Washington State Magazine

Spring 2012


Spring 2012

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In This Issue...

Features

On Closer Inspection—The curiouser and curiouser world of the small :: In some ways, with so much science now involving tools that detect things outside the five senses, examining the world with a microscope seems quaint. But a corps of WSU researchers—let’s call them microscopists—are wrangling photons, electrons, glowing proteins, exotic stains, and remarkably powerful devices in their pursuit of the small. by Eric Sorensen

{ WEB EXCLUSIVE—Gallery: Micrographs from WSU }

Lessons from the Forest—The anthropology of childhood :: Anthropologist Barry Hewlett has spent the last 40 years gleaning lessons from the Aka, a people who personify hundreds of thousands of years of human history. by Tim Steury

A Feast of Good Things :: How do we Washingtonians eat? The author travels from farm to table to explore and explain Washington cuisine. by Hannelore Sudermann

{ WEB EXCLUSIVE—Photo: A delicious dilemma: Ingredients for a photographic still life }

{ WEB EXCLUSIVE—Recipe: Swiss Chard with Garlicky Chickpeas }

Panoramas

{ WEB EXCLUSIVE—Video: The Amazing Leaproach (and how it can jump like that) }

{ WEB EXCLUSIVE—Video: Feeding styles demonstrated }

{ WEB EXCLUSIVE—Video: Creator of The Wire David Simon’s speech at WSU }

Departments

:: First Words: Time’s Warehouse

:: Thank you: Our 10-year event

:: Short Subject: A hidden history

:: Sports: Let him swim: The Tom Jager story

:: In Season: A cattle drive

:: Last Words: The Lowell Elm

{ WEB EXCLUSIVE—Slideshow: Life at Heart Mountain internment camp for Japanese Americans }

{ WEB EXCLUSIVE—Tips: How to cook lean beef }

Tracking

New Media

:: The Long Journey of the Nez Perce: A Battle History from Cottonwood to Bear Paw by Kevin Carson ’81

:: Good Science: The Pursuit of Truth and the Evolution of Reality by Timothy McGettigan ’95 PhD

:: The World’s Beaches: A Global Guide to the Science of the Shoreline by Orrin H. Pilkey ’57,William J. Neal, Joseph T. Kelley, and J. Andrew G. Cooper

:: All You Can Eat by Richard Harlan Miller

Cover illustration by Colin Johnson

Spring 2012
Web Exclusives

Video: The Amazing Leaproach

| © Washington State University

An insect’s small size gives it the gift of relatively greater strength. The newly discovered South African cockroach Saltoblattella montistabularis takes advantage of this fact plus several other features, as Washington State University entomologist Carol Anelli describes here:

This is very cool for several reasons.

It is a wingless cockroach, described for the first time only two years ago, and the first existing roach known to jump. It achieves this feat with modified hind legs that possess long femurs invested with enlarged muscles. These long femurs—akin to the longest bone in the human body—help give grasshoppers their great jumping ability.

Grasshoppers also have a special rubber-like protein called “resilin,” and it is also found in these roaches, between the femur and the tibia of the hind, jumping legs. Recent research suggests that, like grasshoppers, these roaches store energy via resilin in advance of the jump, then release it suddenly to catapult forward. In fact, the researchers found several anatomical adaptations in these roaches that are not found in other related roaches but are found in grasshoppers.

According to their results, this roach is capable of jumping 48 times its body length, outperforming locusts at 20 body lengths—very cool! The researchers speculate that the evolution of jumping in these roaches reflects their native habitat. They need to jump accurately between grass and sedge stems. Unlike other roaches, they also have bulging eyes that presumably help them land accurately.

Read more about Carol Anelli’s work on the physics of insects in “Living the right-sized life.”

Categories: Biological sciences, Physics | Tags: Entomology, Insects, Video