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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: Light Me Up, Buttercup
13 December 2011 7:01 pm
Not sure you like butter? The buttercup knows, casting a yellow spot on the chin of all butter-lovers, or so says childhood lore. Now researchers have illuminated the flower's ability to ferret out butter fans. Armed with microscopes and a spectrometer, which analyzes the wavelengths of reflected light, the team found that the petals of the buttercup (Ranunculus repens) have a transparent outer coating that reflects light, enhancing the blossom's shine. Beneath that coating, a layer of yellow pigment rests on a layer of air. Light passes through the pigment, bounces off the air and zips back through the pigment before reaching a viewer's eye, according to a study published online today in The Journal of the Royal Society Interface. The light's double passage through the pigment creates an intense yellow. The buttercup is so glossy that if held at the right angle, it reflects sunlight onto human skin, like a mirror. Thanks to its pigment, the flower reflects yellow light—even onto the chins of butter-haters.
See more ScienceShots.