This Week I Found: April 19-25 2014

Do April showers bring May flowers?

Why do Hammerhead Sharks have hammer heads?

Meet to the sailfish: the fish with a deadly weapon on its face.

I always forget about amphisbaenians. (They’re reptiles.)

Sometimes turtles eat bones.

Because sloths spend much of their lives upside down, they ‘tape’ their internal organs to their ribs so they can breathe.

How do you study the evolution of animal intelligence?

The phases of the moon impact animal behavior.

Why humans and Neanderthals had different spines.

Icarus should have flown closer to the sun.

The story of Einstein’s brain.

How well do you understand IUDs?

Are you up to date with your vaccinations?

How to get rid of old prescriptions.

A simple explanation of poop transplants.

How to live forever“.

10 fun facts about the Earth.

7 things we learned between Earth Day 2013 and 2014.

How much warmer has your state gotten since the first Earth Day?

What was the world actually like in 4004 BCE? (Hint: that wasn’t the day the world was created.)

Shooting lasers at the moon during the lunar eclipse.

The US military is preparing for a ‘climate change war‘.

I add my thesis to lol my thesis.

Things I Found This Week: April 12-18 2014

La Brea’s megafauna attracts the visitors, but a fossil bee tells the real story of California’s past.

A grad student recreated a fossil plant and it’s beautiful.

And the debate continues: Commercialization of fossils.

Geological maps of Middle-Earth.

A map of the United States based on the nearest National Park.

A map of the places in the United States where no one lives.

Dying in a Living Room‘: the exotic pet trade is a dangerous thing.

How living walls save lions and cattle.

Another GoPro, this time a view from beneath a giraffe, and another inside a leopard’s mouth.

Stop calling hyenas disgusting.

Sleeping on the job: guard dogs mated with wolves.

Best job I’d never heard of: polar bear poop tracker.

Alligator snapping turtles turned out to be 3 different species, but either way they’re endangered.

What do golf courses have to do with salamanders?

Don’t worry, you don’t actually swallow spiders in your sleep!

The discovery of a new insect sex organ!

How ferns became masters of shadow.

The truth about the Gulf oil spill.

Human Races May Have Biological Meaning, But Races Mean Nothing About Humanity‘.

How is Captain America like a Wood Frog?

Your cell phone can hear if you’re depressed.

Brazil is a dangerous place for environmentalists.

Clouds blocked my view, but did you get to see the lunar eclipse ‘Blood Moon’?

Really, you should watch Cosmos.

What do we know about ‘The Waters of Mars‘?

Saturn may have spawned a new moon.

Like 2048, but with chemistry.

The eastern United States might have been cold, but for the rest of the world, this winter was warm.

Ontario, Canada has stopped using coal to generate electricity.

What happens to a Peep in a vacuum?

A statistical analysis of paintings by Bob Ross.

People Like Their Music Served Medium Funky‘.

The best gif. Ever.

Alex Dainis finally has another Bite Sci-zed video!

This Week I Found: April 6 – 11 2014

The Cambrian Carnival of Animals.

How much do you know about pterosaurs?

Some prehistoric animals look like aliens to us.

This is why you should document everything: a reunited, reconstructed slab of dinosaur footprints.

When Evolution’s Controversial, Declaring a State Fossil Can Get Tricky‘: the battle for South Carolina’s state fossil.

Hummingbirds have got it going on and diversity is booming.

The Tet Zoo manifesto: even the most ordinary creatures are amazing.

Drunken Prairie Voles Help Explain Alcohol’s Demons‘.

How one species of bat became seven.

White-nose syndrome has spread to bats in Wisconsin and Michigan.

Nature’s deformities can be beautiful and enlightening.

Shark fin imports may have dropped 90% in Hong Kong and China, but that’s not the whole story.

19 fish not to eat (and their sustainable alternatives).

The importance (and revival) of studying anatomy.

The Aunt who inspired the evolutionary theory that proved the value of aunts.

Confident memories can be completely wrong.

Do color blind people see more colors when they take hallucinogens?

Chemophobia can be more dangerous than chemicals.

Why it’s difficult to recycle cell phones.

10 reasons you should be watching Cosmos.

How the Cosmos remake came to be.

Star deaths are beautiful.

How to Turn a Pencil Into a Diamond‘.

What a computer background can show us about climate change.

Ditch plastic water bottles, 23 national parks have!

A geological map of Westeros.

Timelapses of glaciers show how they flow.

This Week I Found: March 15- April 5 2014

I know that this covers more than a week, but I still wanted to share all the wonderful things that I found with you!

 

Things look very different in infrared and ultraviolet light.

Everything you ever wanted to know about black holes.

The face of the Big Bang, and here is another explanation, and another.

The planet Mercury is shrinking.

In 4 billion years, the Milky Way is going to collide with the Andromeda galaxy and it’s going to look amazing!

Want to be alerted when the ISS is passing overhead? There’s a device for that!

2/3 of Americans can’t see the Milky Way: get thee to a National Park!

Halley’s Comet will return in 2061!

Pro-tip: don’t stick your hand (or your head) in the Large Hadron Collider.

Can The Doppler Effect Help You Beat The Speed Camera?

