Science across the spectrum

Penrose, Escher, back – M.C. Escher’s famously paradoxical illustration of 1960 depicting a stairway atop an “impossible” building, and made famous recently in a dreamscape of the Hollywood movie “Inception”, that seems to ascend or descend interminably is a good example of how projecting our 3D world into two dimensions in artwork can be exploited to manipulate our perceptions. The stairway was originally conceived by father and son team Lionel and Roger Penrose in 1959. Now, Japanese chemists have reconstructed the illusion using a single molecule.

Yet another source of antioxidants, in the trees – Researchers in France explain how several species of poplar tree have been used in traditional medicine for their anti-inflammatory properties. They have investigated the sticky fluid that coats poplar buds and demonstrated the presence of various phenolic compounds, terpenoids, flavonoid aglycons and their chalcones and phenolic acids and their esters. The antioxidant potential of these substances might one day be exploited in skincare products or dietary supplements. Once the marketing departments “twig” the benefits, the advertisers will really be able to branch out as long as they can stil see the wood for the trees.

Cystitis clue – UK scientists have revealed the structure of a complex protein called FimD that acts as an assembly platform for the pili of the bacteria that cause cystitis. The structure of the FimD protein means scientists reveals, for the first time, how these pili “hairs” are assembled from individual protein subunits to complete structures. The work offers up a new target for antibiotic drug design.

Taking the lead – It is illegal to use lead as an additive in the manufacture of pewter kitchenware, tableware, drinking cups. However, work in Brazil using atomic absorption spectroscopy not only provides a benchmark for standardizing tests for lead, cadmium and other toxic metals, but reveals that some manufacturers are flouting the law.


  • Molecular illusions and deceptions. Ascending and Descending Penrose stairs. (Henry Rzepa)
  • Escher-Inspired Origami
  • Blog – Beyond Escher: The Art Of Tesselation Revealed

Author: bob投注平台

Award-winning freelance science writer, author of Deceived Wisdom. Sharp-shooting photographer and wannabe rockstar.