Northeastern University

Weekly Webcrawl: October 4, 2013

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PHOTO OF THE WEEK: A calcified flamingo in Tanzania's uber-alkaline Lake Natron. © Nick Brandt 2013 Courtesy of Hasted Kraeutler Gallery, NY

PHOTO OF THE WEEK: A calcified flamingo in Tanzania’s uber-alkaline Lake Natron. © Nick Brandt 2013 Courtesy of Hasted Kraeutler Gallery, NY

This week, Discover ran an incredible slide show of photos by Nick Brandt of Tanzania’s Lake Natron, which consists of a caustic mix of chemicals that instantly calcifies whatever touches it. The lake is fed by hot springs, which supply the lucky chemical cocktail, but it has no outlets to dilute them or move them along.

In another post about birds meeting untimely demises, Wilder Utopia wrote about the upcoming documentary about Pacific albatrosses dying from eating plastic garbage floating around the ocean. Pictures of the dead albatrosses’ stomachs cut open reveal devastating amounts of trash tied up in their guts.

After writing a couple of stories about our new biology chair, Jon Tilly, I’ve had female fertility on the brain of late, so when I saw this story on The Scientist, I got excited: “Why Women Lose Fertility.” Turns out it’s a much more controversial question than I realized, and even scientists still disagree on the answer.

Ellen Pollack addressed another question about women, why we’re still so underrepresented in the sciences, in her ridiculously fantastic article in the New York Times this week. This quote struck me as holding a lot of truth: “Women need more positive reinforcement, and men need more negative reinforcement. Men wildly overestimate their learning abilities, their earning abilities. Women say, ‘Oh, I’m not good, I won’t earn much, whatever you want to give me is O.K.’” But in the end, Pollack says it’s got nothing to do with gender and everything to do with culture.

Okay, so, sorry for the depressing webcrawl this week guys. Maybe this will cheer you up a bit: Elephant ancestors had giant sporks for mouths. 

 


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