Flowers generate weak electric fields, and a new study shows that bumblebees can actually sense those electric fields using the tiny hairs on their fuzzy little bodies.
"The bumblebees can feel that hair bend and use that feeling to tell the difference between flowers," says Gregory Sutton, a Royal Society University Research Fellow at the University of Bristol in the United Kingdom.
You can't help but notice that Scott Pitnick has a big tattoo. It's a sperm with a long tail that winds down his right arm.
People sometimes stare. "And when I tell them what it is, they either are very interested or they pivot on their heel and walk away," says Pitnick, an evolutionary biologist at Syracuse University. "All eye contact ceases."
Some people just don't like talking about sperm. But not him. He's spent his career trying to unravel the mystery of giant sperm.
Whenever I'm out reporting in the field, I can tell many ranchers have a powerful connection with their cattle — it seems they can almost understand them. But researchers today are digging deeper to figure out exactly what cows are saying — and how they communicate through their moos.
I drove out to the research farm at the University of Missouri to ask cattle geneticist Jared Decker to share his expert insights.
Over 150 pregnant women in the United States appear to have been infected with Zika virus. That's in addition to more than 120 women affected by Zika in U.S. territories, mainly Puerto Rico.
Those are the latest figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, which has been keeping track of all pregnant women in the U.S. and its territories who have lab tests suggestive of Zika virus infections.
Researchers in Arizona are fighting fire with fire. They're collecting new data on a wasp that may help slow the spread of citrus greening, a plant disease that has devastated millions of acres of citrus crops, particularly in Florida.
Last year, in an operating room at the University of Toronto, a 63-year-old woman with Alzheimer's disease experienced something she hadn't for 55 years: a memory of her 8-year-old self playing with her siblings on their family farm in Scotland.
Companies like Google and Fitbit gather all kinds of data on how people behave. Why couldn't scientists use an app to do the same thing?
Two years ago, mathematicians at the University of Michigan released an app called Entrain to help people get over jet lag. Users entered data on their time zone, when they sleep, what kind of light they're exposed to, and the app gives them an ideal schedule to recover.
Scientists have found a microbe that does something textbooks say is impossible: It's a complex cell that survives without mitochondria.
Mitochondria are the powerhouses inside eukaryotic cells, the type of complicated cell that makes up people, other critters and plants and fungi. All eukaryotic cells contain a nucleus and little organelles — and one of the most famous was the mitochondrion.
Cows are notoriously gassy creatures. Globally, more than a third of methane generated by human activity comes from livestock farming, a good deal of it in the form of bovine belching (yes, belching — not the other end). This is a serious problem, given that methane is 25 times more powerful than carbon dioxide at trapping heat.
Enter a Danish research team that is testing out one potential solution in the form of an unassuming herb: oregano.
As the fetus's brain starts to grow, it creates pressure, which pushes on the skull and causes it to grow. But if something stops brain growth — such as a virus — pressure on the skull drops. And the skull can collapse down onto the brain.
As summer approaches, anxiety about Zika is growing in Gulf Coast states like Florida and Texas. The virus hasn't spread to mosquitoes in the region, and it may not, but experts are preparing nonetheless.
When orchardist Eliza Greenman walks through a field of apple trees and gazes upon a pocked array of blemished and buckled fruits — scarred from fighting fungus, heat and pests — she feels a little thrill of joy. "I'm absolutely infatuated with the idea of stress in an orchard," says Greenman, who custom grafts and grows pesticide-free hard cider apples in Hamilton, Va. These forlorn, scabbed apples, says Greenman, may actually be sweeter.
The National Institutes of Health has suspended work in two facilities that manufacture products given to people who are enrolled in research studies, saying the facilities haven't complied with safety standards designed to protect already-sick people from inappropriate risks.
With the Zika virus spreading through Latin American and into U.S. territory, lots of researchers want to pursue projects to help fight the disease.
But there's one problem: money.
Or rather, getting money to researchers. President Obama has requested $1.9 billion from Congress to fight Zika, but this appeal is being held up by a vote in Congress. In the interim, the White House redirected $510 million from federal money left over from the response to Ebola.
As laptops become smaller and more ubiquitous, and with the advent of tablets, the idea of taking notes by hand just seems old-fashioned to many students today. Typing your notes is faster — which comes in handy when there's a lot of information to take down. But it turns out there are still advantages to doing things the old-fashioned way.