How This Uncrushable Beetle Can Survive Being Run Over By a Car

5 hours 17 minutes ago
fahrbot-bot shares a report from Gizmodo: The diabolical ironclad beetle, in addition to having one of the coolest names in the animal kingdom, boasts one of the toughest natural exoskeletons. A team of scientists has finally figured out the secret behind this extra durable armor and how these insects can survive getting run over by a car. As wise people often say, a reed that bends in the wind is stronger than a mighty tree that breaks during a storm. New research published today in Nature suggests the diabolical ironclad beetle (Phloeodes diabolicus) is an adherent of these sage words. Their exoskeletons are extra tough, but when the pressure literally gets to be too much, their protective shells take on an elastic quality that results in a kind of stretching rather than breaking. The scientists who made this discovery -- a team from Purdue University and the University of California-Irvine -- say the unique strategy employed by the diabolical ironclad beetle could inspire the creation of innovative materials, namely components capable of dissipating energy to prevent catastrophic breakage. According to the experiments, diabolical ironclad beetles can withstand an applied force of 150 newtons, which is 39,000 times its body weight. "If we were to compare this to humans (not a great example, given the vastly different scales involved, but fun nonetheless), that would require a 200-pound person to endure the crush of 7.8 million pounds," the report says. "A tire passing overhead would inflict 100 newtons of force, which explains how these beetles can survive run-ins with cars. The researchers say other beetle species can't handle even half of this load."

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BeauHD

James Randi, Magician and Stage Artist Devoted To Debunking the Paranormal, Dies At 92

6 hours 37 minutes ago
James Randi, a Canadian-American stage magician and scientific skeptic who extensively challenged paranormal and pseudoscientific claims, has passed away Tuesday "due to age-related causes." He was 92. Slashdot reader trinarybit first shared the news. The Washington Post reports: An inveterate skeptic and bristly contrarian in his profession, Mr. Randi insisted that magic is based solely on earthly sleight of hand and visual trickery. He scorned fellow magicians who allowed or encouraged audiences to believe their work was rooted in extrasensory or paranormal powers. In contrast, the bearded, gnomish Mr. Randi cheerfully described himself as a "liar" and "cheat" in mock recognition of his magician's skills at duping people into thinking they had seen something inexplicable -- such as a person appearing to be cut in half with a saw -- when it was, in fact, the result of simple physical deception. He was equally dismissive of psychics, seers and soothsayers. Still, he was always careful to describe himself as an investigator, not a debunker, and insisted he was always open to the possibility of supernatural phenomena but simply found no evidence of it after decades of research. To put his money where his mouth was, Mr. Randi and the research organization he helped found in 1976, the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal, offered payouts ranging up to $1 million to anyone who could demonstrate a supernatural or paranormal phenomenon under mutually agreed, scientifically controlled conditions. While he had many takers, he said, none of them earned a cent. Randi was featured in a handful of Slashdot stories over the years, including a two-part interview where he answered your questions.

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BeauHD

Scientists Discover a New Organ In the Throat

23 hours 47 minutes ago
New submitter Orolo shares a report from ScienceAlert: Medical researchers have made a surprise anatomical discovery, finding what looks to be a mysterious set of salivary glands hidden inside the human head -- which somehow have been missed by scientists for centuries up until now. This "unknown entity" was identified by accident by doctors in the Netherlands, who were examining prostate cancer patients with an advanced type of scan called PSMA PET/CT. When paired with injections of radioactive glucose, this diagnostic tool highlights tumors in the body. In this case, however, it showed up something else entirely, nestled in the rear of the nasopharynx, and quite the long-time lurker. As for how the glands haven't previously been identified, the researchers suggest the structures are found at a poorly accessible anatomical location under the skull base, making them hard to make out endoscopically. It's possible duct openings could have been noticed, they say, but might not have been noticed for what they are, being part of a larger gland system. While the team concedes that additional research on a larger, more diverse cohort will be needed to validate their findings, they say the discovery gives us another target to avoid during radiation treatments for patients with cancer, as salivary glands are highly susceptible to damage from the therapy. The findings are reported in Radiotherapy and Oncology.

