2107-08-01 (Mother Nature’s son)

Today, I learned that:

Regardless of what we say and think, we still respond to Her (Mother Nature). Sometimes She shares with us the most amazing scenarios, such as the one in today’s header photo. It shows a countryside highway with bamboo trees on both sides. And if you can read Portuguese, then you understand that this place is a sanctuary for wild animals. The road sign depicts an ocelot, and furthermore there is an alert that this is a road with a high degree of crashes between cars and animals. The location is close to the city of Assis, state of São Paulo, Brazil, where there is an ecological station.

It seems like a perfect coincidence that it is located in Assis, because as you probably remember, in a similarly sounding town in Italy, during the 12th century, there was born a person who later would be known as Saint Francis of Assisi. Among other things, he is known for his friendliness to the birds and in 1979 Pope John Paul II declared him the Patron Saint of Ecology. (The current Pope Francis I also honoured him by adopting his name as his own papal name.) See references #1 and #2 below.

But Mother Nature does not only present us with beauty, She is also very practical. Last Friday, I was reminded twice of that, when Radio Sweden interviewed professionals involved with creating and using practical solutions from Her in favour of humanity.

In the morning, I was told about a new kind of glue, which will permit heart surgeons to glue parts together within a beating heart. The origin of that invention is in the slime produced by a slug, which inspired scientists at Harvard. Hear and read about it in reference #3 below (Swedish), as well as read about in reference #4 (English).


Arion vulgaris, photo by Xauxa Håkan Svensson – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=11200581

Then in the evening, another sensational feat. As long as we can remember, the spider has impressed us with its production of ultra-thin, yet extremely strong threads. And now Swedish scientists have discovered a way of recreating such production without using toxic chemistry. Reference #5 contains an audio interview in Swedish with Anna Rising, one of the scientists, and reference #6 is a written interview in English, where she and her fellow colleague Jan Johansson explain more.

Then, over the weekend, I remembered a similar story from exactly 10 years ago. By using practical solutions from a gecko and a mussel, scientists at Northwestern University were able to create a glue that would stick well also under water, see reference #7 below. And in the beginning of 2017, see reference #8, was reported how the very same gecko had inspired researchers at Kiel University to invent a method of immediate grip and release.

But wait, there is more! As a bonus, look also at this article from 2010, reference #9 below, which reports about a combination of mussel glue and nanoparticles to create a proactive cover against corrosion.

To end today’s post, what could be better than listening to the fantastic song writher John Denver, so tragically gone in 1997, to describe his love to Mother Nature! See and here his poem in reference X below.

… That’s what I learned in school !


1: Assis

2: Saint Francis of Assisi

3: Snigelinspirerat lim kan användas vid operationer

4: Slug Slime Inspires Scientists To Invent Sticky Surgical Glue

5: Forskare om att framställa artificiell spindelväv, med början vid 06:20

6: Spinning super strong synthetic spider silk

7: Design by Gecko, Plus Glue by Mussel, Yields a Powerful Adhesive

8: Scientists Can Turn This Gecko-Inspired Gripping Device On or Off With the Flick of a Light

9: Musslornas klister används som rostskydd

X: John Denver – Mother Nature’s son

*: What did you learn in school today ?

2016-06-14 (Tuesday)

Today, I learned that:

What would our human world look like if we did not let our favorite pets and all the other animals remind us about the basic stuff, such as love, care, compassion, and other positive things and attitudes?

Today, I am honoring our dog, of the lhasa apso race, named Prins, so majestically posing in the header photo. It was taken exactly 6 months ago, on 2015-12-14, when he had just undergone a complete shear. He was born exactly 7 human years ago, on 2009-06-14. His race originated in Tibet, guarding the monks. More about lhasa apso can be found in reference #1 below.

By the way, did you know that the effective age of a dog is calculated differently than a human being’s? A hint: Prins is considered to be 41 dog years old. Consult reference #2 below to find out how that calculation is done!

But if you really want to discover the details of animal life, would you consider disguising yourself with an animal custome? The American researcher Joel Berger found it to be a good way to get closer to the musk oxen in the Arctic. Listen to the fascinating story in reference #3 below.

Arctic bear

Wildlife researcher Joel Berger dons a polar bear outfit to study the reactions of musk oxen to the threat of bears increasingly driven onto the land for food.

