Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Beware of The Bug-Belle! (Weirdest Lois Lane Story Ever!)

This story is so wrong on so many levels. Kafka anyone?


Where is my mini-series of Scorpion-Lois? Hello DC web comics!

Superman's Girl Friend, Lois Lane #69 (Oct. 1966). © DC Comics
Script: E. Nelson Bridwell; Art: Kurt Schaffenberger

“The oriental hornet has built-in "solar cells" that generate electricity from sunlight—a first in the animal kingdom, according to a new study.
Scientists already knew that the hornet species, for unknown reasons, produced electricity inside its exoskeleton. Researchers recently went a step further by examining the structure of the hornet's exoskeleton to find out how the electricity is produced.

Their research revealed that pigments in the hornet's yellow tissues trap light, while its brown tissues generate electricity. Exactly how the hornets use this electricity is still not entirely understood.”

Read the rest of the story at National Geographic News.

Abstract: The Oriental hornet worker correlates its digging activity with solar insolation. Solar radiation passes through the epicuticle, which exhibits a grating-like structure, and continues to pass through layers of the exo-endocuticle until it is absorbed by the pigment melanin in the brown-colored cuticle or xanthopterin in the yellow-colored cuticle. The correlation between digging activity and the ability of the cuticle to absorb part of the solar radiation implies that the Oriental hornet may harvest parts of the solar radiation. In this study, we explore this intriguing possibility by analyzing the biophysical properties of the cuticle. We use rigorous coupled wave analysis simulations to show that the cuticle surfaces are structured to reduced reflectance and act as diffraction gratings to trap light and increase the amount absorbed in the cuticle. A dye-sensitized solar cell (DSSC) was constructed in order to show the ability of xanthopterin to serve as a light-harvesting molecule.
Ref.: Solar energy harvesting in the epicuticle of the oriental hornet (Vespa orientalis). 2010. Marian Plotkin, et al. Naturwissenschaften 97:1067–1076.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Roy Chapman Andrews - Modern Dragon Hunter (1950)

From True Comics #81, Parents’ Magazine Press (1950), comes this crudely rendered retelling of the life of famous palaeontologist, Roy Chapman Andrews.

Click to Enlarge

Thanks to Mr. Cairo for the great gift of the original comic!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Thursday, November 18, 2010

It Stands In The Snow (1956) by Sol Brodsky

World of Fantasy #2, July 1956 © Marvel Comics
Art by Sol Brodsky

Sol Brodsky (April 22, 1923 – June 4, 1984) was one of the small group of people responsible for making the classic Silver Age of Marvel Comics actually happen. As a go-to artist/inker on many early Marvel comics, he became the companies production manager and Stan Lee’s right-hand man during the Marvel 'Pop Art' explosion. Sol’s name was all over the credits of the 1960’s Marvel Comics, but I’m sure few of the readers actually knew what he did.

How importrant was he? When Jack Kirby and Stan Lee concocted a story for What If? in 1978 reimagining the Fantastic Four as being members of the Marvel Bullpen, Bordsky filled the roll of The Human Torch, with much beloved Flo Steinberg (Lee’s secretary and chief letter-answerer) becoming the Invisible Girl (although Merry Mary Severin could also have filled this role). Lee and Kirby were, of course, Mr Fantastic and The Thing, respectively.

Sol Flames' On!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Nightmare Island! (1952) by Carmine Infantino

Sensation Mystery #110 (July-Aug.), 1952 © DC Comics

Sensation Mystery is the mostly-forgotten offspring of Sensation Comics, picking up its numbering and continuing on from #110 to #116. While the art is solid by DC’s stable of reliable pros such as Carmine Infantino, Murphy Anderson & Frank Giacoia, the stories are generally uninspiring. Still, there are a few gems scattered amongst the run of the book.


Pencils: Carmine Infantio; Inks: Sy Barry

A new study shows how an amphibious fish stays alive for up to two months on land. Mangrove killifish are small fish that live in temporary pools in coastal mangrove forest. During dry seasons when their pools disappear, the fish hole up in leaf litter or hollow logs. As long as they stay moist, they can survive for extended periods out of water by breathing air through their skin.

The key to their survival is found in special cells called ionocytes, normally found on the gills of other fish that are clustered on the skin of the killfish. Other fish species have skin ionocytes in their larval stages of development, but usually these cells disappear from the skin during development.

The skin of the mangrove killifish is also equipped to help the fish deal with varying salinity. When out-of-water fish were placed on a surface moist with salt water, the skin ionocytes got bigger, indicating that they're working overtime to keep the right salt balance. When those fish were placed back in water, the skin ionocytes returned to normal size.

It's adaptations like this that make this fish special—even among amphibious fish. Lungfish, for example, need to alter their physiological state to live out of water. But with its special skin, mangrove killifish can maintain all of their normal physiological processes at nearly the same level as being in water—and they can do it for over 60 days. link
Ref. A Fish Out of Water: Gill and Skin Remodeling Promotes Osmo- and Ionoregulation in the Mangrove Killifish Kryptolebias marmoratus. 2010. D. M. LeBlanc, et al. Physiological and Biochemical Zoology, 83:932–949.