I, robot

Grow your own antenna

The corpse plant is blooming!

The corpse flower is about to bloom!

I’m very excited. The corpse flower, in case you don’t know, is nature’s single-most revolting plant. When one of these three-foot-tall beauties opens up, it gives off the scent of rotting flesh. The University of Connecticut has managed to cultivate one, the first example in the northeast in 60 years, and any day now it’s due to open up.

If you’re lucky enough to be nearby when it opens, here’s how University officials describe the smell:

The corpse flower is specifically adapted to attract carrion flies and beetles, which ferry pollen between plants so they can produce seed, a job accomplished for more ordinary plants by bees or butterflies. The colors of the corpse flower — a sickly yellow and blackish purple — imitate a pot roast that sat out in the sun for a week. The fragrance is universally described as being powerful and revolting, with elements of old socks, dead fish and rotten vegetables. As if that isn’t weird enough, the corpse flower is actually warm-blooded, heating itself up at the height of flowering, probably to help spread its putrid odor. All of this is totally irresistible to flies, who must think they’ve chanced upon a dead elephant, and are tricked into pollinating the plant.

Kind of like Enron investors. At any rate, there’s a web cam on that page I linked to above, so you can check in periodically to watch U of Connecticut botanists retching uncontrollably.

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I'm Clive Thompson, the author of Smarter Than You Think: How Technology is Changing Our Minds for the Better (Penguin Press). You can order the book now at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Powells, Indiebound, or through your local bookstore! I'm also a contributing writer for the New York Times Magazine and a columnist for Wired magazine. Email is here or ping me via the antiquated form of AOL IM (pomeranian99).

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