ResearchBlogging editor’s selections: Maxwell’s demon, hairy crops, poison frogs and a copper conundrum

skyskull “Dr. SkySkull” selects several notable posts each week from a miscellany of ResearchBlogging.org categories. He blogs at Skulls in the Stars.

  • The demon is out of the bottle. No, we haven’t regressed to a superstitious era of witches and demons — we’re talking about Maxwell’s demon, a hypothetical Second Law of Thermodynamics-violating creature!  It is well-known now that this “demon” can’t violate the Second Law, but Joerg Heber at All That Matters describes an experiment that demonstrates explicitly the relationship between the demon and energy.
  • Could “hairier” crops help mitigate climate warming? Humankind plays such a large role in our planet’s ecosystem that it is easy to forget that unusual and offbeat changes can affect the climate in significant ways.  Phil Camill at Global Change describes one of these odd possibilities — changing the reflectivity of the planet’s surface by using “hairier” crops — and the pros and cons of such an approach.
  • Mini frog packs a powerful punch. In a wonderfully written piece, Grrlscientist of Punctuated Equilibrium introduces us to a newly-discovered species of poisonous tree frog — and the efforts to determine how it achieves its toxic “punch”.
  • The Mines of the Future and of the Past. A disastrous 1527 Spanish expedition left only a handful of survivors who traveled across the Southwest for years to find save haven.  Along the way, some natives gave them a gift made of copper that sparked a mystery — where did the copper come from?  At Gambler’s House, teofilo looks into the origins of the copper artifacts used by the Southwest natives, and what those origins can tell us about our future.

Check back next week for more “miscellaneous” selections!

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