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If breakfast is really the most important meal of the day, Nathan Shields has a leg up. For the last two years, he’s been preparing amazing art pancakes for his kids — shaped like everything from fractals to highly detailed characters from The Hobbit – and documenting his efforts online.

saipancakes-1(Image credit: Nathan Shields)

Shields is a former math teacher and a professional artist, specializing in speed-drawing videos — a skill set, he says, that’s been helpful at the griddle. His background in secondary mathematics education has found its way into his designs as well. He’s made pancakes in the likenesses of mathematicians from Maria Agnesi to Linus Pauling and platonic solids to delicate fractals.

saipancakes-3(Image credit: Nathan Shields)

So far, the more theoretical pancakes are mostly lost on their lucky recipients, five-year-old Gryphon and three-year-old Alice, who prefer more hands-on fare. “So far the kids’ favorites have been the interactive pancakes,” said Shields, “the Angry Birds that are served by flinging them through the air, or the monster and pirate faces made by mixing and matching features.”

saipancakes-4(Image credit: Nathan Shields)

For budding pancake artists, Shields offers the following advice: “A condiment bottle makes the batter easier to control.” Still, he says, skill isn’t everything: “If the purpose is to make your kids smile, then a weird, ugly pancake is still better than a round one.”

Check out the photos at his site Saipancakes.blogspot.

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The above text is by Rachel Edidin in her article  “Hobbits, Fractals, and Jellyfish Become Ridiculously Detailed Pancakes” for Wired.com.

Image credit: Nathan Shields

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As is probably known to many, Canada has about 20% of the world’s fresh water.

The subject matter of this article is, however, somewhat less than ‘fresh.’

According to a finding published in the journal Nature, a U.K.-Canadian team of scientists has discovered billion-year-old water deep underground from a mine that is 2.4 kilometers beneath Ontario. This water could be the oldest on the planet, and leads to the possibility of similar life being discovered on Mars.

billion-year-old-water-mine_67585_600x450(Water filters out of the floor of a Canadian mine)

These ancient pockets of water were analyzed by researchers from the Universities of Toronto, Lancaster, Manchester and McMaster. The researchers believe that this isolated deep underground water may contain chemicals that are known to support life.

Believed to be one of the oldest water samples ever found, the rocks that hold this water are similar to those found on Mars, raising hopes that similar life-sustaining water could be discovered in the depths of Martian polar ice caps.

billion-year-old-water-found-in-canada-holds-clues-about-ancient-life(Martian surface – not the wettest place around)

Pockets of water trapped in rocks from a Canadian mine are over a billion years old, and the water could contain life forms that can survive independently from the sun, scientists said this week.

The ancient water was collected from boreholes at Timmins Mine beneath Ontario, Canada, at a depth of about 1.5 miles (2.4 kilometers).

Cheers!

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I have to hand it once again to the intrepid geeks and nerdlings over at ScienceDaily.com!

Actor Johnny Depp Immortalized in Name of Fossilized Creature With ‘Scissor Hand’ Claws

The article begins, “A scientist has discovered an ancient extinct creature with ‘scissor hand-like’ claws in fossil records and has named it in honour of his favourite movie star.”

The 505-million-year-old fossil called Kooteninchela deppi (pronounced Koo-ten-ee-che-la depp-eye), which is a distant ancestor of lobsters and scorpions, was named after the actor Johnny Depp for his starring role as Edward Scissorhands — a movie about an artificial man named Edward, an unfinished creation, who has scissors for hands.

Kooteninchela-deppi-4(What a cutie. Just like its namesake!)

Kooteninchela deppi is helping researchers to piece together more information about life on Earth during the Cambrian period when nearly all modern animal types emerged.

David Legg, who carried out the research as part of his PhD in the Department of Earth Science and Engineering at Imperial College London, says:

“When I first saw the pair of isolated claws in the fossil records of this species I could not help but think of Edward Scissorhands. Even the genus name, Kootenichela, includes the reference to this film as ‘chela’ is Latin for claws or scissors. In truth, I am also a bit of a Depp fan and so what better way to honour the man than to immortalise him as an ancient creature that once roamed the sea?”

Kooteninchela-deppi-2

It lived in shallow seas off the coast of what is now British Columbia, Canada, although in those days, the area was closer to the equator.

It was approximately four centimetres long with a trunk for a body and millipede-like legs and large eyes which it used to search for food along the sea floor, according to research published in the Journal of Palaeontology.

The researcher believes that Kooteninchela deppi would have been a hunter or scavenger. Its large Edward Scissorhands-like claws with their elongated spines may have been used to capture prey, or they could have helped it to probe the sea floor looking for sea creatures hiding in sediment.

lobster(Kooteninchela deppi – a distant relative of lobsters & scorpions)

It also had large eyes composed of many lenses like the compound eyes of a fly. They were positioned on top of movable stalks called peduncles to help it more easily search for food and look out for predators.

The researchers discovered that Kooteninchela deppi belongs to a group known as the ‘great-appendage’ arthropods, which includes spiders, scorpions, centipedes, millipedes, insects and crabs.

Mr Legg said: ‘Just imagine it – the prawns covered in mayonnaise in your sandwich, the spider climbing up your wall and even the fly that has been banging into your window and annoyingly flying into your face are all descendants of Kooteninchela deppi.’

‘Current estimates indicate that there are more than one million known insects and potentially 10 million more yet to be categorised, which potentially means that Kooteninchela deppi has a huge family tree.’

Legg now wants to study the fossils from the Ordovician period, when species diversity increased.

The research was published in the Journal of Palaeontology 2 May 2013.

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Journal Reference:

  1. David Legg. Multi-Segmented Arthropods from the Middle Cambrian of British Columbia (Canada)Journal of Paleontology, 2013; 87 (3): 493 DOI: 10.1666/12-112.1

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OK, I have to admit that I like bats.

(A fellow bat admirer and enthusiast)

This is quite different from having an interest in chiropterology.

Don’t get me wrong… I would totally love to be a chiropterologist

But not because I am devoted or dedicated to the  study of bats. It would be because I like bats and being a chiropterologist would, I suppose, give me an opportunity to watch bats.

Preferably in some clean comfortable setting. Like the bat cave.

(No, not that kind of bat cave. Although, it would be cool!)

Not an actual bat cave in real life which would be dark, dank and uncomfortable.

The problem with real actual caves is that there’s the constant danger of bat guano raining down on you while you’re stumbling around in the dark.

No, I think a bat lab would be much more my speed. Definitely.

I think what I like most about bats is that almost all of them eat insects. And when I say ‘eat insects’, I mean a lot of them. For instance, just one of our local little brown bats can eat up to 3000 mosquitoes each night. You really need no other selling point than that.

And yet, some people think it odd that I have such an infatuation with these wonderful flying sweeties.

Who couldn’t love something with such a cute face!

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