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Mar 01, 2013 (Vol. 33, No. 5)


  • Great image quality, many images per species
  • No text descriptions to accompany photos
Platform: iPad/iPhone  
Cost: Free

Learning to identify plants is a “snap” with LeafSnap, the first in a series of electronic field guides developed as a collaboration among researchers at Columbia University, the University of Maryland, and the Smithsonian Institution. The app contains a large collection of plants found in the northeast (it will eventually include plants found throughout the continental U.S.) that are alphabetically arranged for easy browsing. Each entry is comprised of a number of images showing the leaves, flowers, fruits, seeds, and bark, when applicable. Users have the option to download high-resolution images. At present, the app does not contain any written material to accompany the photos, so this app is best used for identification (as opposed to educational) purposes. If location services is enabled, users can use the “nearby species” function, as well as submit photos of leaves for identification.

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*The opinions expressed are solely those of the author(s) and should not be construed as reflecting the viewpoints of the publisher, Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News, Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., the publishing house, or employees and affiliates thereof.

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Scientifically Studying Ecstasy

MDMA (commonly known as the empathogen “ecstasy”) is classified as a Schedule 1 drug, which is reserved for compounds with no accepted medical use and a high abuse potential. Two researchers from Stanford, however, call for a rigorous scientific exploration of MDMA's effects to identify precisely how the drug works, the data from which could be used to develop therapeutic compounds.

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