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Ant Brain: Software Compression Extreme

How can so much software fit in such a small space?  An ant brain can’t be very big, but look what it can do.  The BBC News and Science Daily both told about the route-finding ability of army ants.  Not only do they find the most efficient routes to their targets, they even plug potholes […]

Science Is for the Birds

Birds, with all their variety and functionality, are a never-ending source of study for scientists.  Here are some recent feathery findings: Memory masters:  Scrub jays are like us: they can plan ahead, regardless of mood.  Current Biology did a study that proved these common western birds can cache tomorrow’s breakfast regardless of their motivational state.  […]

Seeds Muscle Their Way into the Soil

A biological motor has been found, of all places, on the seeds of wild wheat.  A team of German and Israeli scientists watched wheat seeds and found they could dig themselves into the ground.  How can a dry seed, with no muscles, nerves or circulatory system, accomplish such a feat?  It all becomes clear when […]

Details of Photosynthesis Coming to Light

New tools of science are unveiling the secrets of what was long a “black box” in biology: photosynthesis.  A paper in Nature last week1 described the structure of the plant PhotoSystem I complex (PSI) in near-atomic resolution.  Next day, a paper in Science2 described some of the protein interactions that occur when plants turn light […]

Seeking Explanations for Plant Fibonacci Spirals

The spiral patterns on an artichoke are enough to make a physicist choke.  How do plants like cacti, sunflowers, strawberries and artichokes produce geometric patterns of left- and right- handed spirals?  Why do these spirals follow a mathematical rule called the Fibonacci sequence?  A new theory suggests that it is the optimal energy arrangement for […]

More Optical Design in Eye Retina Than Seen Before

For decades, evolutionists have used the vertebrate retina as an example of poor design (dysteleology).  They have mocked how any designer could have been so unintelligent as to get the wiring backwards – with the photoreceptors behind a jumble of light-scattering cells.  Creationists have countered that despite the arrangement, it works well.1  Now, they may […]

Snot Serious: Artificial Nose Works Better with Mucus

What will they think of next?  Designers of electronic noses cannot yet come close to the natural nose in sensitivity.  But in trying to improve their devices, they tried another trick from nature: artificial boogers.  Yes, believe it or snot, adding a layer of synthetic mucus “improved the performance of their electronic nose allowing it […]

Swifts Don’t Just Dream of Flying…

…they fly while dreaming.  Did you know that swifts, the aerial acrobats of the air, sleep on the wing?  That’s not all, they adapt their wing shape to turn on a dime.  Science Daily summarized the cover story of Nature this week (April 26) that examined “wing morphing” in swifts – their ability to change […]

Update on Plant Communication

Plants have both an intranet and an extranet.  Some recent papers investigated further about how plants, though rooted in the ground, keep in touch with the inside and outside economy. Intranet:  In 2001 (07/13/2001), and periodically since (10/04/2004, 11/09/2004) we reported the current thinking about how a plant knows when to flower, and described a […]

Scientists Track Homing Pigeons with GPS

How do homing pigeons find their way?  Scientists are still not sure.  They know that the birds use a sun compass and magnetic fields, but what other cues guide them back to the specific roost they know as home?  A new study shows they are smarter than we thought.  They use multiple cues and weigh […]

Fatty Acid Synthesis: A Machine with “High Degree of Architectural Complexity”

As Bruce Alberts said in 1998, the biology of the future was going to be the study of molecular machines: “the entire cell can be viewed as a factory that contains an elaborate network of interlocking assembly lines, each of which is composed of a set of large protein machines.”1  One of those machines is […]

Spider Silk Admired, Not Duplicated

Spiders still maintain the edge in a technology humans want: a material that absorbs huge amounts of energy without breaking.  The dragline silk spun by spiders is extremely robust – ounce for ounce stronger than steel, yet more flexible than Kevlar.  If a web the size of a football field could be erected in the […]

Preprocessed Sound Produces Tone Map in the Brain

Most of us know that our ears involve three domains: the outer ear, the middle ear, and the inner ear.  We learned in school how the eardrum transmits the sound to tiny bones that transmit it to fluid in the cochlea, which stimulates hair cells that send the impulses down the auditory nerve to the […]

Cell Calcium Channel: Meet Me at the Gate

All cells use calcium ions for signalling.  The ions flow through specialized gates in the plasma membrane.  Inside the cell, receptors line the endoplasmic reticulum (ER), a kind of subway system where finishing work on proteins is done.  How do the two get together?  They arrange a meeting.     Richard Lewis, writing in Nature,1 […]

Why Our Voices Are Unique

We can usually recognize friends and acquaintances by their voices.  If we all have the same hardware, though, how is this possible?  The answer is in the vortex.  Sounds sci-fi, but researchers at the University of Cincinnati used knowledge of jet engines to explore the possibility that vortices may help solve the mysteries of the […]
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