It's a little more grounded than ... They are banana roots.
An international team of scientists found that some banana types accumulate certain plant toxins near root tissues attacked by the parasitic nematode called Radopholus similis. That toxin is critical in giving the banana resistance to the pest, which stores droplets of the toxin and finally dies.
Here, the root of the susceptible banana variety Grande Naine (above) and the resistant banana variety Yangambi km5 (below).
Biomineral Single Crystals
Biomineral crystals found in a sea urchin tooth. Geologic or synthetic mineral crystals usually have flat faces and sharp edges, whereas biomineral crystals can have strikingly uncommon forms that have evolved to enhance function. The image here was captured using environmental scanning electron microscopy and false-colored. Each color highlights a continuous singlecrystal of calcite (CaCO3) made by the sea urchin Arbacia punctulata, at the forming end of one of its teeth. Together, these biomineral crystals fill space, harden the tooth, and toughen it enough to grind rock.
Favorite Microbe Hangouts
Pink and wrinkly
Yep, they're newborn mice all cuddled together. Shown here, two black pups (note the black eyes) born via C-section among naturally albino pups in the lab. A foster mom raised the pups. See the full photo on the next slide.
In the study, researchers injected two Y-chromosome genes into mouse embryos that lacked a Y chromosome, finding the embryos grew into adult mice that could produce offspring through assisted reproduction techniques. [Read full story]
Result? The oldest known palatial wine cellar in the Middle East. The ancient wine bore little resemblance to the Bordeaux and Chianti of today — it was preserved and spiced with resin and herbs, including juniper, mint and myrtle. Some might say perfectly aged wine. [Read more about the ancient wine cellar]
Super Typhoon Haiyan struck the Philippines on Nov. 8, 2013, pounding the island of Leyte (shown here) with winds nearing 195 mph (315 km/h) and a huge storm surge. This false-color image, and the "before" shot on the next slide, reveal some of the storm's devastating impacts.
The most dramatic change can be seen in the hills above Tacloban, a hard-hit city on Leyte, reports NASA's Earth Observatory. Comparing ASTER images snapped in 2004 (next slide) and in 2013, just days after the storm, reveals the hills were stripped bare of vegetation. Debris covers Tacloban, and floodwater ponds and upturned trees stripped of leaves dot the ravaged landscape. (Plant-covered land is red; bare ground is tan; water and shadows are black.)
haiyan before image
Sulfosalicylic Acid Crystal Formation
Hints? If you are a biologist, you'll have a good shot at it. If you're a marine biologist, you have no excuse for not knowing, perhaps.
Answer: The image shows light refracting off a comb jelly, which is not a jellyfish. See the whole thing in the next slide.
Red and glowing
That should be enough clues for an approximate guess. So …
The image shows a pellet of plutonium used to power the radioisotope thermoelectric generator (RTG) in either the Cassini mission to Saturn or the Galileo mission to Jupiter (we're not told which — top secret stuff, perhaps). Plutonium was also used to power equipment during Apollo moon landings.
The pellet glows red hot because of radioactive decay, which means energy is released in the form of ionizing particles. In a spacecraft, plutonium-238 — what you see above — is at the heart of a long-lived nuclear battery that converts heat from the decay into electricity to power the spacecraft instruments.
Look closely and make your guess before reading on …
It's a giant jellyfish unlike most you might ever have seen. Instead of long tentacles, this creature has fleshy arms that capture food. See the full image below.
This jelly can be as big as a washing machine. See on the next slide.
It slithers …
If you didn't figure out it's the skin of a snake, go ahead and smack yourself on the forehead now (and be careful if you go out in the woods).
You get two points if you guessed "rattlesnake." Check out the full image, with rattle, on the next slide.
If you're one who feels that chill just at the thought of snakes, you're not alone. Many people fear snakes, and scientists think humans may have evolved an innate tendency to sense snakes — and spiders — and to learn to fear them, because in fact they can be dangerous.
Did you know rattlesnakes can survive months without food, and they'll even grow while starving?
First, a hint … here's what Carl Sagan said about the subject of this image: "The spacecraft will be encountered and the record played only if there are advanced spacefaring civilizations in interstellar space. But the launching of this bottle into the cosmic ocean says something very hopeful about life on this planet."
It is the lower-left portion of what's known as the Golden Record, one of the two phonograph records aboard NASA's Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 spacecraft. In fact, after 35 years Voyager 1 left the solar system in August 2012, researchers reported, taking its first steps in interstellar space. Each gold-plated copper disk holds images and sounds portraying the life and culture on Earth, plus music new and old from around the world.
Hint No. 2: It's 2 million years old. See the full image on the next slide.