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Little Bugs with Mighty Powers

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first_img(Visited 576 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0 Bugs so small you could step on them, but if we were their size, we could never do what they do.G-ForceThis Beetle Can Withstand 40 Times More G-Force Than a Fighter Pilot (National Geographic). Ever watched a click beetle? Maybe not since you were a kid. These amazing beetles can leap up into the air and right themselves when they have fallen on their backs. Liz Langley writes, “Click beetles are among nature’s many unsung acrobats with clever strategies for escape.” There are 900 species of click beetles that use this trick. Here’s how it works:When threatened, the insect will contract a hinge that holds together two segments of its body, says Gal Ribak of Tel-Aviv University’s Biomechanics of Animal Locomotion Laboratory.Releasing that elastic energy causes an audible click and accelerates the beetles into the air at 380 times the force of gravity—leaving predators mystified.Langley includes accounts of other animals that are “aerialists that perform amazing airborne feats—sometimes with no feets at all.” A Moroccan spider named flic flac, for instance, can cartwheel away from danger, even going uphill. And a spider in Trinidad can whirl in circles so fast, it looks like a blur to the human eye. The article briefly mentions birds that walk down tree trunks, flying rays, pirouetting sharks, and has a 32-photo gallery of various leaping animals, including birds, fish and mammals.Magnetic NavigationNavigating with the sixth sense: desert ants sense Earth’s magnetic field (University of Würzburg). It’s unbelievable enough that salmon and sea turtles could navigate by the earth’s magnetic field, but ants? Such tiny insects; how do they do it? Researchers at the University of Würzburg, using controlled magnetic conditions, found that they indeed can. The details can be read in an open-access paper in Current Biology. The press release says,Desert ants (Cataglyphis) spend the first weeks of their life exclusively in their dark underground nest. For around four weeks, they nurse the queen and the brood, dig tunnels, build chambers or tidy up. At some point, they leave the nest to start their outdoor career, working as foragers until their death.Before an ant sets out to forage, it has to calibrate its navigational system, however. For this purpose, the insects exhibit a rather peculiar behaviour during two to three days: They perform so-called learning walks to explore the vicinity of the nest entrance and frequently turn about their vertical body axes while doing so. High-speed video recordings show that the ants stop repeatedly during these pirouetting motions. What is special about the longest of these stopping phases is that at this moment the ants always look back precisely to the nest entrance, although they are unable to see the tiny hole in the ground.Researchers from the Biocenter of the University of Würzburg have now made the surprising discovery that the desert ant uses the Earth’s magnetic field as orientation cue during these calibration trips. This ability had been previously unknown for desert ants.Dragonfly (Corel Professional Photos)AerogelWorld’s oldest insect inspires a new generation of aerogels (Newcastle University). When dragonflies complete their metamorphosis, their wings come out out like jelly, but within minutes they expand and become completely dry. Inspired by what they saw, the wizards at Newcastle University designed an aerogel that mimics the dragonfly’s secret. They tell how they did it, but more interesting are the dragonflies themselves. If they evolved, like this article claims, it means that some of the most advanced insect flyers just popped into existence without ancestors.“These ancient insects were around long before the dinosaurs evolved,“ explains Dejan Kulijer, from the National Museum of Bosnia and Herzegovina.“They are one of the oldest insect groups to take flight and include the largest insect that ever lived – the Griffenfly – that had a wingspan of more than 70 cm” [28 inches].Their wings are a porous, layered structure similar to an aerogel and are so strong and light they can carry the insect up to 30 miles in an hour.“A dragonfly’s wings are an ultralight aerogel – making up less than 2% of the insect’s total body weight – and yet they are so strong they can carry the insect thousands of miles across oceans and between continents,” says Dr Šiller, who worked on the research together with colleagues from Newcastle University, Durham University and Limerick University, Ireland, as well as experts from the National Museum of Bosnia and Herzegovina.Jumps and LeapsWhy a robot can’t yet outjump a flea: How small creatures generate world’s fastest snaps, jumps and punches (Duke University Today). No robot designer has been able to imitate the mighty leap of the tiny flea. These insects jump so fast and far, they seem to vanish from sight. The opening of this fun article shows a flea jumping in slow motion, but mentions that it’s not the only champion in the animal olympics. Here are more challengers for robot designers:Take the smashing mantis shrimp, a small crustacean not much bigger than a thumb. Its hammer-like mouthparts can repeatedly deliver 69-mile-per-hour wallops more than 100 times faster than the blink of an eye to break open hard snail shells.Or the unassuming trap-jaw ant: In a zero-to-60 matchup, even the fastest dragster would have little chance against its snapping mandibles, which reach speeds of more than 140 miles per hour in less than a millisecond to nab their prey.One of the fastest accelerations known on Earth is the hydra’s sting. These soft-bodied aquatic creatures defend themselves with help from capsules along their tentacles that act like pressurized balloons. When triggered, they fire a barrage of microscopic poison spears that briefly accelerate 100 times faster than a bullet.Another video clip in the article shows a trap-jaw ant launching itself into the air with its mandible. It had to be filmed at 3,000 frames per second to see the action. Also praised in the article are the chameleon, the Venus flytrap, and the froghopper:A short-legged insect called the froghopper, for example, has a bow-like structure called the pleural arch that acts like a spring. Latch-like protrusions on their legs control its release, allowing them to leap more than 100 times their body length despite their short legs. A person with that much power could jump nearly two football fields.Each of these feats, the article explains, doesn’t require muscle action. They work with spring-loaded parts that fire like a taut bowstring. The paper in Science Magazine delves into “The principles of cascading power limits in small, fast biological and engineered systems,” describing a new model designed at Duke to explain the power requirements and specifications for such powerful leaps. The press release explains why robot makers can’t yet match these natural achievements:The model has major implications for engineers. It suggests that robots can’t yet outjump a flea in part because such quick, repeatable movements require components to be exquisitely fine-tuned to each other.Don’t tell the Discovery Institute. Incidentally, a new species of fossil dragonfly was named after the Revolutionary, Dr Michael Behe (Evolution News).The wonders of nature inspire kids. The wonders of nature inspire adults. The wonders of nature inspire scientists and engineers. Anyone left out? There is one thing that reduces inspiration, like poking a hole in a hot air balloon. It’s the idea that these wonders just happened by chance. Darwinian hot air is not sufficient to substitute for the fires of inspiration lit by the wonders of nature. Keep those Darwinists with their spears away from the big, beautiful balloon celebration.Credit: J.B. Greenelast_img read more

