Voices of Coal, Coral Sex, and Nature's Bungee Cords

New Nooze for your Wednesday enjoyment. earthfix_logoFirst, from Oregon Public Broadcasting's EarthFix, a really incredible series of interviews with folks in the northwest as they talk about their relationship with coal.  Really outstanding work, and definitely worth checking out:

Voices of Coal

Here are just a few of the nine videos they offer:

[vimeo http://www.vimeo.com/58513153 w=400&h=300]

[vimeo http://www.vimeo.com/58075718 w=400&h=300]

[vimeo http://www.vimeo.com/60530689 w=400&h=300]

[vimeo http://www.vimeo.com/60803293 w=400&h=300]

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michelle nijhuisNext, Michelle Nijhuis writes in Slate Magazine about coral sex on the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef:

Swimming in Sperm and Eggs: Coral sex is explosive, exquisitely timed, and funky

The Mesoamerican Barrier Reef, a narrow band of coral stretching from the Yucatan to northern Honduras, hugs the Belizean coastline like a giant parenthesis. In a few places, the main spine of the reef rises above the surface, forming low islands exposed to the wind and waves of the open sea.

A tube worm in Carrie Bow Cay, Belize, during the 2012 spawning season (Photo courtesy of Abby Wood)

One of these islands, 13 miles offshore, houses the Smithsonian Institution’s Carrie Bow Cay Marine Field Station. When I stepped ashore one sweaty evening, the station had an air of cheerful dereliction. Researchers in bikinis and half-zipped wetsuits circled in and out of the bare-bones laboratories. A hand-lettered wooden sign near the station house entry read “FREE BEER TOMORROW.”

The evening’s task would be delicate, however, and tension was building. It was three days after the full moon, and some of the corals near Carrie Bow were expected to begin their annual spawn once night fell. A team of aquarists and marine scientists had gathered on the island in hopes of collecting sperm and eggs released into the water by endangered coral species... Read more.

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Lynda MapesLynda Mapes with The Seattle Times writes about mussels, nature's bungee cords, and how they might be able to help us:

UW researchers offer clues to how mussels work

A mussel suspended in a University of Washington laboratory has already created one byssal thread and is reaching out its foot to mold a second strong, flexible thread. Mussels typically create 50 threads to anchor themselves in place. (Photo courtesy L Coutts/Friday Harbor Labs/UW)

Waves slam the shore with the force of a jetliner screaming at 600 mph. Yet mussels — small but mighty denizens of the intertidal zone — still manage to cling tenaciously to their rocks.

Just how they do it has fascinated researchers for decades. Now new science just emerging from the lab is pointing the way to a better understanding of mussels’ remarkable stick-to-it-ness, and what their abilities might mean for people.

Could the mussels’ adhesive properties be synthesized, for example, and used to seal wet wounds in surgical procedures?

“I started working on this way back in the 1970s and everyone thought I was crazy,” Herbert Waite, professor at the University of California. Santa Barbara, said in a panel discussion about the mussels’ adhesive capacity at the annual meeting at the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Boston last week. “It seemed heroic. Here is this little creature that doesn’t even have a brain, how does it survive purely with its ability to hunker down on a hard surface?”... Read more.