The way we treat our world, resulting in global warming, can also mean that we extinguish certain animals. Today is a sad day in that sense, because there are reports about the first mammal that has been declared extinct due to current climate change. We mourn the Bramble Cay melomys, the only mammal species endemic to the Great Barrier Reef in Australia. More information in reference #4 below.

Finally, there is an expression in contemporary Swedish that can be translated as “making a poodle”. The meaning is a public apology, often pronounced by a celebrity. Its origin is the press conference on 2002-11-12, when the minister of migration, Jan O. Karlsson, regretted that he had received two salaries. The way he asked for pardon looked like the one a poodle performs when lying spreadeagled on the floor, as the reporter Pål Jebsen commented in his article. It was commented in today’s edition of the SR language programme Språket, reference #5 below.

… That’s what I learned in school !


1: Lhasa Apso

2: How old am I in dog years, how old is my dog in person-years ?

3: Arctic Researcher Bears Up for Science

4: Barrier Reef rodent is first mammal declared extinct due to climate change

5: Hej svejs i lingonskogen tjosan hoppsan hej!

+: What did you learn in school today ?

2016-03-23 (Wednesday)

Today, I learned that:

I should have told you more things yesterday, but the events in Brussels made me forget it.

In the beginning of 1982, there was a Canadian couple who was worried about the violence in the world and therefore thinking about moving to a quiet place where they could live in peace and let their children grow up in harmony with nature. So they spun the globe, closed their eyes and pointed at a spot. They liked the result and started to prepare for the big move, which they finally made in September, 1982. Their new home was located in a town called Port Stanley. They were still decorating their house when hell broke loose! In October, their cosy little town became the battle ground between Argentina and Great Britain, in the Falklands / Malvinas war!

But frankly speaking, to live in a small city in Brazil should not pose very big risks for terrorist attacks, more about me and Brazil tomorrow.

This morning, Radio Sweden presented two more interesting pieces of scientific news. The first one, references #1 and 2 below, is a fish that is both mother and father to its offspring.


This fish, a hybrid of two cichlids, does it all by her&himself. Photo: Xavier David/(CC BY-NC-SA 4.0)

And the second one is a revolutionary material which researchers in Arizona want to employ to gather carbon dioxide from the air. Their invention should be able to collect 1 ton of CO2 every day, see reference #3 below.

Today is my blog post # 73, which reminds me of when I was younger and engaged in DX-ing and HAM radio. 73 was the code which meant “Best regards”, commonly used in all contacts between radio amateurs. See reference #4 for origin and more codes.

… That’s what I learned in school & 73 !


1: Ensam fisk lyckades bli både mamma och pappa

2: Hybridization generates a hopeful monster: a hermaphroditic selfing cichlid

3: Plastmatta fångar in koldioxid från atmosfären

4: On the Origin of “73”

+: What did you learn in school today ?

2016-02-18 (Thursday)

Today, I learned that:

Researchers at the Australian National University, with headquarters in the nation’s capital Canberra, are reporting about the results they have obtained from ten years of study of ground-nesting wasps, in order to find out how they manage to find their way home to the nest.

According to professor Jochen Zell, he and his rearch colleagues found that the wasps perform learning flights every days to ensure that they can always come home. He says about the wasps that “…their abilities make them smarter than anything humans know how to build.” This inspired the researchers to create equipment to mimic the wasps behaviour, and they now want to apply the acquired knowledge in the development of autonomous flying robots. More information can be found in reference # 1, below.

And speaking about flying animals, did you know that today, exactly 86 years ago, 1930-02-18, for the first time a cow performed a trip with an airplane? It happened in the state of Missouri, from Bismarck to Saint Louis. And the pioneering cow, named Elm Farm Ollie, was also the first one which was milked in-flight. The milk produced was sealed into paper cartons and dropped in parachutes to the public below. Maybe the Rausing brothers got their idea for Tetrapak from there? (This interesting piece of information was revealed today by the German software company SoftMaker Software GmbH, which offers a discount on the sale of their products as a tribute to Ollie.)


A modern-day relative to Ollie? Illustration by SoftMaker Software GmbH

… That’s what I learned in school!


1: Researchers recreate wasp eye view

2: A tribute to flying Ollie

+: What did you learn in school today ?