Blobologist-approved reads: Beautiful bubbles, jellyfish & dendrites. Butt-ugly experiments.

My ScienceSeeker editor’s picks for this week: Beauty-and-the-beast edition

Solving the Mystery of the Placental Jellyfish at Deep Sea News

Last week, this video was making the rounds:

It was beautiful. It was mysterious. It was either a plastic bag or a whale placenta. But before you read Craig McClain’s excellent post about it, make sure you watch the video, so you get the full sense of satisfaction of suddenly understanding what you’re looking at.  Then watch this stunning narrated footage of the beastie giving a more graceful performance.

Dendrites of direction at The Cellular Scale

Keeping with this week’s theme of beauty, I found the downward-pointing dendrites of mice retinas under discussion at The Cellular Scale extremely easy on the eye. And damn useful too, seeing as they help mice sense upward motion. The question is, of course, is their beautiful form related to their practical function? I hope so.

The secret molecular life of bubbles (1913) at Skulls in the Stars

I’ll tell you one thing about this post. It’s worth your time. Don’t look at all those words, and all those pretty pictures and think “Wait, why do I want to know about bubbles?” You want to know because you care about the nature of the matter. You want to know because you care how we figure out the nature of matter. You want to know how a beautiful soap bubble tells us about the nature of matter. You want to feel awe every time you take a bubble bath.

What are science’s ugliest experiments? at Cross-Check

The soap bubble experiments were beautiful experiments in the same way that experiments in George Johnson’s “Ten Most Beautiful Experiments” were also beautiful experiments. I love that book, but the truth is that there are very few experiments that could even be considered mildly attractive; most are plain, a little lumpy and in need of work. But John Horgan doesn’t mind reminding us that some famous experiments were truly, hideously ugly.


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