Gone for Passover!

Hi, my little geeks and nerdlings…

Passover begins tonight (Monday March 25, 2013) at sunset.


I will be in Toronto for a little over a week.

Have a happy, kosher and joyful Passover.

passover seder plate knitted

I’ll should be back Wednesday April 3.

See you then!



Plants Use Caffeine to Lure Bees!

Our pals over at the Science Section of the New York Times report ‘Plants Use Caffeine to Lure Bees, Scientists Find.’

Yes, boys and girls…

Nectar That Gives Bees a Buzz Lures Them Back for More

New research has found that caffeine-laced nectar enhances the learning process for bees, so that they are more likely to return to those flowers.

How about that?

Nothing kicks the brain into gear like a jolt of caffeine. And that goes double for honey bees.

bee-coffee-flower(A honeybee visiting a coffee flower – Image: Geraldine Wright)

And they don’t need to stand in line for a triple soy latte. A new study shows that the naturally caffeine-laced nectar of some plants enhances the learning process for bees, so that they are more likely to return to those flowers.

“The plant is using this as a drug to change a pollinator’s behavior for its own benefit,” said Geraldine Wright, a honeybee brain specialist at Newcastle University in England, who, with her colleagues, reported those findings in Science on Thursday.

The research, other scientists said, not only casts a new light on the ancient evolutionary interaction between plants and pollinators, but is an intriguing confirmation of deep similarities in brain chemistry across the animal kingdom.

The effect of caffeine was not obvious at first, but as Dr. Wright refined her experiments, it became more clear that the chemical had a profound effect on memory. “If you put a low dose of caffeine in the reward when you teach them this task, and the amount is similar to what we drink when we have weak coffee, they just don’t forget that the odor is associated with the reward,” she said.

Insect and human brains are vastly different, and although caffeine has many effects in people, like increasing alertness, whether it improves memory is unclear.


Cool Science Update: March 2013 (2)

Just when you thought March, 2013, had given us so many new science break-throughs…

we give you…

  • growing new teeth complete with roots using cells from adult gum tissue;
  • discovery of a Higgs Boson particle;
  • people ‘functionally cured’ of HIV;


  • proof Mars once had a wet and hospitable environment;
  • clone of an extinct species of frog and allowed it to develop into an embyo;
  • new device keeps a liver healthy for up to 24 hours after removal from body.

And these are just the discoveries during the week March 10th to the 17th!

Are we living in great times, or what?


Bat-Eating Spiders on the Prowl

Great article by The Bug Enthusiast on two of my most favouritest critters… spiders and bats.

But… why can’t they all just get along? 😦


The Bug Enthusiast

As if spiders weren’t terrifying enough, they’re now widely eating bats. Like, all over the place.

Previously thought to happen very rarely, researchers have recently recorded over 52 cases of bats (albeit small ones) being eaten whole by massive, massive spiders. The species of bats and spiders involved vary from case to case but it does seem to happen more in tropical climates.

In most cases it seems the spiders don’t intend to catch the bats, they simply build their super-sticky webs next to bat-infested buildings. Still, little consolation if you’re the bat.

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Cool Science Update: March 2013

While the rest of us were napping or doing whatever we do, the little geeks and nerdlings out in Scienceland have been hard at work.

Here are some cool science achievements so far this month!

  • Nanoparticles infused with toxic bee venom were found to kill HIV.
  • New evidence suggests the thick ice on Europa has leaks, and that the liquid water is salty.
  • A breath test for stomach cancer was announced.


  • A man had 75% of his skill replaced with a 3D printed plastic prosthetic (I SO want a 3D printer!).
  • The first documented case of a child being cured of HIV was announced.
  • The Hubble Telescope spotted a Space Invader shaped galaxy.

Cool or what??

Keep on keeping on, science guys! You make our world a better place.