Quantcast

Video of the Day

Masthead

Editor-in-Chief
Alex Carnevale
(e-mail/tumblr/twitter)

Managing Editor
Kara VanderBijl
(e-mail/tumblr/twitter)

Senior Editor
Durga Chew-Bose
(e-mail/tumblr/twitter)

Senior Editor
Brittany Julious
(e-mail/tumblr/twitter)

Live and Active Affiliates
Search TR


follow us in feedly

Classic Recordings
Robert Altman Week

Thursday
Jul032008

In Which Underwater Arctic Volcanos Erupt

SCIENCE CORNER DOUBLE HEADER

PT. 2: Decomposed Robots

by Molly Lambert

All the Science Corners you can stand,
Catch up with This Recording

Giraffe kicks open fence, helps Camels, Llamas, Zebras, and a Potbellied Pig escape from the circus, presumably Pixar will buy the rights. In related news, psychedelic drugs like psilocybin (found in magic mushrooms) have lasting health benefits.

"It was like taking off, I'm being lifted up. There was this sense of relief and joy and ecstasy when my heart was opened."

Also related, caterpillar-like soft and squishy chemical robots will one day squeeze through tight spots then expand to 10 times larger, offering an advantage over rigid robots. Once a mission is complete, a chembot would biodegrade.

Your Sense of Adventure rests in a primitive brain region.

Baby crocodiles cry inside eggs

this is what Crocodile Tears look like

Santa Claus will have to relocate to a cruise ship, because as of this summer there won't be any ice at the North Pole. Yeah, I know, Debbie Downer. Whatever, it's true!

YOU MUST BLOW ME UNTO YOUR DEATH

Blowing the Aztec Whistle Of Death. It's shaped like a skull!

Scientists were fascinated by the ghostly find: a human skeleton buried in an Aztec temple with a clay, skull-shaped whistle in each bony hand.

Don't you wish Indy 4 had been anywhere near this cool?

The Atom Smasher supposedly won't turn Earth into a hot dead clump...Or so they are saying...

AT UR MOUNTAINS OF MADNESS LOOKIN 4 CTHULHUS

"Underwater Arctic Volcano Explosions" is the name of my other post-rock band. I play the Wii.

Mars and Saturn: "Let's get together, yeah yeah yeah"

Google's Lunar X Prize was announced on our birthday

Twin Stars Subway Series Edition

Identical twin stars born 500,000 years apart. Sounds like me and my brother Ben. Did you download his new podcast yet? Don't sleep!

Space Weather throws off GPS

Stem Cells could replace plastic surgery

The Sun is potentially filled with dark matter

Robot Surgeon removes a brain tumor

Silver haired monkeys can fish

Chimps hug and kiss to calm each other down

Three super-Earths found orbiting one star. Which means we are closer to finding Earth's twin.

"There's no doubt that other Earths exist, simply due to the sheer vast numbers of other stars and galaxies in our universe. There's a deeper question; How common are Earth-like planets? Are Earth-like planets a dime a dozen, or are they quite rare, quirky precious planets that are one in a thousand or one in a million?"

In "The Dreams in the Witch-House", the central character is sent through a dimensional portal to a planet in a triple star system (with a yellow, red, and blue star) located "between Hydra and Argo Navis", and populated by Elder Things.

Superstar-Watcher - Yo La Tengo: (mp3)

Mute Superstar - Guided By Voices: (mp3)

Planet Caravan - Black Sabbath: (mp3)

Hello Earth - Kate Bush: (mp3)

Heaven On Earth - Britney Spears: (mp3)

Molly Lambert is the managing editor of This Recording

PREVIOUSLY ON THIS RECORDING:

Sun Ra, The Black Man In The Cosmos

Steampunk and Theme Parks

Your Sanity Has A Flavor

This Recording's Comin' Down The Track,
Comin' Down The Track With A Smokey Stack

Thursday
Jul032008

In Which Once We Go Deep It's A Whole Different Game

It's a Science Corner Long Holiday Weekend Double Post. Read Part One right now, then stay tuned for Part Two shortly. Happy Fourth Of July/Day After Canada Day!

