Quintessential Boiled Peanuts

South Louisianans boil peanuts with Tabasco mash, others throw in crab boil. Some fans prefer them warm, others demand that they be chilled.  People eating boiled peanuts are usually engaged in other tasks—driving, chatting, fishing, watching a ball game.

Peanuts came to North America from Africa and the Caribbean with the slave trade, sometime before the American Revolution. African Americans grew and popularized the peanut both boiled and roasted.

For many the quintessential experience is purchasing them by the side of the road or in a gas station, in soggy brown kraft-paper bags.

Here is the simplest recipe from which a thousand variations can be made:

  • 3 quarts water
  • 3 pounds (8 cups) freshly dug green peanuts in shell
  • 3 tablespoons salt

Bring the water and salt to a low boil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the peanuts and cook to taste, usually 1 to 2 hours. Some like the shell to become soft enough almost to be edible. Let the peanuts sit in the water off the heat until the desired degree of saltiness is reached.

Jonas Salk: Polio Vaccine


Today in Scientific History —> On May 1, 1956, the polio vaccine developed by Jonas Salk was made available to the public. It’s a crime that Salk, whose work saved millions of lives (and from which he never profited), never got the Nobel Prize.


Sam Harris On Atheism


“Atheism is not a philosophy; it is not even a view of the world; it is simply an admission of the obvious. In fact, ‘atheism’ is a term that should not even exist. No one needs to identify himself as a ‘non-astrologer’ or a ‘non-alchemist.’ We do not have words for people who doubt that Elvis is still alive or that aliens have traversed the galaxy only to molest ranchers and cattle. Atheism is nothing more than the noises reasonable people make in the presence of unjustified religious beliefs.”
~ Sam Harris, from “Letter to a Christian Nation”

Tropical Frogs

As is now fairly well known, tropical frogs are being devastated by the chytrid fungus. The Gamboa Reserve has an enclosed area where many poison dart frogs roam. (They are fed, so are probably no longer poisonous.) They are highly variable in their patterns. Here we have two versions of the green-and-black poison dart frog (Dendrobates auratus).

Also here are two individuals of the strawberry poison-dart frog (Oophaga pumilio). These are examples of the variety called the “blue jeans morph”

Spaghetti Nebula


The Spaghetti Nebula is a Supernova Remnant (SNR) in the Milky Way. 3,000 light-years away from us straddling the border between the constellations Auriga and Taurus. Discovered in 1952 at the Crimean Astrophysical Observatory using a 25-inch Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope, it is difficult to observe due to its extremely low brightness.

The nebulous area is fairly large with an almost spherical shell and filamentary structure.  The remnant has an apparent diameter of approximately 3 degrees, an estimated distance of approximately 3000 (±350) light-years, and an age of approximately 40,000 years.

It is believed that after its stellar explosion a rapidly spinning neutron star known as pulsar PSR J0538+2817 was left behind in the nebula core, emitting a strong radio signal



It’s DNA Day by proclamation of Congress, celebrating the publication of Watson and Crick’s structure of “the molecule of life’.

On this day in 1953 that Watson and Crick published their groundbreaking paper in Nature suggesting the correct structure of DNA, “Molecular Structure of Nucleic Acids: A Structure for Deoxyribose Nucleic Acid“. The paper, the most influential in biology of the 20th century, was only a bit more than a page long. Here is most of the text above:

(Yes, I’m aware of the controversy involving Rosalind Franklin and others).