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Altruism Exhibited in Maize Plants

4 Feb

by Russ McSpadden / Earth First! News

[The text of this work is free to share and distribute under the following Creative Commons License CC-BY-ND 3.0]

maize-or-indian-corn-plantBy now the altruistic nature of just about every species of animal is well documented. A human mother throws herself in front of rush hour traffic to save her child, vampire bats regurgitate blood to give to sick or injured roost mates, termites and ants effectively commit righteous suicide by fatally rupturing a specialized gland to release a sticky secretion that confuses would-be invaders of their colony, African buffalo jump into harms way to rescue bloodied members of their herd captured by predators, and um, yeah you get it. This here world is full of fine examples of selfless mutual aid.

But it’d be a stretch to imagine altruism in the plant kingdom, wouldn’t it?

Well, turns out, Pamela Diggle, professor of plant evolution at the University of Colorado, thinks corn plants exhibit altruistic behaviors as well, at least towards their siblings. This means that even for flora, blood—or chlorophyll rather—is thicker than water.

Wait, this sounds crazy. How did she come to that conclusion? Continue reading

The Early History of the Robot Wars, Part 1

13 Dec

IN THIS EPISODE: WTF In the Eyeball, Sexy Surveillance Mannequins and Other Shit Escaping the Constraints of Biology

by Russ McSpadden / Carbon-based humanoid Science and Technology correspondent

[The text of this work is free to share and distribute under the following Creative Commons License CC-BY-ND 3.0]

WTF In The Eyeball?wtf_int_the_eyeball

Researchers at Ghent University in England have developed a new break through technology that promises to make your near future far more annoying — and especially more boring — than any dystopic science-fiction novel you’ve read. In one giant stupid leap in cyborg technology the team created a curved LCD contact lens that can display text messages. Let’s hope they developed new eye drops to ease the discomfort from all those winking emoticons and raunchy sexts, too.  But I guess this’ll solve that 21st century dilemma of needing to maintain eye contact with the person you are talking to while also texting someone else.

According to chief researcher, Herbert De Smet, at the university’s Centre of Microsystems Technology, it’s “not science-fiction” but the first step towards “fully pixilated contact lens displays,” which will one day, with any luck, allow you to watch Gangnam Style in the comfort of your own, um, pupil.

Continue reading