Plants

Scientists are getting closer to figuring out which types of forests are best to fight global climate change.

Courtesy Columbia University Global warming is stressing plants around the globe. Higher temperatures, longer-lasting droughts, and extreme weather events are all bad for trees and forests. But if trees and forests decline, global warming will accelerate even faster. Trees and forests remove carbon dioxide from the air and convert it to carbon during photosynthesis. The carbon is then stored in wood and leaves through a process called "carbon sequestration". Trapping carbon dioxide is a crucial role in the battle against climate change. Thus, scientists are trying to figure out how to maximize the ability of forests to remove CO2 from the atmosphere. It seems logical that having more trees in a forest would be better for carbon storage. However, only areas around the equator and tropical areas receive

The amazing Snapdragon Flower Seed Pod looks like a human skull

They’re beautiful when alive but once they shrivel up and die, things get a bit creepy. [Editor note: Reeko said under no circumstances were we to put any politically-incorrect dead people jokes here.]  Meet the Snapdragon flower seed pod which bears the stark appearance of a human skull (or a human face screaming in agony). The Snapdragon flower (aka Antirrhinum or dragon flower) can be found in many household gardens and gets its name from its flower which resembles a dragon’s head (squeeze the snapdragon flower and the “dragon” mouth will open and close making it “talk”). Yet once the flower has died it leaves behind a seed pod with the macabre appearance of a human head. The Snapdragons name (Antirrhinum) comes from the Greek words “anti,”

The Skeleton Flower magically transforms into glassy, crystal-clear blossoms when it rains

The Diphylleia grayi or Skeleton Flower, grows in the moist, wooded areas of Japan and China and in the eastern United States. It’s large, fuzzy green, umbrella-shaped leaves are topped with small clusters of beautiful pearly white flowers that bloom from mid-spring to early summer. In late summer, the stalks of flowers are replaced with eye-catching cobalt blue fruit.  Oddly, as the petals of the flowers are soaked with water, they lose their white pigmentation and turn into magnificent crystal-clear flowers. Once they dry out, the pale coloring slowly returns and the flowers turn powdery white again. Check out pictures of the Skeleton Flower in the pictorial below (click picture for expanded view).

Bet you can’t look at this fungus without getting hungry

Found in North America and Europe, the “strawberries and cream” fungus, known affectionately to scientists as Hydnellum peckii or the Bleeding Tooth Fungus, is a fungus that looks like a delicious sweet treat. When young, this organism excretes a red fluid that looks like blood giving the Bleeding Tooth Fungus its unique creamy-dotted appearance. It is not believed to be poisonous although it is considered inedible due to its horribly bitter taste. Its common name (Bleeding Tooth Fungus) comes from the teethlike spines that hang down from its underside and release spores. Other names for Hydnellum peckii include bleeding Hydnellum, red-juice tooth, and Devil’s tooth. It is found around the Pacific Northwest (e.g. Washington, Orgeon) in North America and around Italy, Germany, and Scotland in Europe.

What to do with all those dirty diapers? Grow mushrooms in them!

They’re smelly, icky, stinky, nasty, and gross – dirty baby diapers. And not only do they account for a significant volume of waste in our landfills, they are nearly indestructible and remain in the landfills for hundreds of years without degrading. Short of throwing out the baby with the waste water (a suggestion one of the lab rats put forth), what do we do with all those nasty diapers? Researchers think they may have an answer – grow mushrooms in them! Diapers are made from polyethylene, polypropylene, an absorbent gel made from sodium polyacrylate, and a plant-based material called cellulose. Luckily, disposable diapers contain a significant portion of cellulose, a substance that mushrooms love to consume. Researchers took the dirty diapers and sterilized them with high-pressure steam. They

Jupiter’s Great Red Spot is shrinking faster than ever before

In any other circumstance, a huge, red, festering blemish would be a bad thing but not for the planet Jupiter. Jupiter’s Great Red Spot has been a defining characteristic of the planet since man began looking at the stars through bamboo shoots. But that may be about to change. NASA says that Jupiter’s Great Red Spot is shrinking in size faster than ever and could disappear altogether within 20 years. Jupiter’s Great Red Spot is an Earth-sized storm raging on the gas giant’s surface. Scientists have known about the red spot since at least 1831 (and possibly as early as 1665). The storm rotates differently than the planet’s atmosphere and is believed to have traveled around the planet several times during its recorded history. For several years,

Wonderful garden in sealed bottle has not been watered in over 40 years!

David Latimer has created a most unusual garden, one that seems to mimic the ecosystem of Earth – in a sealed bottle! On Easter Sunday in 1960, David placed compost in a large round bottle and used a wire to carefully lower a Spiderworts seedling into the mix. He then added a pint of water and sealed the bottle up tight with a plastic cork. He placed the bottle in a sunny corner and viola – the magic of photosynthesis did its thing. Through photosynthesis, the plant acquires energy by absorbing sunlight. The plant stores part of this energy which it needs to grow. Some of the energy is used to remove electrons from water in the soil that it absorbs through the plant’s roots. This