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BeauHD

Offices Resort To Sensors In Futile Attempts To Keep Workers Apart

1 day 3 hours ago
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Bloomberg: Millions of workers in recent months have returned to offices outfitted with new pandemic protocols meant to keep them healthy and safe. But temperature checks and plexiglass barriers between desks can't prevent one of the most dangerous workplace behaviors for the spread of Covid-19 -- the irresistible desire to mingle. "If you have people coming into the office, it's very rare for them consistently to be six feet apart," said Kanav Dhir, the head of product at VergeSense, a company that has 30,000 object-recognition sensors deployed in office buildings around the world tracking worker whereabouts. Since the worldwide coronavirus outbreak, the company has found that 60% of interactions among North American workers violate the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's six-foot distancing guidelines, as do an even higher share in Asia, where offices usually are smaller. [...] For those employers pushing ahead with a return to the office, sensors that measure room occupancy are proving to be a necessity, said Doug Stewart, co-head of digital buildings at the technology unit Cushman & Wakefield, which manages about 785-million-square feet of commercial space in North and South America. Most offices are already fitted with sensors of some kind, even if it's just a badging system or security cameras. Those lagging on such capabilities are now scrambling to add more, he said. The systems were used before the pandemic to jam as many people together in the most cost-effective way, not limit workplace crowding or keep employees away from each other, Stewart said. With that in mind, companies can analyze the data all they want, but changing human behavior -- we're social creatures, after all -- is harder, he said. Understanding worker habits is more useful if you have a way to nudge them into new patterns. Since the pandemic began, Radiant RFID LLC has sold 10,000 wristbands that vibrate when co-workers are too close to each other. The technology was originally designed to warn workers away from dangerous machinery, not other people. So far, the wristbands are responsible for reducing unsafe contacts by about 65%, said Kenneth Ratton, chief executive of the company, which makes radio-communication devices. At this point, the data on more than 3 billion encounters shows the average worker has had about 300 interactions closer than six feet lasting 10 minutes or more. Nadia Diwas is using another kind of technology: a wireless key fob she carries in her pocket made by her employer, Semtech Corp., which tracks her movements and interactions -- making it useful for contact tracing if someone gets sick, which is as important as warning people they are too close. The technology originally was developed by Semtech to help devices such as thermostats communicate on the so-called internet of things.

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NASA's OSIRIS-REX Makes Historic Touchdown On Asteroid Bennu To Collect Rock Samples

1 day 7 hours ago
NASA's Origins Spectral Interpretation Resource Identification Security Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-REx) sample return spacecraft has successfully touched the asteroid Bennu and collected a 2-oz sample of its surface. New Atlas reports: Launched atop an Atlas/Centaur booster from Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida on September 8, 2016 at 7:05 pm EDT, the robotic OSIRIS-REx probe spent four years matching orbits to rendezvous with Bennu before making a detailed survey of the body's surface to find a safe area of scientific interest. Because Bennu is 205 million miles (330 million km) from Earth, it takes a radio signal 18 minutes to reach the spacecraft from mission control, so today's Touch-And-Go (TAG) maneuver was carried out under completely autonomous control by the onboard computer, relying on updated instructions from NASA engineers. During the approach, the robotic arm called the Touch-And-Go Sample Acquisition Mechanism (TAGSAM) was deployed with its disk-shaped sample collection head forward and the solar panels angled back to avoid accidental contact with the asteroid. The spacecraft then slowly approached the 26-ft (8-m) diameter "Nightingale" landing site from its normal orbit altitude of 2,500 ft (770 m) using its Natural Feature Tracking system to make a safe approach and then pull back from Bennu before a collision could occur. When the arm made contact with the asteroid surface for about 15 seconds, a blast of nitrogen gas dislodged a small, carbon-rich sample of pebbles and soil, which were collected by the sampler head and then stowed. If it turns out that insufficient material is recovered, the spacecraft will try again at a different area in January 2021. Otherwise, the current sample will be placed in a return capsule and in March 2021, OSIRIS-REx will depart from Bennu and begin its journey back to Earth. The sample return capsule will separate from the mothership in September 2023, reenter the Earth's atmosphere to land at the Utah Test and Training Range for collection and be transferred to NASA's Johnson Space Flight Center in Houston for storage and distribution to select research teams.

