>> [Hu] and Dickerson constructed a flight arena consisting of a small acrylic cage covered with mesh to contain the mosquitoes but permit entry of water drops. The researchers used a water jet to simulate rain stream velocity while observing six mosquitoes flying into the stream. Amazingly, all the mosquitoes lived.
The researchers used simulated rain drops on six mosquitoes. There are more than six species of mosquitoes. They controlled for wind effects (which are part and parcel of rain). So they excluded horizontally travelling raindrops. My immediate reaction to the conclusion that mosquitoes can fly in rain was "Really? Not always". Here is a methodologically lacking and wholly unscientific anecdote: I have lived in Johannesburg my entire life, where mosquitoes are quite prevalent during the summer months. When it is raining heavily (it is usually quite windy as well), the local species of mosquito that feeds of humans do not present a problem as the number of airborne mosquitoes tends to zero.
I live in a mediterranean zone near a huge lake and during summer mosquitos are your every night companions (specially if you're working during late night hours). But when a summer storm brews the mosquitos disappear for two or three days. Why? This has been for me a recurrent question, and the answer has been always obvious: few of them survive being hit by raindrops.
You can make 1000 theories about how our tiny vampire friends deal with raindrops, but it's pretty clear that intensive rain (>3hours) wipe out mosquitos population for several days...
I can't discuss how the rain interacts with the adults, but I have read scientific research that discusses how stagnant water is required for mosquitos to lay eggs and for the larvae to breathe. If the surface of the water ceases to be stagnant, the eggs cannot be laid and the larvae will suffocate.
I retrieved a link to an article last year that discusses a device that uses solar power to aerate ponds as a mosquito preventative .
A reasonable conclusions for the drop in population is therefore that two generations can be severely depopulated by a heavy rainstorm, leaving only the portion living in stagnant water that is sheltered from the rain and run-off to survive and repopulate.
> "And yet (you probably haven’t looked, but trust me), when it’s raining those little pains in the neck are happily darting about in the air, getting banged—and they don’t seem to care."
I have looked and I don't trust you. I live in Brazil where mosquitoes are present all the time, even in the city (obviously, on a smaller scale than places closer to nature). I do notice that whenever is raining there is a sharp drop in mosquitoes number flying inside our homes. They don't completely disappear, but is notorious they are in much smaller numbers.
As this is common knowledge over years and years, across basically all the people, I don't consider it anecdote, but empirical observation.
I cannot answer if that is because raindrops kill them, or they just preserve themselves sheltered in their nests, or they breed less in rainy days, or whatever. But the article (not sure about the research) is based on a false premisse.
Well, no, it's not empirical until we design some experiments to test the theory, make predictions, test them, come up with potentially observable data that would falsify our hypotheses, publish our results and let them be peer reviewed, reproduced elsewhere etc... The jump from anecdotes to empiricism is a large one that is not to be undertaken lightly.
It seems likely. Mosquitoes have like 3 neurons, and can't be built to deal with macroscopic events. More likely the species uses simple statistics to survive: enough eggs laid in enough places will survive the harshest downpour. The flying guys are only there to lay eggs after all. Seen from that angle, a mosquito is an eggs way of making another egg. Dying in rainstorms is not a problem.
One of the reasons that these sort of paradoxes can exist is because real numbers can get arbitrarily small. In principle, you could build a horn that very closely matches Gabriel's horn, but it would necessarily be an approximation of the mathematical object because you do not have available particles of arbitrary size with which to build. This last notion hints at an important property of the real numbers: they can be divided into pieces smaller than any size you can specify. They are useful abstractions upon which to build extremely successful models of reality , because at those scales, real numbers work very well. However, at extremely small scales, the correspondence between real numbers and reality breaks down. What does it mean to model a horn made of atoms with numbers that are arbitrarily small fractions of the width of an atom? This is not a 'real numbers / axiom of choice bad' rant, but rather I'd like to point out that real numbers exist in our minds, and using our physical intuition about to reason about them at very small scales is bound to lead to paradoxes.
The YouTube channel  where this video comes from is a treasure trove for the intellectually curious, and it's one of my favourite things on the internet. The guy behind it, Ben Krasnow, is an engineer at Google. From explaining and demonstrating (reverse) spherification to encoding information in fucking fire and picking it up with his oscilloscope, this channel will interest and delight most folks who enjoy HN for hours.
>> “This was so strange that we sat on this observation for several years”
>> "We tried for five years to model the production of the positrons"
Why would a scientist withhold data for 6 years? How typical is it for scientists to not reveal data until they can explain it using current models? I would think that Dwyer would have rushed to publicize such fascinating results.
It mostly depends on how close to tenure they are, and how controversial the data is.
e.g. Dan Shechtman, who recently got a nobel for his work in crystallography, was an outcast for a long while because his data did not fit with the prevailing model - to the point that people in his lab refused to peek through his microscope eyeviewer because what he said they will see there should not have been possible.
There are a few other cases like this: Robin Warren (Ulcer/Helicobacter connection), Barbara McClintock ("Jumping Genes"). The farther back they are, the harder it is to get the real story, but unfortunately Shechtman's story is far from unique.
Yes, in fields where precision is prized above speed, experimentalists can sit on controversial results for a long time looking for the cause of a discrepancy.
If I tell you that General Relativity is fine, and Einstein's a little more right, you might be impressed and give me a job. If I report that there's something unexpected about gravity at distances less than a millimeter, and I'm not absolutely correct, it might end my career.
Irreversibly-unblinded blind experiments are a technical way to solve this problem (I just unblinded my thesis work a week ago. Gravity turned out fine, after a clerical glitch.), but it does not solve the social stigma that can be attached to someone who has made a measurement ultimately found to be incorrect.
Depends on many things, but if the data appears "controversial yet conclusive" then you investigate more deeply until you have ruled out just about anything else. Long time ago, I was part of a research team that sat on a 3.5 sigma result that only got stronger when we got more restrictive with the data set. We ran for two more years looking for other explanations. I was in grad school and could only think "why don't we publish?!?!" but the more experienced folks won out and upon further review, no Nobel Prizes were awarded and the reputations and funding remained in place. I think the adage "you only get to cry wolf! once" applies here.