Dust-bunnies and stardust

Maybe you live in a super-clean house, but I don’t. If you look under the (my) sofa or bed you will see little clusters of fluff hiding there. (It’s easier to find these if you don’t have carpets.) They’re dust-bunnies. Dust-bunnies are clumps of all kinds of detritus (waste and grunge) that has drifted around…

Do you speak mushroom? It’s the language of the worldwide wood

If you’ve see the film Avatar, you might remember that the forest is a living being, with the plants able to communicate with one another. It’s not just a sci-fi fantasy, though. Researchers found that the trees in a forest in Canada really do cooperate and communicate. They share resources and look out for one…

A metal nose, a pet moose and the stars

We take it for granted that the universe changes. It began with the Big Bang, is still expanding;  stars generate, die and are recycled. But until the sixteenth everyone believed – as the great Greek philosopher Aristotle had taught – that the heavens are eternal and unchanging. Then in 1572, a new star appeared. That…

Dead heads all in a row

The creature in the picture is a caterpillar with a pretty weird habit. That bit that looks like a spike is actually a pile of heads. As if that wasn’t odd enough, the heads all once belonged to the same caterpillar.   Caterpillars go through molts as they grow. They start off teeny-tiny, and as…

Stony stomachs

Do you know that story about the wolf and the seven kids, recorded by the brothers Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm? (If you don’t, you can read it here.) At the end [*spoiler alert*] the mother goat fills the wolf’s stomach with stones and stitches it up. Fairytales aren’t the only place that stones are found…