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NNadir

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Current location: New Jersey
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Invasive mosquitoes essentially eliminated from two Chinese Islands by combined biobased attack.

The paper I'll discuss in this post is this one: Incompatible and sterile insect techniques combined eliminate mosquitoes (Xi, Zhang, & Zheng, Nature Online Published July 17, 2019)

A Nature news item, which I believe should be open sourced discussing the paper is here: World’s most invasive mosquito nearly eradicated from two islands in China (Nature, July 17, 2019)

From the abstract and opening paragraphs of the full paper:


The radiation-based sterile insect technique (SIT) has successfully suppressed field populations of several insect pest species, but its effect on mosquito vector control has been limited. The related incompatible insect technique (IIT)—which uses sterilization caused by the maternally inherited endosymbiotic bacteria Wolbachia—is a promising alternative, but can be undermined by accidental release of females infected with the same Wolbachia strain as the released males. Here we show that combining incompatible and sterile insect techniques (IIT–SIT) enables near elimination of field populations of the world’s most invasive mosquito species, Aedes albopictus. Millions of factory-reared adult males with an artificial triple-Wolbachia infection were released, with prior pupal irradiation of the released mosquitoes to prevent unintentionally released triply infected females from successfully reproducing in the field...


From the paper's body:

SIT, in which artificially reared radiation-sterilized males are released into the field to mate with wild females—thereby preventing them from producing viable offspring—has successfully suppressed populations of several insect pests of agricultural and veterinary importance1. However, despite various trials, SIT has not been widely used against mosquitoes because of the difficulty of irradiating males without reducing their mating competitiveness and survival2,3,4. A promising alternative approach is the related IIT5, in which released males are infected with the maternally inherited endosymbiotic bacteria Wolbachia, resulting in sterile matings with field females that are not infected with the same Wolbachia strain, a phenomenon known as cytoplasmic incompatibility6,7. An advantage of IIT is that Wolbachia-based sterilization has little or no effect on male mating competitiveness and survival8,9,10. Historically, in a small-scale pilot field trial IIT successfully eradicated the primary filariasis vector Culex quinquefasciatus5—although another trial showed limited success11—but the approach has not been deployed operationally, primarily because the accidental release of fertile females risks causing population replacement, whereby individuals infected with the same Wolbachia strain as released males replace the wild-type field population, preventing future population suppression (as matings between released males and field females are no longer incompatible)11,12,13......


The mosquito in question is the one that transmits Zika virus and Dengue fever, both of which can be expected to increase their range because of our disinterest in addressing climate change:

The globally invasive mosquito A. albopictus is an important vector of arboviruses—including dengue and Zika viruses—that is particularly challenging to control using traditional approaches27,28. Unlike some other mosquito vectors, A. albopictus is superinfected with two native Wolbachia strains (wAlbA and wAlbB), complicating the development of Wolbachia-based control strategies. Various Wolbachia strains have previously been artificially introduced into A. albopictus29,30,31,32, including wPip in mosquitoes cured of their native double wAlbA/wAlbB infection33, but these endosymbiont–host associations are either unsuitable for IIT—as they are pathogenic or do not inhibit arboviruses—or their appropriateness has not been fully determined. Here we report the generation and characterization of an A. albopictus line (termed HC) with an artificial triple-Wolbachia infection, and demonstrate its use in an open-release field trial of the combined IIT–SIT approach.


The authors developed a transgenic mosquito that was susceptible to three strains of Wolbachia bacteria by inserting genes from another mosquito into the target species:

For use in IIT, Wolbachia must induce high levels of cytoplasmic incompatibility to effectively sterilize wild females, and have high maternal transmission to enable efficient mass production of only infected males for release as well as low fitness costs to ensure that released males can mate competitively with respect to wild males. In addition, as a responsible safety precaution, any released mosquitoes should have a lower vector competence for human pathogens than the target field population34. Accordingly, we created an endosymbiont infection appropriate for IIT by transferring wPip from its native mosquito host Culex pipiens into the A. albopictus HOU line by embryonic microinjection21, generating the mosquito line HC, which possesses a triple-Wolbachia infection (the artificially transinfected wPip as well as the original native wAlbA and wAlbB strains)


There is a risk of the transgenic females escaping into the environment and the gene spreading in such a way as to reduce the effectiveness of the technique, therefore a rigorous program of separating females - largely manual - was employed and the females were all irradiated to render them sterile. For this species of mosquito irradiation of males does not produce the desired effect because the irradiated males are not as competitively successful in mating with the females as the unirradiated males, thus are not able to have a huge effect on reducing the mosquito populations.

