Plants

New Water-Repellant Material Mimics Lotus Leaves

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: February 27, 2003   View Article

The lotus leaf, better known as the water lily, is considered sacred in Asian religions for its ability to stay dry and clean. When water drops on the leaf, it beads up and rolls off the waxy surface, washing away dirt as it goes.

In religious circles, this characteristic makes the lotus leaf a symbol of purity. Scientists, too, have long praised the plant for its water-resistant and self-cleaning properties. For years they have tried to mimic its structure.

Fossil Leaves Suggest Asteroid Killed Dinosaurs

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: June 17, 2002   View Article

A team of scientists says evidence from fossilized leaves indicates that dinosaurs appear to have become extinct as a result of the catastrophic impact of an asteroid and not volcanic activity.

Dinosaurs, along with an estimated 70 percent of all life on Earth, are believed to have gone extinct 65 million years ago as a result of a series of dramatic temperature changes. The extinctions are known as the K-T extinctions because they fall on the boundary between the Cretaceous (geological symbol K) and the Tertiary periods.

New Zealand Tries to Cap Gaseous Sheep Burps

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: May 13, 2002   View Article

New Zealand scientists trying to curb their country’s influence on global warming may have found an answer to belch about: Livestock that eat plants high in condensed tannins produce up to 16 percent less methane, a potent greenhouse gas.

Tannins are the yellow-brown chemical compounds found in many plants and give red wine its distinctive flavor.

Studies Measure Capacity of “Carbon Sinks”

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: June 21, 2001   View Article

After years of wide disagreement, scientists are getting a better grip on how much carbon Earth’s forests and other biological components suck out of the atmosphere, thus acting as “carbon sinks.” New research in this area may be highly useful in efforts to devise international strategies to address global warming.

The emission of carbon dioxide from the combustion of fossil fuels is the leading cause of the buildup of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, which many people believe is the main culprit behind an increase in Earth’s temperatures.

High Demand for Tequila Puts Mexico’s Dry Forests at Risk

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: May 14, 2001   View Article

Since the late 1990s, tequila has moved to the front of the shelf as one of the world’s most popular alcoholic drinks. Behind the scenes, however, the trend is threatening tropical dry forests of Mexico.

The key to preventing that may lie in a bottle of mezcal, a close cousin to tequila, which is produced in limited quantities and is gaining ground as new premium alcohol.

© 2008-2010 Collected Writings By John Roach