science
Watch the Awesome Way in Which Plants Defend Themselves Against Threats

We tend to think of plants as helpless, passive green blobs, but a fascinating new study, in which scientists used fluorescent light to visualise alarm signals within plants, shows how our photosynthesising friends are able to mobilise their defences. Read More >>

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Drama Over Shirtless Selfie in Houseplant Hobby Group Inspires Wave of Plant Nude Trolling

Since the dawn of time, human beings have been covering their naughty bits with flora—or at least that’s what the classicist motif of putting fig leaves over nudity would have you believe. This age-old practice recently saw a social media resurgence, with dozens of Facebook users posting their own semi-nude plant photos online. Read More >>

science
Beetle Trapped in 99-Million-Year-Old Amber Was an Early Pollinator 

Amber fossils containing bugs are nothing new, but the discovery of a beautifully preserved Cretaceous Period beetle with bits of pollen still around it is changing what we know about the planet’s earliest pollinating insects. Read More >>

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This Computer Actually Works Better With Windows

Wyatt Little has designed the first computer that performs much better with Windows — and lots of sunlight. In many ways, this Little Computer Planter is vastly superior to your laptop. There’s no email to deal with, no internet, no Twitter, and it will turn the CO2 you exhale with every saddened sigh into life-giving oxygen. Read More >>

science
Mistletoe Somehow Survives Without Protein Needed by All Other Multicellular Life

Mistletoe might be a nice yuletide decoration, but it’s also a nefarious, parasitic badass that preys upon a series of hosts. Apparently one species has decided it no longer needs a protein that every other multicellular organism on Earth requires to live. Read More >>

plants
Plants Complain to Their Friends When the Neighborhood Gets Too Crowded

Plants don’t like to be touched. For these immobile organisms, it means they’re likely growing too close to a neighbouring plant, and that their access to available sunlight is under threat. New research shows that touch-sensitive plants can communicate a warning message to their related neighbours, advising them to adjust their growth patterns accordingly. Read More >>

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This Glitter-Filled Algae Is a Living Opal

There’s a reason that many natural things look unbelievably cool: evolution. Given the stresses of existing on this turbulent spinning orb, some organisms must adapt in literally dazzling ways. Like this alga, which is basically a living opal. Read More >>

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Earth’s First Land Plants May Have Sprouted 80 Million Years Earlier Than Previously Thought

For hundreds of millions of years, life on Earth was a purely aquatic phenomenon. The jump from the oceans to the continents was a monumental event, one that would irrevocably change the face of our plants. A new study suggests the first plants to make this evolutionary leap appeared much earlier than we thought. Read More >>

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Flowers Express ‘Invisible’ Heat Patterns to Attract Bees

Over the course of evolution, flowers and pollinating insects have developed an intimate, mutually beneficial relationship. To get the attention of pollinators, flowers have developed an assortment of cues, such as colourful petals and aromatic smells. But as a new study points out, many plants also express complex floral heat patterns, which bees are able to detect. Read More >>

science
The US Department of Defence Is Developing Plants That Are Spies

The US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency wants to bioengineer plants so that the military can turn foliage into spies. Read More >>

science
Is It Possible to Engineer a Truly Blue Flower? 

In nature, blue is much rarer than you might think. Sure, the sky is blue when the weather’s nice, and so is the ocean. But the vast majority of plants and animals are incapable of making blue pigment. Brilliantly-coloured peacocks appear blue not because their feathers are coloured that way, but because of how they reflect light. Less than 10 percent of the world’s 280,000 flowering plants produce blue flowers, which may be why they’re often a symbol of the unattainable in folklore and literature. Read More >>

robots
Stanford Designed the Most Phallic Robot You’ve Ever Seen

Designing simpler spacecraft is what helped us finally put rovers on Mars and start exploring the Red Planet. Embracing simplicity might also give us simple, inexpensive robots that thrive doing very specific tasks, instead of multi-million dollar humanoids that have trouble just staying on their feet. Read More >>

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Plants Turn Caterpillars into Cannibals to Save Themselves

In the caterpillar-versus-plant fight, the winner might seem obvious. One side sits motionless in the sun, while the other feasts on it. But the tomato plant has a nefarious defence strategy. In some encounters with herbivores, it winds up relatively unscathed, while the caterpillars wind up eating each other. Read More >>

plants
Cambridge Plant Nerds Prepare for Death Flower

Botanists and people with even just a casual interest in gardening are focusing on Cambridge University's greenhouse this week, as one of plants prepares to launch its stinky flowers out into the world for the first time since 2004. Read More >>

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Plants Can Tell Time Way Better Than You Can

Telling time seems easy enough — just look at a clock, dummy! Not so easy if you’re a plant without any eyes or ears, though. Read More >>