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Research Suggests Eating a Side of Dirt with Your Food Can Help You Lose Weight

Researchers at the University of South Australia claim to have discovered clay materials in a certain type of dirt, which, if consumed with an evening meal can help soak up fat droplets from the gut.

Obesity costs the global economy an estimated $2 trillion every year, and countries around the world spend even more trying to prevent it, but a recently-published Australian study suggests that finding a cure to this modern-day epidemic could be as easy as dirt, literally. Researchers led by PhD candidate Tahnee Dening were investigating how clay materials can improve drug delivery when they discovered that one of the materials she was testing had the remarkable ability to soak up fat droplets in the gut. The serendipitous discovery immediately signalled Denning that they were on to something big, maybe even a cure for obesity.

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Chinese Scientist Claims to Have Created the World’s First Genetically Edited Babies

Chinese researcher He Jiankui recently shocked the entire world after revealing that he had altered the DNA of twin girl before birth, to make them immune to the HIV virus and AIDS. If his claims prove to be true, these twins would be the world’s first genetically-edited babies.

Professor He revealed his controversial genetic editing work earlier this week. In a video posted on YouTube, he claims to have used gene-editing tools to eliminate a gene called CCR5 in order to make a pair of twin girls, called Lulu and Nana, resistant to the HIV virus, should they ever come in contact with it. Speaking at a genome summit in Hong Kong, on Wednesday, the Chinese scientist defended his work and talked about the stigma attached to HIV/Aids in China. However, many of his peers believe that He Jiankui has gone too far, warning that meddling with the genome of an embryo could cause long-term problems not only for the individual, but entire future generations.

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Swiss Cheese Maker Plays Music to His Cheese to Make It Taste Better

A cheese maker from the Emmental region of Switzerland has been experimenting with various musical genres to see if they can make his cheese taste better.

Since September, cheese maker Beat Wampfler has been blasting musical masterpieces by legends such as Led Zeppelin and A Tribe Called Quest to his wheels of Emmental cheese, hoping to prove that music can influence the development, characteristics and, most importantly, the flavor of the cheese. He is convinced that humidity, temperature and nutrients are not the only things that can have an impact on the taste of cheese, and that sounds, ultrasounds and music can make an impact on flavor as well.

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Reverse Pinocchio – Researchers Find That Your Nose Shrinks When You Lie

Pinocchio may be just a children’s fairy tale, but Spanish scientists at the University of Granada recently investigated the so-called ‘Pinocchio effect’ and found that our noses don’t grow when we tell a lie, but actually shrink a bit.

Dr Emilio Gómez Milán and his team developed a lie detector test that used thermography to tell if people were lying, and found that whenever participants in their research were being untruthful, the temperature of the tip of their nose dropped up to 1.2 degrees Celsius, while the temperature of their forehead increased up to 1.5C. Scientist also found that drop in temperature at nose level actually caused it to slightly shrink, although the difference is undetected by the human eye.

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Sans Forgetica – A Font Designed to Help You Remember What You Read

Developed by researchers and designers specializing in typography and behavioral science, Sans Forgetica is a new font designed to help readers better remember the information they read by forcing them to spend a bit more time on each word.

The design of Sans Forgetica is based on a font called Albion, but with substantial modifications to reduce familiarity and attain its goal of engaging the brain more and helping the reader retain more information. It was developed by scientists at RMIT University in Melbourne, Australia, who believe it could help students studying for exams.

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Indian Universities To Teach Engineering Students That Batteries and Planes Were Invented in India Thousands of Years Ago

An Indian education organization recently sparked controversy by introducing an optional engineering course that teaches students that modern inventions like aeronautics, batteries, as well as knowledge of gravity existed in India during the Vedic Age, thousands of years ago.

Human Resource Development Ministry (HRD) decided to introduce into the country’s engineering curriculum a controversial book that makes all kinds of bombastic claims, from the fact that the Wright brothers didn’t really invent the airplane, to assertions that ancient Indian ‘scientists’ in the Vedic Age (1500 – 500 BCE) knew about gravity long before Isaac Newton. This book is seen as another attempt by Narendra Modi’s government to promote pseudoscience pushed by Hindu groups.

