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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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The World’s Longest-Running Experiment Started in 1879 and Will End in 2100

Since the late 19th century, botanists at the Michigan State University have been collaborating on a single seed-germination experiment. Now in its 137th year, it is turning out to be the world’s longest recurrently monitored scientific study. It will end in the year 2100, which means most of us won’t even be around for the final result.

The world’s longest-running experiment  started out in the fall of 1879, when Dr. William James Beal, a botanist, set-out to find a conclusive answer to the one question that farmers have been asking for centuries: How many times do you have to pull out weeds before they entirely stop growing back? Beal realised that to answer the question, he needed to work it out for real – by finding out exactly how long seeds could remain dormant in soil while still remaining viable.

So he devised an experiment that would, in centuries, provide the answer he was looking for. He put together a collection of seeds of 23 different plant types and decided to leave them dormant for years, before checking if they would still germinate. He placed 50 seeds of each variety in each of 20 narrow-necked glass bottles filled with moist sand, and buried them in a secret spot on the university campus.

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Blind Woman with Multiple Personalities Can See When She Is a Teenage Boy

Despite our many technological advancements, the human brain is still a big mystery, as proven by the recently published case of a German woman who, although legally blind, has her sight miraculously restored at times. The 37-year-old suffers from dissociative identity disorder (DID), and apparently has perfect vision when she switches to eight out of her ten personalities.

The woman, only referred to by her initials B.T., first went to see German psychotherapist Dr. Bruno Waldvogel about 14 years ago. She was completely blind at the time and accompanied by a guide dog. She told the doctor that her vision had become severely impaired during an accident at age 20, after which she gradually became blind. Waldvogel checked her medical records, which clearly stated that she had been diagnosed with cortical blindness from trauma to the skull and brain. Her eyes showed no sign of physical damage.

Waldvogel eventually diagnosed B.T. with DID, previously known as Multiple Personality Disorder, which manifested itself through no less than 10 personalities of different names, voices, and genders. Some of her personalities spoke only in German, others used English. But a major breakthrough came after about four years of treatment, when Waldvogel was shocked to witness B.T. recognize a few words on the cover of a magazine. She had assumed the personality of a teenage boy at the time.

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Two Year Old Girl Becomes World’s Youngest Person to Be Cryogenically Preserved

Scientists and doctors have made a huge leap in cryonics – the effort to save lives through sub-zero temperatures – by freezing the body of a two-year-old child. Matheryn Naovaratpong is now the youngest person in the world to be cryogenically preserved.

Fondly known to her family as ‘Einz’, the little girl was diagnosed with a rare form of brain cancer shortly after her third birthday. She died in January this year, just before she turned three. But her parents – both medical engineers – have decided to give her another chance at life using cryonics. 

Through cryonics, it is possible to preserve the bodies of humans and animals who cannot be cured through contemporary medicine, with the hope that they may be healed and resuscitated if extraordinary medical advances take place in the future. “As scientists, we are 100% confident this will happen one day – we just don’t know when,” Einz’s father Sahatorn said.

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Nemo’s Garden – Italy’s Revolutionary Underwater Fruit and Vegetable Farm

In a bid to explore alternative methods of growing produce, an Italian company has created the world’s first underwater farm. The futuristic station – aptly named Nemo’s Garden – consists of five transparent biospheres anchored to the bottom of the sea off the coast of Savona, Italy. They’re being used to grow strawberries, basil, beans, garlic, and lettuce.

“The main target of this project is to create alternative sources of plant production in areas where environmental conditions make it difficult to grow crops through conventional farming, including lack of fresh water, fertile soils, and extreme temperature changes,” said project spokesperson Luca Gamberini. “We are trying to find an alternative and economically viable technology enabling efficient production.”

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