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BeauHD

NASA's OSIRIS-REx Will Land On an Asteroid To Bring Home Rocks and Dust

1 day 11 hours ago
Imagine parallel parking a 15-passenger van into just two to three parking spaces surrounded by two-story boulders. On Oct. 20, a University of Arizona-led NASA mission 16 years in the making will attempt the astronomical equivalent more than 200 million miles away. A NASA mission called OSIRIS-REx will soon attempt to touch the surface of an asteroid and collect loose rubble. bobbied writes: OSIRIS-REx is the United States' first asteroid sample return mission, aiming to collect and carry a pristine, unaltered sample from an asteroid back to Earth for scientific study. The spacecraft will attempt to touch the surface of the asteroid Bennu, which is hurtling through space at 63,000 miles per hour. If all goes according to plan, the spacecraft will deploy an 11-foot-long robotic arm called TAGSAM -- Touch-and-Go Sample Acquisition Mechanism -- and spend about 10 seconds collecting at least two ounces of loose rubble from the asteroid. The spacecraft, monitored remotely by a team of scientists and engineers, will then stow away the sample and begin its return to Earth, scheduled for 2023. You can watch this sample collection "Touch-And-Go" maneuver Oct. 20 at 5 p.m. EDT/ 2 p.m. PDT on NASA Television and the agency's website. As senior vice president for research and innovation at UArizona and a mechanical engineer with a long career in space systems engineering, I believe this milestone for OSIRIS-REx captures perfectly the spirit of research and innovation, the careful balance of problem-solving and perseverance, of obstacle and opportunity.

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msmash

Impossible Foods Is Now Developing a Plant-Based Alternative To Cow's Milk

1 day 13 hours ago
From a report: There's a myriad of reasons to replace cow's milk with alternatives like nut milks, oat milk, or soy milk, but for those who enjoy the experience of consuming animal-sourced dairy products, the alternatives just aren't the same. So Impossible Foods, makers of the Impossible Burger and other plant-based meat alternatives, are working on another food replacement that looks, tastes, and behaves like cow's milk. During a virtual press conference this morning where Impossible Foods revealed it was doubling the size of its Silicon Valley-based research and development team over the next year while also launching what it calls the "Impossible Investigator project" to entice leading scientists to contribute to its cause, the company also gave the world its first look at its new plant-based cow's milk alternative that hasn't yet been dubbed with a catchy marketing name. (Although you can probably safely assume that Impossible Milk is an option being considered.) Like the company's flagship Impossible Burgers, Impossible Foods' new milk alternative is made with stable proteins sourced from plants. The idea is that it not only properly mixes with other liquids (like hot coffee) without forming precipitates that can alter the texture and drinking experience, but that it can also be whipped into a foam and used as an ingredient in other food products without having to modify a recipe as is often required with other substitutes.

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msmash

NASA and Nokia To Install 4G on Lunar Surface

1 day 15 hours ago
With competition among Earth's telecoms providers as fierce as ever, equipment maker Nokia has announced its expansion into a new market, winning a deal to install the first cellular network on the moon. From a report: The Finnish equipment manufacturer said it was selected by NASA to deploy an "ultra-compact, low-power, space-hardened" wireless 4G network on the lunar surface, as part of the US space agency's plan to establish a long-term human presence on the moon by 2030. The $14.1m contract, awarded to Nokia's US subsidiary, is part of Nasa's Artemis programme which aims to send the first woman, and next man, to the moon by 2024. The astronauts will begin carrying out detailed experiments and explorations which the agency hopes will help it develop its first human mission to Mars. Nokia's network equipment will be installed remotely on the moon's surface using a lunar hopper built by Intuitive Machines in late 2022, Nokia said. "The network will self-configure upon deployment," the firm said in a statement, adding that the wireless technology will allow for "vital command and control functions, remote control of lunar rovers, real-time navigation and streaming of high definition video."

