Upright Plants Explained

Upright plants explained in reports in ScienceDaily 2 May 2018, and PNAS doi: 10.1073/pnas.1801895115, published online 30 April 2018. Plants are exquisitely sensitive to being tilted, and will change their growth direction to keep growing upwards if knocked off the vertical by only a few degrees.  It has long been known that plants sense the […]

Read More
Birds

“Bird Brain” Revision Needed

“Bird brain” revision needed according to an article in Outside JEB 9 May 2018 doi:10.1242/jeb.170001 and Current Biology doi:10.1016/j.cub.2018.01.036, 5 March 2018. Birds have small brains without a cerebral cortex, the folded multilayered outer region of mammal brains that supposedly makes mammals smarter than other creatures.  Thus, the epithet “bird-brain” is used to insult someone’s […]

Read More

Scallops Have Telescope Mirror Eyes

Scallops have telescope mirror eyes, according to reports in Science (AAAS) News and Live Science 30 November 2017, and Science doi: 10.1126/science.aam9506, 1 December 2017. Scallops are bivalve shellfish that have many tiny round eyes. The eyes have an unusual structure – they have two retinae (light sensitive layers) and a mirror that focuses the […]

Read More

Leaf Computing

Leaf computing intrigues scientists, according to an article in Nature Science Update, 21 January 2004. Leaves take in carbon dioxide from the air through small gaps between cells on their undersides, called stomata, but these cannot be left open all the time or the plant will lose too much water vapour and dry out. In […]

Read More
Sauropod Head Neck

Getting to Grips with Dino Neck Bones

Getting to grips with dino neck bones reported in Science (AAAS) News 27 February 2017. Sauropods, such as the iconic Brontosaurus and Diplodocus, were enormous dinosaurs with extremely long necks. The weight of the neck and the forces generated by moving it put enormous strain on the vertebral bones, especially while the vertebrae were still […]

Read More
Frog & Insect

Frog Tongue Physics

Frog tongue physics described in reports in Science (AAAS) News 31 January, ScienceDaily 1 February 2017, and Journal of The Royal Society Interface, 20160764 doi: 10.1098/rsif.2016.0764, 1 February 2017. Engineers and biologists at Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, Georgia, USA, have studied how frogs’ tongues function. It is not just enough for the tongue to […]

Read More
Steel Sheets

Bone Inspired Steel

Bone inspired steel made, as described in Science (AAAS) News and New Scientist 9 March 2017 and Science doi: 10.1126/science.aal2766, 10 March 2017. Metal fatigue is the weakening of a metal structure when it is repeatedly subjected to forces (“load cycling”), leading to the formation of microscopic cracks, as happens where aeroplane wings move up […]

Read More
DNA

Designer Yeast Chromosomes

Designer yeast chromosomes reported in Science, vol. 355, pp1024-1025 doi: 10.1126/science.aam9739, 10 March 2017. Several international teams of scientists have made five artificial chromosomes of a yeast cell. This is part of a massive ongoing project to make synthetic life. A summary of the current state of the research is headed “Yeast Genome, by Design” […]

Read More
Sandfish Lizards

How to Breathe Under Sand

How to breathe under sand described in Journal of Experimental Biology (JEB) 16 November 2016, doi: 10.1242/jeb.151969. The sandfish lizard (Scincus scincus) lives in the North African sandy desert and spends most of its life buried in sand. Scientists who have studied this creature have wondered why it doesn’t end up with its lungs clogged […]

Read More

Anternet Controls Seed Harvest

Anternet controls seed harvest, according to a report in ScienceDaily 29 August 2012. Biologist Deborah Gordon and computer scientist Balaji Prabhakar of Stanford University have found harvester ants use a system to control the rate of sending out ant foragers that works in the same way internet protocols control data transfer on the Internet. Gordon has been […]

Read More