Feb 05, 2016

Antique mousetrap in a museum catches a mouse

posted by Larra Morris

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The Museum of English Rural Life in Reading, UK has many artifacts from a much older, lost Britain. Among them is a 155-year old mousetrap. The appropriately-named Perpetual Mouse Trap by Colin Pullinger & Sons goes by the tagline “will last a lifetime.”

In fact, it will last several lifetimes. The Assistant Curator recently found a dead mouse in the unbaited trap. 
via Neatorama

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Feb 05, 2016

Scientists made the perfect skipping stone and skipped it across their lab

posted by Larra Morris

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Scientists at Utah State University have figured out how to make the perfect skipping stones. The secret was making sure they were made out of a material that had much more give than stone.

Inspired by a toy called the Water Bouncing Ball, the USU team, led by the Splash Lab’s Tadd Truscott, collaborated with the Naval Undersea Warfare Center to figure out what makes certain moving objects, like balls or stones, walk or skip across water.
via Gizmodo

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Feb 04, 2016

Infants can see image differences that adults cannot, study finds

posted by Larra Morris

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Babies may be able to see image details that are invisible or imperceptible to adults. According to a recent study from Japanese scientists Jiale Yang, So Kanazawa, Masami K. Yamaguchi, and Isamu Motoyoshi, three- and four-month-old infants may view certain images differently because they lack perceptual constancy. That means they can see small image differences that are invisible to adults because of changes in lighting conditions.

For example, when adults see the same objects in different lighting, their brains automatically adjust to those lighting conditions. If your friend steps in front of a blue spotlight, they might appear blue, but you still recognize them. That’s perceptual constancy in action: Your brain recognizes that, though your friend is bathed in blue light, they aren’t suddenly a totally different blue person. Young babies who haven’t yet developed perceptual constancy, meanwhile, are able to see subtle images differences that adults ignore, but may be unable to recognize the same objects in different light.
via Mental Floss

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Feb 04, 2016

Robotic welding arm used to 3D print a stainless steel bike

posted by Larra Morris

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Although they're still far from being common, 3D-printed metal bicycle frames do now exist. Usually they're made using a sintering process, in which a laser is utilized to selectively melt steel powder, building it up in successive layers. Now, however, a team of students at the Delft University of Technology (TU Delft) in the Netherlands has taken another approach – they've created the world's first stainless steel bike made via a welding-based 3D-printing technique.

The students worked with Amsterdam-based company MX3D, which helped bring us the Mataerial 3D printer in 2013. Unlike traditional 3D printers, which build up objects horizontally on a flat stage, the Mataerial uses a robotic arm to extrude resin onto horizontal or vertical surfaces. Those columns of resin can be curved and linked together as they're being extruded, quickly hardening into modern art-like creations.
via Gizmag

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Image: TU Delft

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Feb 03, 2016

Driverless Dutch bus takes passengers on public test

posted by Larra Morris

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Six passengers took an unusual ride last week. The shuttle bus they were on had no one behind the wheel. That short trial run along a lake in the Dutch town of Wageningen marked the first time such a self-driving vehicle had appeared on public roads in the Netherlands.

The WePod autonomous vehicle is an electric, driverless shuttle bus that could hit top speeds of 40 kilometers per hour when fully operational. But it maintained a speed of just 8 km/h during the first short demonstration run along a 200-meter stretch of road, according to The Guardian. The WePods could eventually bump their speeds up to the 25 kilometer-per-hour range during their first actual testing phase as they mix with other normal road traffic.
via IEEE Spectrum

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Image: WEpod

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Feb 03, 2016

Don’t hate perky morning people: It might be their DNA’s fault

posted by Larra Morris

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The people who burst from bed as the sun rises to cheerily tackle their to-do list—while others sluggishly rouse and fumble with coffee makers—may have a few DNA tweaks in common.

Scanning the genetic blueprints of more than 89,000 people, researchers found that those who self-identify as “morning people” tended to have genetic variations in 15 specific spots in their genome compared with people who prefer to sleep in. Seven of those varied regions were in the DNA-neighborhoods of genes involved in circadian rhythms, aka daily physiological cycles, the authors reported in Nature Communications. For the remaining eight locations, researchers were a little foggy on a possible link to sleeping schedules and will need to do further research.
via Ars Technica

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Image: bruce_fulton

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Feb 02, 2016

UK scientists get permission to 'gene edit' human embryos

posted by Larra Morris

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A team of British scientists has been approved to use "gene editing" techniques on human embryos, in the hope that it will better our understanding of early human life. A group at the Francis Crick Institute in London wants to research newly fertilised eggs and how they develop in the first seven days -- from a single cell to a blastocyst with roughly 250 cells. Using gene manipulation, the researchers want to glean new insights about our DNA and the exact requirements for a healthy embryo. With this information, specialists could find ways to improve post-IVF embryo development techniques and clinical treatments for infertility.

The UK's Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) has approved the team's research application, however a form of "ethical approval" is still needed before they can begin testing . Provided they get the go-ahead, the group -- led by Dr Kathy Niakan -- will use embryos donated by patients that are considered surplus to their IVF treatment. As the BBC notes, it will be illegal for the scientists to implant any of the modified embryos in women -- they're purely for research, basically.
via Engadget

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