hummingwolf: animation of green and gold fractal, number of iterations increasing with time (Iterations in green and gold)
One thing that puzzled me was, how do microbes always seem to show up in extreme environments ready to carpe diem? When new hydrothermal vents open on the cold, dark, ocean floor, where do the hyperthermophiles come from? Are they floating in some dormant state waiting for a gush of boiling sulfuric acid to wake them up or are they already down in plumbing systems below the seafloor in the crust and do they just happen to be ejected through new vents? What about the bacteria, archaea, and fungi colonizing the Titanic? How did they find the Titanic when it took us more than 70 years using secret navy technologies? Were the iron-loving microbes already at work on the new steel before the ship set sail? Were they already present in the ocean scratching out a meager existence from molecules in the bottom sediments? [Charles] Pellegrino pondered whether microbes from the toilets on the Titanic and the throats of passengers survived and mingled. When I posed the question to [Roy] Cullimore he quoted Dutch microbiologist Baas Becking:

"Everything is everywhere. The environment selects."



--from Tim Friend's book The Third Domain: The Untold Story of Archaea and the Future of Biotechnology

(no subject)

Tuesday, May 25th, 2004 02:25 am
hummingwolf: Drawing of a creature that is part-wolf, part-hummingbird. (Hummingwolf by Dandelion)
UWARNING
HUMMINGWOLF'S JOURNAL WILL CONTAIN FREQUENT REFERENCES TO CICADAS UNTIL SUCH TIME AS THE BUGS DECIDE TO STOP MAKING NOISES AT TWO IN THE BLOODY MORNING.



Hey, does anybody know where I can find some good periodical cicada fanfic? Surely there must be some Buffy/Brood X crossover fic by now.

(no subject)

Monday, May 24th, 2004 11:04 pm
hummingwolf: Drawing of a creature that is part-wolf, part-hummingbird. (Hummingwolf by Dandelion)
There were moments on my evening walk tonight when I couldn't hear any cicadas at all, no matter how hard I tried. Of course the fact that I was walking next to a busy highway at the time may have had something to do with it. Even so, I guarantee that if I'd taken my walk in midafternoon, no ordinary level of traffic noise would have blotted out the rattles, hums, clicks, and screams.

Tonight I had to go on a search and rescue mission. Cicadas have an irresistible urge to fly between the screens and storm windows on this floor even though they seem unable to remember how to get out again, so when I heard a high-pitched rattle next to me as I was reading in bed, I removed the screen to allow the unfortunate Magicicada to fly outside. Naturally (and you knew this was coming), the bug decided my room was a more attractive option. It's a good thing for me that cicadas have no talent for stealth operations--even when they're not singing, those suckers beat their wings pretty loudly. Still, I never could have trapped the insect and sent it on its way if not for the fact that it engaged in a losing battle against one of my vast army of dust bunnies.

Hmm.

Sunday, May 23rd, 2004 10:22 am
hummingwolf: animation of green and gold fractal, number of iterations increasing with time (Iterations in green and gold)
I've been reading this page on cicadas and trying to listen to the audio clips so I'll know exactly what I'm hearing from our local critters. Sadly, I'm having some trouble distinguishing the sounds on the computer from the sounds in the real world--turning up the volume on my machine helps, but turning down the volume on the bugs outside would help so much more.

What I really want to know is this: If cicadas sing their mating songs in sunlit treetops from morning to evening as long as adults are around (which is what assorted web pages tell me), what the heck is that noise I keep hearing at one in the a.m.? Do cicadas snore (at high pitch)? Do the people who write these web pages live in soundproofed homes where they never hear the noises after dark? Or is the Mother Ship using the emergence of periodical cicadas as camouflage, thinking nobody will notice a little alien noise as long as billyuns and billyuns of bugs are around?

Aliens Attack!

Thursday, May 13th, 2004 07:40 pm
hummingwolf: animation of green and gold fractal, number of iterations increasing with time (Iterations in green and gold)
Two days ago, I noticed clumps of alien-looking shells on tall grass in some parts of the neighborhood. Yesterday, there were weird, squishy black-and-orange bodies on the sidewalks. In the evening I heard a sound which could have been the sound of a sprinkler or other periodic, innocent mechanism--or it could have been an inhuman mating cry. Today, there is definitely an odd, almost electronic tune heard throughout the city.

Ladies and gentlemen, the Invaders of Brood X have arrived.

At least I'm not the only one who isn't always sure whether I'm hearing cicada or machine. I think one of the bugs I heard on my walk today was trying to get a date with a noisy malfunctioning streetlight. Maybe the new generation of cicadas should try online personals instead.

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