How did flounder’s eye evolve?

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Abbey Roading

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WMO file formats

Wether you like it or not, the Binary Universal Form for the Representation of meteorological data (BUFR) file format (see e.g. the WMO satellite file format pages) is widely used even in satellite meteorology.

Not a good sign when a package description starts like that!

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The Web We Lost

When you see interesting data mash-ups today, they are often still using Flickr photos because Instagram’s meager metadata sucks, and the app is only reluctantly on the web at all. We get excuses about why we can’t search for old tweets or our own relevant Facebook content, though we got more comprehensive results from a Technorati search that was cobbled together on the feeble software platforms of its era. We get bullshit turf battles like Tumblr not being able to find your Twitter friends or Facebook not letting Instagram photos show up on Twitter because of giant companies pursuing their agendas instead of collaborating in a way that would serve users. And we get a generation of entrepreneurs encouraged to make more narrow-minded, web-hostile products like these because it continues to make a small number of wealthy people even more wealthy, instead of letting lots of people build innovative new opportunities for themselves on top of the web itself.

This post ressonates with my thoughts about the state of the internet lately. I miss my blosxom weblog.

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Insetos vs. Aracnídeos

Essa é a piada que eu sempre pedia pro meu pai me contar quando eu era criança. Já aviso aos biólogos de plantão que ela não é cientificamente correta.

Era uma partida de futebol entre insetos e aracnídeos. No primeiro tempo os aracnídeos, com suas 8 pernas, estavam ganhando disparado, fazendo dribles maravilhosos, gol atrás de gol. A vitória em cima dos insetos era inevitável, só uma questão de tempo.

Mas eis que vem o intervalo, e no segundo tempo aparece a centopeia no time dos insetos. Com seus 100 pares de pernas a centopeia rapidamente dominou o jogo, driblou todos os aracnídeos, fez lances maravilhosos e virou a partida!

Quando o jogo acabou a centopeia saiu carregada pelos companheiros de time, todos vibrando com a vitória espetacular sobre os aracnídeos. Um repórter veio entrevistar a centopeia e perguntou por que ela não tinha entrado logo no primeiro tempo, se era tão boa jogadora.

"Eu estava calçando as chuteiras!"

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Are Butterflies Two Different Animals in One?

Here’s a dangerous, crazy thought from an otherwise sober (and very eminent) biologist, Bernd Heinrich. He’s thinking about moths and butterflies, and how they radically change shape as they grow, from little wormy, caterpillar critters to airborne beauties. Why, he wondered, do these flying animals begin their lives as wingless, crawling worms? Baby ducks have wings. Baby bats have wings. Why not baby butterflies?

His answer — and I’m quoting him here — knocked me silly.

“[T]he radical change that occurs,” he says, “does indeed arguably involve death followed by reincarnation.”

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Interesting article, it reminded me of Lynn Margulis’ Endosymbiotic theory. Heinrich suggest that butterflies are actually chimaeras, the combination of two different species that mated at some point and now perform serial processing of DNA.

The article mentions that some scientists deeemed the theory unprovable, but to me it doesn’t seem to be the case. I would at least investigate the problem using a game theory analysis of the two competing species — what if the caterpillar “refuses” to go into a cocoon? Do they need the butterflies to mate? It’s an interesting problem.

I also personally liked the drawings in the article. 🙂

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FreezeGun

FreezeGun is a library that allows your python tests to travel through time by mocking the datetime module.

Usage

Once the decorator or context manager have been invoked, all calls to datetime.datetime.now(), datetime.datetime.utcnow(), and datetime.date.today() will return the time that has been frozen.

Hmmm, cool for writing tests for Pydap. I will definitely use this.

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