Tag Archives: Biology

To boldly grow – NASA plans plantgrowing on the Moon

NASA is nothing if not ambitious. And that definitely goes for their latest idea: growing plants on the Moon.

Now this is an idea that catches the imagination – just think how high a sunflower could grown at the Moon’s low gravity. And for the more illegally minded horticulturists – imagine how far from the authorities your crops would be 🙂

“They will try to grow arabidopsis (a word my spell checker wanted to change to archbishops..admittedly a more Monty Pythonesque idea, but probably not what NASA are looking to do), basil, sunflowers, and turnips in coffee-can-sized aluminium cylinders that will serve as plant habitats,” according to this piece in Forbes.

The idea is to test the viability of growing food on another planetary body, as well as conducting valuable research that might in future make it easier to grow produce in inhospitable parts of our own planet.

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Electronic-loving ants invade USA

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Photo by: sanchom

An invasive species of ants referred to as ‘Tawny Crazy Ants’ are invading the south-eastern part of the United States, displacing the indigenous fire ants – and showing a strange love for all things electronic that is causing problems throughout the region.

“They nest in electronics and create short circuits, as they create a contact bridge between two points when they get electrocuted they release an alarm pheromone,” says research assistant Edward LeBrun from The University of Texas said.

“The other ants are attracted to the chemicals that other ants give off.”

Together with his colleagues, Edward LeBrun has been mapping the rise of the Tawny Crazy Ants.

“The “ecologically dominant” crazy ants are reducing diversity and abundance across a range of ant and arthropod species,” their report concludes.

This is not only bad news for species such as the fire ants, but also for humans living in the area.

“When you talk to folks who live in the invaded areas, they tell you they want their fire ants back,” said LeBrun. “Fire ants are in many ways very polite. They live in your yard. They form mounds and stay there, and they only interact with you if you step on their mound.”

LeBrun said that crazy ants, by contrast, “go everywhere.” They invade people’s homes, nest in crawl spaces and walls, become incredibly abundant and damage electrical equipment.

Nokia are reported (not really) to be following the development closely, ready to step in and lend a hand by donating mobile phones to lure the Crazy Ants away from people’s’ electronic equipment.

“It’s not like we were ever going to sell them anyway,” a fictional spokesperson for the company said.

It’s still a good idea, though…