Thursday, July 26, 2007

Nature cover story: Geckos + Mussels = inspiration for new adhesive

The cover of Nature received today is too fetching to overlook. And the research letter:

A reversible wet/dry adhesive inspired by mussels and geckos [launches pdf] by Lee Haeshin, Bruce P. Lee & Phillip B. Messersmith,

is too remarkable not to read. The Editor's summary gives an excellent overview, including this: "A new adhesive, called 'geckel', [combines] gecko-type nanostructures with the chemical approach to underwater adhesion used by mussels." Stop by the library to read the print issue, which also includes a fascinating account of the paleogeography of the English Channel and the evidence provided for "two catastrophic floods arising from the drainage of huge glacial lakes in the area of the southern North Sea." (Philip Gibbard, p. 259)

Or go online to view the entire issue, and all of Nature from 1997 to the current issue. The print issues are typically received in the library one week after publication.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Poison Ivy and Dandelions Thrive With Global Warming

It isn't simply my imagination that the poison ivy around the little reservoir at the end of our street is incredibly lush and spreading like mad. A recently published study in Weed Science, July 2007 documents that poison ivy responds positively to even small, incremental increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide.

Dandelions are likewise blooming and spreading more aggressively, says another study in the same issue of Weed Science. I long ago made peace with dandelions, but do hope they keep to the yard (which I prefer to think of as a healthy multi-species community rather than weed-infested) and don't invade the meager tomato patch.

You can read both articles in the OhioLINK Electronic Journal Center
  • Rising Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide and Potential Impacts on the Growth and Toxicity of Poison Ivy (Toxicodendron radicans). Ziska, L.H.; Sicher, R.C.; George, K.; Mohan, J.E. Weed Science 55(4): 288-292.
  • Reproduction of Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) in a Higher Co2 Environment. McPeek, Tamara M.; Wang, Xianzhong Weed Science 55(4): 334-340.

    Also Listen to John Nielson's story Dandelions, Poison Ivy Grow With Global Warming on NPR's Morning Edition.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Seeing Sicko Soon? Here's Related Reading

Michale Moore's latest movie, Sicko, opened in theaters across the nation this past weekend. Reaction has been swift and varied [see Los Angeles Times review; press release from, more from Google news].

The college library and the OhioLINK catalog offer hundreds of books on the nation's health care system and health insurance specifically.
Search the subject headings
Health care reform
and Insurance, health -- United States

One recent book in the main library:
The truth about health care : why reform is not working in America / David Mechanic. Rutgers University Press, c2006.  RA395.A3 M4184 2006

As Michael Moore advises at the end of the movie, at the very end of the credits:
Eat your fruits and vegetables. Go for a walk. Do something!

Monday, July 02, 2007

Angel's Trumpet to Zombie Poison: in The Encyclopedia of Psychoactive Plants

The very substantial (nearly 1000 pages), exhaustively indexed and thoroughly referenced Encyclopedia of Psychoactive Plants is now on the new book shelf. Beautifully illustrated with photographs, drawings, and historically significant botanical sketches, each entry (typically at the species level) provides Latin and common names and synonyms, a brief history, cultivation, and appearance of the plant, plus its chemical composition of the psychoactive material and constituents, medicinal and ritual usage, cultural significance, addictive properties and commercial forms and regulations. A separate section of the work lists plant constituents, from Atropine to Yohimbine, giving molecular structure, formula, plant sources for the substance, and list of references. It is a marvelous source for a quick introduction to more than 400 plants and fungi and their properties. It will be on the Science Library Reference Desk shelf after a brief display period in the new book area.

The Encyclopedia of Psychoactive Plants: Ethnopharmacology and Its Applications / Christian Ratsch, forward by Albert Hofmann, translated by John R. Baker. Park Street Press, 2005.

Left: the peyote cactus (Lophophora williamsii) from p. 327 of the Encyclopedia. Used ritualistically for centuries; considered a "magical plant of the gods" and found in "archaeological contexts approximately six thousands years old."