Putting pencil to paper has been the tried-and-true method to illustrate the faces of wanted criminals, but new technology is changing this traditional approach. DNA, rather than an artist’s skill, is an emerging tool to recreate the face behind a crime.
The new forensic technique is called DNA phenotyping. It relies on DNA, found for instance in a drop of blood, to create a simulated face based upon genetic markers. Although the science still has room to grow, start-up companies in the United States are already producing DNA-based sketches to assist police departments in criminal investigations. Read More
It’s not surprising that Southeast Asia is home to countless ancient Buddha statues, but when one of those statues contains a mummified monk, that is certainly a surprise.
A mummified monk is exactly what researchers at the Netherland’s Meander Medical Center found when they placed a 1,000-year-old Chinese Buddha statue inside a CT scanner. Researchers believe the statue contains the body of a Buddhist master named Liuquan, who may have practiced the tradition of “self-mummification” to reach his final resting place.
Humans love to make a racket. From our car horns to jackhammers, noise is a constant companion wherever people come together to live, work and play.
So where can a person go to find some peace and quiet?
Thanks to data gathered by the National Park Service, it’s now easy to find the nation’s sanctuaries of silence. Researchers conducted more than 1.5 million hours of acoustical monitoring at 546 different sites to construct a map (above) that shows the average noise levels throughout the U.S. on a typical summer day. The basic takeaway: The further you head west, the quieter life gets. Read More
It’s a small victory for fruit-salad enthusiasts: The U.S. Department of Agriculture last week approved genetically modified apples that don’t brown when exposed to air.
The approval allows trees bearing this type of fruit, called Arctic apples, to be planted on U.S. soil and, once the FDA agrees, the produce could be sold in stores within a few years. Read More
Swedish optics researchers are developing contact lenses that can zoom in on an object with the blink of an eye.
The prototype lenses, unveiled Friday at the American Association for the Advancement of Science annual meeting, can magnify objects up to 2.8 times and could someday be useful for patients with macular degeneration, a major cause of blindness and visual impairment in older adults.
A simple wink activates the telescopic lens, which could help people read and recognize faces more easily. Read More
This article was originally published on The Conversation.
Enormous cloud-like plumes reaching 160 miles above the surface of Mars have left scientists baffled. This is way beyond Mars’ normal weather, reaching into the exosphere where the atmosphere merges with interplanetary space. None of the conventional explanations for such clouds make sense – neither water or carbon dioxide ice nor dust storms nor auroral light emissions usually hit such heights.
These “mystery clouds” came as a surprise, in particular when considering they were first spotted by a string of amateur astronomers in 2012. After all, an international fleet of five orbiters and two rovers is currently operating on and around Mars, and one may be excused thinking the red planet has little left to hide and its exploration has become routine.
A survey of images from the Hubble Space Telescope and amateur astronomers revealed massive clouds had been seen on Mars before, but none as prominent as the 2012 observations.
So what caused these clouds? An international team of scientists led by Agustin Sánchez-Lavega has now published an investigation in the journal Nature.
Sunlight is a key factor architects take into account in their designs, but in most cases, they’re pretty much at the mercy of Mother Nature to provide it. However a new innovation may be set to change that.
An Italian company called CoeLux has developed an LED light that impeccably recreates the appearance of sunlight — so well that both human brains and cameras can’t tell the difference. Designers captured the color temperature and intensity of sunlight by recreating the same natural conditions that exist in Earth’s atmosphere, but on a nano scale. Read More
This article was originally published on The Conversation.
Humans are thought to be able to taste five qualities but technological advances combined with sophisticated research means we can now test for more subtle tastes we haven’t known about. In a paper we published this week, we show there’s now enough evidence to consider fat a taste quality.
Taste acts as the gatekeeper of ingestion – if a potential food is deemed suitable for consumption it may be swallowed, if not rejected. To guide this decision, we have five taste qualities: sweet, sour, salty, bitter and umami. Sweet, salty and umami are all appetitive and signal the food contains essential nutrient, while excessive sour and bitter signal aversion and potential harm.
Valentine’s Day may have been invented by the greeting card companies but we think it’s been perfected by science. After all, what’s finding a mate if not basically an exercise in statistics? Attractiveness (like so many questions) can be answered by big data. And relationship happiness, well that’s nothing that a well-written formula can’t predict.
So put aside that mushy feel-good stuff and let’s get down to the real numbers of finding, and keeping, that special someone.
Boston Dynamics, the company that builds incredibly agile robots, has added another four-legged sprinter to its pack.
In order to introduce the world to “Spot,” the crew at Boston Dynamic kicked the innocent robot as it walked through the halls of their building — and filmed it. However, as you can see in the YouTube video, Spot never falters under the abuse; it dynamically corrects its balance even after a good shove.
And that’s the coolest part. Spot is a walking robot that’s autonomously nimble on its feet. Read More