As the weekend begins I find myself frustrated with the news….well more about the quality of the news than the content…..as usual I will give the useless news that no one could ever use.
The world’s largest single organism has been discovered….
Scientists have discovered what is arguably the world’s largest living organism, which is roughly the size of 20,000 football fields and about 4,500 years old. It’s a seagrass known as Poseidon’s ribbon weed, or Posidonia australis, which started as a seed spawned from two different species. Nestled in Shark Bay off the westernmost tip of Australia, it slowly grew to become the biggest plant on Earth, covering over 77 square miles “or just over three times the size of Manhattan island,” per the Guardian. Scientists only discovered it when looking for genetic differences in ribbon weed over a large area. Hoping to find specimens to use in restoration, they examined 18,000 genetic markers in various sample.
This showed 116 samples taken up to 110 miles apart were from a single plant. “We thought ‘what the hell is going on here?'” Dr. Martin Breed, an ecologist at Flinders University, tells the Guardian. It turns out this ribbon weed is expanding up to 14 inches each year through clone offshoots. Given the size of the current underwater meadow—a home to dolphins, dugongs, turtles, and crabs—this plant must be at least 4,500 years old, scientists say. That’s not so unbelievable. Other genetic studies have shown seagrass can live between 2,000 and 100,000 years. Though patchy, this specimen is particularly hardy, surviving in areas of Shark Bay where the salt content is double that of other bay locations.
That hardiness is thanks to its makeup: A hybrid of two species, it has two complete sets of chromosomes—a condition known as polyploidy, per the New York Times. As evolutionary biologist Dr. Elizabeth Sinclair of the University of Western Australia puts it to the Guardian, “Instead of getting half [of] its genes from mum and half from dad, it’s kept all of them.” This has “essentially doubled the genetic diversity in the plant, likely increasing its ability to tolerate a wider range of environmental conditions,” Sinclair, an author of the study published Wednesday in Proceedings of the Royal Society B, tells Live Science. It may also have resulted in the plant being largely sterile. Only its northern meadows reproduce sexually, per the Times. The remainder has to grow by sending new shoots out of its root system.
Did you watch the whole CSI franchise? CSI, CSI:NY, CSI: Miami, CSI Podunk…..just how did they solve all those amazing crimes?
G. Michele Yezzo worked for 32 years as a forensic scientist in Ohio. She resigned in 2009, after being reprimanded by her supervisor for “interpretational and observational errors” that “could lead to a substantial miscarriage of justice.” By then, Yezzo had amassed a 449-page personnel file loaded with serious behavior complaints and disparaging reports about her work in a slew of major cases. Yezzo is the central figure in an Atlanticarticle by Barbara Bradley Hagerty, which questions whether forensic science can be trusted. It’s not a new question; indeed, a “bombshell” 2009 report by the National Academy of Sciences found a system riddled with errors and flawed methods.
The system hasn’t changed in any meaningful ways: Most crime labs are still not independent but embedded in police departments, and the work they do is not subject to any rigorous regulations or standards. Some fields like toxicology and DNA analysis rest on firm scientific ground, but many are prone to cognitive bias—the tendency of analysts (and/or detectives and prosecutors) to see what they want to see. Bite marks, bloodstains, and hair analysis are especially faulty, but prosecutors know juries are suckers for “expert” testimony. Furthermore, as numerous convictions overturned by the Innocence Project and others have revealed, flawed and fabricated evidence is often central to cases in which police and prosecutors suppress exculpatory evidence. Yezzo is retired now, but she faces lawsuits, and her career left many innocent lives in tatters. Read more here.
Are you an avid movie goer?
Then I hate that I must pee on your entertainment….
If canceled flights and sky-high gas prices have led you to decide on a movie-filled staycation instead this summer, we’re about to rain on that parade, too. While the big movies are back in theaters—Insider flags the coming Jurassic World: Dominion in particular—some other things are in short supply: among them, popcorn. So reports the Wall Street Journal, which talks to the head of Preferred Popcorn, which sources kernels from about 150 farmers. Norm Krug tells the Journal that he’s been forced to pay those farmers more to keep farming popcorn, as crops like soybeans become more lucrative for them (and don’t involve the use of the same costly fertilizers, which are just getting pricier due to the war in Ukraine).
Even with that higher pay, he fears the output won’t match that of previous years. But that’s just one issue: Another is having enough truckers to get the popcorn kernels where they need to go, and a third is the bags the popped corn comes in. It turns out the material that lines the bags in is in short supply, too, so much so that some theaters are opting to serve the snack in plastic and metal containers. As for soda, cups are a problem, to such a degree that the Journal reports some theaters are buying up what closing theaters have left over, rivals’ logos and all. (Read the full story.)
There you have it….news that means nothing at all.
I Read, I Write, You Know
“lego ergo scribo”