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Science/Nature

Friday Catblogging: Cats’ Spooky Eyes

Helen Czerski writes Behind the Spooky Eyes of Cats (‘Like scarier nighttime predators, cats have slit pupils that help them to judge distance and ambush their prey’): Halloween is approaching, and a whiff of ghoulish menace is squatting casually in the darkness of London’s evenings. Ghostly figures, silhouettes of witches and jagged glowing teeth loom…

Friday Catblogging: Cats Have Attachment Styles

In Current Biology, Kristyn R. Vitale, Alexandra C. Behnke, and Monique A.R. Udell have reported their findings on Attachment bonds between domestic cats and humans. Here is a summary of their report, with the full study available online: Worldwide, domestic cats (Felis silvestris catus) outnumber domestic dogs (Canis familiaris). Despite cats’ success in human environments,…

Friday Catblogging: Siamese Cats as Heat Maps

Annie Rauwerda writes Siamese cats are heatmaps of themselves: Siamese cats are walking heatmaps. Their characteristic coloration results from a delightful mutation (maybe I should call it a mew-tation) in tyrosinase, an enzyme that makes melanin. A deleted cytosine amino acid causes a frameshift mutation. The result? Tyrosinase in Siamese cats is particularly sensitive to…

Friday Catblogging: Tabbies

James Gorman reports How the Cat Gets Its Stripes: A team of geneticists reported Tuesday in the journal Nature Communications that it had identified a gene in domestic cats that plays a key role in creating the traditional tabby stripe pattern, and that the pattern is evident in embryonic tissue even before hair follicles start…

Daily Bread for 9.7.21: Formation, General

Good morning. Tuesday in Whitewater will see morning thundershowers with a high of 78. Sunrise is 6:27 AM and sunset 7:17 PM, for 12h 50m 22s of daytime.  The moon is new with 0.3% of its visible disk illuminated. The Whitewater  Common Council meets at 6:30 PM.  On this day in 1776, according to American colonial reports, Ezra Lee…

Friday Catblogging: Cats’ Genomes

In One More Thing We Have in Common With Cats, Katherine Wu writes about the similarities between feline and human genomes: Cats, it turns out, harbor genomes that look and behave remarkably like ours. “Other than primates, the cat-human comparison is one of the closest you can get,” with respect to genome organization, Leslie Lyons, an…

Wise Words for Whitewater from Steak-umm

There’s a thread on Twitter from Steak-umm (an American brand of thin-sliced frozen steaks) that does a better job (truly) discussing the role of science and skepticism about the pandemic than much of what’s published online. The full thread is available at Twitter, and excerpts are imediately below. It’s spot-on for Whitewater. (Note: the thread…

From Comic-Con@Home 2021: The Science of Art

How is STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) used to inspire and create our most beloved popular arts? What do portrayals of science and scientists in popular media get right and wrong? From world-building to special effects and cosplay, IF/THEN ambassadors (www.ifthenshecan.org) Sydney Hamilton (aerospace engineer), Myria Perez (paleontologist), Dr. Samantha Thi Porter (archaeologist), and Dr.…

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Science

It seemed reasonable, months ago, to wait until the end of the 2020-2021 school year to assess how well the Whitewater Unified School District managed the pandemic. It doesn’t seem so reasonable now, for reasons of culture as much as public health. Generally – and sensibly – one has reason to be skeptical of lay…

Friday Catblogging: A Study on Cats & Milk Prebiotics

Lauren Quinn reports Milk prebiotics are the cat’s meow, research shows: If you haven’t been the parent or caregiver of an infant in recent years, you’d be forgiven for missing the human milk oligosaccharide trend in infant formulas. These complex carbohydrate supplements mimic human breast milk and act like prebiotics, boosting beneficial microbes in babies’ guts.…