News From Around The Blogosphere 12.8.09

December 8, 2009

1. Attack of the killer tomatoes -New research shows that tomatoes and potatoes are deadly killers…well at least to the same degree as Venus fly traps:

Botanists have discovered for the first time that the plants are carnivorous predators who kill insects in order to “self-fertilise” themselves.

New research shows that they capture and kill small insects with sticky hairs on their stems and then absorb nutrients through their roots when the animals decay and fall to the ground.

2. When quacks unite – It seems that those responsible for the placebo known as Airborne have united with the frauds known as Generation Rescue possibly to try and fund a “study” to compare vaccinated and unvaccinated populations. Of course, given Generation Rescue’s track record for studies and track record when it comes to honesty, one would have to be certifiably insane to take any “study” they produce seriously, especially if they’re teaming up with Airborne, a product that despite costing several dollars, is more useless than the pet rock.

3. Elected public official may be denied office because he’s an atheist – I blogged about Cecil Bothwell before. He’s the elected official in Asheville, NC who won despite his opponent trying to damage his character by telling everyone that he’s an atheist and wrote a book condemning Billy Graham. Well, according to the North Carolina constitution, atheists cannot serve public office. But given that this law is a clear violation of the federal Constitution, he has a basis for a legal defense should the state choose to enforce the state law.

4. Virgin Galactic unveils SpaceShipTwo

A spacecraft designed to rocket wealthy tourists into space as early as 2011 was unveiled Monday in what backers of the venture hope will signal a new era in aviation history.

The long-awaited glimpse of SpaceShipTwo marks the first public appearance of a commercial passenger spacecraft. The project is bankrolled by Virgin Galactic founder, British billionaire Sir Richard Branson, who partnered with famed aviation designer Burt Rutan, the brains behind the venture.

Can’t wait for Virgin to pop its cherry.


News From Around The Blogosphere 11.13.09

November 14, 2009

1. Another atheist ad is vandalized – This time it was in Boston. The Boston Coalition of Reason ad read:  “Good without God? 40 Million Americans are.” Sadly, the faith of some Christians is so fragile that even that posed a serious threat to them.

2. Can a plant be altruistic?

Although plants have the ability to sense and respond to other plants, their ability to recognize kin and act altruistically has been the subject of few studies. The authors explored kin recognition in Impatiens pallida (yellow jewelweed). By moving their resources into leaves, these plants not only positively affected their own growth, but also negatively affected their competitors’ growth. This is the first instance where researchers demonstrated that a plant’s response to an aboveground cue is dependent upon the presence of a belowground cue.

3. If you get vaccinated, unicorns will impale you – Okay, this is a satire. But is there really anyone who thinks the claim is beneath Jenny McCarthy and Generation Rescue?


Rat-eating plant in Philippines

August 18, 2009

The largest known carnivorous pitcher plant has been discovered in the Philippines. It’s able to devour whole rats and dissolve them with acid-like enzymes:

Mr McPherson, of Poole Dorset, said: “The plant produces spectacular traps which catch not only insects, but also rodents. It is remarkable that it remained undiscovered until the 21st century.”

The plant is named Nepenthes attenboroughii after the famous wildlife broadcaster Sir David Attenborough.