Tagged With plants

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Moss, in case you were not already aware, is a pretty freaking amazing plant. It does not have roots, allowing it to grow in unlikely places such as on bits of rock at the top of a glacier or on lifeless, barren fields of lava. It provides a habitat for an entire community of microscopic critters. Its leaves are only one cell thick! And it must have the craziest sexual reproduction strategy in the entire plant world.

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The feds began monitoring the potency of the United States' pot supply in the 1970s by drawing samples from stashes seized by law enforcement, and boy was it schwag. The percentage of THC -- the main psychoactive component in cannabis -- averaged from less than 1 per cent in 1975 to just under 3 per cent a decade later, according to the data. These notoriously low levels reflected the times, as the weed subculture in America was just starting to take root and could help explain why some of the most memorable old school brands have names like Acapulco Gold, Panama Red, Afghani, Thai stick, and Jamaican sensi; they were all originally cultivated outside of the country.

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Reading science news all day can be real grim. Animals are dying, the climate is changing, the nuke's a coming, yadda yadda. But sometimes (in fact, often) scientists do something that's just neat, important, and won't keep you up at night -- that is, if you're cool with photosynthesising cyborg bacteria.

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On Monday, the USDA brought us some much needed good news, when it reported data suggesting that honeybees might finally be bouncing back from colony collapse disorder. Today, a team of scientists countered with some seriously bummer pollinator news. A new study published in the journal Nature indicates that artificial light pollution might be a much bigger problem for pollinators -- and their plants -- than we realised.

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In nature, blue is much rarer than you might think. Sure, the sky is blue when the weather's nice, and so is the ocean. But the vast majority of plants and animals are incapable of making blue pigment. Brilliantly-coloured peacocks appear blue not because their feathers are coloured that way, but because of how they reflect light. Less than 10 per cent of the world's 280,000 flowering plants produce blue flowers, which may be why they're often a symbol of the unattainable in folklore and literature.

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Designing simpler spacecraft is what helped us finally put rovers on Mars and start exploring the Red Planet. Embracing simplicity might also give us simple, inexpensive robots that thrive doing very specific tasks, instead of multi-million dollar humanoids that have trouble just staying on their feet.

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In the caterpillar-versus-plant fight, the winner might seem obvious. One side sits motionless in the sun, while the other feasts on it. But the tomato plant has a nefarious defence strategy. In some encounters with herbivores, it winds up relatively unscathed, while the caterpillars wind up eating each other.

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It's one of the biggest mysteries in this global experiment we're conducting by pouring 10 billion tonnes of carbon into the atmosphere each year: What will happen to the plants? Will the relentless burning of fossil fuels prompt our leafy green friends to suck down more CO2, tapping the brakes on climate change? Or are the trees unable to bail Earth's atmosphere out this mess?

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In the TV series, Star Trek: Voyager, the space ship was the first of its kind to be built with biological circuitry designed to speed up its processing capabilities. What once was science fiction, however, creeps closer to reality as researchers have successfully created a cyborg rose that functions as an electronic circuit.

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When farmers spray their crops with pesticides and other treatments to help ensure their survival, 98 per cent of those chemicals bounce right off the plants and end up in the groundwater as pollution. It's a waste, and harmful to the environment, so researchers at MIT came up with a cheap but effective way to instead make those chemicals stick to crops.