By the Writer

Suicide-Committing Grasshoppers

Just found this on the intertubes. It’s a fascinating (and creepy) YouTube video about nematomorpha, parasitic creatures more commonly called “hairworms.” We wrote a short piece about them in Uncle John’s Triumphant 20th Bathroom Reader (2007, p. 172). An excerpt:

Tests on grasshoppers that had contracted hairworms by drinking water containing hairworm larvae revealed that the lavrae feed off grasshoppers’ insides and grow until one takes up most of its body cavity. When that worm is ready to reproduce, it secretes a protein concoction that affects the grasshopper’s central nervous system, mimicking messages to its brain. The messages drive the grasshopper to water, where it doesn’t stop for a drink…it jumps in and drowns. It is effectively induced to commit suicide. The worm, which by this time can be three times the length of the grasshopper, then crawls out of the carcass and swims off to find a mate.

Yum!

Here’s the video:

Related Extra: A fungus that brainwashes ants into sacrificing themselves…for the fungus.

And this just in: Yay toads!

Periodic Table Printmaking Project

This is just too cool:

Ninety-seven printmakers of all experience levels, have joined together to produce 118 prints in any medium; woodcut, linocut, monotype, etching, lithograph, silkscreen, or any combination. The end result is a periodic table of elements intended to promote both science and the arts.

Example:

Tin
by Natalia Moroz

About the Element
For Tin, a silvery-white metal, the chemical element of atomic number 50. (Symbol: Sn), I pictured The Steadfast Tin Soldier from the classic fairy tale by Hans Christian Anderson.

About the Print
I also added more tins on the background. It’s a four color linocut, gray, red and blue printed using the jigsaw method, overprinted with black. Printed with Daniel Smith oil based inks on white Rising Stonehenge paper.

UNCLE JOHN’S CENSUS 2010

Everyone in the United States is required to answer the questions on this important official document by April 1, 2010. And that includes Canada.

Please cut and paste any or all of the following questions into a comment below and answer accordingly. Comments will be placed in a large virtual hat on April 1, 2010, and one winner will be drawn from said hat. Winner will receive either an all-expenses-paid trip to the Bahamas or a free book, whichever makes our accountants happier. Read. Set. Go!