plants stories

 
Anyone with a green thumb will tell you that plants need both water and light to grow, but finding a nice sunny spot in most homes can be tricky. Belgian sculptor Stephen Verstraete has come up with the perfect solution, by putting his houseplants on robotic carts that automatically seek out the sun as it moves around the house.
 
Isn't this pretty? It's a little fruity berry type thing called Pollia condensata, from Africa, and it's the shiniest thing on the planet. We're talking "shiny" like Firefly shiny: something brilliant and awesome and sparkly that lasts forever, because there's no actual pigment going on in there: the color is structural, like a butterfly wing, and will never ever fade.
 
At SIGGRAPH 2012, there's an entire room dedicated to Emerging Technologies. "Emerging" might be a bit hasty: most of the stuff on display here is so new and bizarre that nobody has any idea what to do with it. If anything, this only adds to the awesomeness, and one of the weirdest things on display (by far) was this system from Disney research for tactile interaction with cyborg plants.
 
Bacteria are a nasty bunch, creating infections from the common to the horrific. Not only that, but they lurk pretty much everywhere. Now they may have met their match in a film created by Harvard scientists that is so slippery, it fools bacteria into thinking they can't attach there and grow. Major score for science!

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