Proxy Server Bookmarklet

Like so many of us, when I’m off campus, in order to read journal pdfs and the like is a chore. I have to go to my university’s library website, login to their proxy server, go back to the article in question – either by surfing there from the library webpage, or adding the relevant text to the journal article URL.

Pain in the tuchus.

Then, the ever helpful Sean Anderson tweeted a link to a little code he’d written for a bookmarklet using Dalhousie’s ezproxy.

Create a bookmark with this address:
(create some dummy bookmark and then edit the address)


Then go to a journal page and click the bookmark when you want to log in through the library server.

I modified it for UMB:


Or just, if you’re at UMB, drag the following link to your browser bookmarklet bar: umb-ezproxy – go to an article you want but can’t read, and click it. Such naches!

I’m sure the rest of you kinder can modify it to match your own situation!

Les Miserables Larides

One of the great things about field stations is the silliness they engender. I mean, there you are, in the middle of nowhere, with no one but other scientists thinking about the wonder of the natural world. Awe and wonder can only take you so far. And then, at some point, you cross over, and start to get a little silly.

It leads to things like dressing up as fouling panels, launching serious plans to make an ‘underwater office,’ elaborate nail-polish-marking designs for crab carapaces, and no small number of pranks.

And then, there’s this. This may be on the order of the silliest things ever to come out of field station. I heard the gull interns (seagull science is notorious for producing silliness alongside great science) talking about this idea to sync some of their videos up with the Les Mis soundtrack and now…now I found they’ve… well..

You must see this to believe it. Astounding. My hats off to the SML 2013 Gull crew. Marine science music video of the year?

(also, who is singing on ‘I dreamed a dream’ – amazing voice!)

A Watermelon for the Aquanauts

I just saw this video from the Pawlik lab doing work done in the Aquarius habitat in the Caribbean. I just adore it. There’s something about the lighthearted sense of fund and enjoyment behind the soundtrack that syncs up with the work that’s being done that captures some of the essence of what subtidal work can be (even for those of us in colder temperate climes). Enjoy this research pastiche!

Awww Yeah! Chemical Ecology Music Video Extravaganza!

I’m so excited. It’s one of my favorite times of year. That’s right, it’s time for the Annual Chemical Ecology Music Video Festival! Oh, J. Long, what have your students cooked up this time?

Pure awesomeness, that’s what. This year’s crop features a number of epic ballads, rap superstars, and more. I think I’ll highlight my current two favorites, but you should definitely go check out the whole bunch or go back and revisit last year’s (particularly Under the Boat (featuring K. Hovel)).

First off, we have the Lobster Rock Anthem, about Aplysia californica’s crazy chemical defense (pdf) against lobster predation. I think this group is fantastic – clever lyrics and great style.

And then the award for best costuming goes to…Key Mesograzers. A rhapsody on Hay et al.’s 1987 classic

Great work, all! Can’t wait to see what they cook up next year!

How to Make a Dancing Yeti Crab Video with Music

So, I’ve been getting some questions about how one can make their own Yeti-crabs-dance-to-music video. So here’s a quick guide for the interested folk who haven’t played around with audio or video before but want to try it out. So, here’s what I did, step-by-step, in 9 easy steps. All told, this took me, eh, 5 minutes.

(This is for iMovie, and I’ll link to a few tutorials in case you need them. If you’re on a PC, there’s Windows Movie Maker – Dr. Zen has added instructions in the comments.)

Kiwa puravida from video in Dancing for Food in the Deep Sea: Bacterial Farming by a New Species of Yeti Crab PLoS ONE, 6 (11)

1) Go and read Dancing for Food in the Deep Sea: Bacterial Farming by a New Species of Yeti Crab by Thurber et al. before anything else. You need to get into the yeti-crab mood first. What a fantastic piece!

2) Scroll to the supporting information and download this video. There are two others – one Kiwa puravida harvesting bacteria and another performing some displays. If you want to get adventurous, go with one of those. But really, stick with the original.

3) Open up iMovie. Import the Yeti Crab video as a new event. Then create a new project. Select the whole of the video and drag it into the new project. If you’re going to want to slow it down for a longer audio clip, double click on the video in the project screen to open the clip inspector, and change the speed. 