This approach apparently worked better:

Some graphics:



The caption:

a, Reciprocal crosses between HC and GUA lines. Letters above columns indicate significant differences between groups (mean ± s.e.m.; n = 5 for each cross, ANOVA and Tukey’s multiple comparisons test, F(3, 16) = 513.5, P < 0.0001). b, Fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH), showing Wolbachia distribution and density in ovaries. Scale bar, 100 µm. c, Real-time quantitative PCR (RT-qPCR) analysis of the relative number of Wolbachia wsp gene copies (mean ± s.e.m.; n = 7 pools of two ovary pairs for each group, two-sided Mann–Whitney test, P = 0.006). d, Egg hatch rate in laboratory cage populations with different GUA female:GUA male:HC male ratios. Two-sided binomial test: n = 3,681, P = 0.0002 (1:1:1); n = 4,083, P < 0.0001 (1:1:5); n = 2,392, P = 0.0009 (1:1:10). e, Invasion of wPip in laboratory GUA populations after a single release of different numbers of HC females at generation 0. For release of 6% and 12% HC females, a single simultaneous inundative release of HC males at a 4:1 ratio with GUA males was also used, to mimic accidental female release during IIT. NC, negative control. f, g, Combined IIT–SIT in semi-field cages: egg hatch rate (f) and adult female population sizes (g). Target GUA populations were established in six replicate cages for 12 weeks before the release (indicated by the dashed red lines) of HC males, with HC females to mimic female contamination. Black triangles represent mathematical model outputs (mean goodness of fit: egg hatch rate R2 ≈ 0.9325; number of females captured R2 ≈ 0.8417).


?as=webp

The caption:

a, b, Satellite images of control and release sites 1 (a) and 2 (b) in Guangzhou city (map data: Google, DigitalGlobe). c, Release schedule. d, e, Effect of HC male release on A. albopictus larval stages in release sites 1 (d) and 2 (e). Vertical green dashed lines indicate onset of HC release. Red dashed line in d indicates that only IIT was used in release site 1 in 2015. Red solid lines in d and e indicate period of combined IIT–SIT in both release sites in 2016 and 2017. Two-sided Mann–Whitney test. Pre-release period: site 1 2014, n = 22, P = 0.164; site 2 2015, n = 26, P = 0.0805. Release period: IIT only: site 1 2015, n = 34, P < 0.0001; 12 March–21 May, n = 11, P = 0.0032. Release period: combined IIT–SIT: site 1 (2016, n = 37, P < 0.0001; 2017, n = 34, P < 0.0001); site 2 (2016, n = 32, P < 0.0001; 2017, n = 35, P < 0.0001).





The caption:

a, b, Relative density of adult females collected weekly in control and release sites 1 (a) and 2 (b). The red dashed line in a indicates period of IIT only in 2015. Red solid lines in a and b indicate the period of combined IIT–SIT in 2016 and 2017. Two-sided Mann–Whitney test. Site 1 2015, n = 34, P < 0.0001; site 1 2016, n = 37, P < 0.0001; site 1 2017, n = 37, P < 0.0001; site 2 2016, n = 37, P < 0.0001; site 2 2017, n = 38, P < 0.0001. c, d, Spatial dynamics of adult suppression at release sites 1 (c) and 2 (d) during the dengue transmission season in Guangzhou in 2017.


?as=webp

The caption:

a, Number of HC males released weekly and observed ratios of HC to wild-type males in the field at release site 1. Blue dashed line indicates target overflooding ratio of 5:1. b, Comparison of observed and expected weekly egg hatch rates at release site 1. Two-sided paired t-test after arcsine transformation. 2015, n = 27, P = 0.6522; 2016, n = 31, P < 0.0001; 2017, n = 33, P < 0.0001. c, Total number of HC males produced weekly and female contamination rate at adult stage in mass rearing facility. d, Comparison of monthly positive female rate detected in HC males in mass rearing facility (laboratory quality control) and that observed in adults collected from the field. Two-sided paired t-test after arcsine transformation: Laboratory (n = 19) versus site 1 (n = 18), P < 0.0001; versus site 2 (n = 16), P = 0.0012. Pearson correlation: site 1, r = 0.110, n = 18, P = 0.664; site 2, r = 0.839, n = 16, P < 0.0001.


?as=webp

The effect of release on public support for the project:


The caption:

a, Pie chart showing community support for the field trial in release site 1 before (13.0%, n = 123 interviews) and after (54.3%, n = 431) mosquito releases (χ2 = 71.29, P < 0.0001). b, Mosquito human landing catches in release and control sites 1 and 2, July to November 2017. Mean ± s.e.m.; n = 4 independent biological replicates for both control and release sites; two-sided paired t-test. Site 1, t = 6.988, 3 degrees of freedom, P = 0.006; site 2, t = 3.566, 3 degrees of freedom, P = 0.0376
.


