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6 March 2014 1:04 pm ,
Vol. 343 ,
Magdalena Koziol, a former postdoc at Yale University, was the victim of scientific sabotage. Now, she is suing the...
Antiretroviral drugs can protect people from becoming infected by HIV. But so-called pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP...
Two studies show that eating a diet low in protein and high in carbohydrates is linked to a longer, healthier life, and...
Considered an icon of conservation science, researchers at World Wildlife Fund (WWF) headquarters in Washington, D.C.,...
The new atlas, which shows the distribution of important trace metals and other substances, is the first product of...
Early in April, the first of a fleet of environmental monitoring satellites will lift off from Europe's spaceport in...
Since 2000, U.S. government health research agencies have spent almost $1 billion on an effort to churn out thousands...
- 6 March 2014 1:04 pm , Vol. 343 , #6175
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ScienceShot: Bumblebees Capable of Flying Higher Than Mount Everest
4 February 2014 7:15 pm
The last thing you’d expect to see out your airplane window is a bumblebee cruising by. But a new study suggests that the insects might be capable of such high-altitude jaunts. Researchers trapped six male bumblebees (pictured) living at an altitude of 3250 meters in Sichuan, China, and placed them, one at a time, in a plexiglass flight chamber. Then they slowly pumped air out of the box, simulating the atmospheric conditions at higher and higher altitudes. Impressively, only one bee failed to fly above 8000 meters, and two even remained airborne above 9000 meters—more than 100 meters higher than the peak of Mount Everest. So what makes for successful high-altitude flying? The highest flyers didn’t beat their wings any more often than they did at low altitudes; instead, they increase what the researchers call their “stroke amplitude.” That is, they widened their wings’ range of motion, moving them farther back and farther forward during each stroke in order to compensate for the lack of air pressure, the team reports online today in Biology Letters. Next up? Seeing if female bumblebees, which have smaller wings and, therefore, a shorter range of motion, have the same high-flying potential as their brothers.