People in large cities are exposed to potentially damaging loud noises everyday. In 2001, Mocci1 et al. established that noise exposure causes magnesium to be excreted from the body. Supplementing your diet with a magnesium supplement can reduce noise-induced ear damage and thus reduce the likelihood of new-onset tinnitus. Magnesium also protects the nerves in the inner ear and is a powerful... glutamate inhibitor. Glutamate is a neurotransmitter, produced by the action of sound waves on the hair cells of the inner ear. Unregulated production of glutamate at sound frequencies for which there is no external stimulation could be the cause of tinnitus.
According to historians, it all began in the 1820s when a French immigrant named Martin Fugate showed up in Troublesome Creek and decided to marry a local girl named Elizabeth Smith. Little did they know that they both carried the gene for an extremely rare disorder known as methemoglobinemia. But when they began having children, it quickly became clear that there was something . . . unusual about... them. Four of their seven offspring were the color of plums. And they stayed that way for the rest of their lives. Back then it wasn't uncommon for cousins to marry, particularly in rural communities. So blue skin, which is caused by lower levels of oxygen in the blood, was passed down for generations. As late as the 1960s, there were still blue people living in Kentucky.
Some of the waste that humans flush away every day could become a powerful source of brain cells to study disease, and may even one day be used in therapies for neurodegenerative diseases. Scientists have found a relatively straightforward way to persuade the cells discarded in human urine to turn into valuable neurons.
Standing in the middle of Bern, Switzerland, is the Kindlifresser, or “Child Eater.” The fountain sculpture towers above the ground, a baby half stuffed into his mouth -- and a sack full of three alarmed tots slung over its shoulder presumably for later snacking. The disturbing sculpture is no modern work of art; built in 1546, it is one of the oldest fountains in the city of Bern. Strangely, no one is exactly sure why it’s there.
Although Miyakejima appears frightening and almost post-apocalyptic, tourists can, in fact, visit the island. Aside from the dangers of poisonous gas, parts of the island are extremely lush and apparently the scuba diving is a beautiful experience filled with dolphin sightings. For visitors who believe the benefits outweigh the danger, gas masks are available upon arrival at many tourist shops on the island.
The town closest to the No. 4 reactor was Pripyat, a city of 49,000 founded in 1970 to house workers from Chernobyl. Only about three kilometers from the plant, the entire city was forced to evacuate. Two decades later, this ghost town is a freeze frame of the Soviet Union in 1986. Communist propaganda still hangs on walls, personal belongings litter the streets and abandoned buildings. The... hammer and sickle decorate lampposts, awaiting May Day celebrations that never took place. Toys are strewn about a schoolhouse where they were last dropped by children who are now fully grown. All clocks are frozen at 11:55, the moment the electricity was cut.
In 1942 a British forest guard in Roopkund, India made an alarming discovery. Some 16,000 feet above sea level, at the bottom of a small valley, was a frozen lake absolutely full of skeletons. That summer, the ice melting revealed even more skeletal remains, floating in the water and lying haphazardly around the lake's edges. Something horrible had happened here.
Researchers have devised a novel way to recover confidential messages processed in doctors' offices and elsewhere by analyzing the sounds made when documents are reproduced on dot-matrix printers. This so-called side-channel attack works by recording the “acoustic emanations” of a confidential document being printed, and then processing it with software that translates the sounds into words. The... method recovers as much as 95 per cent of the printed words when an attacker has contextual knowledge about the text being printed, such as the words included in a medical prescription or a living-will declaration. Up to 72 per cent of the text can be recovered when no context is known.
Several species of caterpillars have developed an interesting system for waste disposal; they fire their fecal pellets a distance of up to 40 times their body length away from their homes, at a speed of 4.2 feet (1.3 meters) per second. The equivalent distance for a 6-foot-tall (1.8 meter) human would be around 240 feet (73 meters).
