Using nature as an inspiration for architectural structures often creates some amazing designs, and this is no exception:
The astonishing Times Eureka Pavilion at the Chelsea Flower Show takes us deep into the structure of a leaf with its biomimetic design. The newly completed pavilion is set amidst a bounty of flowing plants, and it takes structural cues from the intricate growing patterns of leaves. Marcus Barnett Landscape Architects created the “veins” out of sustainably harvested spruce and inserted plastic “cells” into the pavilion to bring visitors into the foliage to experience the textural composition of plants. Read on for a closer look at this stunning project!
After it is released from a flower’s anther, a pollen grain walks a humidity tightrope. It dries up a bit as it travels through the air, the cellular material inside becoming dormant so it survives until it reaches the humid environment of another flower’s stigma. But it can’t become so dry that the material dies.
Pollen grains achieve the proper state of desiccation by folding in on themselves as they dry, which reduces the rate of water loss (and also accommodates the reduced volume of water, making the grain smaller). It’s an elegant trick, and the structure of the pollen grain wall determines how it occurs, according to research published in The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Eleni Katifori, previously at Harvard and at Rockefeller University, and colleagues studied the folding of pollen from lilies and other flowers (a video of folding grains is at nytimes.com/science). The walls of pollen grains have weaker, more flexible sections called apertures, and Dr. Katifori said those sections guide the folding process. Like origami, in which paper stretches only at the creases, pollen grains deform at the apertures “so the rest can fold without stretching,” she said.
Just when you thought flowers’ beauty might escape the hyper-analysis of scientific inquiry, behold!
From NPR: Those rows of wiggly lines are microscopic ridges on the surface of a flower petal. Plant experts have known about them for at least 75 years, but their exact function still remains a mystery.
Some have proposed that the ridges act like Velcro, and help bees get a grip on flowers . Others have suggested that they trap droplets of water that give petals a “come hither” sparkle. Or, because of the way the ridges are arranged, they could create an iridescent shimmer that amounts to a flashing “Open For Business” sign for passing pollinators.
But even if their exact function isn’t known, researchers at Michigan State University have at least figured out how plants manufacture the ridges.
According to the study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the tiny structures form on the surface of the plant, not in the underlying layers as some have speculated. Researchers also found that the ridges are made of “cutin polyester,” a material in the waxy outer layer of plants that helps protect them from drying out.
And why do we care? For one thing, the discovery could give researchers a model for designing microscopic objects — like nanomachines — with easily gripped, non-skid surfaces.
Weekly bloggers Sarah and Nicollete of Little Flower School “require advanced spherical trigonometry” in order to create the perfect flower arrangements, “and if you don’t know what that is, let’s just say it’s of utmost importance in the fields of astronomy, earth-surface/orbital and space navigation and floral arranging.
It’s prettier than it sounds. From Bioephemera: there are illustrator Macoto Muriyama’s delicate diagrams of flower structure. Muriyama says,
Generally, a plant is considered to be a being that has an organic form. However, that is just one of the aspects because along with their organic form, a plant possesses a contradictory element of geometric/mechanical structure. By highlighting the later, the plant’s out-of-the-ordinary form is revealed, and in it, a different kind of attractiveness can be found. (source)
Solar Solidarity International “aims at raising awareness of the potential of renewable sources of energy (and in particular the potential of the sun) for mankind and for the environment through the organisation of artistic events. Those events target a large audience, raise awareness about renewable energies and trigger debate. These projects are possible thanks to the artist Dang (www.dang.be) who offers his copyrights to the association.”
This is a slideshow featuring the remastered images of specimens taken by John Muir during his trips all over America and Canada in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Bonnie Gisel and Stephen Joseph worked with modern digital imaging (and Photoshop) to re-colorize the photos of Muir’s specimens to show the original colors, take out the tape marks, etc. Some of these are just incredible to see, for one thing to see the before and after images, and for another just to imagine what it was like for Muir to be out in the middle of nowhere picking odd wild flowers and plants that few had seen before. These are all available in the book Nature’s Beloved Son.