Science News - March 11th, 2008

Mystery Behind The Strongest Creature In The World
The strongest creature in the world, the Hercules Beetle, has a colour-changing trick that scientists have long sought to understand. New research details an investigation into the structure of the specie's peculiar protective shell which could aid design of 'intelligent materials'.

Water Filtration System in a Straw
LifeStraw makes previously contaminated water drinkable by removing bacteria and viruses.

Sometimes, it's the simplest technologies that have the greatest potential impact on people's lives. Take the Vestergaard Frandsen Group's mobile personal filtration system, otherwise known as LifeStraw. It is a powder-blue plastic tube—much thicker than an ordinary straw—containing filters that make water teeming with typhoid-, cholera- and diarrhea-causing microorganisms drinkable.

Grass Makes Better Ethanol than Corn Does
Midwestern farms prove switchgrass could be the right crop for producing ethanol to replace gasoline. Farmers in Nebraska and the Dakotas brought the U.S. closer to becoming a biofuel economy, planting huge tracts of land for the first time with switchgrass—a native North American perennial grass (Panicum virgatum) that often grows on the borders of cropland naturally—and proving that it can deliver more than five times more energy than it takes to grow it.

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