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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 […]

The Amazing Pigeon Techno-Beak

How do homing pigeons find home?  Scientists at University of Frankfurt may have found the answer: magnetic minerals in their beaks.  A press release from Springer Publications describes the amazing pigeon techno-beak: In histological and physicochemical examinations in collaboration with HASYLAB, the synchrotron laboratories based in Hamburg, Germany, iron-containing subcellular particles of maghemite and magnetite […]

Music Can Make You Smarter

Musical training in childhood can help one develop better language processing skills, reports a news item on EurekAlert.  Scientists at Northwestern University found that English-speaking adults who had musical training were better able to track intonations of Chinese tonal words than those who did not have such training.     The study contradicted an evolutionary […]

Turtles Hurtle Through the Sea Magnetically

Experiments on sea turtles have shown that they follow the earth’s magnetic field to the exact beach where they were born to lay their eggs.  “It is almost as if they were equipped with a compass pointing towards the beach in question,” says an article on EurekAlert.  “So they can correct any deflection they are […]

The Moth in Spider’s Clothing

National Geographic News has a picture story about a moth that mimics a jumping spider.  It appears to work.  Scientists staged a battle royale between contestants of mimics and non-mimics in the ring with their jumping spider enemies, and the mimics won hands down.  The spiders went for the normal moths 62% of the time, […]

Submarine, Make Like a Fish

Submarine designers are learning a thing or two from fish.  The latest fish trick to imitate is the lateral line: a row of specialized sensors fish have along their flanks.  Fish use these for synchronized swimming and predator avoidance.  EurekAlert reported on work by scientists at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champagne to build artificial lateral […]
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