Illustrations by Lulu Heal of Big Face
Eat Your Tardigrades or You Don’t Get Dessert!
You know this little guy, right? It’s the mighty tardigrade, as featured in the new Cosmos. Tardigrades, also known as water bears, also known as FREAKIN’ MOSS PIGLETS, are microscopic eight-legged animals that can withstand temperatures from near absolute zero to boiling water, absorb extreme doses of radiation, go without food or water for ten years, and even survive the vacuum of space. They can even be completely dried out and ride on the wind to a new home, where they rehydrate and go about their tardibusiness. Tardigrade rain, folks.
In other words, they are BAMFs (bad-ass microfauna).
Oh, and you’ve probably eaten them. Thanks to Meg Lowman, I found out that these water-dwelling super-critters live not only on wild mosses and wet plants, but on grocery store produce like lettuce and spinach. Do you think that a mere rinse or shake under the faucet (or even cooking) is enough to dislodge a radiation-eating space pig? Ha! Not by a long shot, according to Lowman.
So yeah… trying to go strictly vegetarian? You’ve almost certainly eaten some tardigrades. Sorry. Don’t worry, though. They’re totally harmless. I like to imagine that when I eat them, I absorb their power, and become a little bit mightier.
New motto: For strength, eat your vegetables and eat your tardigrades.
Meg Lowman has more about your local tardigrade friends. Also check out Lowman’s awesome research project that helps wheelchair-bound students climb to the top of the forest canopy where they help study tardigrade biodiversity. Science is for everyone!
As rising sea levels threaten low-lying nations around the world, floating cities are gaining political backing and some serious investment.
James Dean takes a break from filming East of Eden, 1954.
What trilobites can tell us about how animals evolve
The trilobite, which became extinct millions of years ago, is commonly known as one of the first complex forms of life on earth. Their fossils can be found in many parts of the world and are often collected for their interesting shapes and varieties. (There’s even a vacuum cleaner designed after this creature…)
In fact there are actually 20,000 known varieties of this arthropod. They even ranged in sizes from ones that could fit inside your pocket to being as large as your sofa (!!!?!).
UC Riverside’s Dr. Nigel Hughes explains:
"They can have scoops or shovels, be fantastically spiny or beautifully streamlined and diverged to really explore their evolutionary space, but they still maintain that common body plan.”
Scientists study trilobite fossils to understand how today’s animals have evolved to the present. This can be everything from how mating habits developed to how a species can protect itself from predators.
Dr. Hughes not only studies the trilobite, but even sings about them.
Friedrichstrasse Skyscraper | Mies van der Rohe | Via
Perhaps inspired by photographs of the “high-reaching steel skeletons” of American skyscrapers under construction Mies van der Rohe’s vision of a tower more transparent than solid first became apparent with his entry for the Berlin Friedrichstrasse Skyscraper competition of 1921–22. As Detlef Mertins’ new book Mies reveals, the visionary project (although unbuilt) became the architect’s first major post-war design.
Mies used the competition to break with the past and boldly begin again at the beginning, for him personally and for his architecture. It was the architect’s first chance to explore a building type other than the country house and to develop his own ideas about modernization and metropolitan architecture. As Mertins points out, it was his first engagement with a metropolitan program (the high-rise office building) and a metropolitan building site (which adjoined a major train station), as well as new materials and technologies of construction.
The program for the competition was itself unprecedented: a high-rise office building on Berlin’s major commercial street. The jury awarded prizes to a range of approaches represented in the 144 submissions. Whereas many entries attempted to assimilate the new scale and program to familiar organizational types and old styles (Gothic, classical or both), others sought to devise a new style.