Thursday, June 18, 2009

Stereoscopy and a wet kiss

June has been a monstrously busy month, and it's only half over! Another grant proposal went out the door (er, the internet cable), two research papers were submitted, and the North American Section of the International Society of Protistologists meeting was held in Bristol, Rhode Island, where I gave the Past President's Address.

The title of my talk was "Why Should a Cell Need a Shell?" I won't get into details here, but to illustrate the selective advantage of particle agglutination (i.e., primitive shell-building behavior), I showed three-dimensional SEM images of agglutinated shells from "living fossil" species of Foraminifera. I'm not sure if the audience agreed with my scientific arguments, but it was a hoot to see some of the world's finest scholars wearing goofy spectacles.

Protistologists viewing red/blue anaglyph images

It has also been an unusually wet month, which has not been good for evening walks but has yielded lush lawns and gardens. And lots of toads and frogs. I'm particularly fond of a pair of tree toads inhabiting the back yard. They show up everywhere -- cuddled beneath the lid of the BBQ grill, clinging to windows, snuggled under the pool cover -- and at night they bellow the loudest RIBBETT! you can image. It cracks me up that this pair (I guess they're a couple?) squat next to each other and RIBBETT! full blast into each other's ears all evening. "Can you hear me now? Can you hear me now? How about now?"

"Kiss me, you fool!"

Their incessant, booming RIBBETT!s make me want to bend over and kiss one, just to shut them up. Ah, but what if the resulting princess retained her booming voice?

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