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Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Look Ma...I am a Scientist!

So I was recently at a science conference in January...which is pretty much like other professional conferences from what I can tell in that it is awkward, in a large convention center with bad coffee, and you have to wear name tags like when you were on a field trip in first grade. You basically go around listening to talks (there was an awesome talk on Alligator penises...they don't have to worry about inflating their penises with blood because they have a lot of dense connective tissue which lets them have eternal boners... here is the link to the talk abstract), going to workshops, and attempting (poorly, in my case) to network and get 'connections' in the science community.

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Alligators don't need viagra

I also gave a talk, but unfortunately not on my worm stuff because my sample size of 8 worms kind of sucks... Cutting up worms takes time...I went to a talk where the girl said it took her 2 YEARS to do a study where she saw which females the males of a species preferred to seduce. Balls.

Anyway this is probably too long and boring for you to actually sit through and watch, but here are vids of *my* talk where I am talking about how squid have collagen in their mantle. This collagen acts like rubber bands to store and release energy when stretched to help squid quickly move...which they do by jet propulsion which is pretty sweet.
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The arrow shows the mantle
 Basically squid expand and contract their hollow muscular mantle (which are the calamari rings you get in a seafood restaurant) to bring water in to its hollow mantle cavity and then shoot in a tight jet stream to push the squid. 

Here is a sweet video of my advisor torturing a squid, making it jet several times:

These collagen rubber bands stretch when the mantle expands which stores energy that is released when the squid contracts its mantle and jets, this helps make the jets even more powerful. 
The red lines represent collagen fibers that stretch and store energy when the mantle expands, so when the mantle contracts water can be powerfully expelled in a jet.

The talk is kind of dry but if you are super bored and perhaps slightly drunk you might find it vaguely interesting. Plus you get to see me in some sweet tight pants that make my butt and legs look awesome. Thank you stairmaster and weighted squats!

Here are the links to my talk:

Hopefully next year I will have some sweet worm data to present!

Your favorite science nerd,

The 'Dirty' Scientist

Monday, January 2, 2012

The BIGGER the BETTER ... why size matters!

So in my last post we saw evidence that being a small/fetal earthworm is apparently much different than being a big worm. While I still have no idea WTF I am looking at, I am hoping that this weirdness translates into interesting differences between the way  small and large worms work.
Meet biggest worm to-date

But even if the babies just looked like mini clones of the adults, being small still just isn't the same as being big...Is bigger better? I think so, but I guess I ought to just accept my shortness and A-cup bra size...

So how does size affect how you work? Let's pretend you are HUGE. (I mean in body size!) How do you physically compare to a small, delicate little creature such as myself? Here are 2 examples of how life for you is different as a giant, lumbering oaf...I mean tall person.

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This guy is like the little man who lives in my head and tells me to do naughty things.


Well, for starters....If you are giant, you really can use the excuse that you aren't fat but big boned.When you get larger you are increasing in body mass faster than your bones are increasing in area to support that mass (you fatty) because body mass is proportional to volume  (length^3) while the structural support from  bones is proportional to its cross-sectional area (length^2). So what does your body to to make sure your immense weight doesn't cause you to crush your feeble bones? Your bones' area get disproportionately thicker to support you. See... you really are big boned if you are tall!  
Here is an example of  different sized bones I found while shopping for pudding and bologna at the grocery store. No, I don't have any idea why you would buy the big bone unless you have a pet yeti to feed.

#2 METABOLIC RATE (Don't we all wish this 

were higher)

There is some good news if you are small... you can eat relatively more food per unit body weight and not get fat! Which is good because I loves me some gingerbread men...


Small animals have relatively higher metabolisms per unit body weight than large animals, so smaller animals burn relatively more calories. I don't think we entirely know why this is, but it explains why my 10 pound dog is so ADD.


Generally, larger animals live longer than smaller animals, but humans are a weird exception in that we live pretty long for our body size. There is also some controversial  evidence that short people live longer than large people. I don't think anyone knows exactly why, so I will say its because of divine favor.

So while I may never have the small hips, slinky legs, sex appeal, and wealthy life of a supermodel, chances are I will live longer. SO SUCK IT VICTORIAS SECRET

Your favorite mini scientist,

The 'Dirty' Scientist