photos by matt smith from the Illawarra coast in new south wales of bluebottles, violet snails and blue dragons. 

despite its resemblance to the jellyfish, the bluebottle is more closely related to coral. known as a zooid, the bluebottle (or portugese man of war) is a colonial animal composed of many highly specialized and physiologically integrated individual organisms incapable of independent survival. 

the blue dragon — a type of nudibranch, here no larger than a thumbnail, with its own potent sting — is able to eat the nematocysts (stinging cells) of the bluebottle without discharging them and internally relocate them to the tips of each one of the fingers you can see in the pictures.

for their part, the violet snails also feed on the bluebottles.

notes matt, “despite their potentially dangerous sting, the bluebottle is an amazingly beautiful creature. with strong winds, hundreds of these cnidaria are blown into the bays around my home town and trapped overnight.”

this allows him to capture the above shots, which he creates with use of a fluorescent tube in his strobe light and a homemade waterproof lens dome.



Animal cultures: Nature’s second inheritance system

It’s easy to think that human culture completely separates our species from others. However, BBSRC-funded research has revealed cultural processes of varying complexity in primates, birds and fish. 

Studies have identified cultural differences across different wild populations and shown migrating individuals conforming to local group habits.

Understanding different animal’s cultures illuminates human cultural evolution, and has implications in areas as varied as child development, robotics, welfare and conservation.

If you want to find out more about this research the scientists will have an exhibit at the Great British Bioscience Festival in November in London.

Top image copyright: Dr Simon Walker

Bottom image copyright: Catherine Hobaiter

Read more: http://www.bbsrc.ac.uk/society/exhibitions/gb-bioscience-festival/animal-cultures-natures-second-inheritance-system.aspx



Kurt Gödel - Logician and Interesting Figure

Kurt Gödel was an Austrian-American mathematician, philosopher - and is considered one of the most significant logicians in human history, comparable to figures like Aristotle. Gödel is best known for his two incompleteness theorems, published in 1931 when he was 25 years old, as well as making important contributions to proof theory. 

  • He was bros with Einstein. 

He’s also rather well known for a strong friendship with Albert Einstein, who found themselves living in Princeton at the same time. They both worked at the Princeton Institute for Advanced Study, and were known to take long walks together to and from work. The nature of their conversations was a mystery to the other Institute members. Economist Oskar Morgenstern recounts that toward the end of his life Einstein confided that his “own work no longer meant much, that he came to the Institute merely…to have the privilege of walking home with Gödel”.

  • He found a loophole in the U.S. Constitution. 

On December 5, 1947, Einstein and Morgenstern accompanied Gödel to his U.S. citizenship exam, where they acted as witnesses. Gödel had confided in them that he had discovered an inconsistency in the U.S. Constitution, one that would allow the U.S. to become a dictatorship. Einstein and Morgenstern were concerned that their friend’s unpredictable behavior might jeopardize his chances. Fortunately, the judge turned out to be Phillip Forman. Forman knew Einstein and had administered the oath at Einstein’s own citizenship hearing. Everything went smoothly until Forman happened to ask Gödel if he thought a dictatorship like the Nazi regime could happen in the U.S. Gödel then started to explain his discovery to Forman. Forman understood what was going on, cut Gödel off, and moved the hearing on to other questions and a routine conclusion.

  • He starved himself to death. 

In the later years of his life, Gödel had an obsessive fear of being poisoned. He refused to eat any food that hadn’t been prepared by his wife, Adele. Late in 1977, Adele was hospitalized for six months. During her absence, he refused to eat, eventually starving to death. He weighed 65 pounds (approximately 30 kg) when he died.