A newly discovered form of communication between the bees and plants

A flower's electric field, right, with associated electric potential on the left. (Credit: Dominic Clarke)
A flower’s electric field, right, with associated electric potential on the left. (Credit: Dominic Clarke)

Researchers have found that bees and plants have a kind of “talk” in the form of weak electrical signals that help the bees to know about the nectar.

This research has been published online in the journal Science.

Plants have the ability to emit weak electrical signals as they have a negative electrical charge. On the other hand, bees’ flapping wings produce a positive electrical charge of up to 200 volts as they move from one flower to another flower.

In order to detect whether the bees are affected by the electrical charges of the plants or not, researchers exposed the bees to the artificial flowers. They charged electrically, half of the flowers along with the sugary reward and found that the bees started visiting the flowers with electrical charges while ignoring the others. When the researchers switched off the charges, bees started visiting the flowers randomly, showing that the bees respond to the electrical signals.

“Animals are just constantly surprising us as to how good their senses are,” Dominic Clarke, lead author of the study told the BBC. “More and more we’re starting to see that nature’s senses are almost as good as they could possibly be.”

Bees are attracted towards the flowers not only due to the fragrance and electrical signals but also due to the presence of bright colors and it has been found that bees see colors three times faster than humans. This attraction of bees towards the flowers is not only helpful for bees to get nectar for honey but also helpful for flowers to spread their pollens. Read More …

Accidental finding of the growth of the molecules into microtubes

Scientists, accidently, found the mechanism by which the tiny single molecules grow into centimeter-long microtubes, when they leave the dish for a different experiment in the refrigerator.

This research was published in the journal Small.

In order to find the mechanism through which the small molecules grow into microtubes, researchers used various techniques including microscopy and spectroscopy techniques and work on the process from the nano to micro scale.

Microtubes (Credit: Small)

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Proton’s radius is 4% smaller than the previous estimates of 0.88 femtometers

ProtonScientists have reassured that the proton is 4% smaller than the previous research findings.

This research has been published online in the journal Science.

Although the new research has decreased the weight of the proton but the same new research has increased the chances of finding the new particles and/or forces.

Before 2010, there were only two methods for measuring the size of the proton. One was firing the electron beams at protons and measuring the deflection, and the other method was studying the behavior of electrons in hydrogen atoms. Both the methods showed that the radius of proton is nearly 0.88 femtometers, or 0.88 quadrillionths of a meter.

In 2010, scientists developed a new technique to check the proton size in which the muons, instead of electrons, were studied in hydrogen atoms. Muons are the elementary particles with 200 times the mass of the electron. After using this new technique, physicist Aldo Antognini at ETH Zurich and his team published a paper in Nature in which they reported that the proton’s radius is 0.84 femtometers i.e. about 4% less than previous measurements. Read More …

Record breaking performance of Battery utilizing Nanotechnology


Scientists from Stanford University and the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory have broken the previous record of energy storage by using the “yolk-shell” design in lithium-ion battery with sulfur cathode.

This research has been published online in the January 8th issue of the journal Nature Communications.

With this design, scientists stored five times more energy in the sulfur cathode of a rechargeable lithium-ion battery than usually is stored in the conventional batteries. Not only this but the cathode efficiency was also much improved with high level of performance, i.e. Coulombic efficiency of 98.4%, even after 1,000 charge/discharge cycles while today’s lithium ion batteries retain only 80% of the starting capacity after 500 charge/discharge cycles. Read More …

Probable detection of the ingredient of life in Gas Clouds in space

Astronomers have probably found the traces of a precursor chemical, hydroxylamine, which is composed of atoms of nitrogen, hydrogen and oxygen and could support the formation of life, nearly 1,000 light years from Earth.

Still scientists are not confirmed about the existence of this chemical but if it is confirmed, it could mean the life’s origin on the other planets as well as on our own planet.

“It’s very exciting,” said Stefanie Milam, an astrochemist at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., who was not involved in the study. If the findings can be verified, “this will be the first detection of this new molecule. It gives us a lot of hope for prebiotic chemistry in this particular region.”

L1157 seen from Spitzer Space Telescope (Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UIUC)

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Saturn’s moon Titan has ice on the surface of hydrocarbon lakes and seas

Researchers from NASA’s Cassini mission found blocks of hydrocarbon ice on the Saturn’s moon Titan showing that some form of extra-ordinary life might be present in that environment.

“One of the most intriguing questions about these lakes and seas is whether they might host an exotic form of life,” said Jonathan Lunine, a paper co-author and Cassini interdisciplinary Titan scientist at Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y. “And the formation of floating hydrocarbon ice will provide an opportunity for interesting chemistry along the boundary between liquid and solid, a boundary that may have been important in the origin of terrestrial life.”

Artist's depiction of ice on hydrocarbon sea on Titan (Credit: credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/USGS)

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Below Absolute Zero temperature

Researchers have achieved the record “negative temperature”, i.e. below absolute zero that was considered to be the lowest possible temperature.

This research has been published online in the journal Science.

This is a paradoxical temperature as the temperature below zero is referred to as cold but this “negative absolute temperature” can also be considered as hotter than infinity and it has “motional degrees of freedom” while at colder temperatures atoms show decreased motion or stop moving.

With positive temperatures (blue), atoms more likely occupy low-energy states than high-energy states, while the opposite is true for negative temperatures (red). (Credit: LMU / MPQ Munich)
With positive temperatures (blue), atoms more likely occupy low-energy states than high-energy states, while the opposite is true for negative temperatures (red). (Credit: LMU / MPQ Munich)

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Plant having a chemical defense against irritating insects

Plant may repel irritating insects (Credit - Ian Grettenberger)Researchers have found plants may repel the “insect antagonists” after getting cues related to the odors of flies to attract female flies that may result in damage to the plants.

This research has been published online in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

“It’s become increasingly clear in recent years that plants are responsive to odors,” Mark Mescher, assistant professor of entomology, said in a statement. “But previous examples of this are all plant-to-plant. For example, some plants have been shown to respond to the odor of insect-damaged neighbors by priming their own defenses. What’s new about this is that it seems that plants may sometimes be able to smell the insects themselves.”

Researchers worked on tall goldenrod (Solidago altissima) plants. They exposed some of the plants to the odor of the male fly and observed the laying of eggs by female on exposed and unexposed plants by checking the characteristic scarring that happens when females pierce the stem to lay their eggs inside, said Mescher. Read More …