Archive for the ‘The Quirk’ Category

The Quirk: How Will The World End?

February 18, 2010

A couple of weeks ago I ran a competition on WordPress Forum to give me suggestions for blog topics.  The winner was Liana Merlo. Check out her blog here, Well done liana, you’ve won some minor exposure on a science blog! Liana wanted to know the most likely ways the world will end.  I thought I’d let The Quirk answer this one.

How the world will end is actually pretty mundane.  The Sun will eventually turn much of its hydrogen and helium supply into heavier elements. Once this has happened the sun will expand into a Red Giant, eventually growing large enough to burn the earth to cinders and eventually cause it to disintegrate and fall into the sun. YAWN! I think what Liana really wants to know is how the world as we know it will end. Here are a few of the possible theories:


Soon the rising sea will engulf us all, leaving us in a horrible Waterworld-esqe existence.  I haven’t seen that film, but its got Kevin Costner in it, so I can only imagine it is terrible. Global warming is caused by greenhouse gas emissions, and our only chance of survival is to stop driving/making stuff/buying stuff/thinking and hope it just goes away.

Destroy-ability: 9/10; start building your arks people


If its good enough to kill the dinosaurs, its good enough to kill us.  Step one a massive asteroid hits earth. Step two a huge mass of dust is sent into the atmosphere, blocking the sun. Step three the world is plunged into coldness, and we all freeze to death.  Actually, come to think of it, if this happens soon it will balance out all that pesky global warming.

Destroy-ability: 3/10; I‘ve seen that film Armageddon, everything worked out, except for Bruce Willis


Jesus comes back to earth and saves all the good souls, while the rest of us experience Hell on Earth.

Destroy-ability: 10/10 or 0/10; depends on your faith, you pick

So the smart money is on climate change to piss on our parade, but don’t discount other possibilities. Simon Cowell could use his increasing media influence to hypnotise us all Demon Headmaster style.  Obama’s health care reform could be passed, causing chaos by saving too many american’s lives. Immigrants (see The Daily Mail). Alien Invasion. Who knows?


The Quirk: Promiscuous Bird

January 24, 2010

Scientists have found the world’s most promiscuous bird according to the BBC.  Now I love a good story about a slutty bird or two, so I was intrigued.  The saltmarsh sparrow, found in the marshes of Connecticut, developed its loose morals as an evolutionary reaction to flooding.  Just in case a mother loses her eggs in a flood she needs to shack up quickly with any bird she can find.  There is a chance his genetic material will be pants.  To avoid poor offspring they hedge their bets with several mates, so scientists don’t doubt that knobbing multiply partners isn’t a good tactic.  Supposedly “The researchers found that 95% of females mated with more than one male during each nesting period.”, the dirty little whores.  On average chicks in the same nest had a 23% chance of having the same father, not too dissimilar to family statistics in Croydon.

The best thing about this story was the BBC’s choice of headline “Sexy sparrow exposed as world’s most promiscuous bird”.  Just because they have a lot of sex doesn’t make them sexy.  I know plenty of munters that have sex all the time.  Though alcohol has a large part to play.  I can only assume that the author Jody Bourton is some kind of avian pervert.  Saying that though, I’ve written about the sexual habits of sparrows and chimps in the past week, so it could be a case of the pot calling the kettle black.

Finally enjoy the soulful sound of Timberland and Nelly Furtado:

The Quirk

The Quirk: Meat and Two Veg

January 16, 2010

Sometimes something strange happens in science, and i want nothing to do with it.  Thats why we have The Quirk.

Chimpanzees enter into “deals” whereby they exchange meat for sex, according to researchers. This should come as no surprise to any male readers, and though “meat” plays a large part in sex the gift given is usually alcoholic.  This type of subtle prostitution is endemic within the animal kingdom; consider the intricate nest displays of the Satin Bower Bird (Ptilonorhynchus violaceus), perfectly constructed twig hollows are decorated with an array of blue and shiny objects.  We humans are some of the worst culprits, how else do you explain the 12 carat emerald-cut diamond ring sitting on the finger of Melania Trump, wife of Donald Trump, twenty-four years her senior.  Just this week I spent £100 on presents for my girlfriend, this may not sound a lot but I buy economy bread from Asda.  I might be able to have sex without the shoes, rings and bottles of Corona, but it’s not a risk I am willing to take.

The female of the species always has the upper hand when it comes to sexual relations; let us consider the fate of male Black Widow spider (Latrodectus mactans).  To get his many legs over he must first spin a web for a potential mate. As if this wasn’t enough, Mrs. Black earns the second half of her name by occasionally partaking in some sexual cannibalism.  That may sound appealing now but it results in death.  My hat goes off to all male Black Widows, prepared to pay the ultimate price for sex.

So if this is hardly unusual male behaviour why was the research done in the first place?  It should come as no surprise that the findings are those of a woman.  Christina Gomes and her team from the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Germany studied chimpanzees in the jungles of the Ivory Coast.    Men are well aware of the lengths they must go to in order to mate but Christina seems oblivious to the truth, planning on extending her research to encompass the behaviour of humans.  The work could be done with hunter-gatherer communities in South America, though Walkabout in Croydon would yield much the same results.  The study focused on the how the donation of meat to a lady chimp would effect a male’s future chances of copulation with her.  The team found that sharing meat with a female doubled the likelihood of having sex with that female at a later date.  The evolutionary advantage to sharing meat is obvious; meat equals sex (WAHEY!) equals offspring.  Prostitution is engrained in the DNA of animals.

The conclusion I take from this all must be that Christina and her team, of unspecified sex, are either naïve or chimp sex perverts.  When postulating the theory “men have to do stuff they don’t really want to in order to get some” did they really have to watch monkeys have sex?  I think not, but I don’t think the scientific journal PLoS One would print a paper entitled “Monkey Whores Prefer Meat to Bananas”.

The Quirk