year’s TED.
He didn’t disappoint. In his talk above, he unlocks the under-appreciated and often cringe-worthy world of mind-controlling parasites. They get no respect, I tell ya, no respect at all. Yet they are cornerstones of countless ecosystems, determining food availability and managing population sizes like armies of freaky fauna, each deployed in a Trojan Horse of evolution’s design. Every parasite’s life is a story, by definition, an elaborate chain that extends from host to host, and I think they’ve found their minstrel in Ed. I mean that as a compliment, of course.
Listen to him weave a tapestry of tapeworms, explain what makes flamingos munch on zombie shrimp, show you how a cricket is like a TARDIS, how a wasp turns a cockroach into a cocker spaniel, and how a brain-controlling protozoan reminds him of an Elizabeth Gilbert novel. My favorite part of this? The idea that ideas themselves may be parasites.
I haven’t loved a TED talk this much in a long time. Or maybe that’s just the parasite talking.
Good inspiration for some zombie fiction.
Cat paws in medieval book - again
This great image was brought to my attention by the archivist at Balliol College, Oxford (here is his tweet). In a similar case, an image I tweeted some time ago showed a trail of inky cat paws, which was sent to me by @EmirOFilipovic (here is that tweet). The Balliol manuscript again provides evidence of cats walking over books, in this case in a manuscript from the 15th-century. It’s lovely to see that cats walking over books is a universal practice, with currently two medieval cases identified. In the image above the cat appears to merely have had dirt on his feet, not ink. It’s hard to say when this intrusion happened, but it will likely have been before modern times. Cats are, after all, refused entry to library reading rooms.
Pic: Oxford, Balliol College, MS 192 (England, 15th century).