Conclusions from the paper:

In conclusion, combined IIT–SIT nearly eliminated two field populations of A. albopictus over a two-year period. The few mosquitoes remaining were probably migrants from outside the study area, as indicated by population genetic analyses43 and their presence in areas with good transport links, whereas isolated areas were mosquito-free. The possibility of population replacement emphasizes the importance of releasing mosquitoes that cannot increase pathogen transmission. As shown here, wPip markedly reduces arbovirus transmission by wild-type A. albopictus with their native double wAlbA and wAlbB infection, so unintended population replacement could even be beneficial in the short- and long-term, by initially collapsing vector populations and rendering any newly established populations incompetent for pathogen transmission. However, the aim of population suppression is preferable and has greater public acceptance, as it enables reduction of nuisance biting and pathogen transmission, and long-term mosquito eradication in the absence of immigration. The combined IIT–SIT approach is environmentally friendly and cost-effective (see Supplementary Information), enabling vector control in complex and inaccessible urban habitats in which implementation of standard vector control is difficult27,28, as released males actively seek wild females, and allows release of much higher numbers of male mosquitoes in comparison to IIT alone, while simultaneously protecting against accidental female release. Area-wide application of this approach will necessitate the development of novel technologies, especially with regard to scaling-up production capacity and enabling efficient mass release of mosquitoes.


It is important to note that this mosquito is an introduced species in many areas, and it is a transmitter of the Zika virus which will produced severely disabled children.

Other techniques are being explored to address parasite vectors, including those which transmit Malaria. These technologies also involve genetic engineering and are somewhat more controversial, in particular the technology involving "gene drives."

Gene drives are discussed in a news item in the previous issue of Nature: Self-destructing mosquitoes and sterilized rodents: the promise of gene drives

Altering the genomes of entire animal populations could help to defeat disease and control pests, but researchers worry about the consequences of unleashing this new technology.


I am not particularly competent in this particular technology so as to be able to address it with strong opinions, but as invasive species are a huge environmental problem, and as human disease compromises human development goals which, in my view, extend to environmental degradation and war and other noxious human conditions, I am keeping an open mind.

North Dakota

While harvesting the raspberries growing all over my yard, I came to a radical conclusion.

I hate mosquitoes more than thorns.

Time after time.



Melanoma sucks.

I'd rather go blind at the White House.

June 2019 is the third worst June recorded at the Mauna Loa CO2 observatory in 60 years.

I keep spreadsheets of the monthly and weekly data at the Mauna Loa Carbon dioxide observatory which I can use to sort and interpret the data. The data going back to 1958 is posted on the observatory's website, 61 years of data and 60 years of year to year monthly comparisons. June 2019 was recently posted. June 2019 is the third worst ever recorded.

Monthly Average Mauna Loa CO2 (Accessed July 14, 2019.)

The average reading in June 2019 was 413.92 ppm as compared to 410.79 ppm for June of 2018, 3.13 ppm higher than last year. (The carbon dioxide levels fall every year from roughly May to September during the Northern Hemisphere's summer.)

The worst June ever recorded, only one of two such values to exceed a change greater than 4.00 ppm of all the months ever recorded at Mauna Loa, was 4.01 ppm in 2016. (April 2016 saw an increase of 4.16 ppm over April of 2015).

Of the twelve worst monthly readings, 7 have occurred since January of 2015. The 3.13 recorded this month is the 20th worst of 724 monthly year to year increase readings, placing it the 97th percentile for all such readings.

The second worst June, 3.36 ppm over the previous year occurred in 1998, an El Nino year in which fires set to clear the Malaysian and Indonesian rain forests to make palm oil plantations to supply "renewable biodiesel" to Germany and other countries went out of control, burning much of the rain forest in those regions and releasing the carbon.

The average year to year increases for every month since June of 2009 is 2.33 ppm/year. The average for the first ten years of such data from June of 1959 to June of 1969 was 0.82 ppm/year.

If any of this troubles you, don't worry, be happy.

Head over to E&E forum here and read posts confusing the power unit "Watt" with the infinitely more important energy unit "Joule" and read lots and lots of posts how so called "renewable energy" "could" supply 100% of Europe'e energy by "such and such a year" when I, among, I suspect, all the people handing out this delusional horseshit will be dead.

Maybe you'll feel better. I won't, but maybe you will.

