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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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

Science is One Step Closer to Pacific Rim IRL

(That’s “in real life” for those who don’t spend too much time on the internet)

pacific-rim04

The blockbuster movie Pacific Rim was exciting for many reasons (giant robots fighting giant monsters, mainly), but the connection that allowed the pilots of the giant robots to communicate might be one step closer to a reality.  Now we just need the robotics to catch up, right??  🙂

Duke University recently did a study looking at brain communication between two human participants and showed that it is possible to translate brain waves from another person, with help from computers to move electrical signals.

A much more detailed article is at The Mary Sue but I’m just really excited about the possibility of the “drift” being possible.  On a much more serious note, since the likelihood of using this research to fight giant robots is slim to say the least, this does have amazing implications for people with disabilities or any type of speech difficulties, which is even more awesome.

(Oh, and go watch Pacific Rim…fun and entertaining popcorn movie)