Love,
This Recording

SCIENCE CORNER DOUBLE HEADER

What Kind Of Ice Cream Do The Martians Like?

by Molly Lambert

We're all going to Mars. There's no stopping it.

This little guy might go:

WELL HELLOOOOOOOOOOO MOLL*E

If we're lucky we'll get to explore the seven Martian caves

And then if we're suuuuper lucky/unlucky we'll find some of these:

OBCY

However, not knowing what lies beneath the Martian surface tempers optimism for finding life during the near-future missions. "I'm going to give the next two rovers a 50-50 chance. Once we go deep it's a whole different game."

Bacteria species thrive without oxygen in northern California's Mono Lake's harsh waters, where conditions resemble areas of the red planet that might support similar life forms.

You have no free will. You must read This Recording.

"Moths Drink The Tears Of Sleeping Birds" is the name of my post-rock band. I play the armchair.

WALL*E is about human extinction. Join VHEMT, the Voluntary Human Exctinion Movement.

Bits of ancient earth found hidden on the moon?

Meteorites have been found in Antarctica that are believed to come from Mars. Similarly, some scientists now believe that material ejected from the early Earth may have arrived as meteorites on the moon.

Giant Solar Tower in Spain

Humans can see into the future due to neural delays, getting a glimpse of events one-tenth of a second before they occur.

Cave paintings may have been specifically located where acoustics for singing and making music are best.

What The Edge Of The Solar System Looks Like:

"The solar wind is blowing outward trying to inflate this bubble, and the pressure from interstellar wind is coming in"

Deep Fascination - The Feelies: (mp3)

Deeper - Eric's Trip: (mp3)

Falling Off The Face Of The Earth - Neil Young: (mp3)

Planet Queen (Acoustic) - T. Rex: (mp3)

Solar - Miles Davis: (mp3)

Molly Lambert is managing editor of This Recording

PREVIOUSLY ON THIS RECORDING

The Earth Is Suffocating

The Happening Of The Triffids

Boobies Get Divorced

Be Sure To Stay Tuned To This Recording

Tuesday
Jun172008

In Which Plants Certainly Do Want To Kill You

Science Corner: The Happening Of The Triffids

by Molly Lambert

Plant Monsters are making a comeback in science-fiction, starring as the villains in The Ruins and The Happening. Cold war classic Invasion Of The Body Snatchers has plant monsters; alien seeds that drift to earth, take over human bodies and replace them with simulations grown from plantlike pods, perfect physical duplicates who kill and dispose of their human victims. It's all very timely in light of the new evidence of Panspermia causing controversy and excitement in the scientific world.

Also we might get to check out Martian Ice soon. Which reminds me of Howard Hawks's classic sci-fi film The Thing From Another World. Black and white fifties horror movies are the best. Something about there being no color adds an extra dimension of suspense and otherworldliness to what are already eerie stories. Although I'm glad Mad Men is in technicolor and not black and white, I'm surprised we haven't seen continuous B & W used as a TV style gimmick yet. It would be perfect for a Twilight Zone throwback horror serial, whether set in the past or not.

The Thing From Another World's Alien Antarctic Plants

I'm beyond excited at the idea that David Fincher might direct Charles Burns's graphic horror novel Black Hole, especially if he does it in Black & White, because I can imagine it reaching ungodly heights of beauty and terror. The scene in Zodiac with the couple on the dock (which really recalled seventies slasher flicks) was one of the film's best. My favorite comic right now that reminds me of Black Hole is Rick Altergott's Raisin Pie. It touches on similar themes of drugs, sex, and teenage dread.

A Frame From Charles Burns's Epic Black Hole

While Charles Burns draws in a darkly intense expressionist style, Rick Altergott is a masterful mimic of the masterful mimics of golden age MAD Magazine, guys like Will Elder, Harvey Kurtzman and Wally Wood. As with his previous strip Doofus (whose heroes recur in Raisin Pie), Altergott constructs rivetingly offbeat narratives while packing each frame full of details and jokes. I think he still lives in Providence with wifey Ariel Bourdeaux.