Decades of hearing this stuff on my part has not prevented me from observing that so called "renewable energy" did not work, is not working, and, I am absolutely certain, will not work to even slow climate change, never mind stop it. In fact, when this rhetoric received world wide support at a level of trillions of dollars in this century, the degradation of the atmosphere accelerated as opposed to slowed.

I'd love to stay and chat, but I'm reading some scientific papers on how techentium sulfide PV cells could be just great. They might be better than all this stuff we have now for no result, but that certainly won't matter, any more than the idea of distributing lead based perovskite solar cells, which some people actually think is a good idea, won't matter.

We're cooked and cooking.

Have a pleasant Sunday afternoon.

Woodstock

Gay black woman classical singer upsetting evolutionary doctrine by discussing insects.

The news item I'll discuss is here: The biologist using insect eggs to overturn evolutionary doctrine (Giorgia Guglielmi, Nature 571, 24-26 (2019))

I believe the news item is open sourced, but I'll excerpt it anyway, before referring to excerpts and graphics in Dr. Extatour's paper in the same issue of Nature, which is probably not open sourced. That paper is this one: Insect egg size and shape evolve with ecology but not developmental rate (Extatour, Church, et al, Nature 571, 58–62 (2019))

Excerpts from the News Item:

By the spring of 1998, Cassandra Extavour had spent more than two years failing to get her PhD off the ground. She had moved from her native Toronto in Canada to a pioneering laboratory in Madrid, where she was trying to engineer the eggs of fruit flies to have two different genetic make-ups. But she hit hurdle after hurdle, and nobody in the lab could help. If she couldn’t make the flies within the next few months, she would have to quit the project.

As she sat with her adviser and went through the dozens of unsuccessful tests she had done, they came up with one last strategy to make the flies using a different gene variant. Her adviser reassured her that it wouldn’t have any unwanted effects, but couldn’t point to any hard data. Even with time running out, Extavour was unwilling to take his word for it. She embarked on a months-long series of experiments to prove to herself that the gene did what he said. In the process, she built her own tools to ask a question that nobody had addressed before...

...Two decades later, Extavour is still pursuing original research questions and overturning convention as she investigates some of the most fundamental aspects of animal development. In her lab at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Extavour wants to understand how single-celled entities blossomed into multicellular organisms during evolution, and how the intricate bodies of such organisms can develop from cells that all have the same genetic blueprint...

...Whereas most researchers work with only a handful of well-studied animals, such as fruit flies and mice, Extavour’s success comes from her penchant for less-ubiquitous lab critters, such as sand fleas and crickets. Typical model organisms harbour just a fraction of the diversity found in nature, so alongside the usual suspects, she examines a wide range of animals...


...Two decades later, Extavour is still pursuing original research questions and overturning convention as she investigates some of the most fundamental aspects of animal development. In her lab at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Extavour wants to understand how single-celled entities blossomed into multicellular organisms during evolution, and how the intricate bodies of such organisms can develop from cells that all have the same genetic blueprint. “I have never heard of a problem that I thought was more interesting than that,” she says.

Extavour’s curiosity and rigorous thinking have led her to test, and in some cases disprove, widely accepted hypotheses about development and evolution. She upended the leading theory of how most animals generate the precursors of eggs and sperm1, and in a Nature paper this week, she and her team have cracked a long-standing question about the astonishing diversity of insect eggs2.

Just as an orchestra produces a sublime concerto, a suite of meticulously balanced genes controls an organism’s form and function. Extavour appreciates this better than most: she juggles science alongside a side career as a soprano. Even while rewriting scientific doctrine, she performs with professional ensembles in Boston and has appeared in operas and choirs from Canada to Spain.

Whereas most researchers work with only a handful of well-studied animals, such as fruit flies and mice, Extavour’s success comes from her penchant for less-ubiquitous lab critters, such as sand fleas and crickets. Typical model organisms harbour just a fraction of the diversity found in nature, so alongside the usual suspects, she examines a wide range of animals that help to reveal which genetic tools evolution most commonly uses.

She has also emerged as a champion for diversity and inclusivity, having experienced racism and prejudice as a gay black woman in science. Even after becoming a tenured professor, she still encounters people who assume she doesn’t belong. She spends time mentoring students from under-represented groups and helped to found the Pan-American Society of Evolutionary Developmental Biology, which unites hundreds of researchers across the Americas...

...Music has been in Extavour’s life since she was in the cradle. Science came much later, almost by accident.

Her father, who moved to Canada from Trinidad and Tobago in the 1960s, was a broadcast technician and percussionist. He played in concerts and used to practise in the basement of their three-bedroom house in downtown Toronto with his four kids. The first instrument Extavour played was a steel drum. In elementary school, she learnt to read music and taught herself to play the flute, borrowing music scores from the library. At university, Extavour played in orchestras and duos, and took up classical singing...

