Using speeded-up videos and mechanical replications of the common cucumber tendril, researchers have learned a lot about how it works - and shown how in this very cool 4-and-a-half-minute video.  In that time we not only see how it work but learn about the frustrating "helical perversion" so common in our garden hoses, and find out that when you pull on a cucumber tendril it doesn't straighten out - oh, no! - it actually makes more curves.   Awesome to anyone who likes to grow and observe plants - all of us.

Which brings me to a tiny quibble with the video.  It starts with a scientist stating that "most people think of plants as background."  Ahem.  He's clearly not talking to gardeners!


I discovered this video via NPR's Science Friday, which I listen to on my iPod, along with many other radio shows and other shows that are never broadcast but put on the web as podcasts.  Speaking of podcasts, here are two of my favorites about gardening:

  • Garden Confidential, by Andrew Keys for Fine Gardening Magazine.
  • Ken Druse Real Dirt, from the New Jersey-based prolific garden writer Ken Druse.

Both of these are also available on iTunes.

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