The Advanced Photon Source
a U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science User Facility

How Insects Cope When Blood Rushes to Their Heads

From "Trilobites" in The New York Times, January 13, 2020

You wouldn’t think gravity would be a big worry for insects. They’re so small. So light. An ant that fell from a second-floor balcony and landed on its head wouldn’t even get a bruise.

Consequently, scientists have not concerned themselves greatly with what gravity does to insects. But a group of scientists who routinely put grasshoppers into the linear accelerator at the Argonne National Laboratory in Illinois decided to take a closer look.

That’s not as strange as it sounds. With synchrotron X-rays, you can get highly detailed images and video, so the Argonne lab is used for medicine and art and archaeology studies, as well as looking inside grasshoppers to see how their bodies work.

Jon F. Harrison of Arizona State University and Jake Socha of Virginia Tech have studied insects at [the Advanced Photon Source at] Argonne for years, but their work on gravity came about by accident. Some X-rays showed different results when grasshoppers were right side up or upside down.

Read the entire article by James Gorman (subscription may be required)

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