N.C. State lawn advice now available as app
N.C. State researchers may work in labs – but the efforts of their turfgrass program extend all the way to your lawn. Its popular TurfFiles website – www.turffiles.ncsu.edu – has tips and alerts on watering, maintenance, pests and more. And that info, reports the Mountain Xpress weekly of Asheville, is now available on a free download app for iPhone, iPad and iPod.
The app is also proving popular, with nearly 1,600 downloads the first few weeks it was available.
To download it, search “NCSU Lawn Care” in iTunes, or visit www.lawncare.ncsu.edu.
Plans are in the works for a version 2.0, as well as an Android version of the app. Staff Reports
See dangerous plants at N.C. Arboretum
Diabolical botanicals – poison ivy, poison area, deadly nightshade and other plants that can negatively affect your health – will safely be on display in “Wicked Plants: The Exhibit” in the Baker Exhibit Center of the North Carolina Arboretum, in Asheville. The show of more than 100 dangerous plants opens May 5 and closes Sept. 3. Admission: free ($8 per vehicle parking). Hours: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. Details: 828-665-2492; www.ncarboretum.org. Staff Reports
Inbreeding may have doomed Tasmanian tiger
The last Tasmanian tiger died in 1936, but the species was in bad shape long before that, suggests a new study published in PLoS ONE. Based on a screen of tissue samples taken from 12 museum specimens collected between 1852 and 1909, researchers report that the animals, which lived on the island of Tasmania, off Australia’s southeast coast, bore precariously low levels of genetic diversity. In fact, the animals – pouched creatures that looked like domesticated dogs – seemed to be about as inbred as modern Tasmanian devils, whose low genetic diversity now threatens their survival. ScienceNOW
Balloon animals – with no skill required
Making a balloon in the shape of a bunny normally involves a rubber tube, a bit of deft twisting and a high tolerance for squeakiness. Now 3D printing means you can create any balloon shape you please.
A team at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology and Disney Research, both in Zurich, have taken desired 3D shapes and calculated what empty balloon shape should be needed to produce the inflated-balloon design. The system models the way a rubber balloon stretches as it inflates, then inverts this model to find the deflated shape that will most closely resemble the balloon when blown up.
Having calculated the best uninflated shape, the team used a 3D printer to create a mold to make the uninflated balloon. They successfully tested the process on balloons in shapes including a rabbit, an elephant and Mickey Mouse’s head. New Scientist
Fly, human mothers share a milk enzyme
Researchers report that tsetse milk contains an enzyme called sphingomyelinase, or sMase, that is also important in mammalian lactation.
And that means the flies can be used to help study issues in human lactation, said Joshua Benoit, an entomologist at Yale University who was involved with the research. He and his colleagues report their findings in the journal The Biology of Reproduction.
In humans, for example, sMase deficiencies can cause Niemann-Pick disease, a neurological disorder that can be fatal in young children. New York Times