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msmash

Voyager Spacecraft Detect An Increase In the Density of Space Outside the Solar System

1 day 23 hours ago
As Voyager 2 moves farther and farther from the Sun, the density of space is increasing. "It's not the first time this density increase has been detected," notes SciencAlert. "Voyager 1, which entered interstellar space in 2012, detected a similar density gradient at a separate location." From the report: Voyager 2's new data show that not only was Voyager 1's detection legit, but that the increase in density may be a large-scale feature of the very local interstellar medium (VLIM). The Solar System's edge can be defined by a few different boundaries, but the one crossed by the Voyager probes is known as the heliopause, and it's defined by the solar wind. [...] One theory is that the interstellar magnetic field lines become stronger as they drape over the heliopause. This could generate an electromagnetic ion cyclotron instability that depletes the plasma from the draping region. Voyager 2 did detect a stronger magnetic field than expected when it crossed the heliopause. Another theory is that material blown by the interstellar wind should slow as it reaches the heliopause, causing a sort of traffic jam. This has possibly been detected by outer Solar System probe New Horizons, which in 2018 picked up the faint ultraviolet glow resulting from a buildup of neutral hydrogen at the heliopause. It's also possible that both explanations play a role. Future measurements taken by both Voyager probes as they continue their journey out into interstellar space could help figure it out. But that might be a long bet to take. The findings have been published in The Astrophysical Journal Letters.

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BeauHD

A Group of Materials Called Perovskites Could Be a Game-Changer For Solar Power

2 days 4 hours ago
Researchers from Australia have discovered that the widely acclaimed mineral perovskite can be used to transform the solar industry through cheaper and more efficient photovoltaics. The Independent reports: Perovskite, which is forged deep within the Earth's mantle, has been hailed for its unprecedented potential to convert sunlight into electricity. Researchers have already improved its sunlight-to-energy efficiency from around 3 per cent to over 20 per cent in the space of just a few years. "It's unbelievable, a miracle material," Z. Valy Vardeny, a materials science professor from the University of Utah, said about perovskite in 2017. At the time it was thought that it would be at least 10 years before it reached a point that the material could be used in commercial solar cells, however the latest breakthrough could see the wide uptake of the technology much sooner. "It was one of those unusual discoveries that you sometimes hear about in science," said Dr Hall from the University of Melbourne. With the help of researchers at the University of Sydney, the scientists were able to use computational modeling to solve the problem of instability within the material when exposed to sunlight. The unlikely solution was to undo the disruption caused by light at lower intensities by focussing the light into a high-intensity beam. Dr Hall added: "What we've shown is that you can actually use the material in the state that you want to use it, for a solar cell - all you need to do is focus more light onto it." The research could also have significant implications for data storage, with perovskites offering a way to dramatically increase a device's potential capacity. The study has been published in the journal Nature Materials.

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BeauHD

Stupid Russian Disinformation Campaign Targets Oxford Vaccine

3 days 7 hours ago
The Times of London reports that "a Russian disinformation campaign designed to undermine and spread fear about the Oxford University coronavirus vaccine has been exposed by a Times investigation." Pictures, memes and video clips depicting the British-made vaccine as dangerous have been devised in Russia and middlemen are now seeking to "seed" the images on social media networks around the world. The crude theme of the distorted images is that the vaccine, millions of doses of which will be manufactured by the pharmaceutical giant Astrazeneca, could turn people into monkeys because it uses a chimpanzee virus as a vector. The campaign is being targeted at countries where Russia wants to sell its own Sputnik V vaccine, as well as western nations. CNN points out that this "monkey vaccine" narrative "has been voiced by Russian officials and the state media before."

