Plants aren't typically known for their speed, but the carnivorous Venus flytrap can close its jaw-like leaves in the blink of an eye. Charles Darwin once referred to the Venus flytrap as "one of the most wonderful plants in the world." But despite the plant's notoriety, its closing mechanism remains a mystery 250 years after its discovery.
To call wood frogs hardy would be an understatement. The species (Rana sylvatica) can survive winter temperatures that freeze up to two-thirds of the water in their bodies. They endure this annual popsicle phase with help from cryoprotectants, substances circulating in their blood that lower the freezing point of their body fluids. New research shows that frogs at the northern limits of the species' range are uniquely adapted to freezing.
Can humanoid robots save lives? Will they have the capacity to be our friends? Dennis Hong, founding director of Virginia Tech's Robotics & Mechanisms Laboratory (RoMeLa), is making this happen by teaching robots how to win at soccer and by entering the DARPA Robotics Challenge.
The newborn iceberg measures about 278 square miles (720 square kilometers), and was seen by TerraSAR-X, an earth-observing satellite operated by the German Space Agency (DLR). Scientists with NASA's Operation IceBridgefirst discovered a giant crack in the Pine Island Glacier in October 2011, as they were flying over and surveying the sprawling ice sheet.
Today in mind-bendingly cool stuff that nanoparticles can do: A team of researchers at Rice University in Texas has demonstrated a mechanism by which they can create steam in just seconds by focusing sunlight on a mixture of water and nanoparticles. This isn't just some artificial means of lowering boiling point either; this solar powered "boiler" can produce steam before the water even gets warm to the touch, without ever bringing the aggregate water to a boil.