Archive for the ‘Science’ Category

Scientists Grow a Baby Zebra Fish From Stem Cells

Saturday, April 5th, 2014

Scientists have been trying to find the elusive combination of instructions that would cause stems cells to become an actual living thing.

That elusive secret just ran out of places to hide.

University researchers were able to cause cells to grow into an entire animal!

The result of all this is that there’s now a baby zebra fish embryo in the world that was created completely from stem cells by scientists at the University of Virginia School of Medicine.

Absorb that for a minute.

While this discovery is HUGE and of immeasurable value to the creation of organs for those who need them, there’ll probably be some backlash from torch bearers and wielders of pitchforks who want to march across the U of V campus lawn.

It sounds like something straight out of the past few decades of science fiction stories…

Especially when one of the scientists drops a line like:

“We have generated an animal by just instructing embryonic cells the right way…” and “…we can pretty much do what we want.”

They’re growing mice next.

And then?

Probably us.

(cue lightning)

[PhysOrg]

13-Year-Old Creates Fusion Reactor – At School

Thursday, March 6th, 2014

The video pretty much tells you everything you need to know about this awesome kid who’s decided to become a tween man of science instead of chasing skirts or worrying about pimples.

We’re putting this little bit of text down here to let tell you to listen all the way to the end to hear about his NEXT project…

[Gizmodo]

Toe Cheese – It’s What’s For Dinner

Friday, November 22nd, 2013

Nope. We know what you’re wishing and your hopes are wrong. That’s not an old rice cake that someone dropped under the couch six months ago. It’s not a urinal cake either…because even that wouldn’t be as bad.

It’s exactly what your brain is screaming that it wasn’t right now…

That’s a block of cheese grown from…hold on to your lunch and put down anything you might be eating right now, kids…

Human toe cheese.

Not only did Christina Agapakis and Sissel Tolaas, who’re a part of an exhibit in Dublin called Grow Your Own…Life After Nature that is full of projects like this, create cheese wheels made from toe cheese. No. They swung for the wall by creating cheese wheels grown from other yummy ingredients like armpit sweat and bellybutton debris.

By scraping the bacteria from places that make every single one of cringe, they cultured that bacteria into cheese wheels that no one should ever, ever, EVER eat for fear of being that person for the rest of their lives.

But then again…if you served it to someone and they didn’t know what it was? Would that be a bad thing if they liked it?

You can let your last meal come up now.

[Sploid (via Gizmodo)]

NASA Developing Printed Food for Astronauts!

Wednesday, June 12th, 2013

3D printng is the ‘it’ thing right now. It seems like nothing can’t be printed. We can print plastic toys, metal parts and even cell tissues using additive manufacturing. So what’s next?

Food…3D-printed food.

A Texas company is partnering with NASA to explore the idea of printing food during long, deep space missions. Systems and Materials Research and
Consultancy, a company in Austin, was recently awarded a Small Business Innovation Research Phase 1 contract concerning printing
food for astronauts. Currently astronauts eat foods that lose their micronutrients during the process they go through to become official space-food.

Eventually the prepackaged, off-the-shelf, single-servings the astronauts nom on now will make way for customizable recipes.

Anyone else excited to witness the first live-stream of a 3D-printed Thanksgiving dinner…in space? Us too.
[DesignBoom]

Your Monitor Smells – Because Science Is Creating Monitors that Produce Scents!

Sunday, April 7th, 2013

Recently a group of Japanese scientists at the IEEE Virtual Reality Conference in Orlando, Florida have unveiled
the latest incarnation of…
(sad, loungy drumroll please)
Smell-O-Vision!

That’s right. Scientists have been working hard at making your television smell.

Do we really need to smell the elephants of Africa while watching a beautiful documentary about the animals?

No. Not really.

But advertisers sure would like us to get a whiff of things like the latest addition to the IHOP menu, the latest
colognes and Pilsbury would take the obesity problems in America to a whole new level when that little chubby, animated
chef shows up shoving a tray full of warm, delicious chocolate chip cookies in our faces.

Using gel pellets placed at the four corners of the monitor and small air-streams, scientists are able to get fairly
specific across the face of the monitor where the smell will seem to emanate from. Think of it like 5.1 surround sound but
your nose is the one in the recliner experiencing it.

