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It All Stems From Stems.

 Xylem and Phloem tissues are found together in vascular bundles in the stems of plants and trees. The xylem transports water and soluble mineral nutrients from the roots throughout the plant. It is also used to replace water lost during transpiration and photosynthesis. Xylem sap consists mainly of water and inorganic ions, although it can contain a number of organic chemicals as well. The transport taking place in the xylem is passive. Surface tension caused by the evaporation of water to the atmosphere pulls more water and minerals up from the roots like a straw.

Click to see more amazing light micrographs of Plant Stems

Unlike xylem, which is composed mainly dead cells, the phloem is composed of still living cells that transport sap. The sap is a water-based solution, but rich in sugars made by the photosynthetic areas. These sugars are transported to non-photosynthetic parts of the plant, such as the roots, or into storage structures, such as tubers or bulbs. During the plant’s growth period, usually during the spring, storage organs such as the roots are sugar sources, and the plant’s many growing areas are sugar sinks. The movement in phloem is multi-directional, whereas, in xylem cells, it is uni-directional (upward).

All images above © Dr. Keith Wheeler / Science Source 


NASA engineers use origami as inspiration when they fold up solar panels for their trip to space. Shown here: the Miura fold. Once a piece of paper (or solar array) is all folded up, it can be completely unfolded in one smooth motion. You can read more about origami in space here, and learn how to do the Miura fold in this video:

Image: Astronaut Scott Parazynski repairs a damaged ISS solar panel (NASA)

Our artist, Arie van’t Riet, was recently featured on the Today Show:


Inner Beauty: X-rays Expose Flowers, Animals and More

by Lance Booth/Today

Dutch physicist Arie van’t Riet specialized in low energy X-rays in hospitals when he stumbled across an interesting form of art. 

Click here to see more of his beautiful X-ray Art.

According to a recent TED talk, a colleague asked him to make an X-ray of one of his paintings. After seeing the interesting results, Arie van’t Riet wanted to X-ray something even thinner. “I started with a bouquet of tulips,” he said in the TED talk. “Some people told me that’s art and I became an artist.” 

After creating that piece, he started to experiment with a variety of creatures and different scenes, looking to capture nature’s beauty.

 "I sampled a lot of animals that I can use in my X-ray images," he said. "I take a number of plants with flowers, I take a couple of animals, lizards, I put them all together in one composition." 

Story courtesy of the Today Show

Images above © Arie van ‘t Riet / Science Source 

View the collection on the Science Source website:

An Orderly Single File Line

Image SD3426 (Ruptured capillary)

A scanning electron micrograph showing one red blood cell squeezing out of a torn capillary. A capillary is the smallest type of blood vessel, often only just large enough for red blood cells to pass through in single file. Red blood cells, also known as erythrocytes, are biconcave, disc-shaped cells that transport oxygen from the lungs to body cells. The oxygen transfer occurs in capillaries, where carbon dioxide is also removed and then taken to the lungs for exhalation. Red blood cells are the most abundant cell in the blood. They have no nucleus and are about 7 micrometers across.

© Steve Gschmeissner / Science Source

(via sciencesourceimages)

Hey, Mr. Potty Mouth…You Need A New Toothbrush!!

Colored scanning electron micrographs (SEMs) of dental plaque on the bristles of a used toothbrush. Plaque is a sticky film of bacteria that naturally occur in the mouth (such a Streptococci) embedded in a glycoprotein matrix. The matrix is formed from bacterial secretions and your own saliva. Plaque is the main cause of tooth decay. The bacteria feed on sugars in food, producing acid as a waste product. This acid corrodes the teeth’s enamel coating, resulting in dental caries. A build-up of dental plaque can also lead to inflamed and infected gums. Severe gum disease can lead to teeth falling out.

Click to see more photos of Dental Plaque

The ADA recommends that consumers replace toothbrushes approximately every 3 to 4 months or sooner if the bristles become frayed with use.

In recent years, scientists have studied whether toothbrushes may harbor microorganisms that could cause oral and/or systemic infection. We know that the oral cavity is home to hundreds of different types of microorganisms therefore, it is not surprising that some of these microorganisms are transferred to a toothbrush during use. It may also be possible for microorganisms that are present in the environment where the toothbrush is stored to establish themselves on the brush.

Images above © Steve Gschmeissner / Science Source

SG9033 (Used toothbrush bristle, SEM)

SH1766 (Used toothbrush bristles, SEM)

SG9023 (Toothbrush bristles, SEM)

Color Me: Deadly!

Melanoma is not the most common type of skin cancer but it is easily the most dangerous. It is the leading cause (about 75%) of death from skin cancers.

Click to see more images of Melanoma Skin Cancer

Above (top image) is a colored scanning electron micrograph (SEM) of melanoma cancer cells. This cancer arises from the skin’s melanocytes, the cells that produce the pigment (melanin) that give skin its color. It can even involve the colored part of the eye. Melanoma is an aggressive cancer that often spreads (metastasizes) to other tissues of the body. The long cell processes, seen here in this micrograph, help the cells to move. Once the cancer has spread the prognosis is poor. In general, cancers are caused by damage to DNA. Melanomas are usually caused by DNA damage resulting from exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light from the sun.

