3. There are genetic differences between tool-using dolphins and non-tool-using dolphins in Australia's Shark Bay.
"In certain locations in Australia, dolphins that use tools have a sequence of heritable genes that dolphins that do not use tools lack. In Australia's Shark Bay, some bottlenose dolphins hold sponges at the tip of their mouths when foraging—probably to protect their beaks from getting scraped up, ABC Science reports. In other parts of the bay, where the water is shallower, however, the dolphins usually don't use sponges... dolphins from the shallow waters were almost all haplotype H, while those in Shark Bay's deeper waters were haplotype E or F. Teasing out those initial results, the researchers found that only dolphins that inherited haplotype E actually use the sponges."
4. Physicist Andrei Linde, he of the inflationary theory that was this week's big science news, does an amazing job contextualizing his work.
"Let me start by saying that many, many years ago, and I mean like almost a century ago, Einstein came up with something called the 'cosmological principle,' which says that our universe must be homogenous and uniform. And for many years, people used this principle... [It] was the only way of answering the question, why the universe is everywhere the same. In fact, why it is the universe. So we did not think about the multiverse, we just wanted to explain why the world is so homogenous around us, why it is so big, why there are so many people, why parallel lines do not intercept. Which is, in fact, part of the same question: if the universe was tiny, like a small globe, and you draw parallel lines perpendicular to the equator of the globe, they would intersect at the south and the north poles. Why has nobody ever seen parallel lines intersecting?
"These kinds of questions, for many years, could seem a bit silly. For example, one may wonder what happened before the universe even emerged. The textbook of general relativity, which we used in Russia, said that it was meaningless to ask this question because the solutions of the Einstein equations cannot be continued through the singularity, so why bother. And yet people bothered. They are still trying to answer these kinds of questions. But for many people such questions looked metaphysical, not to be taken seriously."
5. Agloe, NY: when a mountweazel springs to life!
"Rand McNally told the court that its designers went to the official map of that county, looked up the coordinates, and on the spot called Agloe they found a building, and that building, they told the judge, is the Agloe General Store. So there is an Agloe. Otherwise, where'd the owners get the name?
Good question. Here's the ironic answer. The owners had seen Agloe on a map distributed by Esso, which owned scores of gas stations. Esso had bought that map from Lindberg and Alpers. If Esso says this place is called Agloe, the store folks figured, well, that's what we'll call ourselves. So, a made-up name for a made-up place inadvertently created a real place that, for a time, really existed. Rand McNally, one presumes, was found not guilty."