(131) results in Blog

A lotus flower. © Peripitus

August 24, 2015

A self-cleaning leaf: the superhydrophobic Lotus

It might sound like an ad for a new product – the leaf that cleans itself!, waterproof!, 100% organic! – but the lotus plant (genus Nelumbo) really does have self-cleaning leaves.  Or, more accurately, the lotus has...

© Robert Young

August 18, 2015

The birth of a cultural meme: the “do not disturb” gesture in Mandrills

Cross-posted with the permission of Dr. Nathan H. Lents from his The Human Evolution Blog. Mandrills are, literally, one of the most colorful creatures on earth and certainly the most colorful primates. Their striking faces are matched...

The beautiful Luna moth (Actias luna) of North America.  Image from the National Park Service.

July 27, 2015

A deadly passion: moths and their attraction to artificial light

Bee to the blossom, moth to the flame; Each to his passion …. ~Helen Hunt Jackson It’s a common saying – “like a moth to a flame” – which implies a strong, perhaps even dangerous attraction to...

Discarded cigarette butts, the most common environmental waste product, attract egg-laying mosquitoes. (Wikimedia Commons)

June 28, 2015

Cigarettes kick butt in mosquito control

What happens to the 6 trillion cigarettes smoked around the world every year? About two-thirds of them end up tossed into the environment. Besides being non-biodegradable, smoked cigarette butts contain 7,000 chemicals, including at least 69...

Image courtesy of Scanadu: https://www.scanadu.com/scout/

June 9, 2015

Antibodies: Bringing on the Age of Star Trek Medicine

When the original series of Star Trek introduced the medical tricorder back in the 1960s, it was utter science fiction. Nobody had any idea how such a handheld device able to diagnose a plethora of medical...

200px-Silent_Spring_First_Ed

June 1, 2015

What is the Acceptable (and Ethical) Role of the Scientist in Society?

This past week marked the 108th birthday of marine biologist Rachel Carson, probably most widely known for her groundbreaking book Silent Spring (1962), which sparked a grassroots environmental movement in the United States and led to...

512px-B_vitamin_supplement_tablets

May 20, 2015

Fighting Skin Cancer with Vitamin B3

May is National Skin Cancer Awareness Month, so what better time to announce the results of a promising new study by Australian researchers: An inexpensive vitamin pill reduced new occurrences of the most common types of...

Neanderthal maxilla. Credit: Joan Costa/Spanish National Research Council

May 11, 2015

Did Neanderthals Divide Labor by Gender Roles?

Cross-posted with the permission of Dr. Nathan Lents from his The Human Evolution Blog.   It is not uncommon among social mammals to engage in division of labor between the sexes. Female lions do all of the...

Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), shown in pink. Photo credit: National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID)

April 8, 2015

MRSA meets its medieval match

In his 1945 Nobel Prize speech, Alexander Fleming warned that misusing antibiotics would lead to resistance in microbes. Fast forward 70 years and zoom in on MRSA: It’s contagious, it’s dangerous, and it resists the antibiotics...

Indian Collecting Cochineal with a Deer Tail by José Antonio de Alzate y Ramírez (1777)

April 6, 2015

Bugs to Dye for: The Colorful Science and History of Cochineal

What gives that red hue to your strawberry yogurt or the pinkish tint to the vitamin tablet you take every morning? It just might come from an insect. For hundreds of years, a small, parasitic bug...