The common tumbleweed, otherwise known as the Russian Thistle, is a staple of western American imagery. They invoke a sense of emptiness and carry with them the sound of a hollow wind. Who could have known that they came from Eurasia?

Tumbleweeds are a type of plant that include many different species, and have one thing in common: They break free of their roots and roll around in the wind. When a seed uses a bit of plant tissue to aid in its dispersal, it’s called a diaspore. In the tumbleweed’s case, the whole plant is the diaspore. …

If you've ever attended a college party or been in the company of a reckless prankster, you've no doubt seen this trick performed: The perpetrator approaches the mark — both with beers in hand — and engages them in casual conversation. With the agility of a trained illusionist, the perpetrator casually strikes the top of the mark’s beer with the bottom of their own. Within seconds, the mark’s beer is overflowing with foam, much to the hilarity of almost all involved.

What neither the perpetrator nor the mark are aware is that they have just demonstrated a phenomenon known as…

Maki Naro

Cartoonist and Blogger for Popular Science. The John Hodgman of comics. Pictorial minstrel. Inconsolable grump. As seen in the NY Times.

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