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review 2019-03-19 01:33
Ch6 and Conclusion
Furry Logic: The Physics of Animal Life - Liz Kalaugher,Matin Durrani

If the cuckoo egg hatches first, the early-bird chick pushes its rival eggs out of the nest. Now it can catch the worm – it’s won the undivided attention of its new foster-parents. And if the cuckoo emerges after the host bird’s chicks, it shoves its step-brothers and sisters over the edge to their death.


I had no idea the cuckoo was so hardcore, dang. 


the strike rate of one species is more than 94 per cent.


I thought the experiment of seeing if the fish is born with the ability or has to practice was interesting but then saying they only did it once and then ran out of funding kind of gives it a flat ending. 


And if your diving buddy is pale, you’ll have noticed their face turn green and their lips blacken as you sink deeper.


Yeah, this is creeeeeepy!


This is one of the disturbing things about doing underwater research, Johnsen says: something can be the size of a 747 Jumbo Jet and only 3m (10ft) away, yet it’s impossible to see. ‘That’s true underwater all the time,’ he adds. ‘Even if the water seems quite clear, you’re never going to see more than about 100m [330ft].


Reading about the depths that some of these creatures live in the ocean (up to 3,300ft for octopus) is a great reminder for how vast ocean life is and how much we do not know about it. I feel like I need to watch the movie Abyss again, lol. 


I don't know, I thought this last chapter was the least interesting of all. Maybe light refracting is just not as interesting to me but I felt like there was some whiffing on details and depth. The first half was vastly better to me than this latter half. I thought there was some fascinating information in here but I found myself furthering my research from other sources because this didn't provide enough. However, like I mentioned, I am a visual learner so, I'm naturally more inclined to get more out of YouTube and other videos. Definitely wasn't to technical and would worked great as a baseline informational read. I still can't help feeling the last two to three chapters lost the energy of the first. 


Updates with comments and quotes:


Intro & Ch 1


Ch 2 & 3


Ch 4 & 5


Thanks to Flat Book Society for letting me hop into another buddy read!


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text 2019-03-18 15:09
Ch 4 & 5
Furry Logic: The Physics of Animal Life - Liz Kalaugher,Matin Durrani

In 2003 the British composer Sarah Angliss held an experimental concert at London’s Purcell Room, playing music laced with infrasound at a frequency of 17Hz. More than a fifth of the audience claimed to have felt anxious, scared or sorrowful, or to have sensed chills down the spine. 


I find stuff like this so interesting, you know the military is experimenting with infrasound. I can't really remember but a couple years ago, was that in Cuba? where people in the embassy thought something like infrasound was used against them? I always wonder about things out there that humans can't organically detect and science isn't there yet. I wouldn't have liked to have been a human guinea pig in the experimental concert.


Others emit sound at a frequency they can’t hear – at least, not until the noise bounces back.


Planes always play havoc on my ears, they become very plugged. It is difficult to talk without hearing myself, I'm uncertain about how much to regulate my volume. Bats that are emitting sounds they can't hear, to use, is wacky to me. How do they trust they are really doing it and correctly??


Many moths have developed ears that hear ultrasound to warn of hunting bats. Fighting back works: moths that have ears tend to be preyed on less by bats than their non-eared mothy cousins.


Moths that have ears! I did not know about this and consequently, it was all I could think about the night I read this. Also, "Biologists call this skewing of the odds the life/dinner principle." Do psychologist apply/incorporate this in a way for human actions? 


raising one foot puts more weight on the others, helping them pick up vibrations from the ground. And having three feet in place rather than four could make it easier for the elephant to work out where the sound is coming from using triangulation.


Elephants and electric eels battled for my favorite in these two chapters. I did not know about elephants and their raising one leg triangulation. I'm again awed by evolution and how it, well, evolves. Using their feet and ears is brilliant. 


It’s a time-critical business as female elephants’ eggs are ripe for fertilising for only four to five days every four to six years.


What??? I did not know elephants cycles were like this. This is probably something I'll go read more about because I'm wondering how this plays into their herd numbers.


California spiny lobster (Panulirus interruptus) is top of the strange-sounds charts.