Visual diagnosis of melanomas is still the most common method employed by health professionals. Moles that are irregular in color or shape are often treated as strong candidates. To detect melanomas, it is recommended to learn what they look like. 

A popular method for remembering the signs and symptoms of melanoma is the mnemonic “ABCDE”:

A=Asymmetrical skin lesion.

B=Border of the lesion is irregular.

C=Color: melanomas usually have multiple colors.

D=Diameter: moles greater than 6 mm are more likely to be melanomas       than smaller moles.

E=Enlarging: Enlarging or evolving

Image above © Steve Gschmeissner / Science Source

No Ball Playing In The House!!

A stroboscopic image of a Trebuchet launching a ball. It does so by using the potential energy of a falling weight. It is sometimes called a counterweight or counterpoise trebuchet, to distinguish it from an earlier weapon called the traction trebuchet, which employed pulling men working the mechanism.

Click here to see more amazing stroboscopic images

Technically, trebuchets are a type of catapult as they launch objects into the air.  What most of us deem a catapult though, uses tension instead of a falling weight. Catapults generally used a large, springy piece of wood which would have been wound up.  This then give tension to the wood and when released the arm pulls up and hits a stop then releasing the projectile.

Trebuchets, in contrast, use a weight which pull down a lever arm, launching it up into the air. A sling is attached which then released the projectile.  Trebuchets are generally capable of hurling great amounts of weight and became much more common in medieval warfare in later years.

Image ©  Ted Kinsman / Science Source

New Artwork for Sale!

Tokay Gecko Feet
©Fletcher & Baylis

The rear foot of a Tokay (Gekko gecko)viewed as it clings to a glass window, Kui Buri National Park, Thailand. Millions of microscopic hairs (setae)on their feet allow Tokays and other geckos to do this by the van der Waal force.

Mississippi Child Thought Cured Of HIV Shows Signs Of Infection

by Richard Harris/NPR

A baby who generated great excitement last year because it appeared she had been cured of HIV is infected with the virus after all, health officials say.

This discovery is a setback for the child known as the “Mississippi baby.” It also complicates efforts to test what had seemed like a promising new treatment for infants born with HIV.

Click to see more images of HIV

The Mississippi baby was born to an HIV-positive mother in 2012. The mother had not received prenatal care, so wasn’t identified as being positive for HIV until she was in labor. To stop the baby’s infection, doctors tried an aggressive combination of drugs right after she was born.

HIV-positive babies rest in an orphanage in Nairobi, Kenya. Treatment right after birth may make it possible for HIV-positive newborns to fight off the virus.

Normally HIV-infected infants would stay on the antivirals for life. But in this case, the mother stopped bringing the child to the clinic after 18 months. When the two showed up again, five months later, the mother said she had long since stopped giving the baby medicine. But blood tests showed no signs of HIV infection.

Thousands of babies are born to infected mothers every year, mostly in poor countries, and it would be wonderful if a strong dose of medicine at the time of birth could eradicate the virus from their bodies.

The news from Mississippi generated a lot of optimism. But Dr. Hannah Gay, who had treated the baby at the University of Mississippi Medical Center, remained on the lookout for HIV infection.

Read the entire article on NPR

"Hey Buddy, Your Gills Are Showing!"

Nudibranches, also known as true Sea Slugs, are some of the most colorful creatures on earth. In the course of their evolution, these members of the mollusk family, lost their shell while developing alternative defense mechanisms. The name, Nudibranch, means “naked gills”. These gills (branches) can clearly be seen in each of the images above. The twin structures at the opposite end of these creatures are called Rhinophores and are used to sense chemicals in the water.

Click here to see more photos of Nudibranches

Nudibranchs are carnivorous, feeding on invertebrates like sea sponges, hydrozoids and sometimes other nudibranches. Some of them are even known to store toxins from their prey for future use. The bright colors of these creatures warn predators that they are poisonous. Nudibranchs are hermaphroditic and bear a set of reproductive organs for both sexes, though they cannot fertilize themselves.

Images above © Scubazoo / Science Source

New Artwork for Sale!

European Devil Mantis
©Francesco Tomasinelli / Science Source


Periodical cicada (Magicicada sp.) adult. Illustration.

©Roger Hall / Science Source

An adult female orange morph regal jumping spider (Phidippus regius).

Credit: Scott Linstead / Science Source

Vitamin E Crystals - New Artwork for Sale!

Polarized light micrograph of crystals of alpha-tocopherol. This is the most effective of the Vitamin E group, which contains methylated tocopherols and tocotrienols. The alpha form is properly known as 5,7,8-trimethyltocol. Vitamin E is widely distributed in vegetable lipids and the body fat in animals. These protect unsaturated fat from oxidation, and are thus thought to stabilize cell membranes. As these chemicals are widely distributed in the diet, Vitamin E deficiency is rare. Magnification x7.5 at 6x7cm size.

©Michael W. Davidson / Science Source