Modern day theme parks like Universal and Disney often use gel packs or cartridges to send the smell of candy, food or, in the case of Universal’s
Halloween Horror Nights, the smell of rotting meat to add a subtle something to guests’ in-park experience.

What was unveiled at the conference is still fairly primitive but technological developments will continue to improve and
pretty soon you could be smelling the oil and smoking metal of Call of Duty…

Or the sweet, acrid smell of a Well Zombie from the Walking Dead.

[DAILY MAIL UK]

Lo! The Ancient One Cthulhu Walks Among Us!

Friday, April 5th, 2013

Researchers have found the tentacled god Cthulhu at last he shall walk the earth and consume us all. By earth we mean the gut of termites and by consume we mean engage in a symbiotic relationship. Oh, and this Cthulhu as described in the PLOS ONE paper is actually a microorganism. But he does have tentacles and is as scary as the deep dark hell from which he most certainly came from.

Researchers Invoke Cthulhu In Naming Two New Microorganisms : World : Latinos Post.

An Armband That Gives You Superhuman Abilities!

Sunday, March 10th, 2013

For a LOT of the more nerdy kids out there, we’re placing bets that many of you pretended you had the ability to throw fireballs, move objects by waving your hands and occasionally even tried in vain to channel the Force.

That was all fun, lots of pretending and wishful thinking…wasn’t it?

Not any more.

Thalmic Labs, the creators of Myo is a company that, with the help of a special armband, could make a lot of those things a reality.

‘As a company, we’re interested in how we can use technology to enhance our abilities as humans – in short, giving us superpowers,’ Stephen Lake, co-founder and CEO of Thalmic Labs said.

Using gesture control, Myo is an armband that registers the electrical activity in your muscle movements that will produce a signal that’s interpreted and sent wirelessly to your phone, television, kitchen or even your personal drone instantly.

But the best part about Myo?

You can actually pre-order one right now! Scheduled to come out later this year, the Myo armband will begin shipping near the end of the 2013.

The asking price? $149!

At that price why waste time running around in a swamp with an 800 year-old, green, raisin-skinned, wizard clinging to your back and nagging at you or visiting some weird old desert hermit when you can just drop a little cash and skip the middleman?

Let’s just hope people remember to remove it when they’re doing…uh…private stuff involving a lot of gesturing.

We’re pretty sure that this thing can’t help us ‘unsee’ things yet.

[Daily Mail UK]

Researchers Record the Moment of Inception…in a Hungry Zebrafish. We’re Next!

Friday, February 1st, 2013

‘Squirrel!’

Ever wonder what it looked like at the inception point of a thought? Like when your watching ‘fail videos’ online and you do that mental cringe at the exact moment that you’re watching someone sledding down a hill on an oil-pan and suddenly the shot pans far enough to see the gaggle of unattentive people about to meet said oil-pan driver?

Wonder no more!

Researchers in Japan have actually filmed that ‘Oh $#%*!’ moment…

In a zebrafish.

Watch the video. That sudden flash of light takes place the moment the fish noticed food being put into the tank. Zebrafish aren’t going to be taking over the world anytime soon with all of their incredible cerebral abilities, but that was the point of this…to record the inception of a thought in a more simple brain simply to see if it could be done.

A double-transgenic larva was embedded in agarose, and a spot was presented on an LCD display placed on the right-eye side. Ca2+ signals were detected on the left tectum upon appearance (ON) and disappearance (OFF) of the spot. The spot was shown for the first 3 s in this 6 s movie. The video is shown at 3x real time.

Experiments are expected to take place on more advanced brains way too soon.

We could sit around all day and come up with scenarios about this stunning breakthrough.

But if you were a zebrafish, we’d already know that.

[Gizmodo]

18 Severed Heads Discovered at O’ Hare International Airport!

Wednesday, January 16th, 2013

Ever leave the house knowing you forgot…something?

We’re wondering what it was like when the guy who was supposed to file paperwork for 18 human heads for medical study realized that he’d forgotten to file paperwork for 18 human heads for medical study.

One week before Santa Claus was to descend on the world with a bag of awesomeness, 18 well-preserved human heads showed up at O’ Hare International Airport with no explanation….just a bunch of questions. It wasn’t until an employee from a crematorium came to pick up the heads that things became clear.

