Tag Archives | Plants
By Ferris Jabr for Scientific American:
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Chemicals derived from flowers may sound harmless, but new research raises concerns about compounds synthesized from chrysanthemums that are used in virtually every household pesticide.
For at least a decade, pyrethroids have been the insecticide of choice for consumers, replacing organophosphate pesticides, which are far more toxic to people and wildlife. But evidence is mounting that the switch to less-toxic pyrethroids has brought its own set of new ecological and human health risks.
About 70 percent of people in the United States have been exposed to pyrethroids, with children facing the highest exposure, according to a study published this month. Although the human health threats are unknown, animal studies have found evidence of damage to neurological, immune and reproductive systems.
In addition, pyrethroids are flowing off yards and gardens, contaminating some streams and rivers at concentrations that can kill small creatures vital to the survival of fish and other aquatic life.
Ethan A. Huff writes in Natural News:
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Most vegetarians believe that by not eating animals, they are preserving life. Everyone knows that plants are alive but they are not viewed with the same level of intelligence as animals are. As science continues to uncover the complex nature of plants, it is becoming more apparent that plants are actively intelligent life that pursue their continued existence in similar ways as do animals.
Research on the subject naturally flies in the face of strict vegetarianism which often insists that eating animals is murder but eating plants is just fine. Yet the facts illustrate that the characteristics of animals used to argue that eating them is murder also apply to plants. In other words, in order for strict vegetarians to be consistent in their beliefs, they would also have to stop eating fruits and vegetables.
Plants are very sensitive to environmental changes and they have many built-in mechanisms to ward off attackers.
As nature’s own solar cells, plants convert sunlight into energy via photosynthesis. New details are emerging about how the process is able to exploit the strange behavior of quantum systems, which could lead to entirely novel approaches to capturing usable light from the sun. All photosynthetic organisms use protein-based “antennas” in their cells to capture incoming light, convert it to energy and direct that energy to reaction centers — critical trigger molecules that release electrons and get the chemical conversion rolling. These antennas must strike a difficult balance: they must be broad enough to absorb as much sunlight as possible yet not grow so large that they impair their own ability to shuttle the energy on to the reaction centers. This is where quantum mechanics becomes useful. Quantum systems can exist in a superposition, or mixture, of many different states at once. What’s more, these states can interfere with one another — adding constructively at some points, subtracting at others. If the energy going into the antennas could be broken into an elaborate superposition and made to interfere constructively with itself, it could be transported to the reaction center with nearly 100 percent efficiency.
Scientists have identified a sea slug Elysia chlorotica able to synthesize chlorophyll like a plant as the first animal with herbal characteristics.
The animal enjoys genes that allow it to be the first animal identified showing plant features. Those genes help the sea slug make chlorophyll; compared to such an ability, its green color is no longer seen as strange.
Scientists from the University of South Florida have identified this green sea slug as the first animal known to be capable of the feat.
“This could be a fusion of a plant and an animal – that’s just cool,” said invertebrate zoologist John Sardis of the Citadel in Charleston…