Friday, September 27, 2013

The Genesis Tank

A few weeks ago I went to a flea market looking for a lamp and chairs, and came back with a 10-gallon fish tank instead. I filled it with water, added some gravel, and turned on the water pump. I also went to a nearby pond and grabbed a few pieces of aquatic plants to add to the tank.

A few weeks later, some of the plants had grown, but the duckweed, which I had hoped would have been covering the surface, were not doing so hot. I thought maybe it was that the current was too strong, so I turned off the pump so the water would be more still.

A few days later, the duckweed had indeed grown a little tiny bit better. But the water surface was now filmy. And on that surface film was a constellation of tiny organisms moving around.

I can't be sure, but under a magnifying glass, I spotted what I think were Daphnia (tiny crustaceans also known as water fleas), and tiny baby Planaria (little flatworms with triangular heads), gliding on the bottoms of the surface of the film (I had seen bigger ones gliding on the aquarium walls a few days before.) Since I was a kid, I have always been fascinated with both of these organisms. Daphnia, because as a tropical fish hobbyist I learned they were a favorite food of fish, and Planaria because of the well know regeneration properties: cut them in half and they form two new worms.

Suddenly I felt like Lisa Simpson, in the Treehouse of Horror VII segment called The Genesis Tub, where she performs a science experiment with a corroding tooth in a small tub that results in the creation of a tiny universe.

I can't wait til I've created Lutherans!

Sunday, September 15, 2013

The "official" Fun vs. Effort Graph of Pets

I like this graph. It uses the actual subjects of the graph as representations of the values reported. Edward Tufte would be so proud!

Which is why it's a shame they violated what to me is a fundamental rule of graphs. Ah well. Good effort College Humor. This other "official" version corrected some of the mistakes of the above version (though they did away with the cool size proportionality of the first graph).