Quotidian Science

One of our hobbies here at Alyssa and Ania Splain You a Thing is to talk about scientific topics in a way that conveys both information and enthusiasm.  A wide variety of scientific topics are highly interesting but also fairly technical, and writing versions of them that take a more conversational tone is both tricky and rewarding.  Here’s what we have for you so far.

A crowd of shadowed people stands in front of a very large aquarium containing a whale shark, groupers, and a rich assortment of schooling fish.

Whale shark and schools of fish at the Georgia Aquarium. By Zac Wolf (Own work 😉 [CC BY-SA 2.5 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

The Bush of Life: Cladistics for the Layperson.  Many of us learn a “standard” classification scheme with categories like reptiles, birds, and fish, but the modern view of classification takes evolutionary biology explicitly into account, and looks quite different.  Here’s a rundown of that difference, featuring dodoraptors and a parakeet wearing a Wagnerian Viking helmet.

Skepticism in the Aquarium Store.  The aquakeeping hobby is one that has LOADS of misconceptions and common errors in it, all of which can be avoided or escaped with a healthy application of biology.  Part 1 talks about tank setup and maintenance issues, Part 2 narrates common fish-selection errors, and Part 3 looks at some less common but more dangerous problems.

Fishy Redemption.  Alyssa shares stories about mistakes she’s made in her fish-keeping adventures, each one a lesson about how to do right, and wrong, but one’s scaly charges.

Sounds of Summer: The Charming Cicada Cacophony.  Cicadas are a common insect in many parts of the world, but their great size and seasonal habits make them misunderstood and sometimes scary.  They don’t have to be, though.

Think Like a Bug: How to Deal with Common Pest Arthropods.   Unwanted household insects and spiders are a fact of life in much of the world.  A lot of people panic or undertake bizarre and wrongheaded extermination schemes when they appear, but a little biology and skepticism can lead to far more sensible moves.

Anthropomorphic Terror: It’s common for images on the Internet to show animals doing funny things.  Unfortunately, many of those animals are actually broadcasting fear or other negative emotions, and we shouldn’t encourage their suffering.  Learn how to recognize some of the more common signs.

What is TMD?  Alyssa has a condition called temporomandibular disorder, which takes a little explaining.

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