Art from Rick Altergott's Raisin Pie

I also love John Carpeter's (color) reinterpretation of Hawks's film, The Thing, which had some special effects by just passed on special effects god Stan Winston (R.I.P.). And I think real life plant monsters are fascinating, especially when they are underwater. So maybe we will find some underwater martian ice plant monsters. Most likely we won't find anything at all. Either way, it's pretty cool we've reached this point in the process of looking.

BACK TO THE PLANT MONSTERS:

"If the sea rocket detects unrelated plants growing in the ground with it, the plant aggressively sprouts nutrient-grabbing roots. But if it detects family, it politely restrains itself."

“Plants,” Dr. Dudley said, “have a secret social life.”

PLANTSTR: It's An Online Social Networking Site, For Plants

"The studies are part of an emerging picture of life among plants, one in which these organisms, long viewed as so much immobile, passive greenery, can be seen to sense all sorts of things about the plants around them and use that information to interact with them."

"Plants’ social life may have remained mysterious for so long because, as researchers have seen in studies of species like sagebrush, strawberries and thornapples, the ways plants sense can be quite different from the ways in which animals do."

a little parasitic Triffid growing on another plant

Some plants, for example, have been shown to sense potentially competing neighboring plants by subtle changes in light. That is because plants absorb and reflect particular wavelengths of sunlight, creating signature shifts that other plants can detect.

Scientists also find plants exhibiting ways to gather information on other plants from chemicals released into the soil and air. A parasitic weed, dodder, has been found to be particularly keen at sensing such chemicals.

Dodder is unable to grow its own roots or make its own sugars using photosynthesis, the process used by nearly all other plants. As a result, scientists knew that after sprouting from seed, the plant would fairly quickly need to begin growing on and into another plant to extract the nutrients needed to survive.

But even the scientists studying the plant were surprised at the speed and precision with which a dodder seedling could sense and hunt its victim. In time-lapse movies, scientists saw dodder sprouts moving in a circular fashion, in what they discovered was a sampling of the airborne chemicals released by nearby plants, a bit like a dog sniffing the air around a dinner buffet.

The title story Jizzle refers to a monkey in a circus side show

Then, using just the hint of the smells and without having touched another plant, the dodder grew toward its preferred victim. That is, the dodder reliably sensed and attacked the species of plant, from among the choices nearby, on which it would grow best.

“When you see the movies, you very much have this impression of it being like behavior, animal behavior,” said Dr. Consuelo M. De Moraes, a chemical ecologist at Pennsylvania State University who was on the team studying the plant. “It’s like a little worm moving toward this other plant.”

Although a view of plants as sensing organisms is beginning to emerge, scientists have been finding hints of such capabilities and interactions for 20 years. But discoveries have continued to surprise scientists, because of what some describe as an entrenched disbelief that plants, without benefit of eyes, ears, nose, mouth or brain, can and do all they are seen to do.

The problem, for many scientists, is that as obvious as the behaviors sometimes are, they can seem just too complex and animal-like for a plant. “Maybe if we understood more mechanistically how it’s happening,” Dr. Karban added, “we’d feel more comfortable about accepting the results that we’re finding.”

Plants are not “sensitive new age guys who cringe when something around them gets hurt and who love classical music and hate rock,” Dr. Dudley said as she referred to depictions in popular works of plants living tender, emotion-soaked existences, in particular the 1970s “The Secret Life of Plants

Even mainstream researchers do not always completely agree on which ideas are clearly within the realm of science and which have gone a bit too far.

Recent debates have revolved around a longstanding question: which of the abilities and attributes that scientists have long considered the realm of just animals, like sensing, learning and memory, can sensibly be transferred to plants?

At the extreme of the equality movement, but still within mainstream science, are the members of the Society of Plant Neurobiology, a new group whose Web site describes it as broadly concerned with plant sensing.

