The Newest Weapon in the Fight Against Land Mines Could Be...Plants

Land mines are not only explosive but also poisonous, leaking toxins into the soil that make plants sick. That's unfortunate for the plants but fortunate for us—if we can figure out how to look for sick plants as harbingers of land mines. Airplanes equipped with a low-cost sensor that captures non-visible light might… » 8/15/14 5:44pm 8/15/14 5:44pm

The First Man-Made Biological Leaf Turns Light and Water Into Oxygen

If humanity hopes to realize its dreams of exploring the stars, we're going to need to find ways to recreate life on Earth aboard a spaceship. Simply stockpiling enough vital supplies isn't going to cut it, which is what led Julian Melchiorri, a student at the Royal College of Art, to create an artificial biological… » 7/29/14 10:44am 7/29/14 10:44am

These Plantable Pencils Grow Fresh Herbs From Your Failed Lit Ambitions

There are times—dark, frustrating times—when you put pencil to paper and nothing's there. No inspiration. No life. So you scribble and scratch and sharpen until all that's left is a bitty wooden nub reminding you of the barren wasteland that is your brain. You could toss that useless end bit in the trash. Or! If… » 5/28/14 5:00pm 5/28/14 5:00pm

NASA's New Orbiter Will Watch Plants Photosynthesize from Space

For the last 25 years, scientists have been able to monitor the "greenness" of trees from space and use that as a tool for evaluating plant health. The problem is that greenness isn't a good indicator for stresses—such as drought—because some trees (think pines) continue to be a lovely green until they're dead.… » 5/06/14 9:23am 5/06/14 9:23am

A Screw-On Cloud That Turns Plastic Bottles Into Watering Cans

When it comes to watering, there's nothing stopping you from simply dumping a bottle of H2O onto the plants on your balcony, as long as you're cool with possibly damaging them and splashing wet dirt all over the place. A gentler approach is a better idea, and Animi Causa's new Rainmaker—which emulates a gentle summer… » 1/29/14 6:40pm 1/29/14 6:40pm

Plant Cells "Talk" With Electric Signals, Too

A particular detail has always stuck with me from The BFG, Roald Dahl's dark-as-hell children's book that's actually about giants snatching kids from their bedrooms. The one good, non-kid-eating giant tells his friend about superhuman hearing: "if I is twisting the stem of the flower till it breaks, then the plant is… » 12/20/13 2:20pm 12/20/13 2:20pm