Tagged as ‘medical specimens’, the heads had originally shipped from the US to Rome for medical study and were coming back to the states to be cremated.

Brian Bell of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security stated:
“There’s no issue with the transportation of body parts for medical purposes. There’s nothing against the law that says you cannot ship them, provided you have the right documentation. Everybody here is ‘Oh my gosh, you got a box of heads’ and everybody thinks that it’s unheard of. It is a potentially legitimate medical shipment. We’ve seen it at various ports in the nation.”

You can leave all your ‘I’d-forget-my-head-if-it-wasn’t-attached jokes below.’

[Chicago Sun Times]

Teenager Builds Solar Panel – Using Human Hair!

Sunday, December 2nd, 2012

While everyone sits around and debates the cost of solar power and that anything that could effectively power your home right now would cost more than feeding your family for about a year, a teenager in Nepal has come up with a solution that NONE of us thought of…

Using human hair instead of silicon to generate electricity from our buddy, the sun.

Along with fellow students, this kid created a solar panel made using human hair that can generate enough electricity to charge a smartphone! It also brings the prices of this thing down to under $40.

Most people would be like, “Big whoop-de-doo. He can charge a phone.”

When you’re living in some of the less-developed parts of the world? The available wall-sockets are just a little…uh…limited.

Oh..did we mention? He’s a freakin’ KID!

[Design Taxi]

NYU Scientists Create Microscopic Tractor Beam!

Saturday, November 3rd, 2012

Star Wars uses tractor beams as frequently as newly graduated college kids use U-Haul trailers.

Imagine if, just like in the movies, you could hook up those U-Hauls with a tractor beam instead of trying to get one of those ball-and-cup trailer hook-ups?

That day might not be as far away as it once was according to research at the Department of Physics and Centre for Soft Matter Research at New York University. Although it’s on a significantly smaller scale than trying to yank the Millenium Falcon into your garage using a flashlight, scientists have recently used a beam of light to pull a particle in a line. While researchers of the ideas surrounding what’s being called ‘soft matter’ have used laser ‘tweezers’ to pull along particles, using light alone to move something verged on magical.

By varying the relative phase of the two beams, this technique traps the particle in a moving hologram they call an ‘optical conveyor’ which allows ‘bi-directional transport in three dimensions’.
New Scientist explains how projecting the beams in this way creates a pattern of alternating bright and dark regions. By fine tuning the beam photons in the bright regions which flow past the chosen particle can be made to scatter backwards, hitting the particle and knocking it on towards the next bright region.

Watch the guy in the video explain it in an endearingly enthusiastic nerdy manner…and then explain what he’s talking about to us.

[Daily Mail UK]

Woman Grows Ear on Her Arm to Replace Her Missing Ear!

Saturday, September 29th, 2012

We’ve seen tissues and body parts grown in petri dishes before. Nothing new, right? Now we’ve seen a human being’s own body used as a petri dish to grow a body part for her own body!

Sherrie Walters, a woman from Baltimore, has become that human being/test subject for an extremely radical and extremely weird procedure. Plastic surgeon and reconstructive surgeon Patrick Byrne has been looking for someone like Sherri Walters for quite a while to basically test a theory he had.

The discovery of a rapidly-spreading basal cell cancer in her ear in 2008 required the removal of part of her ear, part of her skull and her left ear canal. But now, in a groundbreaking and complicated set of surgeries, Johns Hopkins doctors have attached a new ear made from Walters’ own tissue.

Byrne used cartilage from Walters’ ribs to stitch together a new ear matching her right ear. He then implanted it under the skin of her forearm, where it grew for months.

Byrne later surgically attached the ear and its blood vessels. Then surgery Tuesday added shape and detail to the ear.

Walters still has two minor surgeries to go before the whole bizarre procedure is over with and she gets that ‘new’ ear.

And she’s got some sage advice before you ever end up in this situation:

“And it’s a cliche but use the sunscreen and if you are not sure about something, get it checked because that’s what I didn’t do.”

Different parts grown in different places? Hmm.

Every single guy right now is probably thinking about a particular woman in Total Recall.

Knock it off.