The very name of the society is enough to upset many biologists. Neurobiology is the study of nervous systems — nerves, synapses and brains — that are known just in animals. That fact, for most scientists, makes the notion of plant neurobiology a combination of impossible, misleading and infuriating.

Authors from universities that included Yale and Oxford were exasperated enough to publish an article last year, “Plant Neurobiology: No Brain, No Gain?” in the journal Trends in Plant Science. The scientists chide the new society for discussing possibilities like plant neurons and synapses, urging that the researchers abandon such “superficial analogies and questionable extrapolations.

Defenders point out that 100 years ago, some scientists were equally adamant that plant physiology did not exist. Today, that idea is so obviously antiquated that it could elicit a good chuckle from the many scientists in that field.

Blooooop! Itsa Me, Plant Monstorio!

As for the “superficial analogies,” the new wave botanists are well aware that plants do not have exact copies of animal nervous systems. “No one proposes that we literally look for a walnut-shaped little brain in the root or shoot tip,” five authors wrote in defense of the new group.

Instead, the researchers say, they are asking that scientists be open to the possibility that plants may have their own system, perhaps analogous to an animal’s nervous system, to transfer information around the body.

Plants do send electrical signals from one part of the plant to another,” said Dr. Eric D. Brenner, a botanist at the New York Botanical Garden and a member of the Society of Plant Neurobiology.

Although those signals have been known for 100 years, scientists have no idea what plants do with them.

“No one’s asked how all that information is integrated in a plant, partly because we’ve convinced ourselves that it isn’t,” Dr. Brenner said. “People have been intimidated from asking that question.”

The mention of the possibility of plant neurobiology elicits such visceral responses that Dr. Brenner said he had at times worried that it could harm his career.

Molly Lambert is managing editor of This Recording

IT'S MY HAPPENING AND IT FREAKS IT ME OUT!

Zooey Deschanel and Marky 'Mark' Wahlberg Diggler in M. Night Shyamalan's Christian Blockbuster The Happening

Daughter Of Two Pastors And Former Christian Rock Artist Turned MySpace Anthem Generator Katy Perry

Andrew W.K. Demonstrates The Fight Face

Gender Double Standards In Media Coverage

Bulbapedia Is Wikipedia For Pokemons

Worst Crap E-Mail From A Dude Ever

Katy Perry Kissing Some Girls, Liking It

"42" - Coldplay (mp3)

"53 and 3rd" - The Ramones (mp3)

"1-800-Suicide" - Gravediggaz (mp3)

PREVIOUSLY ON THIS RECORDING

Alex Is A Galaxy

Seeds Of Life On Saturn

Panspermia And H.P. Lovecraft

Tuesday
May202008

In Which Mary Sue Takes Back The Ship

Science Fiction Fandom Has No Sex

By Molly Lambert

There is no female mind. The brain is not an organ of sex. Might as well speak of a female liver.” - Charlotte Perkins Gilman

If you took my brain, and put it in another body, and then turned that body into a brain in a vat, you would have Annalee Newitz. Seriously, I love this girl woman person. She understands me. She gets IT. And by IT I mean both Information Technology and the big picture, the world riddle, the reasons we blog and exist and blog about existing and blogging (and so on).

Annalee Newitz blogs awesome at io9

Like any great journalist, Newitz questions epistemological falsehoods and debunks them. Especially those about gender, science, and science fiction. Also, the reason the Sci-Fi Channel has no viewers is generally because it sucks.

Annalee Newitz On io9, Breaking I.T. Down:

Science Fiction Is For Women

Speed Racer is Too Gay To Function

Why Annalee Hates E.T.

Diablo Cody. Sure you love to hate her because she's pretty (AWESOME), but can John Carpenter pole dance?

Women love horror and sci-fi for the same reasons men do. Not because we feel some special emotional connection to the characters or have an interest in space fashion. It's because we wanna see FREAKY SHIT that will BLOW OUR MINDS. You can ask Tess. Also probably because it's one of the only genres to consistently feature female characters who resemble human beings, even when they are actually replicants.