Entitled Bharatiya Vidya Saar, the controversial book is set to be introduced as part of an optional credit course in engineering colleges and universities affiliated with the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE). For some reason, the optional course, called Indian Knowledge Systems, will focus on Indian philosophical, linguistic and artistic traditions, as well as yoga and Indian perspective of modern scientific worldview. Those don’t sound like the kinds of things engineering courses should focus on, but wait until you hear what students will actually be taught.

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Scientists Discover Deep-Sea Fish Species That “Rapidly Melts” If Brought to the Surface

Scientists at Newcastle University recently discovered three new species of deep-sea snailfish that are so well-adapted to their extreme environment that they would “rapidly melt” if brought to the surface.

The squishy fish were discovered during an international expedition to explore the depths of the Atacama Trench, one of the deepest parts of the Pacific Ocean, located near the coast of Peru. Researchers lowered special cameras to a depth of approximately 7,500 meters, where temperatures are just above freezing and pressures are fire higher than any human could survive. Despite these extreme conditions, the bottom of the Atacama Trench was teeming with life, including three new fish species currently known as the pink, purple and blue Atacama snailfish.

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Caterpillars Don’t Have Lungs, But Somehow This One Can Scream to Keep Predators Away

Apart from the sound they make while chewing on leaves, the vast majority of caterpillars are silent creatures. However, the Nessus sphinx hawkmoth caterpillar is able to produce clicking noises that sounds a lot like static, as a self-defense mechanism, and scientists believe they discovered how.

Insects have no lungs, but some of them can be really noisy. While humans and most other vertebrates make noise by forcing air out of their bodies, insects and larvae don’t have that luxury. Some of them have adapted, rubbing, knocking or vibrating parts of their bodies to produce distinctive sounds, the kind you hear when you open a window on a quiet summer night, but the Nessus sphinx hawkmoth caterpillar doesn’t fall into that category. When threatened, it produces a strange sound that resembles a combination of cracking and spitting, by pushing air through a constriction between its two foregut chambers, even though it has no lungs.

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This Company Claims They Can Preserve Your Brain for Future Use. But First They Have to Kill You

Just because your body will eventually wither away and die doesn’t mean your brain and all the memories stored in it have to. At least that’s the pitch made California-based company Nectome, which claims to perfectly preserve clients brains for use in the future when technology will allow all the information stored in them to be transferred to a computer.

Nectome claims that we will one day be able to survey the brain’s connectome – the neural connections within the brain – so thoroughly as to reconstruct a person’s memories long after they have died. That day is still a long way away, but Nectome is offering to preserve people’s brain in such a way that when the aforementioned technology becomes available, they can be among the first to resume their lives as computer programs, or even something more.

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Japanese Farmers Develop “Incredible” Banana with Edible Skin

Fruit farmers in Okayama, Japan, have managed to make peeling a banana optional by developing a special variety with edible skin. The peel of their “Mongee Banana” is not particularly tasty, but it is considerably thinner and far less bitter than that of regular bananas, making it 100% edible.

To create the incredible Mongee – which is actually Okayama slang for ‘incredible – scientists at D&T Farm, in Okayama Prefecture, developed an innovative method called “Freeze Thaw Awakening” which involves recreating conditions from 20,000 years ago, at the end of the ice age, when plants would emerge from harsh winter temperatures to grow. They froze banana saplings to -60 degrees Celsius, planting them again as they began to thaw. This apparently activated an ancient part of their DNA, which not only allows the plant to thrive in Japan’s cool climate, but also accelerates its development. While tropical varieties of banana require two years to grow large enough for consumption, the Mongee banana needs just four months.

