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27 November 2013 12:59 pm ,
Vol. 342 ,
The new head of the National Center for Science Education promises to "fight the good fight" against attacks on...
Analyses of the H7N9 strains isolated from four new cases show that the virus is evolving rapidly, heightening anxiety...
In 2009, Jack Szostak shared a Nobel Prize for his part in discovering the role of telomeres, the end bits of...
Science has exposed a thriving academic black market in China involving shady agencies, corrupt scientists, and...
Paper-selling agencies flourish in the aura of reputable businesses. For some scientists, it may be difficult to tell...
Featuring the first lunar rover in 40 years, Chang'e-3 is seen as an important milestone on China's quest to send a...
Data collected by satellites and floating probes have chronicled a 2-decade rise in the temperature and thickness of a...
Cholesterol, the artery-clogging molecule that contributes to cardiovascular disease, has another nasty trick up its...
- 27 November 2013 12:59 pm , Vol. 342 , #6162
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Video: Why Don't Jumping Bugs Break Their Legs?
13 March 2013 6:00 pm
If your feet ache after a long day, just be glad you're not a green leafhopper (Cicadella viridis). When the small insect jumps between plants, it applies enough force to its spindly hind legs to snap them in half. Wondering how leafhoppers avoid these expected fractures during their powerful leaps, a team of scientists used a high-speed camera to film the bugs at the moment of takeoff. By analyzing the footage (above), the researchers discovered that leafhoppers rotate a part of their legs while gearing up for a jump, thereby distributing the stress more equally throughout the limb and creating a safe, constant force between their feet and the leaf launch pad. This precision movement allows the insects to accelerate at a near constant rate of 152 meters per second squared while keeping their fragile limbs intact, the team reports online today in The Journal of Experimental Biology. Next up? Using the clever mechanics of the leafhopper leg to build better jumping robots.
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*Correction, 15 March: The green leafhopper accelerated at a near constant rate of 152 meters per second squared, not 152 meters per second as originally reported.