The origin of the lights that come before earthquakes.

How Tardigrades Saved the Enterprise‘.

The Chernobyl fallout wreaked havoc on everything, including the microbes.

The evolutionary arms race between crops and pests.

Know your parasites.

Parasites, cat poop, and human culture.

How Animals See the World.’

Things look much different under a microscope.

What is a mass extinction and why should we care?

A comic about better sports mascots.

This winter’s cold could be bad for bees.

Just be glad that fleas today aren’t as large as their prehistoric relatives!

It should go without saying, but don’t ride sharks.

Frogs in pants helped to explain how sex works. Really.

Climate change is shrinking salamanders.

Iguanas Have Oldest Reptilian Sex Chromosome.

Poor sea snakes: even though they live in water, they’re always thirsty and dehydrated.

Homing pythons‘ slithered their way home.

The mating calls of some male tortoises.

Hummingbird songs sound surprisingly complicated when you slow them down.

What do we really know about the evolution of giant birds?

Cute comic about the calls of western American birds, and another about bird evolution.

If there were sabercats, there must have been saberkittens.”

Big cats really like the smell of Calvin Klein’s Obsession for Men.

Cat domestication was complicated.

A bear tried to eat a GoPro Camera.

Pronghorns are weird and wonderful.

We might be getting closer to being able to clone a mammoth, but should we?

Learn about the extinction of Ice Age megafauna from the Oxford Megafauna Conference!

The return of the right whale.

Final Resting Place: Burials, Graves, and Funerary Rites.’

Where do geologists go when they die?

Why don’t Americans like IUDs?

Ancient Moss Revived After Ages on Ice‘.

In the past 39 years, the Rocky Mountain wildflower season has lengthened by a month.

It’s important to test science’s ‘just-so’ stories.

3D printing is revolutionizing paleontology.

A tornado made of fire and tumbleweeds.

Lake Michigan is beautiful in the winter.

How to dye the Chicago River green.

Check out this interactive map of all the wind turbines in the US.

Maps of earthquakes nicely outlines tectonic plates.

Light pollution can be bad for your health.

Statistically speaking, toilet seat covers aren’t worth it.

Scientifically measured speed idioms.

Things I Wish I Had Known Earlier: Master’s Edition

I just submitted the final draft of my Master’s thesis to the Graduate School and I will graduate with an M.S. in Biology in May. I went directly from undergrad to my Master’s, so the learning curve was not as steep as it could have been, but, obviously, graduate school has been much different from undergrad. Lately, I’ve been looking back on what I learned in the past two years while doing my research. Hopefully, I will be able to save others from making the same mistakes that I did!

Do it (right) now

Simply put, parts of research/thesis writing are busy work. I recommend getting these things done and out of the way. Have 77 graphs to make? Have citations that need to be added to your literature cited? Don’t wait until the last minute. It’s so much easier to make little changes along the way than to have to change all the things at the last minute.If you are looking for a reference manager, I recommend Mendeley. Along those lines, do things right the first time. You will probably have to pretty things up later, but do Future You a favor and don’t just throw something together.

 

Write it down

Write down everything. Have an epiphany? Write it down. Change something? Write it down. Seriously. In the first few semesters of my Master’s, I would just assume that Future Me would remember what I had changed. Nope. I’ve had to start analyses from scratch because I didn’t write down what I had done. My advice: get a notebook and write in it every time you do anything with your research. If you like writing things down by hand, there are composition notebooks and Rite in the Rain notebooks,  as well as online notebooks such as Evernote (check out Dave Pappano’s open lab notebook).

Back it up

Save everything. All the time. There’s nothing like having your computer freeze to remind you that you haven’t saved your file in the past few hours. It seems to be a fact of the universe that your computer will die at the worst possible point in the semester, so back everything up multiple times. And for sanity’s sake, give it a name that makes sense. One of my fellow grad students learned that naming all the files you don’t like “poop” or “poop2” isn’t actually helpful and leads to the urge to flip tables.

Ask for help

I learned early on that it is better to ask for help when I don’t understand than to tough it out and struggle on my own in an effort to seem self-sufficient. Sure, there is merit to figuring things out on your own, but sometimes it is better to get help. I’ve had to unlearn convoluted methods that I figured out on my own because someone showed me an easier way to do things.

Take care of yourself

This advice is constantly repeated in lists of tips to get through grad school, but that’s because it is vitally important. I feel like a hypocrite saying it, because I know that in the last few months I haven’t been following this advice as well as I could have been, but I recognize its value. I know that when I ran regularly, I managed to work out kinks in my research and my life while on the trails. I know that I when I eat and sleep on a regular basis, I’m a more functional human being. I know that without the emotional support of my fellow grad students and my department chair, finishing my Master’s would have been orders of magnitude more difficult. My advice: exercise, eat healthy and regularly, get enough sleep, and ask for emotional support when you need it. Grad school is hard on everyone, so there’s no need to go through it alone.

The core of my paleoclimate research came from data-mined information and the analyses that I ran on it, so my experiences might be different from yours. Not all of my tips will be relevant to everyone, but hopefully they can give a push in the right direction. If you’re reading this because you’re in grad school, I hope you find it helpful and good luck!