Thursday, November 28, 2013

Seven Science-y Topics for the Thanksgiving Table

Running out of conversation starters for the holiday? These subjects will keep the whole group engaged:

1. The U.S. National Dog Show

[this breed ("schnerrier") not recognized by the American Kennel club]

A great all-around topic for dog lovers (favorite breeds; favorite fur-styles; “I love it when the Afghan hounds/Komondors run!”) and a good springboard for discussions on artificial selection.

2. Turkeys

Of course. More opportunities to discuss artificial selection, tryptophan
, wild turkeys taking over (sub)urban areas, and why we’re eating such a basically boring food (there is no good reason).

3. The science of food

I’m more of a zoology/ecology-focused conversationalist myself, but there’s a lot of ground to cover here, from the pH of cranberries and how heavy cream whips to new research into how we process taste (though I’m a bit skeptical of the interpretations of some of the studies).

4. Local bird sightings

This gives the birders a chance to talk about migratory ducks and the first juncos of the year and gives the non-birders an opportunity to drink more.

5. Why everything related to biology-and/of-queerness is problematic and fraught

If you have an LGBT gathering, you can spend a good 45 minutes—at least—rehashing the topic of homosexuality and heterosexuality as social constructs and why dolphin sex lives (as fun as they are to discuss) can never be the final word on human identity politics.

6. Thankfulness

Probably I should be grateful more often and regularly, but one a year is a start, right? Among the many wonderful things on your list, consider adding primary producers, corrective lenses, wildlife refuges, and pollinators.

7. The myriad sexual systems of marine invertebrates

Because it’s always the right time to talk about barnacle endowment, sex-changing snails, and parasitic males.

{A note: I do write all text and take all pictures. Please do not reproduce either without my permission.}


Anca said...

Is that a watermelon radish I spy, under the food topic? Thanks for the conversation tips! I'm already laughing and thinking that I'll be talking to myself about bird migration today.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the tips, Olivia! And, Happy Thanksgiving!!


Olivia V. Ambrogio said...

Happy Thanksgiving! -And, yes, that *is* a watermelon radish. :)

Good Ol' Ant said...

A dollar short and a day late, as always, but those interesting, informative, ingenious blogs (like a certain "Beasts in a Populous City") provide both conversation and something to be thankful for.

biobabbler said...

Oooh, I had the same question as Anca, & I 100% agreew/ Good Ol' Ant. =) Read this too late for t-day, but a nice list. =) We covered aplomado falcons, why the H Gallup NM is SO STRANGE, and Death Valley in August.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Actually all but the last topic got passed around here recently.

Olivia V. Ambrogio said...

That's terrific, Patti! Now you can work on incorporating marine-invertebrate sex lives into your next dinner-time talk!

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