Astounding Biology

According to LiveScience these slugs have found a surprising way to make sure they meet their nutritional needs. The green sea slug appears to be part animal, part plant. It’s the first animal discovered to produce chlorophyll the plant pigment needed for photosynthesis. The slugs seem to have taken the genes for chlorophyll production from algae that they’ve eaten. “This is the first time that multicellar animals have been able to produce chlorophyll,” Pierce told LiveScience.The sea slugs also steal tiny cell parts called chloroplasts, which they use to conduct photosynthesis. The chloroplasts use the chlorophyl to convert sunlight into energy, just as plants do, eliminating the need to eat food to gain energy. “We collect them and we keep them in aquaria for months,” Pierce said. “As long as we shine a light on them for 12 hours a day, they can survive [without food].”

Imagine living on a planet with three suns!

sunsAn international team of astronomers have announced the discovery of a planet in a distant solar system that contains three stars. The planet, named HD 131399Ab orbits the brightest of the three on a very long and wide path. The system is located about 340 light years from Earth in the constellation Centaurus and the planet HD 131399Ab has an estimated mass four times that of the gas giant Jupiter. The planet was found using the SPHERE instrument on the European Southern Observatory’s (ESO) Very Large Telescope in Chile. Kevin Wagner a first-year PhD student who discovered HD 131399Ab, said “For much of the planet’s year, the stars appear close together, giving it a familiar night-side and day-side with a unique triple-sunset and sunrise each day”.

Mexican scientist invents glow-in-the-dark cement

Glow in the dark cement

It’s taken nine years of work, but it turns out it can be done. Scientist Jose Carlos Rubio, of Mexico’s University of San Nicolas de Hidalgo, has just patented his glow-in-the-dark cement. And what are its applications, other than looking very cool? Dr Rubio believes it could be a new way to light cities, streets and buildings without using electricity: the only thing emitted during its production is water vapour. It was a long process. Part of the challenge was cement’s opacity: the trick, he discovered, was to remove the crystal flakes that occur as a by product in one production method, which is done by changing the microstructure of the cement. for full article

Inventor Develops Synthetic “Leaf” That Produces Oxygen

Silk Leaf

photo credit: Julian Melchiorri on IFLS

Lisa Winter reports on IFLS that Julian Melchiorri, a graduate of the Royal College of Art, claims to have developed a silk leaf that could create oxygen for space travel as well as make the air nicer here on Earth. 

Invisible Black?

Excerpt from SMH article: The nanotube material, named Vantablack, absorbs all but 0.035 per cent of visual light – a new record according to the British scientists who created it.

Made of carbon nanotubes each 10,000-times thinner than a human hair, the blacker-than-black material is produced on sheets of aluminium foil. When crumpled, the uneven surfaces covered with the material become indistinguishable.

“It’s like black, like a hole, like there’s nothing there,” Surrey NanoSystems chief technical officer Ben Jensen told The Independent.

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