The largest pitcher plant to date has been discovered in the Philippines by a group of botanists. The plant named Nepenthes attenboroughii is said to produce spectacular traps which are large enough to catch not just insects but rats as well.
Archive for August, 2009
MIT has developed a paint that can kill viruses that land on its surface. The paint is made up of spiky polymers that puncture the influenza membrane killing it in the process. One experiment showed that it was 99% effective at killing all bacteria that came in contact with its surface. One of the major benefits is the belief that the viruses cannot develop an immunity to the paint like they can antibiotics. The idea is t coat high traffic areas like door knobs with the paint to prevent the spread of viruses.
It has been discovered that Turritopsis nutricul, a jellyfish, is potentially immortal. Once the jellyfish sexually matures it looks like a 5mm parachute. If it runs into tough times the jellyfish can reverse metamorphose to the polyp it was in its youth until things get better and then transform back into its mature state. The jellyfish is the only known animal that can transdifferentiate or tranform the cells of its entire body. Theoretically this tranformation can be done indefinately essentially making the jellyfish immortal.
Aurora Flight Sciences, a US company, has developed a solar powered unmanned surveillance plane that has the ability to fly for five years at altitudes between 60,000 – 90,000 feet. During the day the plane flies in a Z-wing shape to absorb solar power and flattens out during the night to reduce drag and conserve energy.
Normally when a spinal injury occurs the majority of the damage isn’t the result of the injury itself but rather the result of spinal cord swelling and the resulting neuron damage hours and days after the accident that make the injury permanently worse. The swelling occurs because of the release of blood and a chemical called Adenosine Triphosphate. Adenosine Triphosphate or ATP is a way to deliver energy to cells. When a spinal injury occurs the area is flooded with ATP causing the healthy neurons to fire repeatedly resulting in neuron burnout which also further increases the swelling around the injury site. Normally swelling isn’t a bad thing but since the spinal cord is in the confines of the spinal column the resulting pressure can cut off the oxygen supply resulting in permanent paralysis. Scientists in Rochester, New York have discovered a method of reducing the amount of secondary damage using blue food dye. The same food dye you would find in the blue M&M’s at your grocery store. The way it works is the blue dye binds to the same neuroreceptor(P2X7) as ATP and it has a stronger affinity than ATP. In essence it works to block the affects of ATP eliminating its negative permanent damage. It can be taken oraly and the only side affect known is the patient may turn blue temporarily.