September 2015 archive

Sep 17

Organism of the week #28 – Fractal art

Barnsley fern [Public domain]

Flowers are essentially tarts. Prostitutes for the bees. (Uncle Monty, Withnail and I) Our tiny garden has only passing acquaintance with sunshine, so about the only plants that really thrive in its dingy clutches are shade-loving ferns. This Japanese painted fern is my current favourite: who needs flowers anyway, when leaves look like this? The colour is spectacular, but …

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Sep 06

Living dangerously

Towards the end of the last millennium, I spent a lot of time befriending arsenic. The last two years of my PhD involved measuring how much iodine had fallen off a chemical used as a wood preservative day-in, day-out, and arsenic trioxide was the most exciting component of an otherwise excruciatingly dull test for iodide ions. …

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Sep 06

Organism of the week #27 – Alien haemorrhoids

Magnolia ×soulangeana fruit [CC-BY-SA-3.0 Steve Cook]

A quickie this week: magnolia fruit look like something from another planet.