[CBS Baltimore (via @ManusFerrea}]

Dean Kamen and Coca-Cola Team to Solve the Biggest Environmental Problem of Our Time

Tuesday, September 25th, 2012

Clean water. For first worlders who have it on tap, access may not seem like a big deal. For 1 out of 6 people on the planet, clean water, free of parasites and pollution is an expensive luxury. Diarrhea from tainted water is the second leading cause of death for children under five.

Recognizing this problem, über inventor and potential Tony Stark rival to Elon Musk, Dean Kamen and his Deka engineering group set out to create a water filtration system that was more efficient than anything before. The result is the Slingshot, a system that can take anything from muddy pond water to salty sea water and produce drinkable water. Powered by solar panels in rural locations, the Slingshot is a technological oasis that can help solve the greatest environmental problem facing our planet.

Kamen tackled this problem because more people die every year from bad water than any current or projected environmental crisis. Coca-Cola teamed up with Kamen as part of their long-term vision of minimizing their environmental impact. They plan to roll out 30 by the end of the year and thousands more by 2014 in rural locations where the kiosks could provide the daily water needs of hundreds of people.

The Reuters article

Here’s a video of Dean Kamen demonstrating the Slingshot:

Illusion Makes You Believe You Have a Third Arm

Tuesday, September 11th, 2012

Tricking the Mind_ Third Arm Illusion? | www.wftv.com.jpg

Researchers in Sweden have successfully created the illusion of people feeling sensations in three arms at the same time.

In five separate laboratory experiments, 154 volunteers were seated with their hands on a table and a rubber arm was placed next to their right arm. A sheet covered their shoulders and elbows, creating the illusion that the person had three arms. ( Source: Science Daily)

Researchers stroked the both the real and fake arms with a brush simultaneously until 7 out of 10 subjects reported feeling sensation in both limbs. They then threatened the fake arm with a knife and measured recognizable stress in heart rate that is normally associated with the threat of bodily harm.

The study could be helpful in helping amputees better accept prosthetics.

[WFTV]

You See Red, I See Blue: New Study Says Color Perception Not Set, Can Be Changed

Monday, July 2nd, 2012

blue strawberry.jpg

Our perception of the world around us could be very different than the person next to you.

In extreme cases it could mean the luscious red strawberry could look like a bulbous blueberry to someone else. Even more mind altering, results of new experiments with monkeys suggest that these receptors can be altered, allowing us to see colors we have never seen before and possibly helping reverse blindness.

In work published in the scientific journal ‘Nature’, colour vision scientist Jay Neitz from the University of Washington injected a virus into monkeys’ eyes which enabled them to see red as well as green and yellow.

Remarkably the group of squirrel monkeys were able to make sense of the new information despite their brains not being genetically programmed to respond to red signals.

The result was that just four months later the monkeys could see in full colour for the first time.

As well as allowing colour-blind humans to tell red from green, the innovative technique could restore sight to the blind.

Could color blindness really be a thing of the past? Does it make you wonder how different the world looks outside of your own head? How freaked out are those monkeys right now? Is this basically Pleasantville for them?

[Daily Mail]

HYSTERIA ALERT: Human Blood Still Has More Alcohol than Soda

Thursday, June 28th, 2012


The UK’s Daily Mail is breathlessly reporting that leading soft drinks including Coca-Cola and Pepsi contain trace amounts of alcohol. What ramifications should this have for teetotallers and people who abstain for drinking for religious reasons? Um, none.

While the Daily Mail points out that the soft drinks contain about .001 percent alcohol, they forgot to mention that your body naturally already has about .004 percent alcohol. This is because those wonderful bacteria that live in our gut and help us digest food and live, sometimes like to ferment (Endogenous ethanol production).

The article was taken from a French publication called ‘60 Million Consumers’ so we can’t tell if they missed that important detail either.

So to put it in simple terms, since Coca-Cola has less alcohol than your bloodstream, assuming that it all went to your blood (instead of getting digested, which is what happens) .001 is less than .004 – so drinking cola will actually lower your body’s natural level of alcohol. It makes you less alcoholic.

If you’re looking to get drunk off cola, you’d be better of drinking human blood. Um, forget we said that. Do not drink human blood.

People will likely ignore this. We’ll get more soda hysteria. Orange juice has more sugar and dissolves teeth too (and fangs).

Check out the Straight Dope if this naturally produced alcohol can get you buzzed…