Famous Scientists

4 Common Carnivorous Plants

Author: Heather Brown

Is there anything more titillating than plants that can trap, kill, and digest animals? These carnivorous plants are like things from science-fiction novels but the fact of the matter is they exist in real life. For those who are particularly interested in such plants, check out some of the most famous carnivorous plants that exist.

Drosera

Drosera

There is a species if plant belonging to the Drosera genus called “sundews” and they happen to be one of the most common carnivorous plants in the world as well. These sundews look like flowers with tentacles all over them. These tentacles have a sticky substance that glitter in the sunlight which attracts insects. Once they land on the sticky dew-covered tentacles, they become trapped. The tentacles close around the insect and digestive enzymes get to work, digesting them and extracting nutrients.

Dionaea muscipula

Dionaea muscipula also known as the Venus flytrap has to be one of the most common carnivorous plants in the world. It preys on insects by luring them into its leaves using sweet nectar. A soon as the insect steps into its “mouth,” it triggers tiny hairs which stimulates impulses in the plant and makes it close it leaves. Glands found in the leaves release a digestive enzyme that breaks down the insect and the leaves absorb the nutrients. These days, it is not uncommon to find Venus Flytraps for sale for people who want them as “pets”.

Nepenthes

Nepenthes

Plants known as tropical pitchers or Money Cups belong to the plant genus Nepenthes. These plants have brightly colored leaves that look a lot like pitchers. The plant makes use of its bright color and its nectar to lure in insects but the inside walls of the leaves are very slippery because of waxy scales. The insects that go in and land on the leaves then slip and slide to the bottom of the pitcher where digestive enzymes are waiting. One plant that is similar to this is the Sarracenia also known as the North American Pitcher Plant. The plant also has digestive enzymes at the bottom of the pitcher-like leaves although in some species, it is water that drowns the insects and digestive enzymes in the water is what breaks them down.

Utricularia

There are some species of Utricularia known as Bladderworts and these plants are also carnivorous. The plant gets its name from tiny bladder-like sacs that are found in its leaves and stems. These plants come with mechanisms that work like trap doors with a vacuum effect on insects when they trigger tiny hairs which could be found in the vicinity of the “door”. The digestive enzymes in the sacs break down the insects that are trapped.

Facts about the Immortal Jellyfish

Author: Heather Brown

Facts about the Immortal Jellyfish

The oceans take up about ¾ of the earth’s total area and it is a hotbed for some really unusual creatures that scientists are discovering just now. In fact, more and more unusual water animals wash up on shores and beaches all over the world as the years go by. One unusual ocean creature that proves to be really interesting to scientists and people in general is the immortal jellyfish. Why, just the name itself is enough to make you wonder what earned the jellyfish the grandiose moniker.

• The immortal jellyfish (scientific name – Turritopsis nutricula) was discovered in 1883 in the Mediterranean Sea. However, it’s extremely unique regeneration powers were not known to researchers and scientists until the mid-1990s.

• The unique regeneration process of the mature immortal jellyfish is quite unique. When it is injured or starving, it will attach itself to a surface in warm waters and turns into a sort of living blob. From this blob state, its cells will undergo a process called “transdifferentiation”.

• Transdifferentiation is a process wherein cells will turn into different kinds of cells. For instance, the muscle cells of the immortal jellyfish can turn into egg cells or even sperm cells. Nerve cells may also turn into muscle cells, and this means that the immortal jellyfish has transformation powers, the likes of which have never been seen and unmatched in the animal kingdom.

• Ever since the discovery of the immortal jellyfish in the Mediterranean Sea, more identical species have been found in places like the Atlantic Ocean side of Panama, Spain, and even Japan. The reason they are so spread out is that they get caught in ballast waters that come from long-distance ocean cargo vessels.

• Though most of the species are genetically identical, they have come up with different physical adaptations depending on their environments. For instance, specimens that live in tropical waters have 8 tentacles while ones from more temperate regions have 24 tentacles.

• Despite the “immortal” tag, these jellyfish can and do die. For instance, they still get eaten by predators and the process of transdifferentiation only kicks in when they have reached maturity. If they starve or get sick as polyps, they do not regenerate and therefore die.

• The main diet for these jellyfish usually consists of fish eggs, plankton and tiny mollusks.

• These jellyfish are quite small and while they do sting, they are not poisonous like the box jellyfish which is also tiny at just 2.5cm long.

The Science and Origin Behind the Lipstick

Author: Heather Brown

Lipsticks are popular cosmetic products which have transcended time and different generations from all over the world. The reason behind the use of lipstick is how people prefer setting themselves apart from others—making a mark by having something different in their physical appearance. Facial paint and eventually, lipsticks were some of the most noticeable ways to change one’s appearance back then.

What was the Very First Lipstick Like?

the-first-lipstick

Back then, lipsticks weren’t really in stick or bullet forms inside fancy tubes. These lip pigments were made only from natural ingredients such as fruit and plant juices. They were crushed right before use and were applied as lip stains. The rise of newly developing civilizations in India, North America, and the Middle East to name a few also led to the development of advanced manufacturing processes for lip products.

It was in Egypt where lipstick first had its close resemblance to products known today— the creamy consistency and bright red shades. Royalty and upper clergymen used lipsticks to identify themselves as upper class members of the society. Lipstick recipes back then had different ingredients. Some even had poisonous ingredients which could lead to serious ailments which is why today, lipsticks are strictly inspected before being released for public use.

