bus stopping

The world is incredible: Honey Bees Edition

Watch this video:

SPOILER ALERT the bees kill the wasps. Not only that, but they all signal to each other with a thorax waggle (what??) to swarm around the spy wasp (they’re bees?? How do they know to do this???) and vibrate so furiously that the swarm cooks the wasp but not the bees. It’s an evolutionary edge that is laughably slim. They can survive temperatures three degrees hotter than the wasp. The wasp dies, the bees live, and the hive survives.

This does not jibe with my understanding of evolution. Evolution does not work though detective work, where a species analyzes its strengths agains its foe, then strategizes how to take advantage of it. I have NO IDEA how a hive of bees could figure out that this is how they can kill wasps, that they have a secret edge, and don’t get me started how some bees could teach their sisters that a thorax waggle means ‘swarm and cook that big thing over there.’

I was so flummoxed I told everyone I knew about this issue. Hang out with me if you want to learn about bugs. And Sam Hotop (QA wunderkind) shed some light. “Maybe all bugs cook at the same temperature?”

Ah! What if, many many years ago,these Japanese bees somehow learned to cook wasps, vibrating their little hearts out, and also cooked themselves? Bees are more related to each other than we are to our siblings (citation: The Selfish Gene) and are that much more willing to die to protect each other. Wasp dies, some bees die, and the hive survives. Then, after millennia, hives that have bees that survive at a little higher temperature have a little better survival edge. The success of the cooking method selects for bees that have a higher boiling point.

Still doesn’t make any sense how they figured out the cooking in the first place, but I’m satisfied. Bee wearing contest. China.

The Things I Know

I am a fact motivated person. Maybe fact isn’t the right word–I naturally connect trivia to other trivia. I compulsively share them. I’m trying to connect with people like someone might talk about sports, or new diets, or astrology.

If I am having a conversation, there’s often a flare up of something I’m reminded of. It could be a metaphor or a scientific principle, or a story I heard on a podcast. I call it ‘bus stopping.’ My thoughts are a bus on a big, dark metropolitan bus network, that when I’m talking, will suddenly light up and the bus will stop at 30 bus stops at once. I can’t help myself from talking about the bus stops as they come up.

I’ve come to accept bus stopping in myself, and understand it’s not for everyone. Those people who don’t like it should run from a conversation with me because I can’t stop it. My loving family has a cruel impression of me, pointer finger up, droning about the beauty of mathematics. You know you’re something if there’s a caricature of you.

But I like these bus stops, and like describing them. I also have recently learned about meta-knowledge from “On Being Certain” by Robert A Burton (bus stop!), or how we know that we know something, what is that feeling like. These facts and trivia are lying dormant in my mind, until someone triggers the bus network, and I remember all that I know.

I’ve started to list some of these bus stops in my notes. and will start to write little blurbs about them. Map out the bus network.