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Debbie Brewer
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Debbie Brewer

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Dance of the Peacock Spider

Doing the Y: Only 4 mm in size, the Australian male peacock spider (Maratus volans) puts on an impressive courtship display, rivaling the Village People in Peacock Spider Dances to YMCA . Described by researchers as multi-modal, the dance includes 3rd leg waves, synchronized unfurling of colorful belly flaps, abdominal bobbing and pedipalp flickers. As if these visual displays were not enough, the spider generates bursts of vibrations carried through the ground to signal his passion for his lady love. 

Darwin's Dilemma: Is there an selective advantage to such complexity? How did it evolve? As the rituals get more elaborate, there may be diminishing returns given the limitations of biological cost and sensory perception. Translation: is it a waste of time? :) But studies show that redundant signals allow our spidery suitor to adapt to varied environments. Too dark to see the colorful fans? The seismic display compensates for lack of light.It is thought that each signal carries a different message for the female to evaluate. It's also an exercise in self preservation: males risk falling prey to the cannibalistic tendency of the female spider. Web building male spiders generate shudder vibrations that measurably calm the female's aggression. Others present a silk-wrapped nuptial gift that distracts the female long enough to get the deed done. An unusual tactic called thanatosis is to is to feign death when the female shows signs of terminating the romantic act. Once the female has dragged off the motionless male, she begins to feed on his nuptial gift upon which the male quickly revives to resume mating!

So humans, do you see any parallels in strategy? Perhaps, you too met your mate on the web?

▶Nuptial gifts: http://goo.gl/VCsbzN
▶Spider Shudders: Male courtship vibrations delay predatory behaviour in female spiders. Wignall and Herberstein (2013) http://goo.gl/wT29bD
▶Dance Moves: Multi-Modal Courtship in the Peacock Spider, Maratus volans. Girard et al. (2011) http://goo.gl/SlIK1E
▶Gifs: via http://biomorphosis.tumblr.com/

#ScienceSunday  
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Clint Fudge originally shared:
 
If you have the shoes..then you simply must have the bag.
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Cute
Clint Fudge originally shared:
 
Baby Shower Cake.... shape your child's future by brainwashing it into following your prefered team
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Neat
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Teapot #cake  Alice was certainly in wonderland when she saw her #birthdaycake  Lucky girl.
#cakedecorating  
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Gordon Laing originally shared:
 
Died and gone to beer heaven

Here's De Bierkoning, an amazing beer shop in Amsterdam which sells a spectacular range, including many hard to find bottles. I went in to see if they had any of the limited edition La Trappe Quadruppel, aged in a variety of oak barrels, some new, some previously used for things like brandy. It's a superb beer, but one that's very hard to find outside of La Trappe's own brewery shop, which unfortunately I was unable to visit during my latest trip to Holland. Anyway they didn't just have it for sale, they had three different varieties, aged in different oak barrels. Even at 20 Euros a pop, this is impossible for a beer lover to ignore, so I bought all three! I was also impressed to find the three Westvleteren Trappist beers for sale, which are extremely hard to find. Indeed you normally have to make your own pilgrimage to the monastery and either make a reservation to buy some, or hope they have a handful in the café for sale. Well, they also have them for sale here, for 16 Euros a bottle. That's some markup considering a six-pack costs around 20 Euros in the Westvleteren café, but for beer aficionados it's amazing to find it for sale anywhere. Legend has it this beer sells for up to 100 bucks a bottle on ebay in the US! So next time you're in Amsterdam, pay this place a visit, it's on Paleisstraat 125, 1012 ZL, Amsterdam.

PS - I took this with my Olympus OMD EM1 with the 17mm lens. My review of the latest EM5 Mark II is at: 

http://www.cameralabs.com/reviews/Olympus_OMD_EM5_Mark_II/
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Debbie Brewer

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Souring on Sweeteners: Why Diet Sugars Don't Work

Sweet Serendipity: It was 1878, when a beaker of coal tar compounds boiled over in the chemistry laboratory of Ira Remsen at the newly founded Johns Hopkins University. Researcher Constantine Fahlberg cleaned up the mess, but later at dinner, his hands tasted surprisingly sweet as he put a piece of bread in his mouth. And this is how the first artificial sweetener was discovered! Named saccharin, it was 300 times sweeter than sugar. Soon, it was being prescribed to President Theodore Roosevelt, to counter his corpulence. More low-calorie sweeteners followed: sucralose, stevia and neotame, the last one being 10,000 times sweeter than table sugar. Today, 30% of adults and 15% of children in the U.S. consume low calorie sweeteners. A sweet deal, right?

