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Fri, 23 Mar 2018
The World for People who Think

Science & Technology


Engineer shows how to grow a 100-year-old food forest in your backyard in just 10 years

backyard forest
Most of the world we live in today was once forest, our natural habitat for millions of years.

Now surrounded by cities and agriculture, humans are no longer living in their "natural" habitat, argues a forest-building engineer named Shubhendu Sharma. But we can recreate little chunks of that habitat in just ten years our own backyards, workplaces and public spaces, he explains in the Ted Talk below:

Shubhendu Sharma was an industrial engineer for Toyota hired to offset some of the carbon emissions of the company's factories. His solution was to plant mini forests right next door. Since then his company Afforest has helped "build" 75 such forests in 25 cities across the world.

Ice Cube

Scientists find type of ice not known on Earth trapped in diamond

© Jack Guez / Agence France-Presse /Getty Images
Some diamonds (like these) are for people who like bling, but others are for scientists who want to know more about the Earth's interior.
Trapped in the rigid structure of diamonds formed deep in the Earth's crust, scientists have discovered a form of water ice that was not previously known to occur naturally on our planet.

The finding, published Thursday in Science, represents the first detection of naturally occurring ice-VII ever found on Earth. And as sometimes happens in the scientific process, it was discovered entirely by accident.

Ice-VII is about one and a half times as dense as the regular ice we put in our drinks and skate on in winter, and the crystalline structure of its atoms is different as well.

In normal ice, known as ice-I, the oxygen atoms arrange themselves in a hexagonal shape. In ice-VII these atoms are arranged in a cubic shape.

Eye 1

Meet the real life 'Eyeborg'

Neil Harbisson
© Eyeborg
Neil Harbisson may be the world's first cyborg, but Rob Spence is currently winning the race to become the world's first Terminator : he walks around with a red, glowing eyeball camera embedded in his right socket. He calls himself the "Eyeborg" and has traveled all over the world to speak at conferences about cyborgs and technology, which sometimes includes him recording the audience with his eye and streaming the video onto a giant screen.

Spence's career as an ocular cyborg didn't have the most auspicious start, however: he damaged his eye at age nine trying to shoot a cow pat with a shotgun. "I had my head against the gun, like I saw cowboys doing it in movies..." Spence says. "The gun bucked hard against me, against my face, and while I didn't lose my eye at that point, it was traumatized and I was declared legally blind, despite having some vision in the right eye."

Years later, when he was told he would have to get a glass replacement, Spence started looking into other options-specifically eye cameras. After meeting with a number of engineers and technologists, Spence's first eye was crafted and fitted for his socket. Though he usually wears an eyepatch, he sometimes wears his red, glowing eye in public and shoots video (the battery life is only about thirty minutes). This practice has stirred up some controversy, similar to the kind created by hobbyists with camera-equipped drones.


NASA's sun-observing satellites recreate solar eruption in 3-D

solar flare earth
Solar flares can provoke geomagnetic perturbations to the Earth.
The more solar observatories, the merrier: Scientists have developed new models to see how shocks associated with coronal mass ejections, or CMEs, propagate from the Sun - an effort made possible only by combining data from three NASA satellites to produce a much more robust mapping of a CME than any one could do alone.

Much the way ships form bow waves as they move through water, CMEs set off interplanetary shocks when they erupt from the Sun at extreme speeds, propelling a wave of high-energy particles. These particles can spark space weather events around Earth, endangering spacecraft and astronauts.

Understanding a shock's structure - particularly how it develops and accelerates - is key to predicting how it might disrupt near-Earth space. But without a vast array of sensors scattered through space, these things are impossible to measure directly. Instead, scientists rely upon models that use satellite observations of the CME to simulate the ensuing shock's behavior.

Microscope 2

Japanese scientists create pig whose organs can be used for human transplants

pig human organ transplants
A team of scientists says it has created a pig that can be used in transplantations in humans.

According to the team, which includes researchers from Meiji University and Kyoto Prefectural University, the animal is the first to be developed for transplantation based on national guidelines for xenotransplantation, in which animal organs and cells are transplanted into humans.

The team will present its findings at a forum of the Japanese Society for Xenotransplantation in Suita, Osaka Prefecture, on Saturday, and plans to jointly supply the pigs with a private company early next year.

Comment: See also: Scientists working on making actual 'sheeple' so they can harvest human organs from sheep


DNA test solves 40-year-old mystery of 2 babies switched at birth

© Global Look Press
Heartache, hereditary disease, broken families and even attempted murder. It may sound like the plot of a soap opera, but it is the true story of two Russian women who discovered that they were switched at birth, 40 years ago.