...A high-school friend got her interested in the workings of the brain, and by the end of her undergraduate studies, she had found her way to molecular genetics. At the University of Toronto, Extavour traded off science and music, landing her first professional singing gig with a baroque orchestra and working a summer job as an administrative assistant for developmental biologist Joseph Culotti. There, Extavour heard for the first time about the problem...


Dr. Extavour in her office:



As promised, some brief excerpts from her paper beginning with the open abstract...:

Over the course of evolution, organism size has diversified markedly. Changes in size are thought to have occurred because of developmental, morphological and/or ecological pressures. To perform phylogenetic tests of the potential effects of these pressures, here we generated a dataset of more than ten thousand descriptions of insect eggs, and combined these with genetic and life-history datasets. We show that, across eight orders of magnitude of variation in egg volume, the relationship between size and shape itself evolves, such that previously predicted global patterns of scaling do not adequately explain the diversity in egg shapes. We show that egg size is not correlated with developmental rate and that, for many insects, egg size is not correlated with adult body size. Instead, we find that the evolution of parasitoidism and aquatic oviposition help to explain the diversification in the size and shape of insect eggs. Our study suggests that where eggs are laid, rather than universal allometric constants, underlies the evolution of insect egg size and shape.

Insect eggs are a compelling system with which to test macroevolutionary hypotheses. Egg morphologies are extraordinarily diverse8, yet they can be readily compared across distant lineages using quantitative traits. Changes in egg size have been studied in relation to changes in other aspects of organismal biology9, including adult body size10,11,12, features of adult anatomy13 and offspring fitness through maternal investment14. Eggs must also withstand the physiological challenges of being laid in diverse microenvironments, including in water, air, or inside plants or animals15. Furthermore, because the fertilized egg is the homologous, single-cell stage in the lifecycle of multicellular organisms, egg size diversity is relevant to the evolution of both cell size and organism size8,14.

Three classes of hypotheses have been proposed to explain the evolution of egg size and shape. The first suggests that geometric constraints due to the physical scaling of size and shape explain the diversity of egg morphology13,16,17,18,19. The second suggests that there is an interaction between egg size and the rate of development20,21,22. Finally, the third suggests that the diversification of size and shape is a response to ecological or life-history changes10,13,15,23...

...Using custom bioinformatics tools, we assembled a dataset of 10,449 published descriptions of eggs, comprising 6,706 species, 526 families and every currently described extant hexapod order24 (Fig. 1a and Supplementary Fig. 1). We combined this dataset with backbone hexapod phylogenies25,26 that we enriched to include taxa within the egg morphology dataset (Supplementary Fig. 2) and used it to describe the distribution of egg shape and size (Fig. 1b). Our results showed that insect eggs span more than eight orders of magnitude in volume (Fig. 1a, c and Supplementary Fig. 3) and revealed new candidates for the smallest and largest described insect eggs: respectively, these are the parasitoid wasp Platygaster vernalis27 (volume = 7 × 10−7 mm3; Fig. 1c) and the earth-boring beetle Bolboleaus hiaticollis28...


Figure 1:



The caption:

a, Eggs are plotted in a morphospace defined by volume (mm3) and aspect ratio (unitless) on a log scale. Points are coloured by clades as shown in b. b, Relationships are shown according to a previous study25, one of the backbone phylogenies used in this study. Numbered points correspond to six eggs shown in c. c, Eggs selected to show a range of sizes and shapes, arranged by aspect ratio27,28,48,49,50,51. d, Size and shape are described using six features, calculated as shown.


o test these hypotheses about the physical scaling of size and shape, we began by modelling the evolutionary history of each morphological trait. This allowed us to determine whether distributions of extant shape and size have been shaped by phylogenetic relationships. For egg volume, aspect ratio, asymmetry and angle of curvature (Fig. 1d), we compared four models of evolution: Brownian motion, Brownian motion with evolutionary friction (Ornstein–Uhlenbeck), Brownian motion with a decreasing rate of evolution (early burst) and a non-phylogenetic model of stochastic motion (white noise). We found that models that accounted for phylogenetic covariance fit our data better than a non-phylogenetic model (white noise); in other words, the morphology of insect eggs tends to be similar in closely related insects (Supplementary Table 5).


