Catochromatograph, Headaches, Plant Nyctinasty Horror, and 2 Trivial Superpowers

This week’s Feedback column (that I write) in New Scientist magazine has five segments. Here are bits of each of them:

  • Catochromatograph — Laboratories looking to purchase a highly efficient coiled parallel gas chromatograph could save money by instead adopting and adapting a cat. Perhaps. A study called “Domestic cat nose functions as a highly efficient coiled parallel gas chromatograph” in PLoS Computational Biology explains the capabilities of the cat….
  • Headaches and nations — …Italy does not stand alone. At least 43 other nations have Headache Societies. Four nations have a Headache Association, rather than a Headache Society: Guatemala, Iran, Mexico and the UK. The UK’s is named the British Association for the Study of Headache; it goes by the acronym BASH. Two nations, Kyrgyzstan and Turkey, each have a Headache Chapter….
  • Rosetta stone of plants —Plant nyctinasty (usually pronounced “NICK-ta-nasty”) is one of the squat, ignoring-it-won’t-make-it-go-away mysteries that most scientists ignore. Day after day, night after night, there it is: the rhythmic shape-sloshing of plants as their parts reconfigure in concert with the coming of light and/or darkness. A century ago, the clever polymath Jagadish Chandra Bose rigged up some machinery to amplify and record the gymnastic movements of plants….
  • Middle-ear superpower — Rob Holmes reports a trivial superpower that is both mild and hereditary, thus establishing a new category in Feedback’s catalogue of trivial superpowers….
  • A man of letters  — …”My host’s signature read as follows: BSc (Honors), MASc, PhD, MTMS, MGDMB, MCIM, MSME, MAIST, MISIJ, MSigmaXi, MIFAC, MACS, MASM, MMRS, MACerS, MECS. Could this be a record?” …