Enlarged images of common molds ( bread mold and fruit mold) were sandblasted onto glass, Each of the carved out areas in the glass became like tiny petri dishes which were filled with growth medium, and inoculated with mold spores. During the show the mold grew on the glass, creating a double portrait of the fungus, both life sized and hugely magnified.
The scientists found that at solar noon, when the Sun is at its strongest, the fungus synchronised ant behavior, forcing infected ants to bite the main vein on the underside of a leaf. The multiplying fungal cells in the ant's head cause fibres within the muscles that open and close the ant's mandibles to become detached, causing "lock jaw," which makes an infected ant unable to release the leaf,... even after death. A few days later, the fungus grows through the ant's head a fruiting body, a stroma, which releases spores to be picked up by another wandering ant.
Mycelium doesn’t taste very good, but once it’s dried, it has some remarkable properties. It’s nontoxic, fireproof and mold- and water-resistant, and it traps more heat than fiberglass insulation. It’s also stronger, pound for pound, than concrete. In December, Ross completed what is believed to be the first structure made entirely of mushroom. (Sorry, the homes in the fictional Smurf village... don’t count.) The 500 bricks he grew at Far West Fungi were so sturdy that he destroyed many a metal file and saw blade in shaping the ‘shrooms into an archway 6 ft. (1.8 m) high and 6 ft. wide.
In its newest and most sophisticated role, 3-D printing is actually doing the science, rather than just supplying the parts. Leroy Cronin at the University of Glasgow used a 3-D printer as a chemistry lab. He designed a reaction vessel (printed from silicone bathroom caulk) and used it to synthesize novel compounds: two inorganic nanoclusters and one organic compound (Nature Chemistry, 4:349-54,... 2012). The printer dispensed the reagents into separate chambers of the vessel, and the researchers then sucked the chemicals into a third mixing chamber to produce the new compounds. “It’s like you’re baking a cake, but also making the baking tin,” Cronin says. His team also lined other vessels with catalysts or electrodes, so that the container itself actually takes part in the experiment. Chemists will no longer be limited to thinking about chemistry as reactions done in static containers, he says, instead considering the container as part of the reaction. “What I loved about this paper is there is some cool chemistry in there, but that was not the point,” says Joshua Pearce, a professor at Michigan Tech. “They’re using a 3-D printer to attack chemistry in a way it’s never been attacked before.”
Modern society tends to regard itself as somehow better than previous ones, and technological advance reinforces that sense of superiority. But history teaches us that there is nothing new under the sun. Robert Darnton, an historian at Harvard University, who has studied information-sharing networks in pre-revolutionary France, argues that “the marvels of communication technology in the present... have produced a false consciousness about the past—even a sense that communication has no history, or had nothing of importance to consider before the days of television and the internet.” Social media are not unprecedented: rather, they are the continuation of a long tradition. Modern digital networks may be able to do it more quickly, but even 500 years ago the sharing of media could play a supporting role in precipitating a revolution. Today's social-media systems do not just connect us to each other: they also link us to the past.
Cell turnover rates can easily be measured in animals by making their cells radioactive and seeing how fast they are replaced. Such an experiment, called pulse-labeling, could not ethically be done in people. But Dr. Frisen realized several years ago that nuclear weapons tested in the atmosphere until 1963 had in fact labeled the cells of the entire world’s population. The nuclear blasts... generated a radioactive form of carbon known as carbon-14. The amount of carbon-14 in the atmosphere has gradually diminished since 1963, when above-ground tests were banned, as it has been incorporated into plants and animals or diffused into the oceans. In the body, carbon-14 in the diet gets into the DNA of new cells and stays unchanged for the life of the cell. Because the level of carbon-14 in the atmosphere falls each year, the amount of carbon-14 in the DNA can serve to indicate the cell’s birth date, Dr. Frisen found. Four years ago he used his new method to assess the turnover rate of various tissues in the body, concluding that the average age of the cells in an adult’s body might be as young as 7 to 10 years. But there is a wide range of ages — from the rapidly turning over cells of the blood and gut to the mostly permanent cells of the brain.
