MySci Roundup Nov. 29: How to Survive a Mass Extinction

MySci Daily RoundUp
Just in case you’re not feeling sufficiently on edge, just consider this: There have been five major extinction events in Earth’s history that nearly wiped out life on the planet, and we could be inducing a slow-motion version of one right now. But could you be one of the lucky life forms that emerge relatively unscathed from a massive biological die-off? One of our favorite dystopians, blogger Annalee Newitz, explores the prospects in this fascinating post. Noting that life forms that could seek refuge below ground seemed to do the best in previous catastrophes, she advises that “rule number one of mass extinction survival is to find an underground or underwater city, stock it with food, and wait about a decade before poking your head out.” Putting yourself in cryongenically induced sleep mode might be another wise choice; species such as oceanic algae, which have a cyst phase that allows them to survive long periods of inactivity, are remarkably resilient as a result. We’ll also have to discard our foodie pretensions and develop a taste for worms, roots, seeds and other small-scale sources of nutrients that might survive a mass extinction.

Finally, pack a copy of the recently deceased Hugh Prather’s “Notes to Myself,” because it’ll help to keep your sense of self-affirming optimism. Newitz concludes: “If Lystrosaurus could survive the end Permian event, we can survive whatever space or climate change throws at us.”

In contrast, for a slightly less cheery take on our prospects, check out what an imaginary time traveler finds when he ventures 250 million years into Earth’s future. Be sure to tune-in to Clash of the Continents: End of Eden this Thursday, Dec. 2 at 9:00 PM.

Now for the rest of the sci-tech news:

DNA-manipulating trick throws aging in reverse.We’re wondering if this is Betty White’s secret.

Bomb kills Iranian nuclear scientist. And they thought the Stuxnet attack on their centrifuges was nasty. Now it’s getting personal.

Neurological protein breakthrough may hold key to treating depression. We tried really hard to come up with a clever way to segue from this story into this video of a dog who sings along to the theme music on those Cymbalta antidepressant TV commercials. But we finally gave up.

Scientists find a way to “hear” gravity. We hope it sounds better than the dog in the previous item.

Angry Birds video game gets Christmas-theme update. And if that doesn’t put you in a festive spirit, what will?