A is for Axolotl - This week the Thoughtful Pharaoh explores the life and times of the Peter Pan of the animal kingdom: the axoltl
Microbat Photo by Neal Foster B is for Bat Echolocation - By Jonathan Farrow from The Thoughtful Pharaoh Ever wish you could see in the dark?  It would make life a bit easier.  No more tripping over clutter on the ground or feeling walls for a switch.  Humans rely quite heavily on...
C is for Cat Feces - By Jonathan Farrow from The Thoughtful Pharaoh I’ve never been a cat person, myself.  They just seem a bit too contemptuous as a species. Cats, aside from being aloof, clawed, and kind of mean, also form a necessary part in...
D is for Dinosaur Evolution - By Jonathan Farrow from The Thoughtful Pharaoh When was the last time you ate dinosaur?  I had some just the other day, next to my peas and carrots. Shocking as it may seem, dinosaurs are all around us and we...
E is for Europa - By Jonathan Farrow from the Thoughtful Pharaoh Galileo Galilei is quite a famous astronomer but many of the discoveries he’s known for are just extensions of the work of others.  For instance, he didn’t come up with the idea that the...
F is for Faraday - By Jonathan Farrow from The Thoughtful Pharoah The year is 1791.  On a crisp autumn morning in South London, Margaret Hastwell, a blackmith’s apprentice, gives birth to her third son.  With her husband, son, and daughter crowded around, she decides to...
G is for Gravity Waves - By Jonathan Farrow from the Thoughtful Pharaoh Deep in Antarctica, right on top of the geographic South Pole, there is a research station that peers back in time to the very beginning of our universe. Named the Amundsen-Scott Station, it...
H is for Helium - By Jonathan Farrow from The Thoughtful Pharaoh Say goodbye to foil floating hearts on Valentines, shimmering floating shamrocks on St. Patty’s, and the prospect of tying thousands of balloons to your house and abducting a neighbourhood boy scout.  The world’s Helium reserve...
I is for Island Evolution - By Jonathan Farrow from The Thoughtful Pharaoh Unbeknownst to the rest of us, a debate has been raging in the world of biogeography.  The debate stems from a simple observation made by a young Canadian scientist in 1964: island animals are...
J is for Jupiter’s Great Red Spot - By Jonathan Farrow from the Thoughtful Pharaoh If you look up in the night’s sky and point even a simple pair of binoculars at Jupiter, like Galileo did with a rudimentary telescope 405 years ago, you will see what he...
K is for Kepler - “Truth is the daughter of time, and I feel no shame in being her midwife.” Johannes Kepler These words, written by Johannes Kepler in 1611, are profound.  At the time, Galileo had just discovered the Galilean moons (including Europa) in Florence but was being...
L is for Loch Ness - By Jonathan Farrow from The Thoughtful Pharaoh Loch Ness, in the middle of the Scottish Highlands, has more fresh water in it than all the lakes and rivers in England and Wales combined.  It is neither the deepest lake in...
M is for (exo)Moons - By Jonathan Farrow of the Thoughtful Pharaoh With this post, rising-ape.com is now caught up with my website, thoughfulpharaoh.  From now on, I will be posting articles simultaneously on both sites, on Wednesdays. Thanks to everyone for following along and...
N is for Naming - By Jonathan Farrow of the Thoughtful Pharaoh Next time you happen to be walking though the Chamela-Cuixmala nature reserve on the West Coast of Mexico, keep your eyes out for this parasitoid wasp: Its scientific name is Heerz lukenatcha.  There is also...
O is for Ocean Acidification - By Jonathan Farrow from the Thoughtful Pharaoh We all know that CO2 emissions are warming the planet.  Or at least, most of us do.  What often goes unreported is the effect of carbon dioxide on the worlds’ oceans.  A lot of the CO2  that...
plant defences rising ape P is for Plant Defences - By Jonathan Farrow of the Thoughtful Pharaoh As the great glam metal band Poison sang in 1988, “Every Rose Has Its Thorn“. Like so many glam metal bands to grace the world’s stages before them, none of Poison’s members were botanists....
Q is for Quokka - What’s half a metre long, weighs 3-4kg, and has the cutest face you ever did see? Nope, cuter. Even cuter. Yup, there it is!  This, dear readers, is a quokka.  A native of South west Australia, this marsupial has recently...
R is for Ratzilla - An excerpt from my favourite scene in the 1987 film, the Princess Bride: Westley: Rodents of Unusual Size? I don’t think they exist. [R.O.U.S. attacks Westley] Westley: Ahhhh!!! Why is that my favourite scene?  Because I laugh every time I watch it. The R.O.U.S....
S is for Simple Rules - By Jonathan Farrow from the Thoughtful Pharaoh Consider the following: schooling fish, roundabouts, segregation, and human consciousness are all examples of the same fundamental property of the world.  It may seem crazy to suggest that roundabouts may be interesting in some sense,...
T is for Tardigrade - By Jonathan Farrow from the Thoughtful Pharaoh  Boil ’em, mash ’em, stick ’em in a stew.  They’re versatile! No, I’m not talking about taters.  I’m talking about tardigrades: quite possibly the most durable creatures on Earth. They might also be the...
U is for Ununoctium and the Island of Stability - Quick, without looking it up: how many elements are there on the periodic table? If I had asked that question before the first hydrogen bomb exploded in 1952, the answer would have been 98.   In that year, humans succeeded in...
V is for Vitruvian Man - This drawing, of a man contained within a circle and a square, is one of the most recognizable in the world.  It seems to fascinate people and has a way of transcending time and space to connect with its viewers....
W is for Wasps - It’s summer time.  And you know what that means? Sure, summer means picnics, barbecues, and sun. But it also means the coming of the most dreaded outdoor villains: wasps. Some people freeze up when they see the stripey serial stingers,...
X is for Xenophobia - By Jonathan Farrow from the Thoughtful Pharaoh A lot happened in the summer of 1954.  The world’s first atomic power station opened in Russia, Alan Turing committed suicide, the CIA set up a coup in Guatemala, food rationing finally ended...
Y is for You! - It’s been 25 weeks since we started this epic journey through the alphabet together, and sadly we are nearing the end.  At this critical juncture, just one letter away from the finality of zed, I thought I would bestow my...
Z is for Zeno - By Jonathan Farrow from the Thoughtful Pharaoh It’s early in the morning.  The caffeine from your morning cup of coffee has yet to fully kick in, but as you turn the corner, you see your bus.  It’s just pulling in...
A is for Atom - By Siobhan Fairgreaves Never trust an atom- they make up everything! Terrible jokes are finished, for now…   In this post, we will look at the basic structure of the atom. But first, what are atoms? Atoms are the building...
B is for Black Holes - By Siobhan Fairgreaves In our last post we looked at atoms and their subatomic particles. That’s the tiny end of physics, this time we look at something at the other end of the scale- black holes. Ooooo, now this is...
C is for Collider - By Siobhan Fairgreaves In this post, we will learn a little more about the world’s largest particle accelerator, the Large Hadron Collider (LHC). Do you remember a few years ago when there was a lot of fuss about a black hole...
D is for Detectors - By Siobhan Fairgreaves So far in the series, we’ve looked at some big physics concepts, but now, we’re trying something a little different. In this post, we are going to have a look at some of the practical ways we...

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