"Don't ask me, I'm just a girl!"

The Final Girl trope is deeply satisfying for young women who want to see ourselves onscreen. I will keep holding my breath for Iron Woman. Meanwhile, I'll pray on wood for Joss Whedon's Dollhouse and Diablo's feminist horror comedy Jennifer's Body.

Even the wiki on fangirls is ridden with sexism. Try the much better nerd girl instead. Lisa Simpson approves.

Despite the popular stereotypes of sci-fi enthusiasts as fanboys and male hikikomoris, fangirls are equally rampant. Fan fiction is actually dominated by female writers, although Alex has been known to author Archie-centric American Idol fanfics where I am the villain. (He also writes speculative Harry Potter stories). Fangirls are often denigrated as being Mary Sues.

Hermione Granger, before puberty makeover

Leslie Fish is a famous filk singer who wrote Star Trek themed joke songs. Fangirls love writing fanfiction and are not necessarily shippers. Some women write slash fiction, Leslie Fish was a pioneer of Kirk/Spock stories. Nowadays you're more likely to find LOThR slash, such as Frodo/Aragorn or Samwise/Legolas. Even Gandalf/Gollum. Brokeback Middle-Earth is a popular setting.

Willow Rosenberg: nerdy, Jewish, ginger, Wiccan

Anime has a whole genre called Yaoi (or Boy's Love) that focuses on male/male manga, which is incredibly popular among women and gay men. The less sexual, more romantic version is called Shōnen-ai. Teen girls love Bishōnen. I would like to read slash about Zodiac or NCFOM, personally. Hook it up.

Daria, see: names I was called in high school

Nerd Girls differ from Fangirls in that their fanship is not presumed to be about lusting for hobbits, although that can happen too. The wiki specifics on nerd girls are so broad as to make almost no sense. Sometimes nerd girls wear glasses, but sometimes they don't. Okay, you nailed me!

Liz Lemon, Role Model To Nerdesses Everywhere

Often small in stature, prone to rants at clueless male characters. They dress unfashionably, not as a statement but because they don't care about fashion. Typically her clothes will be comfortable; they may be somewhat "young" for her. They have expertise in a specialized area, and/or a wide general knowledge.

SOME GREAT FEMALE CHARACTERS OF SCI-FI & HORROR

Rosemary Woodhouse: Mean husband, creepy neighbors, doctor who fucks with you, devil baby for you to love.

Dana Scully: FBI agent, professional skeptic, hot ginger we love.

Princess Leia Organa: Blowsy, prone to incest, gold bikinis, drinking away embarrassment caused by holiday specials and boring mom Padmé.

Alien's Ripley center, Navigator Lambert in back right

Ellen Ripley: Blue collar astronaut betrayed by the government, kills aliens dead, then kills them some more.

Buffy Summers: I did actually not major in Buffy studies, but I basically did. I'm partial to Willow myself (Faith is also no slouch), but you still have to bow before Buffy.

Laurie Strode: The original final girl, Jamie Lee Curtis is awesome, murks Michael Myers over and over again.

Sarah Connor: Saves the world fighting robots from the future, pumps mad iron. I hear she has chronicles now.

NERDY GIRLS RULE THE WORLD

Girl Geeks

Rants Of A Mad Nerdess

The Park Bench is glad to have Tina Fey as de facto queen.

Girly Geekdom Blog

Where do the nerd girls gather? Um, the internets?

Nerd Girls at Tufts

Molly Lambert is the skeptical redhead at This Recording

"You're Just a Country Boy" - Alison Krauss (mp3)

"Where D'You Go" - Jamie Lidell (mp3)

"The French Open (live)" - Foals (mp3)

PREVIOUSLY ON THIS RECORDING

Alex Carnevale Is Or Was Legend

The Complete Science Corner Collection

Darwin's Theory Of Sexual Selection Is Wrong

This Recording is Will Elder R.I.P.

Monday
May192008

In Which The Ants Go Marching One By One, Hurrah

Girls love math and science, they just hate sexist bullying. Yeah duh! This Recording loves science (still working on math) and despises Old Boys' Clubs.