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EditorDavid

Zeptoseconds! Scientists Measure the Shortest Unit of Time Ever

3 days 11 hours ago
nickwinlund77 quotes Live Science: Scientists have measured the shortest unit of time ever: the time it takes a light particle to cross a hydrogen molecule. That time, for the record, is 247 zeptoseconds. A zeptosecond is a trillionth of a billionth of a second, or a decimal point followed by 20 zeroes and a 1. Previously, researchers had dipped into the realm of zeptoseconds; in 2016, researchers reporting in the journal Nature Physics used lasers to measure time in increments down to 850 zeptoseconds. This accuracy is a huge leap from the 1999 Nobel Prize-winning work that first measured time in femtoseconds, which are millionths of a billionths of seconds. It takes femtoseconds for chemical bonds to break and form, but it takes zeptoseconds for light to travel across a single hydrogen molecule (H2). To measure this very short trip, physicist Reinhard Dörner of Goethe University in Germany and his colleagues shot X-rays from the PETRA III at Deutsches Elektronen-Synchrotron (DESY), a particle accelerator in Hamburg. The researchers set the energy of the X-rays so that a single photon, or particle of light, knocked the two electrons out of the hydrogen molecule. (A hydrogen molecule consists of two protons and two electrons.) The photon bounced one electron out of the molecule, and then the other, a bit like a pebble skipping over the top of a pond. These interactions created a wave pattern called an interference pattern, which Dörner and his colleagues could measure with a tool called a Cold Target Recoil Ion Momentum Spectroscopy (COLTRIMS) reaction microscope.

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EditorDavid

Fitness Influencer Who'd Believed Covid-19 'Didn't Exist' Dies of Covid-19

3 days 12 hours ago
"Fitness influencer Dmitriy Stuzhuk has passed away at the age of 33 after suffering from complications related to COVID-19," reports E! Online. The Daily Dot points out that Stuzhuk believed COVID-19 "didn't exist" — until he caught it himself after travelling in Turkey: Stuzhuk, who boasted more than 1 million followers on Instagram, tested positive after returning home and immediately went to the hospital. In his final post on Instagram, Stuzhuk, who said that the hospital was "completely filled with people," admitted that he was wrong about the disease and urged his followers to stay vigilant. "I want to share how I got sick and to strongly warn everyone," he wrote. "I was one who thought that Covid does not exist... Until I got sick..." Although Stuzhuk was eventually discharged from the hospital after being treated with oxygen, he was rushed back just hours later after his situation began to worsen...Stuzhuk's ex-wife Sofia stated on Instagram that her former husband began having heart-complications linked to "problems with his cardiovascular system..." The couple had three children together, the youngest of whom was just 9 months old. "Only warm memories remain, three beautiful kids and valuable experience," Sofia said.

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EditorDavid

NASA Asks: What Would You Pack For a Trip to the Moon?

3 days 23 hours ago
AmiMoJo quotes SlashGear: We're still many years away from casual consumer trips to the Moon, but it's easy to fantasize about such trips. NASA is getting in on the fun with a new campaign presenting the public with a simple question: what would you pack if you were taking your own lunar trip? NASA is encouraging anyone interested to share a picture of what's in their bag (for this imagined Moon trip) using its new #NASAMoonKit social campaign... NASA is encouraging the public to get a container that meets this volume limitation, pack it with the precious few items they'd bring along on the trip, then take a picture and share it on social media — either Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter — using the #NASAMoonKit hashtag. NASA says that it may share your post on its own social accounts if it likes what it sees. "What can't you leave the planet without?" asks the campaign's official web page. "Is it your camera? Your drawing pad? Or maybe your musical instrument? "How would you organize everything you need for your next giant leap?"

