The fuzz covering this daisy, the Coespeletia palustris, helps it survive in the harsh mountain climate.     Photo: Courtesy of Mauricio Diazgranados

Hairy Daisy Discovered

Yep. In the Venezuelan Andes.

Researchers on an expedition in the Venezuelan Andes found a new species of daisy. Coated in hairs that provide Dr. Seuss-esque insulation, the Coespeletia palustris grows at an altitude of 12,450 feet.

"Hairs cover the entire plant, as in most of the species of the subtribe Espeletiinae," says Mauricio Diazgranados, a postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Botany at the Smithsonian Institution and one of the researchers who discovered the plant. "Species of this subtribe are probably some of the hairiest plants known,” he told National Geographic.

The daisy has what's called a nodding capitulum, meaning that it droops. This, along with a series of "leaflike structures" underneath its face, keep it dry so its pollen can disperse more efficiently by wind, insects, and hummingbirds.

Nonetheless, the Coespeletia palustris is in trouble, as climate change in high-elevation marshes and wetlands places this species at risk of extinction.


lotus contact angle

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Scientists Create "Most Waterproof Surface Ever"

Natural design of the nasturtium leaf replicated

Science struck another blow in the battle against the elements this week, as researchers announced the creation of "the most waterproof material ever." The new "super-hydrophobic" material reportedly repels water 40 percent faster than its predecessors and has a variety of potential applications.

"We believe these are the most super-hydrophobic surfaces yet," MIT Professor Kripa Varanasi told BBC News. "For years industry has been copying the lotus. They should start thinking about copying butterflies and nasturtiums."

The Boston-based research team first studied the lotus leaf, long considered the pinnacle of natural water resistance. Lotus leaves have a high "contact angle," (see below) upon which only a small area of the droplet ever touches the leaf's surface. The droplet creates a perfect "pancake" and then quickly springs back up and off the surface.

Varanasi and his team began looking at other surfaces, particularly the wings of the Morpho butterfly and the veins the nasturtium leaves, both of which used tiny ridges to make droplets bounce off faster by splitting them into multiple asymmetric portions.

By applying these principles to their fabric, the team was able to dramatically reduce the fluid's "contact time." The team also applied their material to super-cooled metallic surfaces, and found that water bounced off before it had time to freeze, making their discovery potentially invaluable in the construction of aircraft engines, power stations, and wind farms.

As for its application in the outdoor industry, Varanasi believes that the designs could eventually be woven into textile fabrics. "Sportswear, lab coats, military clothing, tents," he says. "There are a whole range of situations where you want to stay dry."


Wild turkeys on Staten Island

Wild turkeys on Staten Island.     Photo: Nadjeschda/Flickr

Wild Turkeys Take Over Staten Island

Feral turkeys are a problem for residents

Staten Island residents are already sick of turkey, and it isn’t even Thanksgiving yet.

Roving bands of feral turkeys—thousands of them—have become mess-making, traffic-stopping nuances to residents, according to New York Daily News. The birds turn yards into toilets, ravage gardens, and wake-up residents in raucous pre-dawn mating sessions. Residents are unsure how to handle the infestation.

"We don’t want to kill them. We just want them to leave us alone," Barbara Laing, who has seen at least 50 turkeys gather outside of her house, told New York Daily News.

Experts say the nation’s wild turkey population has rebounded from 300,000 in the early 1950s to seven million today. Maine extended its turkey hunting season this fall to cut down the burgeoning population, and the abundant animals were accused of attacking residents in Brookline, Massachusetts.


New concussion study shows lasting affects     Photo: bekisha/Thinkstock

Concussion Symptoms Linger

Research shows symptoms months down the road

New research shows that concussions leave behind damage even months after their initial symptoms have passed.

A study published in the journal Neurology analyzed 100 participants, half of who experienced a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and half who hadn’t. As expected, the study showed symptoms of decreased memory, thinking skills, headaches, dizziness, and even depression in participants who had suffered a TBI. However, after four months of testing, the results showed that participants who experienced a TBI showed even more evidence of abnormalities in the gray matter of their brains, according to Medical News Today. One scientist explained that the body handles TBIs much like burns; symptoms, such as pain, decrease long before the injury is actually healed. 

Many athletes across all playing fields are told to sit out a week or ten days after a TBI. “After a head injury, they're back on the field once they can count backwards from ten," John Hardy, a professor at University College of London, told BBC News. "I think there's much too relaxed an attitude to head injury; we need to minimize the occurrence and when it happens it needs to be taken seriously and have the proper time off no matter how long it takes."

After the Crash” in Outside’s December issue dives deep into the topic of head injuries in adventure sports.


Kayak Paddlers August Guinness

Michigan paddlers set a world record for largest gathering of kayaks and canoes in August.     Photo: Courtesy of Flying Still Photography

Paddle Mob Sets World Record

Michigan claims Guinness mark for largest kayak floatilla

On August 31, more than 2,000 paddlers in canoes and kayaks assembled in Suttons Bay, Michigan, to set a new world record for largest raft of canoes and kayaks to float together.

Yesterday, the Guinness Book of World Records confirmed that the previous record (1,902 on New York’s Fourth Lake in September 2011) is officially sunk.

To qualify, the 2,099-person multicolored paddle mob had to be held together for at least 30 seconds. Guinness verified the record using aerial photos.

The event raised $50,000 for Sutton Bay Public Schools.


The results of the study apply to any nut, even peanuts (which aren't technically nuts).     Photo: Svetl/Thinkstock

Nuts Can Prolong Your Life

Just a handful a day

Studies have long shown that incorporating nuts into your diet has many benefits: reducing the chance of memory loss, improving blood sugar levels, lowering the risk of heart attack, decreasing fat accumulation around internal organs, lowering blood pressure, and reducing gallstones.

Add increased longevity to that list, as a study released yesterday reports that participants who ate a handful of nuts every day were 20 percent less likely to die of heart disease, cancer, or any other cause over 30 years than those who didn't.

The research team—from Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and the Harvard School of Public Health—looked at two long-term observational studies, one conducted since 1976 and the other since 1986, wherein volunteers were asked every few years how often they had a serving of nuts (including peanuts, despite their being legumes).

Those who ate nuts more than seven times a week showed a 20 percent lower death rate. They were also "leaner, less likely to smoke, more likely to exercise, and more likely to use multivitamin supplements," the study reports.

"We are really looking to understand what are the bioactive compounds in nuts," says Charles Fuchs, director of the Center for Gastrointestinal Cancer at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and leader of the team. It could be that nuts are simply replacing unhealthy snack options, but Fuchs suspects that there's an inflammatory or metabolic effect.