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  • Image: from Shokoku meisho hyakkei by Hiroshige II (Chinpei Suzuki), 1860.

    Lichens, thale cress, tobacco, the great survivors…

    It is often said that cockroaches are one of the hardiest of animals, allegedly able to withstand a nuclear holocaust. Well, serious contenders amongst the plant-like critters are lichens, thale cress and tobacco. Rhizocarpon geographicum and Xanthoria elegans have both survived a 1.5-year extraterrestrial sojourn aboard the International Space Station according to work by Silvano Onofri et […] More

  • NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology.

    Black is the new… er… green?

    What colour are plants? No, not a stupid question, but I bet you were tempted to answer ‘green’? Which is fair enough; chlorophyll is the major pigment in plants and consequently they do tend to appear green. But! This is almost a knee-jerk, Pavlovian, conditioned response because we are geo-centric in our thinking and experiences. What […] More