The drama of the baby swap began on March 7 1978 when two pregnant women, Rimma Shvetsova and Yulia Savelieva, rushed to their local maternity hospital in Russia's Perm Region. All in all, there were four women giving birth that day - unusual for a small rural hospital. Apparently, the medics forgot to put name tags on the newborns.

The women can't recall the exact moment their children were switched, but they left the hospital with the wrong babies. It took them almost 40 years to understand that they had not raised their biological daughters.

As the girls got older, the women started to notice that they didn't exhibit family traits. Rimma's daughter Veronika had blonde hair and blue eyes, which raised the suspicions of husband Anatoly. He thought his wife had cheated on him, an assumption which had terrifying consequences.

Microscope 2

Dark DNA: The missing matter at the heart of nature

The discovery that some animals thrive despite hugely mutated DNA hidden in their genome is forcing us to rethink some basics of evolution
genes dna
© MadeUp/Madeup.org
The fat sand rat is a strange creature. It lives in burrows, eats around 80 per cent of its body mass in leaves each day and doesn't drink water. But the really odd thing about this gerbil is that some of its DNA appears to be missing.

No doubt you have heard of dark matter, which is thought to make up over a quarter of the universe. We know it's there; we just haven't been able to detect it. Well, something similar is afoot in the genome. My colleagues and I have dubbed this elusive genetic matter "dark DNA". And our investigations into the sand rat are starting to reveal its nature.

The discovery of dark DNA is so recent that we are still trying to work out how widespread it is and whether it benefits those species that possess it. However, its very existence raises some fundamental questions about genetics and evolution. We may need to look again at how adaptation occurs at the molecular level. Controversially, dark DNA might even be a driving force of evolution.


Volcanologists warn world is unprepared for next major eruption

The eruption of Mount St Helens in 1980 caused the deaths of 57 people
© KPA/Zuma/REX/Shutterstock
The eruption of Mount St Helens in 1980 caused the deaths of 57 people
The world needs to do more to prepare for the next huge volcanic eruption, a team of leading scientists says.

The devastating Indian Ocean tsunami of 2004 and the Tōhoku earthquake in Japan in 2011 highlighted some of the worst-case scenarios for natural disasters. But humanity has not had to deal with a cataclysmic volcanic disaster since at least 1815, when the eruption of Tambora in Indonesia killed tens of thousands of people and led to a 'year without a summer' in Europe and North America. Such world-altering blasts rank at 7 or more on the Volcanic Explosivity Index (VEI) scale of eruptions, which goes to 8.

"The next VEI-7 eruption could occur within our lifetimes, or it could be hundreds of years down the road," says Chris Newhall, a volcanologist with the Mirisbiris Garden and Nature Center in Santo Domingo, Philippines. But the time to have this discussion is now, he says, so that researchers and government officials can plan and prepare before an emergency strikes.

Comment: See Also:


Scientists don't know why male fertility is in crisis

Sperm injection
© Unknown
Health experts are warning of a crisis in male fertility that they fear is making it harder for couples to conceive - a problem they say is compounded by a lack of scientific understanding.

The average sperm count has dived by 52 percent in the past four decades - while men are leaving it later and later before trying to have a child.

Yet scientists don't know why the sperm count is falling or even whether the decline is reducing fertility - although logic suggests that it is, leading academics said today.

Comment: Recent social phenomenons like rainbow gender identifications, #MeToo witch-hunt and anti-male propaganda are aggravating the situation.

Russian Presidential Candidate, Zhirinovsky: Movements like #MeToo may lead to "humans disappearing as species"


The human brain stops creating new neurons in adulthood

© Wikimedia Commons
You can forget your plans to live forever by transplanting your brain into a giant mech suit.It turns out that human grey matter has an unfortunately short shelf life. A new study published in Nature has attempted to locate genuine proof that the human brain is capable of neurogenesis - the process of creating new neurons - beyond puberty, and the results are disappointing.

To even the lead scientist's surprise, the study found zero evidence of such a phenomenon. Of all 59 human brains that were sliced up and analyzed, not a single sample from a person older than thirteen displayed any evidence of newly formed neurons.

The study involved a collection of human brains that were all different ages, although they (obviously) belonged to people that were recently deceased. The large scale international study used both traditional methods of analyzing brain slices, and more modern techniques using the newest possible technology.