Some interesting science and technology links

Biology

They mapped the entire genome of the platypus and it’s awesome. Here is the original article from Nature. Here is a plain-English explanation of what they found. (We are studying genetics in our homeschool this year, so I have been on the lookout for news articles about genetics and genetic engineering. One of the more fascinating aspects of studying genetics is how every living thing on the planet shares at least some genetic material. When our daughter learned that, she said “Gosh, Daddy is going to be upset to hear he shares 80% of the same genetic material as a cat.” He’s always pretending to be put out by our housecat.)

There is also an interesting project to map the genomes of Vikings across Europe that is changing the way academics see European history and migration. (This would make a great topic for an open-ended discussion with kids as to how much we can ever really know about things that happened in the past, even with primary sources.)

As an avid gardener for decades, I have observed the decline of pollinators with a mixture of panic and frustration. I feel like the ubiquity of weed-killing chemicals is largely and obviously to blame for this situation. I have become militant in maintaining and organic yard and garden. But there are folks who will blame the usual boogeymen (GMOs, climate change, etc.), and I feel like that is among the things preventing anything constructive from getting done. A Monsanto stooge will be leading the US Department of Agriculture at the end of the month too, so there’s that. Anyway, here is an interesting article about the debate among various stakeholders as to whether the monarch butterfly should be included on the Endangered Species List.

Physics and Astronomy

A seven-part long (but no math) explanation of quantum mechanics, written by a physics professor at the University of Washington in Seattle.

A video from the Hubble Space Telescope – Ultra Deep Field: Looking Out into Space, Looking Back into Time. This will blow your mind.

The “Grand Canyon of Mars.”

Samsung has unveiled a line of robots to help you with chores around the house, and it’s bonkers.

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