If you have time, you should definitely go to the Discovery of Sound in the Sea  and listen to this. They also had a better Mantis Shrimp. I spent an hour listening to everything. Their Fact and Myths section was fun/enlightening, too.


electric eels are up to 2.5m (8ft) long


8 Feet. No.


they rise to the surface every 10 minutes to breathe air before sinking back to the river bed. They have strange reproductive habits too: the female lays her eggs in a nest the male makes from saliva.


Electric eels are wild, y'all! I do think, though, that every ten years I read about electric eels and gasp about strange or different they are, forget, and then become shocked(lol!) again about their wildness. I went to YouTube to see if they had any videos of the male eel making their saliva nests and couldn't find anything, if anyone has a link that would be much appreciated. I didn't look too long as I can across a video of the eel flying out of the water to attack and I had to bounce because I was going to bed and that was enough nightmare fuel for the night. 


 It’s a fact marketers don’t highlight on the packaging – honey is basically bee vomit.


I've known this for a while but it is one of my favorite knowledge bombs to drop. The look on people's faces warms the cold cockles of my heart. Knowledge, pass it on!


Only one in 4,000 hatchlings makes it to adulthood.


So tough out there in the wild kingdom. Bees have my warrior banner on land but sea turtles have it on water. 


During that time, many of the growing turtles circle the Atlantic in a 15,000km (9,000 mile) once-in-a-lifetime round trip. ‘They swim and drift around the Sargasso Sea, cross over to the coast of Spain and Portugal, move south along the northern coast of Africa, and then loop back to North America,’ explains Lohman.


This was something that I vaguely "knew" but I'm not sure the hard facts, distance and time, ever penetrated until I read it with actual numbers and in black and white. 5-10 years to complete this journey, I feel like the sea turtle world is full of Katharine Norburys and/or David Foster Wallaces.


but it turns out wasps (or at least some of them) are masters of electricity and expert at quantum mechanics.


Because of course they are. This has done wonders for my already very afraid of wasps attitude. 



This section had more animals that fascinated me, elephants, electric eels, sea turtles, and, god help me, quantum wasps but I feel like I didn't learn as much. Possibly, I just happen to know more about what they talked about this time but I felt like less technical knowledge (more surface feeling) was included in these two chapters. 



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text SPOILER ALERT! 2019-03-16 07:02
Furry Logic - Quote [Chapter 5]
Furry Logic: The Physics of Animal Life - Liz Kalaugher,Matin Durrani

"When Tim Berners-Lee dreamt up the World Wide Web while working at the CERN particle-physics lab near Geneva in the early 1990s, the idea was to help physicists across the globe share scientific research data. He could never have predicted it would one day lead to people streaming endless cute animal videos on YouTube. " ...



. Our favourite tweeting animal, though, is Miguel Wattson, an electric eel (Electrophorus electricus), who lives in the Rivers of the World gallery at the Tennessee Aquarium in Chattanooga, US. He sent his first tweet in late 2014 under the handle @EelectricMiguel and although aquarium staff write his messages, Miguel controls when the tweets go out. Gadgets pick up the electrical pulses Miguel emits while roaming around his tank and a new tweet from a pre-written list hits social media if a pulse is above a certain strength.

The tweets are mostly groan-inducing animal jokes, such as ‘What is the strongest creature in the sea? A mussel!’, ‘What do you call it when it rains chickens and ducks? Fowl weather!’ and ‘Why do hummingbirds hum? Because they can’t remember the words!’ Meanwhile, an amplifier converts Miguel’s pulses into a stream of ‘pops’ that visitors hear as they wander through the aquarium. Each pop also triggers a light bulb, the brightness of which depends on the strength of the pulse – turning Miguel’s otherwise silent electrical emissions into a son-et-lumière feast."


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text 2019-03-16 05:37
Reading progress update: I've read 114 out of 304 pages.
Furry Logic: The Physics of Animal Life - Liz Kalaugher,Matin Durrani

This has been a slow read for me, through no fault of the book's, and in spite of my tortoise speed, I'm enjoying it.  It's not edge-of-your-seat stuff, exactly, and the humor... well, I've liked some of the jokes, but I couldn't help thinking at the beginning, 'the jokes feel like a British person trying to make American jokes'.  After a few more jokes falling flat, and the section that contained the dead giveaway reference to a cat as a "moggy", I flipped to the back flap for the author bios, and both are citizens of the realm.  Doesn't mean I'm right about the humor, but it does illustrate the disconnect I felt; few Americans can pull off the brilliant dryness of British humor, and at least in this case, for me, the authors struggle with pulling off the sassier style of humor we Yanks are known for.