4) Watch the video a few times. Find the Yeti Crab’s groove thang. If there was a comparable 10 second clip of music that would go with it (or longer, if you want to slow the clip down), what would it be? I was feeling a Calypso vibe. Doctor Zen felt they were doing The Safety Dance. Or maybe they’re clubbing. What do dancing Yeti crabs say to you?

5) Acquire the appropriate music through legal means. I purchased mine in iTunes. Make sure you have it in iTunes, though, for the next step. If your iMovie is older than iMovie ’09, see below before proceeding.

6) Back in iMovie, click on the icon that looks like musical notes. This will open up your sound library – part of which is your iTunes library. Find your new audio clip. Click and drag it onto your movie clip in the project frame. Voila, you have added music to your film. But is it the right part of the song?

7) To sync up your movie with the right section of music that you want, click on the cog on the music track and select Clip Trimmer. Drag the yellow bar at the start of the music to where you want it. The end will auto-adjust. Click done. You may want to trim your video clip or slow it down or speed it up to make sure the music and video sync.

8 ) Now, if you want, futz to your hearts delight. Change where the music starts. Play around with transitions, title screens, whatever. Or don’t.

9) Now upload it to youtube! (You do have a youtube account, right?) There’s a share menu which contains youtube to pipe it right in there. Make sure in the text to include the full citation and that the video was taken by Andrew:

“Thurber, A., Jones, W., & Schnabel, K. (2011). Dancing for Food in the Deep Sea: Bacterial Farming by a New Species of Yeti Crab PLoS ONE, 6 (11) for more! Video by Andrew R. Thurber.”

That’s it! Now email me your video and then tweet it (if you’re into that sort of thing!) with the #DancingYetiCrabs hashtag and Dr. Zen will add it to this playlist!

And now that you’ve made your first video in imovie, and seen how easy it is, go forth and make others! There are fewer better ways to communicate your science than video!

Dancing Yeti Crabs! Now with a Soundtrack!

ResearchBlogging.orgSeveral years ago, when the Yeti crab, Kiwa hirsuta was first described, the world looked at a crustacean for the first time and went, “AWWWWW!!!”

I mean, how could you know love crabs from the Kiwa genus? They have fuzzy arms! And are adorable! People immediately began paying tribute with plush toys of all manner and even decorative food arrangements.

So what could be better than a plain ole’ Yeti crab?


That’s right – marine ecologist, deep sea biologist, and all around good egg Andrew Thurber has discovered a new species if Yeti crab, Kiwa puravida that appears to be farming methane consuming bacteria living on the hairs on its arms. How does it farm them? It waves its arms around in the air (like it just don’t care!) – er, water – around of methane seeps. Then periodically scrapes the bacteria off of its arms as food. The waving action serves to amp up supply the bacteria with more methane and other compounds that otherwise would be limited due to boundary layer conditions around the crabs hairy arms. And it looks like they’re having a great time doing it. In fact….I couldn’t resist grabbing the creative commons video on the PLoS paper and, um, adding a soundtrack.

(I really really couldn’t resist.)

(OK, maybe I saw him give a talk on this a few months ago, and have been waiting this entire time for it to be published so I could put a soundtrack on this video. Maybe. Maybe definitely.)

OK, ok, aside from this awesome behavior, what I love about this paper is Andrew takes what could have been a neat behavioral observation with a hypothesis that makes a nice just-so story, and then he tackles it with some really hot science. He uses detailed fatty acid and isotope analysis that shows, definitively, that the Yeti crabs are getting their nutrition from the bacteria on their arms. The symbiosis is real and biologically important. It’s a compelling solid story that gives us a new insight onto the unique life that lives in the deep sea.

Moreover, as Thurber writes, if anything, it highlights how little we know about life in the deep sea. If we have only just discovered that Yeti crabs must dance in the deep to make a living, what other fascinating discoveries are out there?

Update: See Doctor Zen’s version Yeti crabs can dance if they want to (Safety Dance). Anyone else want to take a swing at it?

Thurber, A., Jones, W., & Schnabel, K. (2011). Dancing for Food in the Deep Sea: Bacterial Farming by a New Species of Yeti Crab PLoS ONE, 6 (11) DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0026243