My Iranian husband’s side of the family celebrates the vernal equinox as Nowruz, or Persian New Year. It’s kind of like a secular version of Christmas and the American New Year rolled into one. It’s when they exchange gifts and have a big and amazingly delicious meal with more types of rice than you can shake a stick at. It’s a much more pleasant time of year to celebrate a holiday than the dead of winter, actually, and I’m thankful it’s a tradition that’s become a part of my life.
This time-lapse lily video (sorry for the weird Star Wars text) seems a nice way to commemorate 1390, which is the year it just became on the Persian calendar. It’s a prettier version of a video Harvard scientists recently created to discover why lilies become crinkled along their edges. They marked the edges of a flower’s petals and recorded it blooming over four and a half days. By measuring the distance between the marks, the scientists found that the far ends of the petals’ edges grow 40 percent longer than the mid section. That creates pressure on the bud causing it to bloom and resulting in the rippled edge.
They published their research in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, where they wrote: “in addition to infusing a scientific aesthetic into a thing of beauty,” their study could aid the design of tiny motors or switches, according to the BBC (where you can also watch the scientists’ video). “Someone might be inspired to use this natural design, where the edges drive the interior, to build an actuator — a film that changes shape,” explained Professor L Mahadevan. “I study nature because I am curious, like all of us. But if we can learn some general principle that someone else might put to use, that is fantastic,” he told the BBC.
This is why I still love (and miss a little bit) writing about science.