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The Indonesian Island That Somehow Makes Mammals Smaller

Ever since the remains of “Homo Florensis”, an extinct species of unusually short humans, were discovered on Flores Island, in eastern Indonesia, scientists have been fascinated with this patch of land, which apparently has the power to somehow make mammals shorter and smaller.

It all began in 2004, when the remains of a human who would have been about 1.1 m in height were discovered at Liang Bua cave. Partial skeletons of nine other individuals were subsequently unearthed and analysis showed that they were part of a yet unknown species of the “Homo” genus named Homo Florensis. It’s estimated that they lived on Flores Island roughly 190,000 to 50,000 years ago. With an average height of just 1.1 meters, they were shorter than modern pygmies which earned them the nickname of ‘real-life hobbits’. Scientists believed they were the ancestors of the pygmies currently living on Flores Island, which made perfect sense, only it turns out that the two have nothing in common. If anything, both species had been independently “shrunk” by the island itself.

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The Immortal Jellyfish – The Only Creature Known to Be Able to Live Forever

Turritopsis dohrnii, a small species of jellyfish native to the Mediterranean, is commonly known as the “immortal jellyfish, and it literally lives up to its name. Possessing the ability to revert to its a sexually immature stage instead of succumbing to an inevitable death, this tiny creature holds the secret to true biological immortality.

Humans have fantasized about immortality since the beginning of time. We have countless myths and stories about it, but until the mid-1990s we had yet to find any proof that eternal life on this earth was possible. In 1996, researchers published a study about a small species of jellyfish capable of reverting from an adult, solitary individual to its juvenile colonial state, thus cheating death and achieving potential immortality. Just as long as it wasn’t consumed by predators and it could be sustained by its environment, the jellyfish could repeat this cycle indefinitely and live forever. To this day, the immortal jellyfish remains the only known immortal animal.

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Alleged “Sonic Attacks” at Cuban Embassy Shrunk Victims’ Brains, Study Suggests

Between 2016 and 2018 a number of US and Canadian diplomats working at an embassy in Havana, Cuba, reported symptoms like headaches, nausea and memory loss after hearing mysterious noises. The phenomenon became known as the “Cuban Sonic Attacks”, but Havana authorities have so far denied any wrongdoing. However, a recent study suggests something did affect the diplomats, as dozens of them showed structural changes to their brains, such as a 5 percent shrinkage.

Published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, the disturbing study analyzed advanced MRI scans of the brains of 40 diplomats that reported strange symptoms while being stationed in Havana, and compared them to those of 48 healthy people with similar ages and ethnic backgrounds. Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania found that the whole white matter volume -areas of the brain central nervous system that affects learning – of the affected diplomats was roughly five percent smaller than that of healthy individuals. Authors added that connectivity differences in the brain’s auditory and visuospatial areas were also noticed between diplomats and control participants.

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You Have Tiny Mites Living Inside Your Face And There’s Nothing You Can Do About It

Did you know you have dozens of tiny eight-legged arachnids living inside the pores of your face, feeding on the sebum secreted by the skin and mating on your face as you sleep? Don’t freak out, though, we all have them, and there’s nothing we can do to get rid of them.

Demodex folliculorum, or “face mites” as they’re commonly known, are tiny, tick-like arachnids that can only survive on the skin of humans, particularly their face. They measure around 0.3 millimeters and spend most of their lives buried head-down inside the hair follicles around those very fine, peach fuzz-like hairs that grow on our faces. They feed on sebum, that greasy, oil-like substance that our skin constantly produces to protect itself from drying out, so the highest density of face mites can be found on the oiliest parts of your face – around the eyes, nose and mouth.

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Golden Blood – The World’s Rarest and Most Precious Blood Type

Golden Blood, or Rh-null blood is an extremely rare blood type that has only been identified in 43 people around the world in the last 50 years. It is sought after both for scientific research and blood transfusions, but also incredibly dangerous to live with for the people who have it, because of its scarcity.

To understand golden blood it’s important to understand how blood types work. Human blood may look the same in everyone, but it’s actually very different. On the surface of every one of our red blood cells we have up to 342 antigens – the molecules that trigger the production of certain specialized proteins called antibodies – and it’s the absence of certain antigens that determines a person’s blood type. Around 160 of these antigens are considered common, meaning they are found on the red blood cells of most humans on the planet. If someone lacks an antigen that is found in 99 percent of all humans then their blood is considered rare, and if they lack an antigen found in 99.99 percent of humans, their blood is considered very rare.

The 342 known antigens belong to 35 blood group systems, of which the Rh, or ‘Rhesus’, system is the largest, with 61 antigens. It’s not uncommon for humans to be missing one of these antigens. For example, around 15 percent of Caucasians miss the D antigen, the most significant Rh antigen, making them RhD negative. In contrast, Rh negative blood types are much less common in Asian populations (0.3 percent). But what if a human is missing all of the 61 Rh antigens?

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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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