Five things on Friday #76

Things of note for the weekend ending June 13th, 2014.

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Tons of video stuff this week. If you’re reading this in a newsletter, I’ve thrown in the links to the videos along the way so you TOO can enjoy teh awesomez.

1. Silent Crickets
On the Hawaiian island of Kauai, Marlene Zuk has been studying crickets. Between 1991 and 2000, the crickets got more and more quiet and in 2001, Zuk heard only a single calling male cricket. The volume had decreased, but had the volume actually decreased?

The crickets hadn’t disappeared. Zuk would go for nighttime walks and see multitudes of the insects in the light of her headlamp. If anything, there were more of them than before. They just weren’t calling out. When she dissected them, Zuk found out why.

Male crickets call with two structures on the backs of their wings—a vein with several evenly spaced teeth (the file) and a raised ridge (the scraper). When the cricket rubs these together, the effect is like running your nail along the teeth of a comb—you get a thrrrrrrrrrrrp sound. But on all the silent Kauai crickets, the file was growing at a weird angle and had all but disappeared. Their wings were flat.

The reason?

The crickets were targeted by a parasitic fly, whose larvae burrow inside them and devour them alive. The flies finds the crickets by listening out for their songs and they’re so effective that, in the early 90s, they had parasitised a third of the males.

But the silent males escaped the attention of the fly. As they bred and spread, they carried the flatwing mutation with them. By 2003, the cricket population had rebounded. And in fewer than 20 generations, they had gone from almost all-singing to almost all-silent. The crickets have become a classic textbook example of rapid evolution.

Nature is awesome. Via.

2. Slow motion Ballet

slow mo ballet

In this video, six members of the Washington Ballet demonstrate their most challenging moves.

Worth watching.

3. What day is it Sunday?

Video link.

4. The best of E3
I am a gamer. If you’ve listened to this past week’s Voicemail podcast, you’d know that I confessed to not reading anything about mobile technology over the last seven days because, thanks to the Electronic Entertainment Expos – aka ‘E3’ – I’ve been totally and utterly bingeing on game trailers at almost every opportunity. The three stand outs?

BATMAN: ARKHAM KNIGHT
The fourth third* game in the Arkham series, this final part of the Rocksteady trilogy looks IMMENSE.

The one thing need to know? You get to drive the Batmobile.

*Batman: Arkham Origins, though officially part of the Arkham games canon, is widely accepted to ‘not count’ as it wasn’t built by Rocksteady Studios and, as a result, is a poor imitation of what makes a good Arkham game.

[video link]

ASSASSIN’S CREED: UNITY
There’s no doubt in my mind that the Assassin’s Creed series is probably my favourite set of games of recent years. AC: Black Flag was a day one purchase for me and this latest iteration looks like it might be the same.

The one thing need to know? In the video the commentary mentions that certain parts of Paris have been built at a 1:1 scale. That’s awesome.

[video link]

NO MAN’S SKY
This one very nearly passed me by completely (so big love to Matt for making sure I didn’t miss it), No Man’s Sky is a simple science-fiction game about exploration and survival. It looks stunning.

The one thing you need to know? Your character exists in an infinite procedurally generated universe. In. Sane.

[video link]

5. Clickhole
This is everywhere right now.

CLICKHOLE
The Onion is a satirical take on American news. In a post-listicle world, where click-bait and headlines such as ‘Seven things Nigel Farage could learn from Vladimir Putin‘ are commonplace, you could read this as some kind of post-modern take on what ‘news’, or news delivery, has become.

Or you could read it as The Onion not-that-subtly trolling the hell out of Buzzfeed. Either way, they uploaded 16 pictures of Beyonce not sicking in quicksand yesterday, and you won’t believe what happened next.

And that’s it, we’re done.

Except.

We’re not.

Bonus items for your oculars this week are:

  • The Calvin & Hobbs story
    If you missed this, read the write up. I must confess, I’ve never been a huge C&H fan (sorry), but this story made me smile from ear to ear.
  • Winging it
    Everyone is totally winging it, all the time. A great read.
  • Articulated TMNT
    The concept of ‘arty images of 80s pop-culture accompanied with deep and meaningful thoughts’ is not new to me however the mutant turtles are going through a bit a revival at the moment, so this seems timely.

See you next week.

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