“I once landed on an uncharted island that nobody’s been to before except the turtles. It’s lovely to be alive.”
The RoboRoach is a $99 kit consisting of electrodes, sensors, and a few batteries that allows anyone to drive their very own cockroach.
Attaching the electronic “backpack” to an unwitting arthropod is not for the squeamish. You must sand down the top of the critter’s head in order to attach a plug, “Exactly like the Matrix,” says Backyard Brains cofounder Greg Gage. Once installed, the system relays electrical impulses over a Bluetooth connection from your phone to the cockroach’s brain, via its antennae. The roach perceives each stimulus to its antennae as an obstacle, and changes direction. The same technique, applied to the cilia of the inner ear, is used in cochlear implants and during deep brain stimulation for treating a variety of disorders.
Greg Gage is an electrical engineer-turned-neuroscience student at the University of Michigan who, with his cofounder Tim Marzullo, started developing the RoboRoach three years ago. “The reason why we started is because I was annoyed that it was so late that I found out about a career in neuroscience. We have one in five people with a neurological disorder and we have no cures—we’re kind of in the dark ages. We want to get kids to understand that this is a career, and you can do so many amazing things.”
After decades languishing in jars in the closet of an animal lab at the University of Texas, approximately 90 brains removed from mental patients are finally being documented—by a photographer and by college freshmen.
“Some of them are huge, some of them are really tiny. There was one that had no wrinkles at all,” says photographer Adam Voorhes. “I don’t even know how to explain it.”
A webpage dating back to 1991 has been unearthed, after a plea from CERN to send in files, software and URLs from the web’s earliest days.
What are your earliest memories of the web? What site did you first visit? How old were you? What browser were you on?
Yup, this writer’s theory is confirmed- chocolate is so good for you that it’s practically a vegetable (and red wine is pretty much fruit…).
[Image: Flickr user John Loo]
Fungus is the Internet of the plant world
New research finds that plants regularly communicate through a vast, underground network.
The Army’s Secret Weapon Is This Quantum Physicist, Pioneer Of “Ghost Imaging”
Ronald Meyer’s is the most innovative man in one of the world’s most innovative organizations.
The U.S. Army just made Thompson Reuters’ list of the world’s 300 most innovative organizations after earning 300 patents in three years. At least 11 of those patents have Ronald Meyers’ name on them…
Read more about him here.
Can you recognize these online brands just based on the color of their sharing buttons? Answers, and some science behind color and branding.
MIT neuroscientists recently watched the brains of 63 entrepreneurs and managers, and spotted a key difference: Entrepreneurs use their whole orbitofrontal cortexes, enabling them to be more flexible problem solvers.
Jawbone, maker of the UP activity monitoring wristband, announced today that it will acquire BodyMedia to bolster its efforts in the wearable technology space.
The UP device currently tracks more than a billion steps and 610,000 hours of sleep every day, but the acquisition of BodyMedia, a company which has been doing similar work in the space since 1999, will open the company up to a swath of new data. Just how much data? Its monitors have collected more than 500 trillion body sensor data points.
Doctors Determine The Enormous Body Count Of Sugary Drinks
We know in the abstract that sugary drinks are bad for us, but exactly how bad? When researchers crunch the numbers, they find that 184,000 people a year are dying from diseases directly related to consuming soda and other heavily sugared beverages.
You Can’t Tell That This New, Cheap Egg Substitute Is Made From Plants
To keep a growing world population filled with nutrients, startups like Beyond Eggs are finding new ways of making protein that don’t involve the resource intensity of raising animals. Here comes the Protein Economy.
“…don’t imagine that just because we’re in trouble today means we’ll be in double-trouble tomorrow. Science will come to the rescue—and not in the shape of yet more antibiotics, and ever more industrial food-production processes. What these innovators are talking about are completely new ways of making food, and particularly protein: growing it in a laboratory or engineering it from plants, because it’s too harmful (and expensive) to produce the “natural way.”“
Sound disgusting? Maybe. But perhaps you haven’t seen the insides of a battery chicken shed recently, or imagined how much more antibiotics we’ll have to use as the world nears 9 billion. “Our food system is abysmally broken,” says Josh Tetrick, CEO of San Francisco-based Hampton Creek Foods, maker of the Beyond Eggs egg-substitute. “It’s not about the morality of eating animals or not. It’s about the conditions that a lot of these animals are raised in. These hens are kept inside a cage for two years, pumped full of feed and antibiotics, and it’s just cruel. We don’t all have to stop eating eggs. But we should ask if we want to participate in that.”
Tetrick’s team has deconstructed the egg, analyzed its 22 special functions, and replicated it with plant-stuffs like sunflower lecithin, canola, peas, and natural gums from tree sap. By all accounts, the substitute tastes just like the real thing—even if it doesn’t look like it. It’s sold as a gray-green powder that you need to hydrate before use.
Tetrick, who eats only plant-based food himself, insists he’s not on an anti-meat crusade. He applauds that companies like Chipotle are turning to sustainable sources of meat.
The main idea is to replace the eggs currently used to make things like mayonnaise, ranch dressing, and factory-made muffins or cookies (i.e. not your Sunday fry-up). That’s about a third of the 79 billion eggs laid in the U.S. every year.
At the moment, Hampton has two major Fortune 500 customers—one of which plans to market that its products are egg-free, and another that wants to keep the fact quiet for now. “We’re just removing the eggs that we have an issue with. We don’t care if they want to just save money. That’s fine,” he says. Beyond Eggs is 18% cheaper than battery-produced eggs.
Tetrick sees a smaller retail business selling to vegans, and the cholesterol-conscious. Beyond Eggs will be available online in the next two weeks, and probably from major retailers after that.
Beyond that, he wants to feed people who are likely to go hungry without interventions in the protein supply system. “I think the reason people like Bill Gates are interested in this is that the world population is expanding to 9 billion, and people are going to need good cheap sources of protein. Some of the economics of meat production, particularly around feed, aren’t good.”
Here’s more on this topic:
Did you finish all those chips at lunch (even though you vowed to only have half)? Here’s why.
The Extraordinary Science of Addictive Junkfood
“So why are the diabetes and obesity and hypertension numbers still spiraling out of control? It’s not just a matter of poor willpower on the part of the consumer and a give-the-people-what-they-want attitude on the part of the food manufacturers.
What I found, over four years of research and reporting, was a conscious effort — taking place in labs and marketing meetings and grocery-store aisles — to get people hooked on foods that are convenient and inexpensive.”