Animals, Biology, News

Garden spiders use electrostatic charged silk to catch unsuspecting prey

Uloborus plumipes is a species of Old World cribellate spider in the family Uloboridae. Common names include the feather-legged lace weaver and the garden centre spider, the latter name being due to its frequent occurrence of this spider in garden centres on the world. Image: Snip View

Most spiders weave sticky, wet webs to trap their prey, but the feather-legged lace weaver spider, Uloborus plumipes, employs a totally “high-tech” strategy. It spins an extremely thin nano-sized web, which becomes charge with electrostatic energy. Just like dust latches on to your sweater, insects are attracted and stuck to the the web. Biologists believe they’ve figured out how the spider does all of this in a newly reported paper which might help the industry design and develop ultra-strong nano filaments in the future.

Biology, News, Pollution

Pollution lowers polar bear penile bone density, threatening their mating abilities

polar bear

Global warming is all fun and games until somebody breaks a penis! For a long time, scientists have been aware that chemical pollution makes polar bears’ testes and penis bone smaller. Concerns over polar bears’ mating potential have now grown after Danish researchers found pollution also reduces penile bone density, increasing the risk of fracture during mating.

Biology, Great Pics, News

Pollution Sparks Beautiful Blue Plankton Glow in Hong Kong

Glow-in-the-dark blue waves caused by the phenomenon known as harmful algal bloom or 'red tide', are seen at night near Sam Mun Tsai beach in Hong Kong. Photo via AP.

The harbor in Hong Kong sparkled with an eerie blue glow, creating a surprising and beautiful picture. But few people know that the cause of this lovely landscape is actually pollution – pig manure, fertiliser and sewage. This nutrient-rich pollution encouraged a bloom of Noctiluca scintillans, commonly known as “Sea Sparkle.”

Biology, News

Gel contracts like muscle and stores light energy

Schematic representation of a polymer gel whose chains are cross-linked using rotating molecular motors (the red and blue parts of the motor can turn relative to each other when provided with energy). Right: When exposed to light, the motors start to rotate, twisting the polymer chains and contracting the gel by as much as 80% of its initial volume: in this way, part of the light energy is stored as mechanical energy. © Gad Fuks / Nicolas Giuseppone / Mathieu Lejeune

Researchers at the Université de Strasbourg made a polymer gel that is able to contract similar to how a muscle concentrates motor proteins to elicit motion. The contraction occurs under the influence of light, but besides contraction, the gel also stores some of the absorbed light.

Biology, News, Videos

Not for the faint of heart: Scientist grows a maggot inside his skin

"That’s a nice-looking butt – I knew that something was amiss hen a strange tube started poking out of my skin. This turned out to be a bot fly’s breathing tube",

Piotr Naskrecki, a Harvard biologist, did what few people would have the courage to do – he let maggots grow inside his skin, then documented the entire process. The result is, while very gross, spectacularly interesting. Proceed at your own risk. I’ve got you under my skin The Human Bot Fly from Piotr Naskrecki on Vimeo. When Piotr Naskrecki traveled to

Biology, Health & Medicine, News, Nutrition

GMOs on a leash: scientists engineer bacteria that can’t survive in the wild uncontrolled

GMO leash

Two teams of researchers from the US recoded the genome of the E. coli bacteria such that it dies when it runs out of synthetic chemical, unavailable in nature. This way, it’s impossible for the bacteria to spread into the wild uncontrolled. Effectively, this self-destruct measure puts GMOs on a tight leash!

Animals, Biology, News

Chimps ‘tell’ each other where the best fruit trees are found and how big these are

chimp language

Chimps, our favorite primate cousins, communicate with each other through a complex gesture language, partially decoded by scientists. Depending on the situation and the gesture, chimps tell each other things like “Stop that,” “Climb on me,” or “Move away.” Now, an exciting new study found that chimps also communicate through vocalization. Researchers found that the primates would “speak” to their peers and relay what their favorite fruits are and where the best trees can be found.

Biology, Chemistry, Health & Medicine, News

Sea Snails Paralyze Their Prey With Unique Type of Insulin

Conus geographus, the cone snail used for this study.

What do you do if you need to catch your own food… but you’re just not fast enough? That’s the problem cone snails had to face, and the solution they came up with is pretty amazing: they kill fish by lowering their sugar levels with a unique type of insulin, researchers found

Biology, News

Expanding Brain Samples to Better See Them

Using a new technique that allows them to enlarge brain tissue, MIT scientists created these images of neurons in the hippocampus.Image: Fei Chen and Paul Tillberg

Researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have found a way to enlarge and map brain samples. This inexpensive technique will now allow scientists to get a much closer look at the human brian and perhaps figure out some of its long standing secrets.