Figure 2:



The caption:

a–c, Hypothesized relationships between size and shape: larger eggs are proportionally wider (a, solid line); larger eggs are proportionally longer (b, dotted line); shape and size scale isometrically (c, dashed line). d, Each hypothesis predicts a different scaling exponent—the slope of the regression between the log-transformed length and log-transformed width. Lines are as in a–c. e, Egg length and width plotted in log–log space. The dashed line represents a hypothetical 1:1 relationship (c). Solid lines are clade-specific phylogenetic generalized least-squares regressions; points are randomly selected representatives per genus. n numbers (genera): Palaeoptera, n = 104; Polyneoptera, n = 262; Condylognatha, n = 202; Hymenoptera, n = 356; Neuropteroidea, n = 265; Amphiesmenoptera, n = 76; Antliophora, n = 199. f, The distribution of scaling exponents from phylogenetic generalized least-squares regressions, calculated over the posterior distribution. White lines, boxes, bars and dots represent median, 25–75th percentiles, 5–95th percentiles and outliers, respectively. Asterisks indicate a significant relationship (P < 0.01, exact values are shown in Supplementary Table 6) and double daggers indicate that the relationship is not distinguishable from isometry (P > 0.01, exact values are shown in Supplementary Table 7). n = 100 phylogenetic generalized least-squares regressions. Colours correspond to Fig. 1b.


Figure 3:



The caption:

a, Mature eggs undergo embryonic development, hatch and grow into adults. b, Egg volume (mm3) compared to duration of embryogenesis, defined as time from egg laying to hatching (hours), adjusted for incubation temperature. When phylogeny is accounted for, there is no significant relationship. c, Egg volume (mm3) compared to adult body volume, calculated as body length cubed (mm3). Dashed line represents a hypothetical 1:1 relationship (isometry). Solid lines are clade-specific phylogenetic generalized least-squares regressions; points are family- or order-level average egg size and median adult size. n numbers (family- or order-level averages): Palaeoptera, n = 15; Polyneoptera, n = 31; Condylognatha, n = 36; Hymenoptera, n = 44; Neuropteroidea, n = 36; Amphiesmenoptera, n = 31; Antliophora, n = 39. d, The distribution of scaling exponents from phylogenetic generalized least-squares regressions. White lines, boxes, bars and dots represent median, 25–75th percentiles, 5–95th percentiles and outliers, respectively. Asterisks indicate a significant relationship (P < 0.01, exact values are shown in Supplementary Table 12) and double daggers indicate that the relationship is not distinguishable from isometry (P > 0.01, exact values are shown in Supplementary Table 13). n = 100 phylogenetic generalized least-squares regressions. Colours correspond to Fig. 1b.




The caption:

a, Two modes of oviposition ecology: laying eggs within an animal host (orange; for example, parasitoid wasps), and in water (blue; for example, mosquitoes). Other oviposition substrates (for example, terrestrial or within plants) are shown in grey. b, Ancestral state reconstruction of oviposition mode reveals both evolved multiple times (see Supplementary Figs. 17, 18). c–f, The distribution of egg features, coloured by ecology. c, Volume (mm3; shown on a log scale). d, Aspect ratio (unitless; shown on a log scale). e, Asymmetry (unitless). f, Angle of curvature (degrees). Asterisks indicate that the model that accounts for ecology fits the data better than a non-ecological model (Ornstein–Uhlenbeck model with multiple optima, ∆AICc > 2, exact values are shown in Supplementary Tables 14–19).


The conclusion to the paper:

a, Two modes of oviposition ecology: laying eggs within an animal host (orange; for example, parasitoid wasps), and in water (blue; for example, mosquitoes). Other oviposition substrates (for example, terrestrial or within plants) are shown in grey. b, Ancestral state reconstruction of oviposition mode reveals both evolved multiple times (see Supplementary Figs. 17, 18). c–f, The distribution of egg features, coloured by ecology. c, Volume (mm3; shown on a log scale). d, Aspect ratio (unitless; shown on a log scale). e, Asymmetry (unitless). f, Angle of curvature (degrees). Asterisks indicate that the model that accounts for ecology fits the data better than a non-ecological model (Ornstein–Uhlenbeck model with multiple optima, ∆AICc > 2, exact values are shown in Supplementary Tables 14–19).


From the conclusion of the news item:

Extavour, who didn’t tell colleagues about her sexual orientation until her postdoc years, says that she can appreciate how students who come out as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or queer might feel isolated. Rainbow-flag stickers on the doors of her office and laboratory spaces signal to students that everyone is welcome. “Being out at work is important, because it allows young people to see that it’s possible to be gay and out and alive and have a job,” she says.

Extavour learnt from her family that she should not let other people’s prejudices define what she could and could not do; they also inspired her to set her own standards for how well she should do it. And those who know her say that Extavour aims high. “She’s motivated by big questions,” Dunn says. “She has her eyes on the horizon.”