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EditorDavid

How Ransomware Puts Your Hospital At Risk

4 days 9 hours ago
nickwinlund77 quotes a New York Times opinion piece: In March, several cybercrime groups rushed to reassure people that they wouldn't target hospitals and other health care facilities during the Covid-19 pandemic. The operators of several prominent strains of ransomware all announced they would not target hospitals, and some of them even promised to decrypt the data of health care organizations for free if one was accidentally infected by their malware. But any cybersecurity strategy that relies on the moral compunctions of criminals is doomed to fail, particularly when it comes to protecting the notoriously vulnerable computer systems of hospitals. So it's no surprise that Universal Health Services was hit by ransomware late last month, affecting many of its more than 400 health care facilities across the United States and Britain. Or that clinical trials for a Covid-19 vaccine have been held up by a similar ransomware attack disclosed in early October. Or that loose-knit coalitions of volunteers all over the world are working around the clock to try to protect the computer systems of hospitals that are already straining under the demands of providing patient care during a global pandemic. In the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, the potential consequences of these cyberattacks are terrifying. Hospitals that have lost access to their databases or had their networks infected by ransomware may not be able to admit patients in need of care or may take longer to provide those patients with the treatment they need, if they switch to relying on paper records... Every hospital and clinic should be re-evaluating their computer networks right now and ramping up the protections they have in place to prevent their services from being interrupted by malware or their sensitive patient data from being stolen.

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EditorDavid

College President Resigns After 712 Students Test Positive For Covid-19

4 days 11 hours ago
CNN reports: The president of the State University of New York at Oneonta has resigned, as the school grapples with hundreds of reported Covid-19 cases within the university since the beginning of the semester... SUNY Oneonta has reported 712 student cases of Covid-19 since residence halls opened on August 17... The resignation of the sitting president of SUNY Oneonta comes after the university decided not to test students or quarantine them on arrival. Soon after, the University saw an uptick in positive results. By the time leadership tried to take punitive measures against students for disobeying social distancing orders, the virus had spread... SUNY Oneonta has about 6,700 students enrolled, according to its website. In an official statement the school's chancellor said the president now wanted to "pursue other opportunities." But one student told CNN the outbreak was partly the fault of the student body. "I believe that much of the spreading could have been prevented if the students hadn't partied or hadn't gone anywhere without masks on."

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EditorDavid

Home-Made Covid Vaccine Appeared to Work, but Questions Remained

4 days 14 hours ago
"Josiah Zayner's plan was simple: replicate a Covid-19 vaccine that had worked in monkeys, test it on himself and then livestream the experiment online over a period of months," reports Bloomberg. "Zayner discovered, testing a vaccine is far more complicated than he had imagined." Even though his experiment yielded a promising result, Zayner found too many unanswered questions to say that it worked. For one, it wasn't clear whether antibodies he found in his own body in extremely tiny measures before the experiment began made a difference... As the U.S. rushes to bring a vaccine to market far faster than has ever been done, Zayner said he has discovered why the long, slow process of clinical trials shouldn't be rushed. A promising early stage result is just that: promising... Initially, Zayner assumed that the experiment he named Project McAfee, after the antiviral software, would be relatively straightforward. The vaccine selected had triggered protective immunity against the virus in rhesus macaque monkeys in a paper published in May. Zayner was able to order the same spike protein sequence from the DNA-synthesis company the researchers had used. The plan: He and two fellow biohackers — Daria Dantseva in Ukraine and David Ishee in Mississippi — would themselves test the concoction they ordered online. They would then livestream the entire process online over several months, with the first showing to occur in June. But early on in the experiment, complications arose. Before starting, Zayner took a test at Lab Corp Inc. that told him he didn't already have antibodies to the virus. But when he performed a similar test on himself shortly afterward, he found that he did have some antibodies, just not enough to produce a positive result on Lab Corp's test. While those antibodies didn't appear to be the neutralizing type, he wondered whether the result came because the vaccine was picking up signals from antibodies to a different virus — or how this faint antibody signal might affect things. "I'm very suspicious of my own data," he said. He's not alone. Hank Greely, a bioethicist at Stanford University, said Zayner's experiment pointed out an underappreciated reality of vaccine development. "Actually making the vaccine isn't that hard," he said. "It's testing it and knowing that it's safe — and knowing that it's effective...." Zayner's next project will focus on showing people how to grow chicken cells to make their own fake meat. With vaccines, Zayner concluded, "Large scale clinical trials are probably required, because it is so messy."