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I Am an Entrepreneur gets businesses to play their part

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first_imgBrand South Africa is a proud partner of the ‘I Am an Entrepreneur’ workshop series. The decision to partner with MyStartUp and IgniteSA, through their founders Andile Khumalo and Lynette Ntuli, was a fairly easy one to arrive at. With a growing awareness of the role women play in the country’s economy, it is understood that there is still a lot to be done in order to fully harness their potential. (Image: Mathiba Molefe)Play Your Part (PYP) objectives go hand-in-hand with the ‘I Am an Entrepreneur’ workshops. PYP supports the creation of the platforms that are brought about by ‘I Am an Entrepreneur’ . The creation of empowering environments like this one is important because it harnesses information for everyone’s benefit.On 15 April 2017, Brand South Africa joined ‘I Am an Entrepreneur’ in Polokwane to foster interactions between emerging entrepreneurs and established business people in efforts to bridge the gap between reality and aspiration, information and knowledge, and practical skills in building sustainable enterprises. By sharing some highlights of his entrepreneurial journeys and key lessons of his business successes and challenges, Tirhani Mabunda of Tirhani Group Holdings played his part and got involved in imparting and acquiring entrepreneurial values and skills.“To hell with circumstances, I created opportunities,” said Tirhani, sharing one of his favourite sayings.Follow the conversation on @IAAE_SA on Twitter and @iaaesa on Instagramlast_img read more

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2017 Ohio water quality concerns

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first_imgShare Facebook Twitter Google + LinkedIn Pinterest I wanted to share a couple of items on water quality. Generally I think we are headed in the right direction, now to move forward.We now have 17,000 folks certified to apply fertilizer in Ohio. That’s a good thing. It means you are thinking about crop production improvements but also about how you nutrient losses affect the environment outside your farm boundaries.Lake Erie responded to the weather this year, and so did the Gulf of Mexico. Any water with excess nutrients in the Lake Erie watershed goes north to that water body, and the rest of Ohio ships their excess to the Gulf of Mexico. The HAB for Lake Erie this year was the third or fourth largest in recent memory (Figure 1), but had less toxins. For the hypoxia area in the Gulf of Mexico, it was the largest ever (Figure 2).  We still have work to do. One good thing that came out of the state fertilizer certification program is that you all get to continue your education. The “recertification” for fertilizer application starts this fall and winter. Plan to attend your local county Extension recertification programs to get that continuing education. We do have suggestions on reducing nutrient loss for the future.last_img read more

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Adapting quickly to Indian conditions will be key for New Zealand: Ish Sodhi to India Today

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first_imgNew Zealand spinner Ish Sodhi has said that the key to his team’s success on India tour will depend on how well and quickly they adapt to the conditions in the sub-continent.The Kiwis arrived in New Delhi early Monday for a three-Test and five ODI series.”Boys had some sleep on the long flight from Auckland. Good thing is that the time difference is not that big, not a problem really. It is better than South Africa and am sure it is  easier to settle down here,” Sodhi said after his arrival.Having just played a Test series in South Africa, it will be opposite playing conditions for the Black Caps in India. (Also read: Stuart Binny, Shardul Thakur dropped from India’s Test squad vs New Zealand)”Two extremes really. We came from the pace of South Africa to the spinner friendly conditions of India. This is the challenge a professional cricketer loves, can’t get better,” said Sodhi.  The squad, led by Kane Williamson, is up against history with their team having never won a Test series in India.”Every time you play against a team like India, it is a big opportunity to do well. A lot of people are watching. It’s going to be a big tour – three Tests and 5 ODIs. I am here to play Tests only and eagerly looking forward to it. Cricket is a religion in India, definitely prominent when you walk out of the airport gate. I guess it is in my blood too,” who was born in Ludhiana before his parents moved to New Zealand. (Also read: New Zealand wary of Ravichandran Ashwin threat, says coach Mike Hesson)advertisementThe Kiwis play a three-day game against Mumbai in Delhi before the first Test starts in Kanpur on September 22.”Weather here is a lot different than what we are used to. It is 6 am right now and still pretty humid. Starting to feel it already. But, the good thing is that a lot of boys have played here. Will be interesting to see how it goes on,” said Sodhi.last_img read more

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