According to yet another study we learn much more about the mysterious life of flowers.
Flowers' methods of communicating are at least as sophisticated as any devised
by an advertising agency, according to a new study, published today in Science Express by researchers from
the University of Bristol.
However, for any advert to be successful, it has to reach, and be perceived by,
its target audience.
The research shows for the first time that pollinators such as bumblebees are able to
find and distinguish electric signals given out by flowers.
Flowers often produce bright colours, patterns and enticing fragrances to attract their pollinators. Researchers
at Bristol's School of Biological Sciences, led by Professor Daniel Robert, found that flowers also have their
equivalent of a neon sign – patterns of electrical signals that can communicate information to the insect pollinator.
These electrical signals can work in concert with the flower’s other attractive signals and enhance floral advertising power.
Plants are usually charged negatively and emit weak electric fields. On their side, bees acquire a positive charge
as they fly through the air. No spark is produced as a charged bee approaches a charged flower, but a small electric
force builds up that can potentially convey information.
By placing electrodes in the stems of petunias, the researchers showed that when a bee lands, the flower’s
potential changes and remains so for several minutes.
Could this be a way by which flowers tell bees another bee
has recently been visiting? To their surprise, the researchers discovered that bumblebees can detect and distinguish
between different floral electric fields.
Also, the researchers found that when bees were given a learning test, they were faster at learning the difference
between two colours when electric signals were also available.
How then do bees detect electric fields? This is not yet known, although the researchers speculate that hairy bumblebees
bristle up under the electrostatic force, just like one’s hair in front of an old television screen.
Gerbera hybrida; bottom: Clematis armandii) showing a composite of immediately before and after application of
charged powder paint. The pattern of powder deposition reveals the shape of the electric field.
The discovery of such electric detection has opened up a whole new understanding of insect perception and flower
Dr Heather Whitney, a co-author of the study said: "This novel communication channel reveals how flowers can
potentially inform their pollinators about the honest status of their precious nectar and pollen reserves."
Professor Robert said: “The last thing a flower wants is to attract a bee and then fail to provide nectar: a lesson
in honest advertising since bees are good learners and would soon lose interest in such an unrewarding flower.
"The co-evolution between flowers and bees has a long and beneficial history, so perhaps it's not entirely surprising
that we are still discovering today how remarkably sophisticated their communication is."
Tractor Beams Of Light -
No Longer Pure Science Fiction!
Science fiction meets real science! "Tractor beams" - fascinating invisible beams that can push and pull objects, leave science fiction domain.
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They Produce Water From The Air!
An Amazing Invention For Those Who Really Need It!
"How can we help someone so powerful they can create water out of thin air?" an astonished Jabin yells in Star Trek's Caretaker.
If you are a Star Trek fan you will remember how the Kazons try to aquire technology that can create water our of thin air.
This technology is no longer in the realms of science fiction. Today we can really create water out of thin air!
Star Trek Tricorder - Now Available Online For Anyone To Build!
Imagine you can see what cannot be seen. Wouldn't you want to actually be able to see beyond the visible?
The good news is that from now on it will be possible to see things we have previously only dreamt of.
We certainly live in exciting times. More and more devices that have long been considered pure science
fiction are now quickly becoming reality.