I've just finished up reading about the Pond Skaters, and I am forever going to hear Pull! in my head now every time I see one whizzing across the surface of the water, with their tiny middle legs acting like oars.


I loved the section on the geckos.  While I understood on a basic level how they walked on ceilings before, the authors did a thoroughly complete job of explaining the phenomenon to me on the molecular scale.  All those tee tiny hairs...  And I love the irony of their inability to walk on dry teflon, but wet teflon is fine.  I also now desperately need to hear a tokay gecko bark.  None of this YouTube stuff; I want to hear a gecko bark in the wild.  


The Harlequin Shrimp is a badass.  If you haven't seen the YouTube video called True Facts, and you like your science irreverent (and often not suitable for children or work environments), I highly, highly recommend looking it up.  It's not only hilarious, but offers a great slow motion / freeze frame shot of the cavitation bubble that Harlequin shrimp produce when they punch things.


Totally irrelevant aside:  if I ever had a 'pet' Harlequin shrimp, I would name it Spot.  Because I can only imagine that the percentage of "Rocky", "Ali", "George Foreman", etc. shrimp would be in the 90th percentile.  Why zig when you can zag?  

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text SPOILER ALERT! 2019-03-15 17:30
Quote: Furry Logic [Chapter 3]
Furry Logic: The Physics of Animal Life - Liz Kalaugher,Matin Durrani

" Pond skaters should rejoice that water has such a high surface tension. It stops them sinking and lets them propel themselves across ponds and lakes. But pond skaters are a superficial bunch. Most animals have a much deeper relationship with water. Fish swim in it, absorbing dissolved oxygen. Hippos lead a double life, grazing on land at night but spending their days in rivers, coming up every few minutes to breathe. Crucially, mammals and birds won’t survive unless they can get water into their bodies. Even cats need to drink, despite their aversion to getting wet.


But have you ever stopped to think how you drink? For us, it’s easy. Fill a glass at the tap, grab a coffee or pour an orange juice from the fridge. Lift the vessel to your lips and pour the liquid into your mouth. Obviously without making any disgusting slurping noises; only other people do that. We’ve even got two back-up techniques. First, we’ve got a complete set of cheeks so we can make a partial vacuum in our mouths when we suck in, which is how to sup a cocktail with a straw. The pressure in your mouth is lower than outside, with the difference counteracting the force of gravity and drawing the drink up into your mouth. It’s like having your own personal vacuum cleaner. The other, rather revolting method is to put a tube in your mouth, connect a funnel to the top and ask a friend to pour the liquid in. Lean your head back and the pressure of the column of liquid forces the fluid down your gullet – ideal for students wishing to consume lots of beer as fast as possible in drunken drinking games (or so we’ve been told).


Other animals have to make do with fresh water, not beer. As it lies mostly in puddles, ponds, lakes or streams, they’ve developed a variety of strategies for supping. Pigs, sheep and horses are like us – they have complete cheeks and can drink by sucking the water up. Frogs absorb water through their skins, while the desert-dwelling Merriam’s kangaroo rat (Dipodomys merriami) extracts water entirely from the food it eats, even if fresh rainwater is about. Hummingbirds dip their tongues into nectar, with the sticky fluid flowing up grooves in the tongue like ink moving through blotting paper. As for the Namibian desert fogstand beetle (Stenocara gracilipes), it lives in one of the driest places on Earth and collects water from the fogs that drift in off the Atlantic Ocean every morning. The beetle sticks its bottom in the air so its body is at about 45° to the ground and waits for the tiny water droplets landing on its back to clump together and roll down into its mouth.


But what about cats? How they drink is a question many scientists have overlooked in pursuit of supposedly deeper quests, such as searching for the Higgs boson or designing a pen that can write in space. "




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