Who Used the First Lipstick?

Women from the Mesopotamian region first conceived the use of lip pigments from ground precious gems and minerals that gave their lips color and shine. The use of lip pigments then spread to the Indus Valley before it was further developed in Egypt.

The Lipstick—Making its Way to Modern Civilizations

lipstick-as-we-see-today

After being developed by the Egyptians, the use of lipstick spread to the actors of Rome and Greece. When Christianity spread though, the use of lipstick was forgotten since painting one’s lips red was associated with Satanic worship.

In the 16th century though, the lipstick made its way back to the fashion scene when Queen Elizabeth I used it to have pigmented lips. Back then, the trend was to have stark white faces paired with red lips. After being used by the elites, its popularity faded and was later on reduced to being used by prostitutes and low-class women.

It was quite a while before this notion was changed, and the use of lipstick was somehow forgotten again. In the late 19th century, commercial lipstick made its way back to the fashion scene and it was available for low prices and many variants. Actresses and its use in movies popularized this cosmetic product, and to this day, lipstick remains as a staple in every modern woman’s beauty kit.

6 Awesome Accidental Discoveries

Author: Heather Brown

Timeless inventions are still present in today’s society. However, did you know that some of your favorite inventions were actually discovered by accident? Here are 6 awesome accidental inventions:

Post-it notes – Arthur Fry conceived Post-it notes in 1974 as a way of holding the bookmarks in his hymnal for the church choir. Spencer Silver, a co-employee at 3M, developed and adhesive in 1968 but there was no use for the adhesive until Arthur Fry used it for the Post-it idea.

Slinky – This toy for children which is also often used for physics experiments and demonstrations was created by Richard James, a naval engineer who was looking to develop a spring to support sensitive ship equipment. One of the slinkies fell off a shelf and this was when he got the idea to turn it into a toy.

Penicillin

Penicillin – Alexander Flemming took a vacation and left the staphylococci culture he was studying. Upon his return, he found a fungal growth on the cultures which was battling the staph. He grew a pure culture of this mold and to this day, penicillin is still used as an effective antibiotic.

Potato chips – A certain customer of Moon’s Lake House in Saratoga Springs, New York consistently complained that his fried potatoes were too soggy. Chef George Crum got tired of the situation and sliced the potatoes as thinly as possible, creating this salty snack which was initially known as “Saratoga Chips.”

Popsicles – Frank Epperson invented popsicles when he was only 11 years old and he kept this invention secret for 18 years! It was in 1905 when he accidentally left a powdered soda and water mixture out on the porch where he found it frozen in the morning. This fruit-flavored creation was initially called the “epsicle” but was later on patented as “popsicle.”

Microwave

Microwave – Whoever thought this highly functional kitchen appliance was the product of an accident? Percy LeBaron Spencer who worked for the Raytheon Company once walked past a radar tube and noticed how the chocolate bar in his pocket melted. He realized how he might have been in front of a potential new product. As an experiment, he placed a bowl of popcorn in front of the radar tube. To his surprise, popcorn was all over the place and today, microwaves are still a big thing among modern kitchen appliances.

These accidental inventions are still enjoyed by people today despite their often comic origins!

5 of the Worst Diseases Today

Author: Heather Brown

The Worst Diseases Today

What would count as the worst killer in the world is disease. Over hundreds and thousands of years, diseases have shown a track record of occurring anywhere and anytime, bringing not only sudden death at times, but a period of pain for those who suffer from them. Here are some of the worst diseases today:

AIDS

Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome or AIDS is caused by Human Immunodeficiency Virus or HIV. It was first discovered in 1981 and has claimed over 25 million lives since then. It opens the human system up to deadly infections by heavily disarming the body’s immune system. Today, there are over 38.6 million people living with AIDS and HIV, with no cure still in sight.

Malaria

Malaria is an infectious disease that comes from a mosquito bite. It causes it victims to have extremely high fever and migraines, which could eventually lead to coma and death. A disease that is usually rampant in tropical areas, anti-malaria drugs are often used as a counterattack. It causes an annual average of 2.7 million deaths, a high percentage of which are children.

Ebola Virus

First discovered in 1976, the first symptoms of the Ebola virus include vomiting, fever, diarrhea and malaise. In some cases, external and internal bleeding are also observed. It has claimed over 160,000 deaths since the year 2000 alone, and no cure or treatment has been found just yet.

Cholera

Cholera is an infection in the digestive system caused by the bacteria called Vibrio Cholerae. Although it is possible to cure the disease, time is often the biggest enemy in trying to contain the disease. In its strongest form, a victim could die of dehydration a mere 2 to 3 hours after exhibiting the symptoms. Every year, over 100,000 people die of this disease. Countries that have minimum hygiene standards are often the ones most affected.

Heart Disease

Heart disease is another fatal disease that affects 1 out of 5 people in the world today, killing 1 out of 3 of this ratio. Often brought about by an unhealthy lifestyle, the people affected by the disease are getting younger and younger in recent years. Heart attacks are usually caused by the lack of oxygen and blood brought to the heart. This is a direct effect of any blockages in the arteries, usually caused by high amounts of cholesterol from the kind of food that you eat.



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