Skip to main content

Weeds and Invasive species

Me and a friend of mine (an ecologist in training) were talking about weeds (plants) and i asked her about the advantages they have over natives that lets them thrive. She mentioned the fact that they might be alien species, transported to a new location devoid of their natural predators, therefore giving them the advantage to grow faster than the native species. There might also be other genetic variations which help the weeds. And given that weeds, by definition, can pop up at most places on earth and are hardly affected by drought/disease, scientists are trying to understand the genetic mutations they have that give raise to such abilities. By understanding the science behind the resilience of weeds, one can make agricultural crops less prone to drought/disease.

This got me thinking about invasive species in general. Not just plants but a good number of animal species were introduced to new parts of the world, some intentionally and some accidentally. Here's a non-exhaustive list of introduced (invasive) species (wiki) and here are a few interesting accounts of how certain invasive species were introduced (wiki). It'd be really interesting to read a more detailed account of the story of such species and the repercussions they've had on the native flora and fauna.

PS : I always wondered about the diversity of dogs, in terms of shape and size, and how they all belong to the same species. I read about how certain breeds of dogs were bred to do certain things. For example, in 19th century London, there was a breed of dog whose daily routine it was to run in a wheel, which through a contraption, spins food over a grill. The history of animal species is a fascinating subject, one that I hope to dig deeper into in the near future ...

Popular posts from this blog

Animation using GNUPlot

Animation using GNUPlotI've been trying to create an animation depicting a quasar spectrum moving across the 5 SDSS pass bands with respect to redshift. It is important to visualise what emission lines are moving in and out of bands to be able to understand the color-redshift plots and the changes in it.
I've tried doing this using the animate function in matplotlib, python but i wasn't able to make it work - meaning i worked on it for a couple of days and then i gave up, not having found solutions for my problems on the internet.
And then i came across this site, where the gunn-peterson trough and the lyman alpha forest have been depicted - in a beautiful manner. And this got me interested in using js and d3 to do the animations and make it dynamic - using sliders etc.
In the meanwhile, i thought i'd look up and see if there was a way to create animations in gnuplot and whoopdedoo, what do i find but nirvana!

In the image, you see 5 static curves and one dynam…

on MOOCs.

For those of you who don't know, MOOC stands for Massively Open Online Course.

The internet is an awesome thing. It's making education free for all. Well, mostly free. But it's surprising at the width and depth of courses being offered online. And it looks like they are also having an impact on students, especially those from universities that are not top ranked. Students in all parts of the world can now get a first class education experience, thanks to courses offered by Stanford, MIT, Caltech, etc.

I'm talking about MOOCs because one of my new year resolutions is to take online courses, atleast 2 per semester (6 months). And I've chosen the following two courses on edX - Analyzing Big Data with Microsoft R Server and Data Science Essentials for now. I looked at courses on Coursera but I couldn't find any which was worthy and free. There are a lot more MOOC providers out there but let's start here. And I feel like the two courses are relevant to where I …

On programmers.

I just watched this brilliant keynote today. It's a commentary on Programmers and the software development industry/ecosystem as a whole.



I am not going to give you a tl;dr version of the talk because it is a talk that I believe everyone should watch, that everyone should learn from. Instead, I am going to give my own parallel-ish views on programmers and programming.
As pointed out in the talk, there are mythical creatures in the software development industry who are revered as gods. Guido Van Rossum, the creator of Python, was given the title Benevolent Dictator For Life (BDFL). People flock around the creators of popular languages or libraries. They are god-like to most programmers and are treated like gods. By which, I mean to say, we assume they don't have flaws. That they are infallible. That they are perfect.
And alongside this belief in the infallibility of these Gods, we believe that they were born programmers. That programming is something that people are born wit…