Taking fresh produce to a new level, study finds vegetables alive on the shelf

The veggies on the produce shelf are still alive and kicking. That’s the conclusion of a study published last week in Current Biology, which shows that cabbages and other vegetables are capable of responding to their environment long after they’ve been plucked from the ground.

Researchers bought supermarket cabbages and exposed some of them to periods of light and darkness similar to what occur on the farm. Others were kept in either constant light or constant darkness. Those on a regular day/night cycle created up to three times as many glucosinolates as the other cabbages. These organic compounds help fend off pests in the wild — and, indeed, when the scientists exposed the cabbages to hungry caterpillars, the day/night cabbages were better able to fend them off. Glucosinolates are also anticarcinogenic. Consider that the next time you leave your veggies all alone in the cold, dark crisper.

Laser scanning detects 1,200-year-old lost city beneath Cambodian forest

A lost city known only from inscriptions that existed 1,200 years ago has been uncovered in what is now Cambodia using airborne laser scanning.

The previously undocumented cityscape, called Mahendraparvata, is hidden beneath a dense forest on the holy mountain Phnom Kulen, which means “Mountain of the Lychees.”

The cityscape came into clear view, along with a vast expanse of ancient urban spaces that made up Greater Angkor, where one of the largest religious monuments ever constructed — Angkor Wat, meaning “temple city” — was built between 1113 and 1150.

Scientists had previously used remote sensing to map subtle traces of Angkor. But dense vegetation veils much of the complex, making it impenetrable to conventional remote-sensing techniques, the researchers noted.

In the new study, led by the Archaeology and Development Foundation’s Phnom Kulen program, the team relied on airborne laser scanning to survey about 140 square miles.

This scanning technique “provides an unparalleled ability to penetrate dense vegetation cover and map archaeological remains on the forest floor,” the researchers wrote in a manuscript accepted for publication by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The survey revealed traces of planned urban spaces surrounding the major temples of Angkor, they wrote. In addition, the researchers confirmed the existence of “a vast, low-density urban periphery stretching far beyond the major Angkorian temples.”

“It’s the same sort of configuration as Los Angeles — so, a dense middle, but it consists of huge, sprawling suburbs connected by giant roads and canals in exactly the same way as the freeways link up Los Angeles,” said Roland Fletcher of the University of Sydney.

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