Women have "no emotional feelings" during orgasm

Black Hole rips apart Screaming Star

DEPT. OF PYRRHIC VICTORIES:

Dead hawk's last meal climbs partway out

"Almost...there..."

"D'oh!"

Big Brains mean longer lives

The Internet is full of Cyber Black Holes

Gorillas getting the Ebola virus

Delicious Tasty Ghrelin Hormones

Bad, bad, bad, bad, bears, you steal my human food.

Australian man commits suicide by robot in a booth. Yes, just like in the Futurama pilot and some similar stuff by Kurt Vonnegut.

Suicide is painless, it shows up in your brain scans

Crazy raspberry ants attack Houston! Run from them! RUN!

Black Holes catapult through space

Will California fall into the ocean?

H.P. LOVECRAFT'S DEPT. OF HUMAN HUBRIS:

Squids have the largest eyes of any animal proportionally

Giant Squid being thawed out

Volcanic Smog = Vog

Paleo-beads called cenospheres found in rocks of the Chicxulub Crater explained

Jupiter's shady rings

10% of U.S. kids sip sizzerp on the weekly. Rilly?

Wounded Bald Eagle gets artificial beak:

"Dignity. Always dignity"

Rocky the robo-squirrel

Apes are just as self-conscious as humans:

"Why do I feel like such a phony? Am I one?"

Treasure found in 500 year old shipwreck

Mexican parasitic plant identified and named:

"You can't call it ugly but on the other hand I recognize it's not everyone's cup of tea." It looks like a Super Mario bad guy!

Pittsburgh beats Los Angeles for most polluted city

Butterflies remember being Caterpillars!

"I REMEMBER EVERYTHING!"

Here come the marching Martian sand dunes

The Lungless Frog of Borneo:

"I have no lungs! I have no lungs!"

Bum bot patrols Atlanta streets.

Solar tsunamis in Stereo

A computer-generated image shows TrES-3 and its host star, which is slightly smaller and cooler than the Sun. The gas giant exoplanet is twice as massive as Jupiter

Three hundred planets observed in the last thirteen years

Shooting star shower on Mars

Seeds of Life: found near Saturn

Researchers think the geysers on one of Saturn's moons, Enceladus, are formed from liquid water beneath the surface near the moon's South Pole. The vapor treks through little channels in the ice and condenses to form ice crystals that also move toward the moon's surface. That results in jets of water vapor and ice grains spewing from the surface.

Fetal Planet still under construction

Galaxy Evolution seen in action

Real life Iron Man exoskeletons and body armor

The real-life HAL exoskeleton (left) and Sarcos XOS exoskeleton (right) compared to the fictional Iron Man (middle).

Orchid-Dupe-Wasps go all the way with Australian tongue orchids

Robotic bird makes first flight, crashes into tree

ROBOSWIFT:

"I can fly! I can fly! I can...D'oh"

Mind's limit found: Four Things at once

Brains hard-wired to hate losing

HAPPINESS IS A WARM ROBOT:

"Most people are as happy as they make up their minds to be" - Awesome President Abraham Lincoln

"To live among people, robots need to handle complex social tasks. Robots will need to work with emotions, to understand and eventually feel them." - Japanese Scientist Junichi Takeno

Mighty eruptions on the sun trigger rippling bursts of ringing sound waves, like in Sunshine.

AWWWWW, THAT'S SO CUTE:

Bald penguin Pierre gets a wetsuit.

Greater dwarf cloud rats found

Pygmy Elephants may be descended from an extinct race

HAI, I PICKED U THIS FLOWER

"Another Day" - Jamie Lidell (mp3)

"Anonymous" - Glorytellers (mp3)

"Two Steps Twice (live)" - Foals (mp3)

Molly Lambert is the science editor at This Recording

PREVIOUSLY ON THIS RECORDING:

Steampunk and Scar Jo

Gingers and Comic Books

Bottle Rocket and Poetry