Venus flytraps are just plain cool – Darwin called the plant “one of the most wonderful in the world.” But how do they snap shut so quickly? Scientists have mostly answered the question in a report in this week’s issue of Nature (reported here in the Boston Globe).
In a nice multidisciplinary collaboration, led by Harvard mathematician Lakshminarayanan Mahadevan, found that “the plant’s secret lies in the elasticity and curvature of its leaf, which is somewhat analogous to a soft contact lens. When a contact lens is pushed, it first holds steady, and then dramatically flips around.”
There’s still a bit of a mystery about the exact mechanism the flytrap uses to change the pressures within the leaf – it’s probably water pressure. It’s fun when science and technology answer the mundane question on the way to tackling the hard ones.
Our best illustrations of 2022
Our artists’ thought-provoking, playful creations bring our stories to life, often saying more with an image than words ever could.
How CRISPR is making farmed animals bigger, stronger, and healthier
These gene-edited fish, pigs, and other animals could soon be on the menu.
The Download: the Saudi sci-fi megacity, and sleeping babies’ brains
10 Breakthrough Technologies 2023
Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review
Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.