It would be interesting to hear the orange idiot have one of his fellow racists read to him on Fox News and use it to expound to his fellow racists how ignorant barely literate frat boy White Men who speak like 4th graders are superior to gay, black women.

Well, perhaps not interesting, one can only spend a limited amount of time being interested in a functional idiot, but it would be telling.






The weekly year to year Mauna CO2 reading for the week of 6/30/19 among the 50 worst increases ever.

Each year, the maximal value for carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere for a particular year is observed in the Northern Hemisphere's spring. The Mauna Loa Observatory reports weekly year to year increases for each week of the current year compared to the same week in the previous year.

This year, in 2019, as is pretty much the case for the entire 21st century, these maxima represent the highest concentrations of carbon dioxide ever recorded going back to 1958, when the Mauna Loa carbon dioxide observatory first went into operation. Weekly data is available on line, however, only going back to the week of May 25, 1975, when the reading was 332.98 ppm.

May 12, 2019 set the all time record for such readings: 415.39 ppm.

These readings, as I often remark vary in a sinusoidal fashion, where the sine wave is imposed on a monotonically increasing more or less linear axis, not exactly linear in the sense that the slope of the line is actually rising slowly while we all wait with unwarranted patience for the bourgeois wind/solar/electric car nirvana that has not come, is not here and will not come.

This graphic from the Mauna Loa website shows this behavior:



The annual minima are generally recorded in the Northern hemisphere's autumn. This year's absolute readings will fall until around September, whereupon they will begin to rise to what is sure to be a new record maximum in 2020.

Somewhat obsessively I keep a spreadsheet of the weekly data, which I use to do calculations to record the dying of our atmosphere, a triumph of fear, dogma and ignorance that did not have to be, but nonetheless is.

In these spreadsheets, in particular, I record in this spreadsheet the increases over the previous year.

Here is the data for the week ending June 30, 2019:

Week beginning on June 30, 2019: 413.38 ppm
Weekly value from 1 year ago: 409.57 ppm
Weekly value from 10 years ago: 388.63 ppm


As of this writing, there have been 2,266 such weekly readings recorded at Mauna Loa, going back to 1975. The increase is the 32nd highest ever recorded among all of these. This places in the top 50 among all such data points, greater than 98.6% of all such readings, in the "percent talk" utilized to generate wishful thinking about this disaster.

With the year just about half over, 9 of the 50 highest year to year weekly average increases ever recorded have been in 2019. Thirty-four of the top 50 such readings have taken place in the last 5 years; 38 in the top 50 recorded in last ten years, and 41 of the top 50 recorded in this century.

The average increases over the last 4 weeks when compared to the same week in 2018 has been 3.26 ppm. For the whole of 2019, these weekly year to year increases have averaged 3.11 ppm.

In the 20th century these figures averaged 1.54 ppm; in the 21st, 2.14 ppm (and rising).

If the fact that this reading is 24.75 ppm higher than it was ten years ago bothers you, don't worry, be happy. You can read all about how wonderful things will be "by 2050" or "by 2100." Wind. Solar. Elon Musk. Tesla Car. And all that.

If you're even a tiny bit troubled, head on over to the E&E forum here, and read all about how great so called renewable energy is doing from one on the anti-nukes running the place and why the toxicology and energy waste associated with the second law of thermodynamics with respect to batteries is "green."

My impression that I've been hearing all about how rapidly bird and bat grinding wind turbines are being installed since I began writing here in 2002, when the reading on April 21, 2002 was 375.42 ppm.

This should not disturb you since it is better to think everything is fine rather than focus on reality and focusing on reality - particularly in Trumpian times - is as annoying here as elsewhere.

All this jawboning about the wonderful growth of so called "renewable energy" has had no effect on climate change, is having no effect on climate change, and won't have any effect on climate change, but it's not climate change that counts: It's all that wonderful marketing showing pictures giant sleek wind turbines on steel posts that counts.

Don't be angry, be happy and nice. Say nice things. Be pleasant.

If the fact that steel is made by coking coal at high temperatures in coal fired furnaces enters your mind, I suggest you meditate and say, "OM...om...om...om..." until you're only left with happy thoughts.

At the risk of repetitively asserting that reality - as opposed to cheering for our own wishful thinking - matters, though let me say again:

In this century, world energy demand grew by 164.83 exajoules to 584.95 exajoules.

In this century, world gas demand grew by 43.38 exajoules to 130.08 exajoules.

In this century, the use of petroleum grew by 32.03 exajoules to 185.68 exajoules.

In this century, the use of coal grew by 60.25 exajoules to 157.01 exajoules.

