Thursday, February 10, 2011

Highlights of the Week: Catching up on Blogging

It's been a while since I've written anything new, and the explanation is straightforward: classes just started up again and have hit me like a freight train. Two weeks in, I've just had a chance to catch my breath.

But I've still been keeping an eye out for interesting articles and news on the Web, and here's my selection of cool stuff from the past week (okay, two weeks...):

Green Porno film star and director talks about her work. Isabella Rossellini's short film series, Green Porno and its follow-up Seduce Me ("A potential sponsor called to say they liked the films but that they couldn't support anything that had the word "porno" in it") are short (1-2 mins), award-winning gems about the peculiar sex lives of different animals. She stars in all of them as the animals, dressing up in fantastic paper costumes (see above).

Vladimir Nabokov's biogeographic theory on the origin of the Polyommatus blues butterflies has been confirmed by lepidopterists using molecular techniques. Aside from being a successful author in both his native Russian and his adopted English (in which he wrote his most famous book, Lolita), he was a great butterfly enthusiast and was for a time curator of Lepidoptera in Harvard's Museum of Comparative Zoology.

Woodpecker skulls inspire the design of more effective shock absorbers. Fun fact: woodpecker skulls decelerate by up to 1200 g each time it hammers (more than 20 times a second!), whereas humans would be concussed by an acceleration/deceleration between 80-100 g.

World Wildlife Foundation launches a new document format, similar to Adobe's PDF format, but which doesn't allow the document to be printed, to raise awareness about excessive paper use. As expected, the file extension is .wwf. Good idea, or gimmick?

The Galapagos Islands, biodiversity hotspot and inspiration for Darwin's theory of evolution, have been taken off UNESCO's list of endangered World Heritage Sites. Doesn't mean that they're out of danger, though. Ironically, the effects of tourism are the greatest threats to the islands today, as the booming tourist industry encourages development and immigration to the archipelago.

Photo gallery of the world's 10 most threatened rainforests, including Sundaland, the Philippines, and India-Burma.

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