Scientists Have Found a Sixth Taste
Scientists have found evidence that humans can pick up a sixth taste associated with carbohydrate-rich foods.
Not only could the discovery see a new flavour added to the list of tastes,
which currently includes salty, sweet, sour, bitter, and umami, but the findings might also explain why we love such starchy foods so much.
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Researchers develop novel way of deriving hydrogen from grass using just sunlight and a cheap catalyst
Garden grass could become a source of cheap and clean renewable energy, scientists have claimed.
A team of UK researchers, including experts from Cardiff University's Cardiff Catalysis Institute, have shown that significant amounts of hydrogen can be unlocked from fescue grass with the help of sunlight and a cheap catalyst.
It is the first time that this method has been demonstrated and could potentially lead to a sustainable way of producing hydrogen, which has enormous potential in the renewable energy industry due to its high energy content and the fact that it does not release toxic or greenhouse gases when it is burnt.
Co-author of the study Professor Michael Bowker, from the Cardiff Catalysis Institute, said: "This really is a green source of energy.
"Hydrogen is seen as an important future energy carrier as the world moves from fossil fuels to renewable feedstocks, and our research has shown that even garden grass could be a good way of getting hold of it."
The team, which also includes researchers from Queen's University Belfast, have published their findings in the Royal Society journal Proceedings A.
Hydrogen is contained in enormous quantities all over in the world in water, hydrocarbons and other organic matter.
Up until now, the challenge for researchers has been devising ways of unlocking hydrogen from these sources in a cheap, efficient and sustainable way.
A promising source of hydrogen is the organic compound cellulose, which is a key component of plants and the most abundant biopolymer on Earth.
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Bacterial Slime Acts As Teensy Eyeball
Slimy microbes called cyanobacteria use their teensy bodies as lenses to collect light and "see," before growing little legs to inch toward those rays, new research suggests.
That means the basic workings of these miniature light collectors may not be so different from those of cameras or the human eye, the researchers say.
"The idea that bacteria can see their world in basically the same way that we do is pretty exciting," study lead author Conrad Mullineaux, a microbiologist at the Queen Mary University of London, said in a statement.
"Our observation that bacteria are optical objects is pretty obvious with hindsight, but we never thought of it until we saw it. And no one else noticed it before either
, despite the fact that scientists have been looking at bacteria under microscopes for the last 340 years."
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Living Bacteria Can Now Store Data
Using the CRISPR gene-editing tool, scientists from Harvard University have developed a technique that permanently records data into living cells. Incredibly, the information imprinted onto these microorganisms can be passed down to the next generation.
CRISPR is turning into an incredibly versatile tool. The cheap and easy-to-use molecular editing system that burst onto the biotech scene only a few years ago is being used for a host of applications, including genetic engineering, RNA editing, disease modeling, and fighting retroviruses like HIV. And now, as described in a new Science paper, it can also be used to turn lowly microorganisms into veritable hard drives.
Scientists have actually done this before, but in a completely artificial way from start to finish. In these prior experiments, information was encoded into a DNA sequence, the DNA synthesized, and then that was it—all the information remained outside the realm of living organisms. In the new study, a Harvard research team led by geneticists Seth Shipman and Jeff Nivala went about DNA data storage in a completely different way.
“We write the information directly into the genome,” Nivala told Gizmodo. “While the overall amount of DNA data we have currently stored within a genome is relatively small compared to the completely synthetic DNA data storage systems, we think genome-based information storage has many potential advantages.” These advantages, he says, could include higher fidelity and the capability to directly interface with biology. For example, a bacterium could be taught to recognize, provide information, and even kill other microorganisms in its midst, or provide a record of genetic expression.
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Librarian robot was built
Being able to access and download information in an instant is a hallmark of the digital age. But much of the world's knowledge remains between the pages of printed books. Tracking these volumes in libraries is a tedious, labor-intensive process, but improved access to these invaluable resources is now possible thanks to robot technology developed at A*STAR.
Some libraries are adapting to automation by placing Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tags into their collections. These computerized barcodes contain unique identifying labels that can be quickly scanned using wireless, handheld RFID readers. Alternatively, 'smart shelves' containing multiple RFID antenna can automatically register when books enter or are removed from their stacks. Such approaches are expensive, however, and still rely on manual labor.
At A*STAR's Institute for Infocomm Research, researchers Renjun Li, Zhiyong Huang, Ernest Kurniawan, and Chin Keong Ho are designing robots that can relieve librarians of many menial tasks, while enhancing searching and sorting of books. Their latest project is an autonomous robotic shelf scanning (AuRoSS) platform that can self-navigate through libraries at night, scanning RFID tags to produce reports on missing and out-of-sequence books.
