Friday, September 29, 2006

Strangely Curious News

1. Parasitic Weed Seems to Smell Its Prey Oh, really?
Research lead by Consuelo M. De Moraes found that a germinating dodder, a rootless parasitic weed that cannot produce its own food, placed near a tomato plant headed for the tomato scent 80 percent of the time. When they put scent chemicals from a tomato on rubber, 73 percent of the dodder seedlings headed that way, too.


Did taxpayers fund this amateurish dodder study?
A bipartisan bill sponsored by Tom Coburn (R-OK) and Barack Obama (D-IL) received final approval last week. It will help interested taxpayers track $1 trillion in federal grants, contracts, special projects and loans by Jan. 1, 2008. Currently, $1 trillion amounts to three times the federal budget deficit. Soon, taxpayers should be able to smell the green, too.

Can the fascinating study be replicated to prove the "plant smells chemically" hypothesis?

What color was the rubber used in this experiment?
This is accepted currently: Dodder germination can occur without a host, but to survive it must reach a green plant quickly; the young stem grows towards green light transmitted through nearby leaves. Not smell.


2. Beijing secretly fires lasers to disable US satellites
China has secretly fired powerful laser weapons designed to disable American spy satellites by "blinding" their sensitive surveillance devices, it was reported recently.


Have space wars only just begun?
The Bush administration is seeking to develop a powerful ground-based laser weapon that would use beams of concentrated light to destroy enemy satellites in orbit. The largely secret project, parts of which have been made public through Air Force budget documents submitted to Congress in February, is part of a wide-ranging effort to develop space weapons, both defensive and offensive. No treaty or law forbids such work. ...The laser research is far more ambitious than a previous effort by the Clinton administration nearly a decade ago [my emphasis] to test an antisatellite laser.

Has China deployed their high power lasers on nuclear submarines?

If not, who has?


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