n the past 25 million years, four different specialized agricultural systems have evolved, leading to the most recently evolved and best-known fungus-growing ant species--"leaf-cutter ants." The ants do not eat the leaves; they grow their fungus gardens on them and then eat the fungus. By studying the agricultural evolution of leaf-cutter ants, as well as various other species, scientists may be... able to develop improved human agricultural and medical methods. "Agriculture is very rare in the animal world," said Schultz. "We only know of four animal groups that have discovered agriculture: ants, termites, bark beetles and humans. By studying certain fungus-growing ants, which our study indicates are almost like 'living fossils,' we might be able to better understand steps involved in the evolution of ant agriculture."
he oldest evidence of a fungus that turns ants into zombies and makes them stagger to their death has been uncovered by scientists. The gruesome hallmark of the fungus's handiwork was found on the leaves of plants that grew in Messel, near Darmstadt in Germany, 48m years ago. The finding shows that parasitic fungi evolved the ability to control the creatures they infect in the distant past,... even before the rise of the Himalayas. The fungus, which is alive and well in forests today, latches on to carpenter ants as they cross the forest floor before returning to their nests high in the canopy. The fungus grows inside the ants and releases chemicals that affect their behaviour. Some ants leave the colony and wander off to find fresh leaves on their own, while others fall from their tree-top havens on to leaves nearer the ground. The final stage of the parasitic death sentence is the most macabre. In their last hours, infected ants move towards the underside of the leaf they are on and lock their mandibles in a "death grip" around the central vein, immobilising themselves and locking the fungus in position. "This can happen en masse. You can find whole graveyards with 20 or 30 ants in a square metre. Each time, they are on leaves that are a particular height off the ground and they have bitten into the main vein before dying," said David Hughes at Harvard University.
Legendary primatologist Dian Fossey spent decades documenting the lives of the mountain gorillas of Rwanda. Now, scientists are exhuming the bodies of those gorillas to learn about evolution. Researcher Erin Marie Williams is part of that team, and sent this fifth dispatch from the field. This morning started as all others. We stumbled around searching for coffee, fumbling through greetings in... four languages. It should have been another beautiful Rwanda day. But then I met something called the driver ant. The larger ones are nearly an inch long, with one-quarter reserved for pincers. So one-fourth of this deplorable creature is designed for inflicting misery. When driver ants bite, they mean business, refusing to let go until they're smushed or decapitated. There is no silver lining to this species, and it turns out, they love the burial shafts where this archaeologist has to stick her head — love them the way we Midwesterners love fried food on sticks at county fairs. And we had unknowingly created a driver ant buffet. A nightmare. The flaw in our plan happened the day before. We had begun excavating the remains of Umugisha, an adult female gorilla. Because we had encountered the remains at the end of the day, we had decided to cover them and finish the next day. But this morning, as I neared the site, biological anthropologist Shannon McFarlin, one of the co-leaders directing this project, said ominously: "Driver ants." Amandine Eriksen added, "Just so you know, this day is going to suck."
Ant Facts • Army ants don't create traditional nests — they bivouac at night in a protected place, creating a "nest" by connecting their own bodies to form a mass. • There are an estimated 1,000 trillion ants living on the planet at any given moment, representing 11,800 known species. • Ants inhabit almost every habitat on Earth — including the stomachs of some frogs. In a tropical... rainforest, ants can constitute up to 15 percent of the total animal biomass. • Some ant species use tools and herd and "milk" other animals. • Highly organized ant colonies can last for hundreds of years.
If you want to design a railway system, you could do worse than hire a slime mold. Researchers have shown that, when grown on a map of Japan, the gelatinous, funguslike organism connects points of interest in a pattern similar to Tokyo's train network. Engineers might be able to take a cue from the organism's approach to design more-efficient transportation systems.