Li notes that this function required a way to steer a tall, wheeled robot through complex mazes of library stacks, while keeping a critical distance from shelves at all times. "Too far and we lose the RFID signals, but too close and the antenna hits the shelf," he says.
The team's other obstacle was reading available library maps. Although adequate for human users, map resolutions are usually not detailed enough for robot movement. "We decided to detect the shelf surface itself, and use that as a reference to plan the paths," says Li.
To help track shelves in real-time, the researchers assembled a 'macro-mini' manipulator, where the mobile base robot contains an additional small robotic arm. The mini manipulator can move laterally, and uses ultrasonic sensors to position an RFID antenna to the optimal distance for book scanning. It also measures positioning errors, and feeds this data into the mobile navigation unit to anticipate direction changes.
Real-world trials at Singapore libraries revealed the AuRoSS robot's potential—up to 99 per cent scanning accuracy was achieved, even with curved shelves (see image). "During the re-opening of Pasir Ris Public Library, we put on a public demonstration and received very positive reactions," says Li. "We are improving the robustness and analytics engine and integrating into library operations."
Could optical clocks redefine the length of a second?
GPS-based navigation, communication systems, electrical power grids and financial networks all rely on the precise time kept by a network of around 500 atomic clocks located around the world.
In The Optical Society's journal for high impact research, Optica, researchers present a way to use optical clocks for more accurate timekeeping than is possible with today's system of traditional atomic clocks. The researchers also measured an optical clock's frequency—analogous to it's "ticking"—with unprecedented precision.
A more accurate global time keeping system would allow financial networks to use more precise time stamps and thus handle even more transactions in shorter amounts of time. It would also allow GPS and other satellite-based navigation systems to provide even more precise location information.
Although optical clocks have been more accurate than microwave clocks for some time, their complexity and resulting long downtimes have made it unpractical to use them for worldwide timekeeping.
"We showed that even with the downtimes of today's optical clocks, they still can improve timekeeping," said Christian Grebing, Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt (PTB), The National Metrology Institute of Germany, who is a member of the research team. "We achieved a better performance compared to the very best microwave fountain clocks which have generally been considered less reliable and thus less suitable for the actual implementation of a practical timescale."
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Google Wants to Inject a Computer into Your Eye
Google, the company who wants you to live forever so it can continue to pull every bit of interesting information about you to sell to advertisers, has filed a patent to shove a computer into your eye. Forget smart contacts — Google wants to be inside your eye.
In the patent which was filed in 2014 but published last week, Google describes this gadget as "a[n] electronic lens that can be controlled to control the overall optical power of the device," which will be powered by an "energy harvesting antenna." This device would have to be injected into the lens capsule of your eye which does not sound fun in any capacity.
Google mentions a bunch of fun signals that could be sent from the device like GPS, LTE, and NFC which are probably totally fine to have inside a human body. I'm not sure how this will play into Google's never-ending quest to acquire all information, but I'd guess this could help people with vision problems. Or allow Google to retire those Street View minivans.
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Scott Sight Mask Gives Firefighters Hands-Free Thermal Vision
A fire is no place to be blind, but firefighters face that prospect every time they enter a smoke-filled building. Thermal imagers can improve the odds, but they're too often handheld and bulky, so Scott Safety has come up with the Scott Sight, a lightweight imaging system integrated into a breathing mask to provide individual firefighters with real-time thermal images.
In many ways, "firefighter" is a bit of a misnomer. According to the National Fire Protection Association, most fire deaths are actually due to smoke inhalation and the hazard that gives firefighters the most grief isn't flames, but the blindness caused by stumbling about in smoke while using respirators. In such a situation, rescuers can get lost, fall down stairs or through holes in the floor, or accidentally grab bare electrical wires.
Since the 1990s, fire brigades have used thermal imagers to see through smoke to save thousands of lives and millions of dollars of property. These cameras use heat instead of visible light to penetrate smoke and not only allow firefighters to navigate burning buildings, but can also isolate hidden fires so firefighters can put them out without having to damage or destroy surrounding property.
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Domino’s Unveil 'World’s First' Pizza Delivery Robo
Before the robots overthrow humanity, they're going to be delivering piping hot pizza right to our doors: or at least they will if the latest experiment by Domino's in Australia is anything to go by.
The Domino's Robotic Unit (DRU) being demoed by the company is made up of two parts: a robot created in partnership with Marathon Robotics based on a military design, and a pizza oven that you need a PIN code to unlock (just in case someone else should try and make off with its precious cargo).
"DRU is able to navigate from a starting point to his destination, selecting the best path of travel," says Domino's. "His on-board sensors enable him to perceive obstacles along the way and avoid them if necessary."
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