Apr 04, 2013

Hagfish slime: The clothing of the future?

posted by Larra Morris

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Scientists believe hagfish slime or similar proteins could be turned into tights or breathable athletic wear, or even bullet-proof vests.

For years, scientists have been looking for alternatives to synthetic fibres like nylon and lycra, or spandex, which are made from oil - a non-renewable resource.

Hagfish slime has the potential to provide a natural and renewable alternative.

But first, the experts need to work out how to increase the slime production.
via BBC News

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Apr 04, 2013

Lasers used to turn off cocaine addiction in rat brains, may translate into human therapy

posted by Larra Morris

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Kicking a cocaine addiction may be as simple as beaming a laser straight into the brain — at least in rats. That's the result of a new study of cocaine-addicted lab rodentspublished today by US researchers working with the National Institute on Drug Abuse. But the scientists behind it think that their results could be easily and quickly replicated in humans using a less intrusive therapy that involves stimulating the brain with magnets on the outside of the skull, and they're aiming to get human trials going by the end of the year.
via The Verge

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Image: B.Chen/NIDA

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Apr 04, 2013

Helical Robotics announces new wind turbine inspection robots (video)

posted by Larra Morris

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Currently, wind turbines are inspected for damage in two main ways: someone stands on the ground below them and uses a telescope, or people use rigging systems to actually climb across them. Now, Oregon-based Helical Robotics is offering an alternative – camera-equipped turbine-climbing robots.

The HR-MP series of wheeled robots cling to the turbine tower’s metallic vertical surface using magnets, and then proceed to climb up to get a better look at the blades and other components via radio remote control.
via Gizmag

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Apr 04, 2013

Carnivorous plants host unexpected ecosystems in their guts

posted by Larra Morris

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While carnivorous plants may seem rather strange and exotic, the principles that underlie the insect-eating pitcher plant are pretty simple — bugs fall down the slick sides of the tube shaped plant, landing in a small pool of water where they drown before being digested and turned into plant food. A new study by researchers at Harvard, though, suggests that the plant’s methods are anything but simple, though. According to a recently published paper, the pools of water in pitcher plants are teeming with life, and represent miniature ecosystems unto themselves.
via Geekosystem

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Apr 04, 2013

Arcade themed Post-It stop motion video

posted by Larra Morris

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This is a super impressive video game themed stop motion animation made by Michael Birkenusing Post-Its. It took over 2,304-hours (the equivalent of 96 days) spanning 11 months to create and consists of 5,772 individual frames.
via Geekologie

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Apr 03, 2013

Everything you ever wanted to know about Bitcoin, but were afraid (or weren’t sure what) to ask

posted by Laura Domela

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Over in The New Yorker‘s new tech vertical, Maria Bustillos presents a thorough look at how the virtual currency works, how it got started, and the potential challenges it faces.

The Future of Bitcoin

via Time

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Apr 03, 2013

Researchers have taught a sea lion to keep a beat to music (video)

posted by Larra Morris

The Santa Cruz Patch reports that researchers at the University of California Santa Cruz have taught one of their resident sea lions, Ronan, how to keep a beat. In this video, you can see her bopping her head to “Boogie Wonderland” by Earth, Wind & Fire and other funky songs. Peter Cook of the University’s Pinniped Cognition and Sensory Systems Laboratory confirms that Ronan is the “first non-human mammal shown able to find and keep the beat with musical stimuli” which “challenges earlier evidence from humans and parrots suggesting that complex vocal mimicry is a necessary precondition for flexible rhythmic entrainment.” According to the University’s Newscenter, Cook is the first author of the study which was published online April 1, 2013 in the Journal of Comparative Psychology.
via Laughing Squid

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Apr 03, 2013

Notre Dame students highlight method for 3D printing skeletons of living animals

posted by Larra Morris

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Can you really claim to love your pet if you haven't printed out its skeletal structure for your mantle? Sure everyone expresses themselves in different ways, but the "3D Printing of Preclinical X-ray Computed Tomographic Data Sets" outlined by a team of Notre Dame students and a rep from MakerBot certainly beats getting your pet's face printed on a sweater. The researchers have outlined a method for CT scanning live mice, rats and rabbits and printing out their skeletal structures in plastic. Sure there's some cool research applications for such functionality, but more importantly, who could ask for a creepier gift for the pet owner in your life?
via Engadget

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Apr 02, 2013

Mantis – a two ton turbo diesel hexapod you can drive (video)

posted by Larra Morris

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The term mad scientist gets thrown around quite a bit, but in the case of one Matt Denton it most certainly applies. His company, Micromagic Systems, has been working steadily over the past four years to design and build a walking robot that's big enough to carry a human passenger. The resulting beast is described as "the biggest, all-terrain operational hexapod robot in the world."
via Gizmag

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Apr 02, 2013

Is Facebook losing its edge?

posted by Laura Domela

To see what Facebook has become, look no further than the Hutzler 571 Banana Slicer.

Sometime last year, people began sharing tongue-in-cheek online reviews of the banana-shaped piece of yellow plastic with their Facebook friends. Then those friends shared with their friends. Soon, after Amazon paid to promote it, posts featuring the $3.49 utensil were appearing in even more Facebook feeds.

At some point, though, the joke got old. But there it was, again and again – the banana slicer had become a Facebook version of that old knock-knock joke your weird uncle has been telling for years.

The Hutzler 571 phenomenon is a regular occurrence on the world’s biggest online social network, which begs the question: Has Facebook become less fun?
via Time/Tech

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