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Extra info for Ask the Experts (Scientific American Special Online Issue No. 25)

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Eastley, Pittsburgh, Pa. — Andrew L. Waterhouse, a professor in the department of viticulture and enology at the University of California at Davis, provides an answer: Decanting— simply pouring wine into another container— can mellow the flavor of harsh younger red wines by exposing them to oxygen; it also serves to remove sediments in older vintages. White wines, which are aged for shorter periods, do not benefit from decanting. Some young red wines — between three and 10 years old— can be astringent if consumed directly after opening the bottle because they are maintained in an environment relatively free of oxygen during aging.

The bee also grooms pollen onto basketlike structures on its hind legs, taking it back to the nest to feed to the larvae. When bumblebees vibrate blossoms to release pollen, the noise is quite loud. Honeybees (genus Apis) are incapable of such “buzz pollination” and are usually quiet when foraging. Some plants are adapted to buzz pollination: Tomatoes, green peppers and blueberries all store pollen inside tubular anthers. When the bee shakes the flower, the pollen falls out. Consequently, bumblebees pollinate these crops much more efficiently than honeybees do.

Unlike total starvation, near-total starvation with continued hydration has happened frequently. Survival for many months to years is common in concentration camps and during famines. The body can moderate metabolism to conserve energy. The alteration of metabolism is not well understood, but it occurs at least in part because of changes in thyroid function. This ability may help explain the evolutionary persistence of genes caus- 35 SCIENTIFIC AMERIC AN E XCLUSIVE ONLINE IS SUE ing diabetes, which in the past could have enabled survival during famine by fostering more economical use of energy.

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Ask the Experts (Scientific American Special Online Issue No. 25) by Scientific American

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