Comment »Posted on Sunday 13 September 2009 at 6:14 pm by Jacob Aron
In Biology, Climate Change & Environment, Weekly Roundup

Human nails are growing faster

Your finger and toenails are growing faster than they would have 70 years ago, according to the Daily Mail. It sounds like nonsense, but it’s apparantly true.

Research published in in the Journal Of The European Academy Of Dermatology And Venereology last week found that the average thumbnail grows at 3.55mm a month, compared to the 3mm a month reported by a study in 1938.

Our modern-day diet could be the cause, say researchers from the University of North Carolina. Unfortunately I haven’t been able to access the paper to read their full results, but another explanation does occur to me: perhaps the 1938 study was simply inaccurate, and nails continue to grow at the same rate they always have.

Green energy

Trees contain enough power to run a small electric circuit, scientists at the University of Washington have found. Although the energy output is very small, it could be put to use powering sensors to monitor environmental conditions or forest fires.

Using nanotechnology components which do not require much power, the team created a circuit that uses an average of 10 nanowatts. By comparison, a 100W lightbulb uses 10 billion times as much power. The results will soon be published in the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers’ Transactions on Nanotechnology.

Despite their success, the researchers don’t yet understand where the tree power comes from, according to one of the paper’s co-authors, Babak Parviz:

“It’s not exactly established where these voltages come from. But there seems to be some signaling in trees, similar to what happens in the human body but with slower speed,

“I’m interested in applying our results as a way of investigating what the tree is doing. When you go to the doctor, the first thing that they measure is your pulse. We don’t really have something similar for trees.”

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