Curiosities for the Curious






⦿ The feet of horse embryos indicate the final product will have five toes each, but as the fetus develops the ten toes morph into two hooves. I wonder if reindeer embryos do the same thing. Imagine the clatter Rudolph et all would raise on our roofs if their feet didn’t evolve.

⦿ Some jellyfish don’t have to touch with their trailers to sting you. They can shoot out tiny sting-grenades. Kapow. Kapow.

⦿ Some microbes spread their antibiotic resistance to other microbes. The cooties are in kahoots.

⦿ But wait! A new antibiotic has been found in “of all places” inside a tiny worm—a nemotode to be precise. Take that you disease carriers.

⦿ Stories of Female Amazon warriors are not myths. New evidence has been found to indicate they were real. Some removed their breasts in order not to interfere with shooting arrows. At least they don’t have to deal with mammograms.

⦿ There’s a woman who grows eyelash-like hair in her gums. I imagine her dentist accuses her of a poor flossing job and wonders about her diet.




Crazy Way to Create Amazing Concrete


Regular concrete requires virgin sand, the supply of which is diminishing. The traditional process also emits carbon dioxide, a well-known greenhouse gas.

An interdisciplinary team of research scientists at the University of Colorado, Boulder has discovered a new way of making concrete from living cyanobacteria, which is in a class of photosynthetic microbes. The photosynthesis process absorbs carbon dioxide. Add dirty sand, or ground up glass, other plentiful materials along with ordinary gelatin, pour into a mold, and presto one obtains a concrete-like substance. It is green when wet despite the non-lime gelatin flavor. When dry and strong it can be cut with a diamond-tipped saw. Originally, the process did not involve gelatin and was too slow for the researchers. Hence, the introduction of a food they all grew up with.

The amazing thing is that the material can reproduce. The bacteria remain alive for several weeks, and become active when exposed to high temperature and humidity. Cut a block in half, place it in a warm container with more raw materials but no additional microbes, pour into a mold, and create more concrete. Each block can spawn three new generations of blocks, obtaining eight descendants.

A concrete expert at a university in Scotland is excited about the prospect of this new way of making concrete.

This ability to reproduce and flexibility in raw materials is seen as a huge advantage for construction in remote areas. Concrete homes on Mars some day?

I just discovered that something went awry and this is not being published on its usual Saturday.

Exploring Patagonia

Today I should be in Patagonia. I am writing this before we leave.We are on schedule to view the Perita Merino Glacier about now. It is located in the Los Glaciares National Park in southwest Santa Cruz Province, Argentina. It is one of the few glaciers according to Wikipedia that is stable, accumulating as much ice as it loses each year. I don’t know how current the information is.

Perito Moreno Glacier

My daughter was excited about seeing the Magellanic penguins. I find them fascinating as they waddle in their little tuxedos.


Earlier in our trip we were scheduled for hikes near the Andes Mountains in Torres Del Paines. The area is noted for its breath taking scenery and terrible weather that can change rapidly. We’ve packed rain gear.

2019: The year the Climate Denial Bear Stopped Hibernating

End-of-2019 reports a decline in the number of climate change skeptics. Some have directly experienced the disasters such as drought, floods, wild fires, and hurricanes, which dominated the news much of 2019 and the last decade. A study by the NY Times in January 2019 states that 73% of Americans believe that


Earth is warming and 62% understand that humans are mostly responsible. This is up 10% in both cases in a few short years.

Prior to that in October 2018 an IPCC report began to shake the sleeping bear. Climate scientists had discovered that dire consequences were happening sooner than they predicted and that serious action needed to happen within 12 years to keep Earth from overheating by 1.5 to 2 degrees centigrade. We are expected to hit 3 more degrees if serious change is not made. The number of degrees may sound small, but consider the Earth as having a fever, where a few degrees is huge. Some scientists fear a snowball effect, an ironic metaphor. Many catastrophes gain momentum as they continue.

One teenaged girl from Sweden in particular listened along with many other youth. I received a book of Greta Thunberg’s speeches in my Christmas stocking. Each one calls for adults to listen to the scientists and scolds inaction. The youth, who have the most to lose, conducted climate strikes worldwide while emissions continued to rise along with the number of disasters.

