At Home: Astronaut Food
No atmosphere? No problem. Canadian scientists believe they’ve discovered a way to grow plants for a possible Martian colony?using Arctic flora as inspiration.
As The Globe and Mail reports, a recently published study shows that ?[plants that managed to re-grow after centuries buried under Arctic glaciers could prove useful for would-be pioneers hoping to explore life on other planets.?
These plants, known as bryophytes (encompassing ?mosses and other non-vascular plants?), were found near Ellesmere Island under the Teardrop Glacier, which ?has been shrinking by between three and four metres a year since 2004.?
Researchers were surprised to discover that the ?bryophytes had been almost perfectly preserved despite the vast quantities of ice that settled over them centuries earlier.? In fact, some plants were even a little green, which spread as the newly uncovered plants began to re-grow.
Further experimentation with samples showed that ?the plants had the potential to begin re-growing,? even in places ?outside their natural environment.?
Scientists believe that bryophytes make a good candidate for research ?exploring the prospect of survival beyond earth.?
Around the World: Super-Roach
Nature evolves to meet the unique problems of its habitat, scientists say. In theory, adaptability is a comforting concept. In practice, perhaps not so much?particularly when we’re talking about cockroaches.
As the Toronto Sun reports, ?[a] strain of cockroaches in Europe has evolved to outsmart the sugar traps used to kill them.?
Researchers investigating the beetles discovered that the roaches have changed their sense of taste; now, the glucose traditionally used in traps is ?[perceived] . . . not as sweet but rather as bitter.? In fact, during experiments by North Carolina State University, cockroaches were ?repulsed? by jelly and attracted to peanut butter instead, one professor told reporters.
Using ?tiny electrodes to record the activity of the pest’s taste receptors,? the researchers measured the responses. The result? The taste of glucose elicited responses from the ?cells that normally respond to bitter compounds,? the professor told reporters.
Looks like natural selection is one way to reduce sugar cravings.