Nature Research Center

How Do We Know?

The center of the Milky Way tastes like raspberries. Dinosaurs just might taste like chicken. Both true. But how do we know?

More How Do We Know:

Life can thrive in boiling water.

While most life forms are destroyed at high temperatures, some organisms thrive in such extreme conditions. Pyrococcus furiosus exists near ocean vents where the Earth’s geothermal activity superheats water to scalding temperatures. How can it survive such heat? Molecular biologists are actively studying this and other heat-loving microbes to find out. Pyrococcus furiosus means furious fireberry, reflecting its rapid growth in hot water.

The common fruit fly is Man’s best friend.

Many model organisms are studied for clues to the causes of human diseases with the hope that such knowledge will allow scientists to develop cures, preventions or repairs. Because it is small, has a short life cycle, and is easy to maintain in a lab, the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster has been a valuable model organism for more than a century.

You have 6 feet of DNA in every cell.

In high concentrations, DNA has a sticky consistency that can be spooled onto a glass rod like miniature cotton candy. Since discovering the structure of DNA in the 1950s, scientists have developed increasingly sophisticated ways to isolate, analyze and manipulate DNA that are revolutionizing the way scientists study—and even think about—life.

Ghost shrimp hate heavy metal.

These inch-and-a-half-long freshwater crustaceans are sensitive to even tiny amounts of copper, nickel, zinc, lead and arsenic. This makes them an excellent indicator species for water quality in ponds, lakes and canals. If ghost shrimp are present in the water, then toxic metals, most likely, are absent. Transparent bodies give rise to their name, and they are also known as glass shrimp. This allows them to virtually disappear against any background, making it challenging for predators to spot them. Besides their usefulness to scientists as biological indicators, ghost shrimp serve as an important food source for many aquatic organisms.