Twisters, often called tornados, are formed in severe thunderstorms. A rotating column of air extends down to the ground and the resulting high wind speeds can cause extensive damage. For an animated BBC guide to how tornadoes form click here.
Amanda Payne was the winner of a charity auction in which she bid to have her name used as a character in Oryx and Crake. Amanda also appears in Atwood's The Year of the Flood.
Synesthesia is a neurological condition which causes one sensory experience to be perceived by another sense. Examples of synesthesia include sensing a colour on hearing a particular musical note – or Amanda's seeing flowers when physically stimulated.
For a demonstration of some aspects of synesthesia click here.
In 2001, newspapers reported that a scientific team from the University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth were researching the use of E. coli bacteria to clean clothes.
For the full article from the New York Times, click here.