The Short Brutish Life of Insects – Best of the Blogs #10

The Short Brutish Life of Insects – Best of the Blogs #10


Welcome to November at the
Scientific American Blog Network, A month of slaughtered tigers, super-storms, and horrifying ways to die! (Jazz Music) On Extinction Countdown this month John Platt reminds us of a story of a man who slaughtered and ate the very last Indochine tiger in China. Indochine tigers are extremely rare, they are now extinct in China, but
they exist in small numbers in other countries. Apparently, the person who slaughtered
and ate this tiger, claimed self-defense but he is now spending twelve years
in jail for the crime. This month, Alex Wild profiled the 13 most horrifying ways to die if you’re an arthropod. He coupled this with his own photographs for a horrible, yet awesome post. How about getting your head taken off by a direct injection of Dracula Ant venom? Your guts impaled on Spikey Ant teeth? Your brain being invaded
by a zombie-fungus that directs you to an ideal spot for your parasite to release spores? Your innards are suddenly sucked out by a predatory maggot? You’re pregnant with a parasitic worm that kills you when it breaks out by force? Your body is slowly weakened and destroyed by wasp grubs feeding on your insides? Typhoon Haiyan was a massive storm that devastated the Philippines this month, but how massive was it
and was it really a record storm? Well Mark Fischetti sets the record
straight on his blog this month. Mark: “Everyone knows about Typhoon Haiyan which destroyed the Philippines, but a lot of the stories that came out were unclear about two basic questions
about storms. First was the strength of the storm, Haiyan was in fact the strongest typhoon, cyclone, hurricane, all the same thing,
to make landfall. Strength is a sustained windspeeds, which were 190 to 195 miles
an hour at landfall, which makes Haiyan the strongest storm to ever strike land. Second question
was a little more complicated and has to do with storm surge. Strong storms can have
high surges or low surges, and there are a number of factors
that drive that outcome. So one is the sustained wind speeds
over the ocean; how long the winds are strong
before the storm reaches land, which allows the surge to build. Another factor is how fast the storm
is moving across the water, which can push that storm surge or not. Another factor are high tides; whether a storm reaches land
during low or high tides. So we’ve got low tide plus a storm surge, or a high tide plus the same storm surge makes for a higher surge. And finally the shape of the ocean floor
is a big factor. So if the ocean floor builds gradually up towards the coastline then the surge can really build. But if there are sharp drops
in the ocean floor, that can disrupt the ability
of the surge to mount. So, you see?
November was horrifying! Let’s hope there’s some happy stories
in December. I don’t know: Bunnies?
Kittens? Sunny days? I guess we’ll see. I’ll see you next month

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