Caloric Contradictions: Unfortunately, counterintuitive to expectations, studies show that people who consume large amounts of artificially sweetened drinks gain more weight and body fat compared to those who don’t. Could this be a case of reverse causation? Perhaps, increased body weight encourages people to turn to non-caloric sweeteners. However, this has been ruled out by (i) controlling for baseline body weight at the start of the study and by (ii) looking at weight changes in people who are not overweight to begin with. Another possibility is cognitive distortion: because non-caloric sweeteners are perceived to be healthy, we take that as permission to consume more high-calorie foods. Imaging studies of the human brain reveal a metabolic cause: unlike ordinary sugar, non-caloric sweeteners do not trigger the reward circuits that initiate satiety and fail to activate normal pathways of insulin release needed to deal with caloric loads. 

Diet to Diabetes: New research in both mice and humans showed that artificial sweeteners also change our gut microbiome, leading to glucose intolerance, the first step to diabetes. Surprisingly, if the feces from saccharin-fed mice was transplanted into mice whose guts were first cleared of bacteria by antibiotics, the sugar handling defect could be induced in the healthy mice. Oh, expletive!

The Archies sang, ♫ Oh honey, sugar, sugar..you are my candy girl and you've got me wanting you
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0MiQzAo6Cp8

REF: Artificial sweeteners produce the counterintuitive effect of inducing metabolic derangements. Susanne Swithers (2013) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3772345/

News Story & Link to Nature paper: http://www.nature.com/news/sugar-substitutes-linked-to-obesity-1.15938

  #ScienceSunday  
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Anja Wessels originally shared:
 
The rose

When the night has been too lonely
And the road has been too long,
And you think that love is only
For the lucky and the strong,
Just remember in the winter
Far beneath the bitter snows
Lies the seed that with the sun's love
In the spring becomes the rose.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QCt7RvEkK8s

Camera: Canon EOS 650D/Rebel T4i
Lens: Tamron 16-300mm f/3.5-6.3 Di II 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~+

Photography:
#photography #photo #photooftheday #googleplusphotos #googleplusphotographers #googleplusphotography #promotephotography #FotoManieNederland #bellesphotos  

Flowers:
#flowers #flowerphotography #flowerpower #floral #floralphotography #floralfriday #btpflowerpro  
#flowerpower
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Debbie Brewer

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Clint Fudge originally shared:
 
The most amazing of cakes....one that tells a story - a real story.
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Clint Fudge originally shared:
 
Angus is 2. Angus got a beautiful #cake   to celebrate that fact.

#cakedecorating   #birthdaycake  
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Gordon Laing originally shared:
 
Here's your pizza!

Have I mentioned I like pizza? Well here's the same one you may have seen pictured earlier on my stream, perched on my backback as a makeshift table. It's a plain Margherita from Dough Brothers, a relatively new addition to the varied food stalls at Streetdiner in Brighton. This was actually the first image I took with the Sigma 50mm f1.4 ART lens, mounted here on a Canon EOS 6D. 

If you've been used to the more forgiving depth-of-field, not to mention the relatively minor body heft of a Micro Four Thirds mirrorless camera, it can be quite a shock picking up a full-frame DSLR with a big lens on the front. Certainly you have to be very careful about the shallower depth-of-field at the same f -numbers, but I was lucky with this opportunist snap of my freshly baked pizza emerging from the portable wood-fired oven at f1.4.

Fancy a closer look? No problem, you can download this at the full resolution, along with a bunch of other sample images in my review in progress.

http://www.cameralabs.com/reviews/Sigma_50mm_f1-4_DG_HSM_Art/
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