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MIT Scientists Develop Method to Make Plants Glow in the Dark

MIT researchers have made an important breakthrough in their quest to make plants that glow in the dark a reality. In what they call Plant Nanobionics, the engineers embedded nanoparticles into the leaves of a watercress plant that caused the plants to give off a dim glow for three and a half hours.

Their next goal is to create plants bright enough to illuminate a workspace, but, if successful, the technology could also be used to transform trees into self-powered streetlights, the scientists claim. The team’s ultimate goal is to engineer plants to replace many of the functions currently performed by electrical devices and appliances.

“The vision is to make a plant that will function as a desk lamp — a lamp that you don’t have to plug in. The light is ultimately powered by the energy metabolism of the plant itself,” said Michael Strano, the Carbon P. Dubbs Professor of Chemical Engineering at MIT and the senior author of a recently released study on plant nanobionics.

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Terrifying Fungus Kills Insects by Taking Control of Their Muscles But Leaving Their Brains Intact

A parasitic fungus, of the genus Ophiocordyceps, uses carpenter ants to complete its life cycle by turning them into zombies. The ant encounters the fungal spores while foraging and the fungus quickly infects and spreads throughout its body, hijacking the insect’s nervous system. It then forces the ant to climb vegetation, where it will clamp onto the underside of a leaf or twig, and then slowly die. The parasite then produces a spore-releasing stalk that sprouts from the cadaver’s head to discharge spores to the ground below, where more hapless ants can get infected.

Until recently scientists were uncertain as to the exact mechanisms or reasons behind this gruesome phenomenon. New research from Penn State University, however, has shed some light on the mystery. The researchers have suggested that the fungus invades muscles fibers throughout the insect’s body, which allows it to control the host’s behavior, but stays away from its brain.

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How Discarded Orange Peels Brought a Costa Rica Forest Back to Life

20 years ago, a couple of ecologists fighting for the conservation of Costa Rica’s tropical ecosystems convinced a large orange juice producer to donate part of their forestland to a national park in exchange for the right to dispose of massive amounts of orange peels on a degraded plot of land within that same park. No one had any idea what an impact that would have.

In 1997, Daniel Janzen and Winnie Hallwachs, a husband and wife team of ecologists working with the Área de Conservación Guanacaste national park, in Costa Rica, came up with a plan to save a piece of unspoiled, completely forested land from a big fruit juice company, by offering something very attractive in return. If the company, Del Oro, agreed to donate part of its forested land to the Área de Conservación Guanacaste, they would be allowed to deposit massive amounts of waste in the form of orange peels on a 3-hectare piece of degraded land within the national park, at no cost. Disposing of tons of leftover pulp and peels usually involved burning them or paying to have them dumped at a landfill, so the proposal was very attractive.

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World’s Largest “Artificial Sun” Could Fry Any Living Thing in an Instant

Scientists in Germany recently turned on the “world’s largest artificial sun” a device made up of 149 Xenon short-arc lamps that can create about 10,000 times the amount of solar radiation we get on Earth. That’s enough to melt metal or fry pretty much any living thing.

Luckily, researchers don’t plan on using this powerful device, called “Synlight” to fry anyone, and have taken precautions to keep people well away from it while it’s switched on. Instead, they hope it will help them discover new, cost-effective ways of producing climate-friendly fuels like hydrogen.

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Researchers Create Transparent Wood That Could One Day Replace Glass in Windows

It may seem inconceivable, but believe it or not, there really is such a thing as transparent wood. After decades of work, scientists at the KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm have finally managed to create a viable material that, if mass produced, holds the potential to revolutionize architecture and solar technology.

According to researchers, transparent wood is a low-cost, renewable resource, which can help reduce the cost of indoor lighting and can even be used to make solar-cell windows. It can also be used to make ‘privacy windows’ that let the light in while maintaining semi-transparency.

“Transparent wood is a good material for solar cells, since it’s a low-cost, readily available and renewable resource,” said Lars Berglund, a professor at KTH’s Wallenberg Wood Science Center. “This becomes particularly important in covering large surfaces with solar cells.”

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