One tenth of a second is all the time the fly gets. The traps of the Venus flytrap, an insectivorous plant Charles Darwin called “one of the most wonderful in the world,” somehow responds to stimuli quickly without muscles. The entire mechanism is still largely unknown. A team of French, UK and American scientists set out to study how it works so fast. Their research, published in Nature,1, describes how the leaves are flexed into an outward curvature along two axes. The trigger hairs inside the leaves propagate a signal that causes a rapid turnover, something like turning a half tennis ball inside out. The closure has three phases: an initial slow action, a fast close, followed by a slow tightening of its grip around the prey. See also the write-up by New Scientist, which ends, “Our study still leaves us baffled about one question that motivated him [Darwin] – how did this mechanism evolve?” (emphasis added).1Forterre et al., “How the Venus flytrap snaps,” Nature 433, 421 – 425 (27 January 2005); doi:10.1038/nature03185.Maybe it didn’t evolve; did you ever consider that possibility? With all our lab technology we still cannot understand how a brainless, eyeless plant managed to invent an exquisite, functioning trap. Actually, the question these scientists investigated (the fast action) is one of the simplest aspects of this wonderful organism. How does the plant keep from springing its traps when only one trigger hair is touched? (This keeps it from responding unnecessarily to wind-blown particles.) How does the signal get propagated at the cellular level? How does it maintain the curvature of the leaves? How did trigger hairs form at just the right positions? How do the spines along the trap edges grow and overlap, to form a secure prison the fly can’t wiggle out of? How does the trap close even more tightly after the prey is captured, so as to squeeze the juice out of the bug? How does a plant digest animal tissue, and why does it need to, when it can apparently survive without it? How does the trap know to stay closed until digestion is finished, and how does it reopen like new? Where are the transitional forms for this amazing plant? How can evolutionists believe it arose by chance? The Venus flytrap makes a wonderful object lesson for the family. Pick one up at the nursery and let your kids experiment with it. It’s a good way to have them learn to ask questions, try to figure out how things work, and develop a sense of wonder about natural phenomena. Follow it up with a showing of the Moody Institute of Science classic The Prior Claim, a fun film that shows the plant in action. It also shows a “simpler” plant – a fungus – that has a microscopic trap that is so fast, you can’t see the action even if you avoid blinking. One moment the bug is outside, and within a split second it’s inside. Amazing. There are wonders everywhere that almost seem designed to create headaches for unbelievers.(Visited 9 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0
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Three people were beaten to death by a mob in Saran district of Bihar on Friday, alleging that they attempted to steal a buffalo, the police said. The families of the victims denied the allegation.Raju Nat, Bides Nat and Naushad Qureshi were attacked at Nandlal Tola of Pithauri village in the Baniapur police station limits in the early hours. Two of them were killed on the spot. Another died of injuries on the way to hospital, Superintendent of Police Har Kishore Rai said. He said two or three people have been picked up for interrogation.Deputy SP Ajay Kumar Singh rushed to the village as a clash erupted between the alleged attackers and the family members of the deceased. The relatives said the victims had gone out to relieve themselves when they were beaten to death.“We can say it with certainty that this is not one of those incidents of mob lynching. The animal allegedly being stolen was a buffalo. The attackers and the attacked belonged to the same social groups,” Mr. Singh said.Police have been deployed in the village, while people from both sides were at the police station to lodge complaints. The families of the victims “created a ruckus” at the Sadar hospital, where the bodies were taken for post-mortem, prompting police to use “mild force” to bring the situation under control, officials said.
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Smarting from their opening round losses, Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) and Deccan Chargers (DC) will hope to bring their campaign back on track when they cross swords at the Eden Gardens in Kolkata on Monday.For KKR this will be the first match at their home ground without city’s favourite son Sourav Ganguly whose name had been synonymous with the team so far and provided the side the local flavour.Under new captains in Gautam Gambhir and Kumar Sangakkara, both Kolkata Knight Riders and Deccan Chargers had a similar beginning to the fourth season of the Twenty20 extravaganza – suffering contrasting defeats to Chennai Super Kings and Rajasthan Royals respectively.If Knight Riders gifted the match from a winning position to reigning champions Chennai Super Kings, Deccan Chargers, on the other hand, were outplayed by IPL-1 champions Rajasthan Royals. KKR looked determined to come out of the rut this season, rejigging their line-up for a complete overhaul.Roping in Gautam Gambhir and Yusuf Pathan for the two top signings this season beside successfully bidding for South African Jacques Kallis, Aussie strike bowler Brett Lee, Knights have all the ingredients of a champion side. With talented youngsters in Manoj Tiwary, Manvinder Bisla, Sarabjit Ladda – who showed sparkling signs in their performances against Chennai – Gambhir just needs to get his act together.Deccan Chargers, who lost to the Knights on both the occasions in last season, too are licking their wounds after their morale-shattering loss to Rajasthan Royals and are low in confidence.advertisementThe new look Chargers led by former Kings XI skipper Sangakkara did not click in any of their departments against the Shane Warne’s boys.Sangakkara will have a tough task to fill into the shoes of Adam Gilchrist who provided a top and fourth place finish in IPL-2 and 3.On paper, Deccan’s bowling line-up can be considered as one of the best among the 10 teams with the likes of South African top gun Dale Steyn and Indian spinners Pragyan Ojha and Amit Mishra.It remains to be seen if they can pose any threat to an equally low-on-confidence Knight Riders on Monday.