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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...
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ScienceShot: Machinery of Life
12 September 2013 2:00 pm
Long before humans assembled gears into watches and car transmissions, the planthopper insect in the genus Issus evolved gears of its own. An interlocking gear structure synchronizes the movement of the insect's hind legs during a jump and prevents it from spinning out of control like a plane that has lost control of its yaw. The juvenile planthopper, called a nymph, has a row of 10 to 12 teeth on the inner surface of each back leg, which engage and force the legs to move in unison. High-speed video reveals that, thanks to the gears, the two legs spring into action within 30 microseconds of each other. Without the gear structure, such synchronized movement would be difficult, as the spike in neural activity that generates this movement lasts much longer, about 1 millisecond, the group reports online today in Science. Curiously, adult planthoppers lack such gears but seem to be better jumpers anyway, perhaps because, with their larger bodies, they can more easily rely on friction between the surfaces of their legs to keep them synchronized.