We have had the technology and the science to make the necessary changes for some time. Now, I’m hoping we have the political will.

Eat all of your Christmas Cookies at Once?

Studies beginning with mice and fruit flies suggested that limiting eating to a ten-hour window each day can provide health benefits. Studying healthy people followed by people with metabolic diseases showed similar results. Health benefits include: weight loss, lower blood sugar, lower blood pressure, lower bad cholesterol, and increased good cholesterol.

Usually not hungry when I first wake, it was easy for me to try TRE—time restricted eating. I did lose weight, but I haven’t noticed other changes. One of my sisters also lost weight using TRE as one of her strategies.

The article doesn’t pose a reason for better health measures but did find that people ate 8% fewer calories.

And no, the article doesn’t recommend demolishing all of your Christmas cookies at one setting. I remember in years past developing the holiday habit of one sweet after dinner. Unfortunately, when the chocolate was gone my craving wasn’t.

Enjoy your holidays with or without treats.






Please Let This Be As Good As It Sounds

An Israeli company— UBQ,short for ubiquitous— claims to have a means to turn trash—any and all—into plastic. This means that all current plastic can be recycled and fewer landfills will be belching propane. No sorting required by consumers. No water used in the processing.


The president of the International Solid Waste Association visited the plant, which is in the Negev desert, and is convinced the claims are valid.

It only takes hours for an 8-ton mound of garbage to be sorted, ground, chopped, shredded, cleaned, and heated at up to 400 degrees to come out as tiny plastic-like pellets that can be used for manufacturing everyday products.

Some like the chief executive of the Plastic Expert Group are still dubious, but have moved from scoffing at the idea to wanting to evaluate the products. I’ve learned from experience that recycled plastic should not be used for pipes under your house so I’m guessing the products’ strengths will be one thing to test. The group agrees that “If the technology proves commercially viable, “it could be a game changer for the global environment.” OTOH, oil companies are looking to manufacturing plastic now that electric cars are becoming more popular.

Even the products themselves can be recycled several times.

This is what I counted as my Thanksgiving thanks, but I’m crossing my fingers.

I hope your Thanksgiving was a good break from the world.

Like fun Social Justice Science Fiction? Click on the covers below to read the first two books of a planned trilogy.

1st in series

2nd in series


Technology: Friend or Foe

Despite my mathematics background, I confess to being a bit of a Luddite. I hate updates to my devices because the paths I used to take from A to Z are often changed. ‘If it works, don’t fix it’ is my motto. I view apps as the clutter of modern civilization.

I once texted my daughter using my voice saying I was at the Heifners so she’d know I’d be coming soon. I was puzzled when she texted back asking if I wanted her to pick me up. I had been at a woman’s march on a warm day and what she received was that I was at the Health Nurse.

My husband has set a security camera so any movement on our front porch sends a signal to his cell to tinkle every few seconds. Then he leaves his phone within hearing of my woman cave and goes off to his man cave.

I can get my desktop in a crazy state with a fumble of a finger, but recovery takes research on my iPad and 12 steps so I can get out of all caps, or type at all or some other weird undesirable state.

On the other hand I can’t imagine life without email, word processing, instant access to information, convenient shopping, and more.

I have mixed feelings about robots replacing human beings, but there’s one use on the horizon too time consuming for humans. Someone has invented an AI way of telling the difference between weeds and plants and distinguish between plants. Instead of blasting an entire field with weed killer, tiny amounts of herbicide can be administered to weeds and volunteer unwanted plants using robotic spigots and reducing herbicide use by 90%. John Deere has purchased the patent. What I like best about organic is the lack of herbicides so this seems a compromise between organic and mass produced food.

Machines, which eliminate back-breaking work harvesting food are being used, along with self-driving tractors.

Any innovation requires proper use for maximum benefit. Given the number of innovations, it’s not surprising we are discovering downsides like lack of privacy, difficulty separating truth from fiction, anonymous online attacks, and addiction to social media/online games.