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EditorDavid

A Chicken Nugget Was Just Launched Into Space

4 days 15 hours ago
A British supermarket celebrated its 50th anniversary by playing with its food — specifically, one lucky piece of breaded protein: The grocery store chain hired Sent Into Space to launch the chicken nugget into space. According to its website, Sent Into Space is the "world's leading space marketing company, specialising in space-themed marketing campaigns and publicity stunts." "From a site in rural Wales, the nugget traveled through the Earth's atmosphere to an altitude of 110,000 feet (that's 33.5 km) where it floated in the region known as Near Space," Sent Into Space wrote in a statement on its website. That would be 20.7 miles. The nugget spent an hour "floating" in space in low pressure and temperatures that can drop to -65 degrees Celsius, according to Sent Into Space... The nugget was launched near the company's headquarters in Wales in a gas-filled weather balloon with an auxiliary satellite tracking system and integrated camera support. The Irish News reported that the nugget descended at 200 mph, with a parachute deploying around 62,000 feet for the nugget's protection.

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EditorDavid

US Surpasses 8 Million Coronavirus Cases

5 days 3 hours ago
An anonymous reader quotes a report from CNET: America surpassed 8 million cases of the novel coronavirus on Friday, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. The grim milestone that puts the U.S. ahead of every other country in terms of total cases. Over 218,000 coronavirus deaths have been reported in the U.S. as well, again setting a record that represents about 20% of total deaths worldwide. COVID-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus, has rapidly spread across the globe, infecting nearly 40 million and killing over 1.1 million. Beside the U.S., India has the highest number of cases, at almost 7.4 million, while some countries like New Zealand have all but eliminated COVID-19 with the number of active infections now at zero.

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BeauHD

A Disturbing Twinkie That Has, So Far, Defied Science

5 days 9 hours ago
Apparently Twinkies aren't immortal. After discovering that his 8-year-old Twinkies "tasted like old sock," biologist Colin Purrington sent them to a pair of scientists -- Brian Lovett and Matt Kasson from West Virginia University in Morgantown -- to study the kind of fungus growing on them. An anonymous reader shares the report from NPR: The researchers immediately thought some kind of fungus was involved in attacking the 8-year-old Twinkies, because they've studied fungi that kill insects and dry them out in a similar way. Plus, the reddish blotch on one Twinkie seemed to have a growth pattern that's typical of fungi. [...] They noticed that the wrapping on the mummified Twinkie seemed to be sucked inward, suggesting that the fungus got in before the package was sealed and, while the fungus was consuming the Twinkie, it was using up more air or oxygen than it was putting out. "You end up with a vacuum," Lovett says. "And very well that vacuum may have halted the fungus's ability to continue to grow. We just have the snapshot of what we were sent, but who knows if this process occurred five years ago and he just only noticed it now." A quick examination with a magnifying scope revealed fungal sporulation on both the marred and mummified Twinkies, again suggesting the involvement of fungi. The researchers used a bone marrow biopsy tool to sort of drill through the tough outer layer of the gray, mummified Twinkie. "We certainly hit the marrow of the Twinkie and quickly realized that there was still some cream filling on the inside," Kasson says. From the Twinkie marked with just a dark circle of mold, they were able to grow up a species of Cladosporium. "Cladosporium is one of the most common, airborne, indoor molds worldwide," says Kasson, who cautions that they haven't done a DNA analysis to confirm the species. So far, however, no fungi have grown from the sample taken out of the mummified Twinkie. "It may be that we don't have any living spores despite this wonderful, rare event that we've witnessed," Lovett says. "Spores certainly die, and depending on the fungus, they can die very quickly." They're not giving up, though. They'll fill lab dishes with all kinds of sweet concoctions to try to coax something back to life from the mysterious Twinkie mummy.

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BeauHD
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