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Butterflies Invented LEDs First

Light-emitting diodes (LEDs) were a prized invention of physicists, improved greatly in 2001, but now we find butterflies invented them first.  We already knew that butterfly wings achieve their shimmering iridescence by means of photonic crystals (01/29/2003), as do some birds (10/13/2003), but now it appears that the butterflies have even more exotic tricks up […]

Winter Plant’s Thermostat Keeps It Cozy As a Skunk

Skunk cabbage.  Pew.  Do you like the meditative name “Zen plant” better?  Well, meditate on how this amazing plant keeps warm while it emerges through the last snows of winter.  Skunk cabbage is one of two plants known to regulate its body temperature.  Science Now reported on research by Japanese scientists who studied its thermostat.  […]

Scientists Learning How to Harness Cellular Trucks

In an article that blurs the line between biology and technology, a press release from the Max Planck Institute (see EurekAlert for English translation) described the amazing performance of the nanoscopic trucks that ride the cell’s microtubule superhighways.  Kinesin and myosin motors, fueled by ATP, usually “sprint” on the trackways for short distances, but working […]

Living Wonders at a Glance

Here is an assortment of recently-reported biological marvels at the cellular level.  Researchers into creation and evolution explanations may wish to delve into these more deeply. Clock Conductor:  The brain is a “time machine,” reports EurekAlert on research at Duke University about the human biological clock.  Each structure in the brain has a resonant frequency […]

Bacterial Flagellum Visualized

Tom Magnuson at Access Research Network found this link that came out last year but is too good to pass up: another visualization of the bacterial flagellum, the “poster child of the ID movement,” by Japanese researchers on NanoNet, the Nanotechnology Researchers Network Center of Japan.  The 02/05/2004 NanoNet Bulletin features the bacterial flagellum with […]

Georgia Tech “Bioneers” Plagiarize Mother Nature to Advance Science

“Copying the ideas of others is usually frowned upon, but when it comes to the work of Mother Nature, scientists are finding they can use nature as a template.”  That’s how an interesting press release from Georgia Tech begins (reproduced on EurekAlert) about a new center on campus called the Center for Biologically Inspired Design […]

It’s Official: Mangroves Would Have Prevented Most Tsunami Damage

EurekAlert summarized a paper in Science1 that confirmed an earlier claim (02/10/2005) that intact mangrove forests along the Asian coastlines would have prevented the bulk of damage and death from last year’s mega-tsunami.  A large, diverse research team from seven nations estimated that more than 90% of the damage could have been prevented by the […]

Red Blood Cells Are Master Contortionists

Biophysicists have analyzed why red blood cells are able to squeeze through tight spaces on their journeys through our tissues, reports the UCSD Jacobs School of Engineering.  Their membranes contain a network of 33,000 hexagons arranged in a complex geodesic dome formation.  Each hexagon vertex is joined with flexible lines to a central maypole-like proto-filament, […]

Cellular Black Box Reveals Precision Guidance and Control

Amazing discoveries about the cell are being made each week.  It’s a shame more people don’t hear about them.  They are usually written up in obscure journals with incomprehensible jargon, but when explained in plain English, the findings are truly astounding.  Not long ago, the cell was a “black box,” a mechanism of unknown inner […]

Emperor Penguins Get More Respect

A handsomely-dressed emperor penguin made the cover of Science News this week.  Gerald Kooyman of Scripps Institute is gratified over the success of the documentary March of the Penguins; “I’ve been telling people they’re remarkable for years,” he said.  In the article, Susan Milius brought out several additional amazing facts not mentioned in the film. […]

Cell Has Automatic Jam-Clearing Proofreading Machinery

Findings at Rockefeller University have scientists excited.  DNA copying machines work on a “sliding clamp” that can hold two repair machines at the same time.  One is a low-fidelity repair tool, the other a high-fidelity repair tool.  Usually, the high-fidelity one is active, but when it needs a bigger hammer that is perhaps more effective […]

Shark Glows in the Dark

The “Eye-in-the-Sea” infrared camera (see 08/26/2004) found all kinds of exotic life in the Gulf of Mexico, reported EurekAlert with pictures.  The submersible with its dark-light camera is able to sneak up on organisms without scaring them.  The team from Harbor Branch had to dodge Hurricane Katrina, but scored on its second annual mission with […]

RNA Research Uncovers a Previously Ignored Universe of Genetic Information

A slow revolution is occurring in the study of genetic information.  Until recently, the only interesting items in DNA sequences were the genes – the genetic codes for proteins.  Since these usually represented only a small fraction of an organism’s genome, it was assumed the rest of the material was “junk DNA” – sequences that […]

How Proteins Build Teeth Like Glass on a Mattress

Here’s something to chew on.  Tooth enamel is hard, like crystal, but is bound to dentin underneath, which is pliable, like a mattress.  Your teeth can last a lifetime only because the ceramic-like enamel is cemented to a foundation of softer dentin, and because both of these materials are built to the right hardness specs […]

Your Brain Has Perfect Pitch

Scientists have a knack for asking questions about things most of us take for granted.  “The whole orchestra tunes up to an A note from the oboe – but how do our brains tell that all the different sounds are the same pitch?” asks Robert J. Zatorre in Nature.1  This is a puzzling question to […]
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