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Fascinating article on parasitic wasps:

Forbes studies parasitoid wasps. These creatures use their stingers to lay eggs in (or on) the bodies of insects and other hosts. The grubs, upon hatching, devour their hosts alive, sometimes commandeering their minds and changing their behavior, and sometimes bursting out of their desiccated carcasses. There’s a wasp that takes cockroaches for walks after turning them into docile zombies, a wasp that forces spiders to spin a protective cocoon all while sucking them dry, a wasp that turns caterpillars into half-dead, head-banging bodyguards, a wasp that conscripts ladybirds into acting as babysitters.

(Cue the old National Geographic video. Parasitic wasps are creepy.)

Processing bulk natural wood into a high-performance structural material:

Wood is among the oldest materials used by humans, and is still commonly used for building. Its low density has also made it useful for transport applications such as shipbuilding, but this property is associated with a relatively low strength and stiffness. Scientists have tried to devise processes that make wood denser, to obtain materials suitable for high-strength applications, but with limited success. In a paper in Nature, Song et al. describe a densification method that combines a chemical treatment with high-temperature compression, and which produces an unprecedented increase in stiffness and strength.