11.22.2011

The most advanced creatures on (and off) Earth

There is such a thing as a beneficial meandering about the internets, and today is no exception. It started out simply enough, with my brother sending me a link to a BoingBoing video of an octopus traveling across land:



While I've certainly heard about this happening, I'd never seen it before, and immediately it made me wonder about this octopus' decision to pull itself along mantle-first. I'd always expected that one would do the pulling with one's legs, and drag the big mantle behind, but watching this, it makes me think: "Well, that makes sense... when an octopus escapes in the water, it scoots itself along with the mantle in front, so perhaps it takes the same approach when escaping from predators on land." Maybe when they take over the world, they'll figure out that it's easier to go legs-first...

In any event, that led to a link to SciAm's new cephaloblog, The Octopus Chronicles, which sets out to catalog all the wicked cool stuff going on in current research around octopuses. They have a great little bit about the new discovery of camouflage adaptations in mesopelagic octopuses. (I especially liked the idea that these little guys' response to detection, indicated by persistent blue light, was to hide their heads inside their bodies... reminds me of one time when I was trying to avoid getting in trouble by hiding behind a tree while wearing a bright red jacket. Ineffectual, to say the least. But I digress...)

Fortunately, SciAm's page had a link to a new video produced by NASA and the International Space Station. I had heard that a good number of our astronauts were not only super-driven, super-nerdy and super-lucky, but also pretty good photographers. What I didn't know is that some of them are really good photographers, with a penchant for time-lapse videos like this one (fullscreen HD is a must):

Earth | Time Lapse View from Space, Fly Over | NASA, ISS from Michael K├Ânig on Vimeo.

This immediately made me think "Well of course, if you're doing things like flying around in space operating robotic arms and watching atmospheric events, you must be listening to Ambient or Microhouse"... but that's not true, of course. Several months in a small space station, and you must listen to at least a little bit of Peter Gabriel, especially when you're returning back to terra firma:

Time Lapse From Space - Literally. The Journey Home. from Fragile Oasis on Vimeo.

I've always loved the idea of going to space, and I have dreams of hosting an episode or two of Nerdy Jobs from the International Space Station, but in the mean time, thank goodness our super-driven super-nerdy super-lucky guys and gals are also great ambassadors, working hard to bring that experience back to Earth. Through the use of the internet, with high-quality videos, Twitter feeds (who knew that #fromspace was a literal hashtag?) and even video podcasts (Hehe... "Open the podcast bay doors, HAL"), our scientists in the thermosphere are working hard to connect us groundlings with the things one can learn from floating about the world at around 225 miles up:

Cupola Corner Episode 5 - Ron Garan Conversation With Satoshi Furukawa from Fragile Oasis on Vimeo.

I'm excited to be on this planet. Let's keep it healthy so the octopuses can take it over.

Paddy

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