New genome sequencing reveals coffee’s future

Upon first glance, the large bushy plant with branches filled with tiny, jasmine-scented flowers appear to be something even the pickiest gardener would welcome.  These pure white flowers are highly fragrant and beautiful, but are a side-effect to the true commodity of this particular plant, the reddish-purple berries that come after the flowers have disappeared.  The deep crimson is not a perfectly ripe cherry, but holds one of the biggest cash crops in the world: the coffee bean.

Coffee plants in the mountains of Mexico

While the beautiful plants promising coffee paint a beautiful picture of serene gardening, the coffee plant is in trouble.  Climate change, viruses, and fungi are all taking a huge financial toll on coffee production, making the recent coffee genome sequencing even more essential to keep this industry percolating.

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Robots infiltrate penguin colonies in the cutest way possible

Frederique Olivier/John Downer Productions, Le Maho et al., Nature Methods

Baby penguins are universally adored, but studying them without stressing them remains a challenge.  New research allows researchers to observe penguins in their natural habitats-by becoming a penguin in disguise.  By dressing up an RFID capable (similar to a swipe card) robot as a baby penguin, scientists are able to study the behavior of penguins and other animals without disturbing them.
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How to avoid becoming a character on the Walking Dead (through science!)

Zombies vs. Humans on the Walking Dead. This could be avoidable with the right chemistry!

Just in time for Halloween (my personal favorite holiday), Scientific American has published an interview with a chemist and zombie fan, Dr. Raychelle Burks.  She advises us that, in case of zombie apocalypse, Eau de Death may be our best hope.
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The Safest Explosion: The Science of Airbag Technology in Motorcycles

As motorcycles increase on the road, often as a fuel-efficient commuting choice, what is the best way to keep these riders safe?  While helmets and armored clothing protect many, the vast majority of motorcycles lack airbags, despite being a required safety feature in cars that save thousands of lives per year.  The Multistrada D-Air, a new integrated airbag system from Ducati and Dainese, aims to bring airbags to the motorcycle market in a new and innovative way.   But how do these systems work?
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Insects and You: An Essential Partnership for Scientific Discovery

Asian camel cricket

Common cricket

Finding a strange insect in your home is usually unwelcome, but what if you could use that discovery to contribute to scientific research? This concept is called “citizen science” and new research from NC State University has citizen scientists play an essential role in looking at the biodiversity of cricket species previously thought non-existent in the eastern United States.
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No, you cannot explain misogyny with “boys will be boys”

A phrase I adamantly hate anyways, but that is a long-winded rant for another day…

By researching baboon social interactions over 20 years and studying life expectancies in countries with less patriarchal societies, it has become clear that misogyny is a complicated product of our culture and socialization of boys, rather than something ingrained in human nature.  While many feminists would claim this as an obvious conclusion, it is one step further in showing those with misogynistic ideals that it is unacceptable in a modern society.

Slate has an excellent article about the research and how this reflects on many of the hateful misogynistic attacks that have circulated the internet recently and it is well worth the read.

 

Big cats feel divided about Marmite

For those who don’t know, Marmite is a yeast-based spread that’s pretty popular in the UK and Australia.  It’s a pretty strong yeasty flavor and people generally love it or hate it.  Personally, I’d be generous to compare it to stale cheap beer…

Big Cat Rescue in Tampa, FL recently decided to test if big cats like Marmite and the results are…well, adorable.  This may not be highly scientific, but who’s going to say no to big rescue cats?!

Credit goes to Ed Yong for posting the link to the video