By Samuel Bolton. For any small arthropod, the topsoil and litter layers are a veritable jungle — a morass of predators, pathogens, and meals. There are two basic strategies for surviving in organically rich soils: either live fast and die young, or find a way of protecting yourself from predators. Both of these strategies work because there are plentiful food resources that allow one to either grow up quickly or go to the trouble of metabolizing a suit of armor, for instance. High degrees of sclerotization are indeed common in these organically rich habitats. A handful of topsoil from any forest contains numerous well-armored oribatids, the arachnological versions of tanks. If topsoil is a jungle, then deep mineral soil and sand are the desert equivalents. Food is scarce in these habitats, but then so are predators. If one can somehow adapt to these conditions, it’s a great opportunity to let one’s guard down. There is less need to invest in armor in an environment where so few predators abound. In this respect, the family of mites that I study, the Nematalycidae, represents an extreme example of this mode of living. These mites are noticeable for their highly elongate body form and for their thin and extendable integument, which must make them an exceptionally easy meal for any comparably sized predator. Their long bodies make it is easy to outflank them, whereas their soft, thin integuments can be readily penetrated by pincers or a pair of mandibles. As one would expect, these mites don’t do well in organically rich soils. They are almost exclusively found in deep mineral soil and sand. But how do nematalycids survive in an environment that has so little food. This is a topic that fascinates me, so much so that it is now a central part of my PhD research. Like the majority of other mites, the Nematalycidae are fluid feeders. Many fluid-feeding mites simply insert their mouthparts into their prey items and draw up the fluid contents using the suction from their pharynx. This is easy enough when you have a large enough prey item into which to sink your mouthparts. However, in a desert-like environment such as deep soil or sand, prey items aren’t often in the big-and-easy size category. Instead, much of the biomass of these habitats is composed of bacteria and yeasts, which are far smaller than any mite. It would seem very difficult, if not impossible, for a mite to accurately insert pincer-like chelicerae. Source: entomologytoday.org
It often feels like writing about the experience of flying business in Europe is a broken record: “ow, my knees” in an increasingly tight Eurobusiness seat, all too often pitched the same as economy but with the middle seat free. The soft product on these flights, though, is what really differentiates the decent premium airlines from the cheap and cheerful (or cheap and nasty) low-cost carriers. I’d booked in economy because business was around €400 more, so was pleased to discover during web checkin that there was a €36 upgrade offer. Given I had no status with Air France for fast track security, priority emigration and lounge access, nor is there a Priority Pass location in Charles de Gaulle’s terminal 2E — plus I had a six hour gap between check-out from my hotel and boarding... The ability on a busy flight to do a bit of manspreading into a comfy slouch or sit side-saddle with my knees pointing towards the empty middle seat makes all the difference between a pleasant flight and wondering why I didn’t book easyJet. It’s not much of a difference, but it is an improvement for this 6’3” (190 cm) flyer. At the airport, I dropped my suitcase quickly and without a queue at the clearly marked Sky Priority desk, then nipped around the back to hop on the peoplemover to the L gates from which my flight departed. The priority emigration and security worked swiftly (even though I had forgotten to drink the half-bottle of Evian tucked into my carryon’s side pouch — oh, the glamour of guzzling half a litre of water in the recombobulation area). The ability to bypass the snaking queues at CDG was a big relief. I’d visited the same lounge before, most recently as a first class passenger departing on Korean Air to Seoul. Then, it had been a little disappointing not to see any first class lounge facility. This time, though, with six hours to kill, I was grateful for the workspace, the rotating food offerings, well-stocked beverage chillers and a range of seating options, including business-type desks with power sockets. The Jacquart 2006 vintage Champagne — On board, the seats were (as ever) the least impressive part of the experience. 30” slimlines, and that’s it — no AC socket, no USB port, no IFE, no wifi. Not even a fold-up middle table. Source: www.runwaygirlnetwork.com
Food served on the Apollo missions (1968-1972). Seen at the bottom is the famous "spoon bowl," an advance that meant astronauts no longer had to eat food directly from tubes. Food was rehydrated and warmed with a hot water gun and eaten with real utensils. Food didn't float off the spoon as some had feared, as the food's moisture made it stick to the spoon. Since the first crew arrived in November 2000, more than 200 astronauts from 15 different countries have visited the ISS. At its core, it's a floating lab, where for six months at a time six crew members work, exercise, sleep -- and eat. Providing NASA astronauts with a nutritious diet is the job of food scientists at the Johnson Space Center , in Houston. There, Maya Cooper is part of the team responsible for about 40% of the food sent to the astronauts. She says her team tries to strike a delicate balance between providing home comforts and healthy food. "There are many items that we've had on the menu that were great tasting items but recently we've had a big sodium reduction, trying to get the sodium content on the space menu down," Cooper says. "So we've had to reformulate a lot of those items, preserving the taste and the homely comfort food aspects of the food, while making sure that the nutrition is right where we need for it to be. ". If Cooper makes space food sound like a science,... your body is never truly at rest at zero gravity, so astronauts must eat accordingly, consuming 3,000 calories a day. In the controlled environment of the ISS, scientists are able to study the astronauts' physiological processes with great accuracy. "We know exactly what they're eating," Cooper says, "so we have better data in terms of how food actually impacts the body. Likewise, food is affected by the requirements of space. Food sent into orbit has to be preserved by heat processing which, paired with its long-term storage, causes food to lose some of its nutritional value due to vitamin degradation. Overcoming these obstacles is one of the challenges facing Cooper, along with how to make such adulterated food appetizing. Meals through a straw. Space food in popular culture ranges from liquid meals of various viscosities -- think Stanley Kubrick's "2001: A Space Odyssey" -- to a miracle pill containing a day's worth of nutrition. In the space program's early days, NASA's Project. Source: www.cnn.com
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For any small arthropod, the topsoil and litter layers are a veritable jungle — a morass of predators, pathogens, and meals. There are two basic strategies for surviving in organically rich soils: either live fast and die young, or find a way of
The priority emigration and security worked swiftly (even though I had forgotten to drink the half-bottle of Evian tucked into my carryon's side pouch — oh, the glamour of guzzling half a litre of water in the recombobulation area). The ability to
"We're limited by the size of the pouch [the meals come in] you can't actually have more in the package, that's just what it holds." Secondly, and more useful to Cooper, are calories. "We know how many calories we want an entrée to have, and how
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