Monday, August 25, 2014

three cute animals

The release of my third cute-animal themed book is only four weeks away - after platypuses and geckos I now have a raccoon serving as a mascot. I've just set up a dedicated web page for the new book, which you'll find here:

Invasion der Waschbären .

In the process, I also found that Yahoo had shut down my website for the last three weeks, as I forgot to update my payment info (and naively assumed they would just revert to the old trick of displaying ads on my site rather than shutting it off). Apologies to anyone who got frustrated looking for the site it should now be back to normal.

The new book covers ecology and functional biology. Expect more raccoon-related ravings soon.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

bees to birds

I have covered the threats to bees and other pollinators a few times since the emergence of Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) in the noughties (see the label bees, although this blog doesn't quite go back to the very beginning of the problem). Gradually, the emphasis shifted to the question of if and how systemic pesticides and in particular the neonicotinoids, could through indirect or subtle sublethal effects cause pollinator problems.

Ecologists have now compiled evidence suggesting that it's not just the pollinators that suffer from systemic pesticides accumulating in soil and surface water. Collateral damage ranges from annelid worms to birds, and valuable ecosystem services (beyond pollination) are under threat. I've written a feature about all this which is now out in Current Biology (restricted access):

Systemic pesticide concerns extend beyond the bees
Current Biology Volume 24, Issue 16, pR717–R720, 18 August 2014
Summary and restricted access to full text and PDF file

Bumblebees in a garden in Germany. Own photo.

Friday, August 15, 2014

capturing carbon

I've reviewed a lovely textbook:

Introduction to Carbon Capture and Sequestration
(The Berkeley Lectures on Energy, Vol. 1)
Berend Smit, Jeffrey A. Reimer, Curtis M. Oldenburg, Ian C. Bourg
Imperial College Press, ISBN 978-1-78326-327-1

Shame that - for all the brilliant engineering that goes into it - carbon capture and sequestration is a rather dumb way of addressing the problem that we've now known for 25 years and done nothing to fix. Surely, as a civilisation, we should be able to recycle the carbon dioxide using artificial photosynthesis and thus close the carbon cycle (see my recent feature)? Anyhow, my long essay review is out in the August edition of Chemistry & Industry, pages 50-51, it's premium content, but do give me a shout if you want a PDF file.

Thursday, August 07, 2014

photosynthesis and pH sensor

just two German publications to round up for July/August, a long one on artificial photosynthesis and the quest to make solar fuel, and a short one on the catfish that uses pH sensors to find its prey:

Photosynthese unter Kontrolle?
Nachrichten aus der Chemie 2014, 62, No. 7/8, pp 769-770
recent feature in English covering the same area

Ein Fisch mit pH-Meter
Chemie in unserer Zeit 2014, 48 No 4, p245
abstract and restricted access to PDF file

Friday, August 01, 2014

three months of street music

My street music blog on tumblr, which is three months old today, is beginning to find an audience. Going slowly, but six times faster than my main blog on tumblr, which was at a comparable stage after 18 months ...

I'm mixing up my own photos and videos of Oxford buskers with reblogs from around the world, which results in a colourful mix of open-air music-making:

So do drop by if you can.