Papilio machaon - Machaon ou Grand porte-queue - Swallowtail, Old World Swallowtail - Macaón.
A number of years ago, when I was a freshly-appointed instructor, I met, for the first time, a certain eminent historian of science. At the time I could only regard him with tolerant condescension. I was sorry of the man who, it seemed to me, was forced to hover about the edges of science. He was compelled to shiver endlessly in the outskirts, getting only feeble warmth from the distant sun of science- in-progress; while I, just beginning my research, was bathed in the heady liquid heat up at the very center of the glow.
In a lifetime of being wrong at many a point, I was never more wrong. It was I, not he, who was wandering in the periphery. It was he, not I, who lived in the blaze.I had fallen victim to the fallacy of the ‘growing edge;’ the belief that only the very frontier of scientific advance counted; that everything that had been left behind by that advance was faded and dead.
But is that true? Because a tree in spring buds and comes greenly into leaf, are those leaves therefore the tree? If the newborn twigs and their leaves were all that existed, they would form a vague halo of green suspended in mid-air, but surely that is not the tree. The leaves, by themselves, are no more than trivial fluttering decoration. It is the trunk and limbs that give the tree its grandeur and the leaves themselves their meaning.
There is not a discovery in science, however revolutionary, however sparkling with insight, that does not arise out of what went before. — Isaac Asimov, Adding a Dimension.
Inside a Changing Autumn Leaf
One of the great wonders of life is watching the leaves change colors in the fall. When temperatures get cool, chlorophyll begins to break down revealing the underlying pigments in the plants’ sap. This depiction of the inner-workings of a maple leaf shows the process in action.
Sorce: SciAm Blog Network
'Invisibility cloak' uses lenses to bend light
A device called the Rochester Cloak uses an array of lenses to bend light, effectively rendering what is on the other side invisible to the eye.
One of the problems with the cloaking devices developed to date — and it’s a big one — is that they really only work if both the viewer and whatever is being cloaked remain still. This, of course, is not entirely practical, but a difficult problem to solve. For the first time, researchers have made a cloaking device that works multidirectionally in three dimensions — using no specialised equipment, but four standard lenses.
Read more @CNET
How plankton gets jet lagged
A hormone that governs sleep and jet lag in humans may also drive the mass migration of plankton in the ocean, scientists at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) in Heidelberg, Germany, have found. The molecule in question, melatonin, is essential to maintain our daily rhythm, and the European scientists have now discovered that it governs the nightly migration of a plankton species from the surface to deeper waters. The findings, published online today in Cell, indicate that melatonin’s role in controlling daily rhythms probably evolved early in the history of animals, and hold hints to how our sleep patterns may have evolved.[…]
[The researchers] discovered a group of specialised motor neurons that respond to melatonin. Using modern molecular sensors, [they were] able to visualise the activity of these neurons in the larva’s brain, and found that it changes radically from day to night. The night-time production of melatonin drives changes in these neurons’ activity, which in turn cause the larva’s cilia to take long pauses from beating. Thanks to these extended pauses, the larva slowly sinks down. During the day, no melatonin is produced, the cilia pause less, and the larva swims upwards.
“Step by step we can elucidate the evolutionary origin of key functions of our brain. The fascinating picture emerges that human biology finds its roots in some deeply conserved, fundamental aspects of ocean ecology that dominated life on Earth since ancient evolutionary times”
Read more @EMBL