Just Based on DNA, Scientists Can Construct an Image of Your Face

By Carl Engelking | February 25, 2015 2:02 pm
(Credit: Shriver Claes/Penn State)

(Credit: Shriver Claes/Penn State)

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

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Technology, top posts
MORE ABOUT: genes & health

X-Rays of Buddhist Statue Reveal Mummified Monk

By Carl Engelking | February 23, 2015 1:51 pm

(Courtesy: Drents Museum)

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.

Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Living World, top posts
MORE ABOUT: archaeology

Scientists Find the Quietest and Noisiest Places in the U.S.

By Carl Engelking | February 20, 2015 1:35 pm

Head for the dark blue if you’re seeking some peace and quiet in the United States. (Credit: Natural Sounds and Night Skies Division, NPS)

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

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Environment, Living World, top posts

Genetically Modified Non-Browning Apples Are Approved in the U.S.

By Carl Engelking | February 18, 2015 2:15 pm

Arctic apple slices (bottom) compared to traditional apple slices. (Credit: Okanagan Specialty Fruits)

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

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Living World, top posts

Zoom Contact Lens Magnifies Objects at the Wink of an Eye

By Carl Engelking | February 17, 2015 1:43 pm
Image: Eric Tremblay and Joe Ford. Courtesy of EPFL

This telescopic contact lens can make objects appear 2.8 times larger with the blink of an eye. (Image: Eric Tremblay and Joe Ford. Courtesy of EPFL)

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

Mysterious Clouds in Mars’ Atmosphere Baffle Scientists

By Christian Schroeder, University of Stirling | February 17, 2015 12:29 pm
Mars with the plume circled, right, and augmented views at left. Credit: Grupo Ciencias Planetarias (GCP) - UPV/EHU

Mars with the plume circled, right, and zoomed in views of the region at left. Credit: Grupo Ciencias Planetarias (GCP) – UPV/EHU

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.

Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Space & Physics, top posts

LED Skylight Authentically Recreates the Sun’s Rays

By Carl Engelking | February 17, 2015 12:12 pm

CoeLux’s artificial light will allow people to turn every day into a sunny day. (Credit: CoeLux)

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

CATEGORIZED UNDER: select, Technology

Scientists Propose a Sixth Basic Taste: Fat

By Russell Keast, Deakin University | February 13, 2015 1:35 pm

taste tongue fattyThis 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.

Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Mind & Brain, top posts
MORE ABOUT: nutrition, Senses

How Math Can Help You Find True Love

By Carl Engelking | February 13, 2015 9:33 am


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.

Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Space & Physics, top posts
MORE ABOUT: mathematics

This New Four-Legged Robot Is Basically Invincible

By Carl Engelking | February 11, 2015 3:01 pm


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

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Technology, top posts
MORE ABOUT: robots

Discover's Newsletter

Sign up to get the latest science news delivered weekly right to your inbox!


Briefing you on the must-know news and trending topics in science and technology today.

See More

Collapse bottom bar

Login to your Account

E-mail address:
Remember me
Forgot your password?
No problem. Click here to have it e-mailed to you.

Not Registered Yet?

Register now for FREE. Registration only takes a few minutes to complete. Register now »