Large, slimy discoveries are not surprising finds in a cow field. Researchers found the largest known colony of clonal amoebas in a pasture near Houston, and the billions of single-celled organisms could help scientists better understand how these social amoebas cooperate over such a large spatial distance. (FYI, for other people with hopeful imaginations, the colony looks nothing like The Blob, or Slimer from Ghostbusters.)
Also in today's links: super-high-speed trains, the homeless can hear you now, and more.
- Trains in Japan already travel at up to 186 miles per hour, but they're planning on improving that to 310 mph by 2025. California wouldn't mind getting themselves some of that. At that speed, it'd take just an hour to get from Los Angeles to the Bay Area.
- The benefits of technology are affecting a surprising group of society: the homeless residents of Washington, D.C., an estimated 30 to 45 percent of whom have cellphones. Prepaid phones are cheap, and easy to refill. "Sometimes, they pay [for minutes] with cups of coins," said a worker at a phone store.
- Stephen Hawking and his daughter have written a children's adventure story about physics. Hopefully the book has as much charm as this interview, with its glimpses into Hawking's home life, in particular the description of him dressed up for a "Come as your favorite space object" party.
- Further proof pink is the new grey: First there was the pink dolphin. Now there's a (kind of) pink baby elephant.
Wow, that's a really huge amoeba! But does it really contain only one cell? Amoebas do.
If you notice the scaling tab in the upper left hand corner of the image, the entire amoeba is only about 200 micrometers wide (About 1/5 of a millimeter). That’s barely visible to the naked eye, and would be interpreted as a speck of dust without at least some magnification. Also note that the images is a generic amoeba image courtesy of Dr. Ralf Wagner, who is not mentioned in the New York Times article and therefore is not likely to be an image from the amoeba colony mentioned in the article.