Feeding The World’s Under-Nourished … With Crickets
An innovative new solution to hunger from a group of students at McGill University, in Montreal would produce and distribute edible insects on an industrial scale.
The idea is to distribute cricket-producing kits to the world’s slums as a way of improving diets, and giving people more income. Families would eat what they needed, while selling the rest for processing into flour, and other products.
Bugs are high in protein, easy to raise and feed, and… not so great to eat. But what if they were served in a lovely, palatable setting? If six-legged creatures are what we’re eating in 20 years, hopefully the meals look this good.
The human brain is the most complex object in the known universe. But what about a fruit fly’s? While only the size of a pinhead, it’s still pretty motherf’ing complicated. Which is why a team of scientists at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute used an ingenious technique called “Brainbow” to make their job easier, revealing fine neural structures with unprecedented clarity.
Before Brainbow, scientists interested in tracing the structural connections between neurons could only color-code them one or two at a time using crude dyes. That meant slicing, staining, and combining many separate samples to build up a map of even tiny portions of a brain. Brainbow uses genetically engineered fluorescent proteins to make the neurons color-code themselves, right in the brain, in up to 100 different glowing colors. This makes it easier for scientists to clearly map the overall structure and tangled mass of connections, and also zero in on tiny individual areas of interest. Call it neuroscience by way of Massimo Vignelli.
Brainbow had already been demonstrated on lab mice, so why use it on lowly drosophila melanogaster instead of a bigger, “cooler” animal? As Technology Review explains, “these organisms have a very sophisticated set of existing genetic tools, [so] researchers can exert even greater control over when and where the fluorescent proteins are expressed.” Which means better, more informative pictures, and better, more informative science. (The researchers’ modified color-coding techniques for the fruit fly are called dBrainbow and Flybow.)