July 21, 2014

5:41 PM | Ask Anything: Can Humans Smell Fear?
Illustrations by Jason Schneider If humans can indeed smell fear they wouldn’t be unusual in the animal kingdom. Sea anemones, earthworms, minnows, fruit flies, rats, mice, and deer, among others, have all been shown to signal unease through odor. Some responses are even more overt. For example, the offspring of one bird species vomits up a pungent, orange liquid when frightened by a predator; if a parent catches a whiff, it becomes warier in the nest.  From an evolutionary […]
1:00 PM | Ask Anything: Could Scientists Put Sunscreen In A Pill?
Illustrations by Jason Schneider Turns out, a few oral sunscreens already exist, based on the theory that antioxidants offer sun protection. Laboratory studies provide some evidence in support of this idea. When scientists feed vitamin E to hairless mice, the animals show less skin damage upon exposure to ultraviolet light. Dermatologist Salvador González Rodríguez has studied an extract made from a fern called Polypodium leucotomos. The substance, which is high in […]

July 03, 2014

1:45 PM | Ask Anything: How Long Can A Flower Live Once It's Picked?
Illustrations by Jason Schneider Most cut flowers will last a week or two under normal conditions, but “vase life” varies widely. Genetics play a major role, of course, but so does how the plant was grown and harvested. The best you can do to make a flower last for a really long time is to put it at a temperature that’s very close to freezing. At the moment of cutting, the stem will have a supply of starches and sugars inside—more if the plant was grown in lots of […]
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