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  • Hello, and welcome to January

  • at the Scientific American blog network.

  • I'm Carin Bondar, and you know,

  • this month was kind of a wacky one for the network.

  • We are going all over the place, from extreme weather events

  • to extreme viral behavior, to the evolutionary psychology

  • behind the booming industry that is -- monster pornography.

  • I'm gonna throw it right over to John Horgan to explain that one first.

  • Monster porn;

  • this is written primarily by women, for women and it involves

  • fantasies of women having -- sex

  • often, at least initially, non-consensual sex

  • with -- bigfoot, with Godzilla, T. rex,

  • giant robotic aliens -- I mean,

  • every possible crazy entity that you can imagine.

  • The angle I came up with was --

  • that not just the human mind in general,

  • but especially the female mind and the female libido

  • are completely mysterious.

  • I mean, because who could possibly predict something as crazy as --

  • monster porn?

  • This month on her blog, The Artful Amoeba,

  • Jennifer Frazer gets us a history about a virus that has managed to

  • successfully invade an animal host from a plant host.

  • This is mind-boggling!

  • Tobacco ringspot virus normally causes trouble

  • in plants like soybean, raspberry, and of course, tobacco.

  • So it came as a shock when scientists discovered the virus

  • had apparently invaded honeybees.

  • Honeybees and plants are separated by about 1.6 billion years of evolution.

  • So, host leap of that magnitude is mid boggling about.

  • The virus may have been added by a high mutation rate

  • and also by the fact that can be a sexually transmitted disease of plants.

  • Which means it can get around virus per packet, we call polen.

  • Since bees regularly wallow in the stuff, and do it with gusto,

  • the virus clearly had a motive and an opportunity.

  • When scientists discovered the virus comfortably ensconced

  • inside bee's wings, antennae, nerves and blood,

  • it became clear that, no matter how improbable,

  • the virus clearly had the meets as well.

  • We are all very aware of the crazy cold weather

  • that has been going on in a lot of places in North America this month.

  • Mark Fischetti is here to explain

  • what this polar vortex is and exactly why such cold temperatures

  • in such extreme storm events are happening.

  • We keep praying about this polar vortex

  • every time the temperature has dropped, like it's some mystical beast

  • that comes down from the North Pole and grips us into a deep freeze.

  • So, what is this thing anyway?

  • Well, my blog has the details, but you can think about like this:

  • The polar vortex is a prevailing wind pattern that circles the Arctic,

  • flowing from West to East all around the entire planet.

  • Normally it does state far north and locks the cold air up

  • towards the North Pole, but occasionally the vortex weakens

  • and allows that cold air to drift down through Canada into U.S.

  • The vortex, when it does that, can also push the jet stream

  • much further south and keep it there,

  • so we do stay in the cold for days on in.

  • So, what causes the vortex to weaken, in the first place?

  • Well, we'll have to read the blog for the details, but here's a hint:

  • it has to do with a lost of arctic sea ice in the summer time.

  • Well, there you have it, just a small sampling

  • of some of the highlights from January

  • at the Scientific American blog network.

  • Make sure you check back to all of your favorite blogs, you know,

  • weekly there are so many cool histories coming in your away.

  • I get the highlights just of a few of them

  • and I will be back to do just that again in February.

Hello, and welcome to January

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What Is the Polar Vortex? - Best of the Blogs #12

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    joey joey posted on 2021/04/28
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