In this century, the solar, wind, geothermal, and tidal energy on which people so cheerfully have bet the entire planetary atmosphere, stealing the future from all future generations, grew by 8.12 exajoules to 10.63 exajoules.

10.63 exajoules is under 2% of the world energy demand.

Nuclear energy, provided 28.81 exajoules, or 4.9% of world energy demand in 2017, this while under constant attack by people who think it is "too dangerous." In it's entire history, stretching over half a century nuclear has not killed as many people as will die today from air pollution, which is roughly 19,000 people; seven million people will die from air pollution this year.

2018 Edition of the World Energy Outlook Table 1.1 Page 38 (I have converted MTOE in the original table to the SI unit exajoules in this text.)

Nuclear energy was the last, best hope for humanity and, in fact, for the planet.

Fukushima.

Really? Really?

If last week's death toll from the heat wave in Europe is anything like the one that struck in 2003, more than 70,000 people will have died from it: Death toll exceeded 70,000 in Europe during the summer of 2003, (Jean-Marie Robain et al, Comptes Rendus Biologies Volume 331, Issue 2, February 2008, Pages 171-178).

If you think that unlike you, I am worrying and not being happy, you can always chant stuff about how "by 2050" or "by 2075" or "by 2100" future generations will all live in a so called "renewable energy" nirvana powered by the sun and the wind and tooling around in Tesla electric cars.

I'll be dead "by 2050," as will most of the people doing such soothsaying about that magic year, but I'm sure that the future generation living through 2050 will all be cheering for our wonderful insight into the world in which they will be living.

Or maybe not. Maybe they won't forgive us for our wishful thinking by which we casually dumped responsibility on them to do what we were purely incompetent to do ourselves, this while we consumed every last drop of rare elements to live in our bourgeois moral hell.

We will not be forgiven, nor should we be.

I wish you a pleasant work week.

Life and Death in New Jersey.

A friend turned me on to this very beautifully written blog post, and I thought I'd share it. It's about the graves in New Jersey of Kurt Goedel, John Von Neumann, and the grave of Bell Labs.



For convenience, here the opening paragraphs are excerpted, with the link to the full thing below:

Life And Death In New Jersey
By Wavefunction on Monday, May 13, 2019


On a whim I decided to visit the gently sloping hill where the universe announced itself in 1964, not with a bang but with ambient, annoying noise. It’s the static you saw when you turned on your TV, or at least used to back when analog TVs were a thing. But today there was no noise except for the occasional chirping of birds, the lone car driving off in the distance and a gentle breeze flowing through the trees. A recent trace of rain had brought verdant green colors to the grass. A white-tailed deer darted into the undergrowth in the distance.

The town of Holmdel, New Jersey is about thirty miles east of Princeton. In 1964, the venerable Bell Telephone Laboratories had an installation there, on top of this gently sloping hill called Crawford Hill. It was a horn antenna, about as big as a small house, designed to bounce off signals from a communications satellite called Echo which the lab had built a few years ago. Tending to the care and feeding of this piece of electronics and machinery were Arno Penzias – a working-class refuge from Nazism who had grown up in the Garment District of New York – and Robert Wilson; one was a big picture thinker who enjoyed grand puzzles and the other an electronics whiz who could get into the weeds of circuits, mirrors and cables. The duo had been hired to work on ultra-sensitive microwave receivers for radio astronomy.

In a now famous comedy of errors, instead of simply contributing to incremental advances in radio astronomy, Penzias and Wilson ended up observing ripples from the universe’s birth – the cosmic microwave background radiation – by accident. It was a comedy of errors because others had either theorized that such a signal would exist without having the experimental know-how or, like Penzias and Wilson, were unknowingly building equipment to detect it without knowing the theoretical background. Penzias and Wilson puzzled over the ambient noise they were observing in the antenna that seemed to come from all directions, and it was only after clearing away every possible earthly source of noise including pigeon droppings, and after a conversation with a fellow Bell Labs scientist who in turn had had a chance conversation with a Princeton theoretical physicist named Robert Dicke, that Penzias and Wilson realized that they might have hit on something bigger. Dicke himself had already theorized the existence of such whispers from the past and had started building his own antenna with his student Jim Peebles; after Penzias and Wilson contacted him, he realized he and Peebles had been scooped by a few weeks or months. In 1978 Penzias and Wilson won the Nobel Prize; Dicke was among a string of theorists and experimentalists who got left out. As it turned out, Penzias and Wilson’s Nobel Prize marked the high point of what was one of the greatest, quintessentially American research institutions in history...


Life and Death in New Jersey

I have always meant to take a part of a day and wander through the Princeton Cemetery, but have never done it.
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