Sep 04, 2015

Here's what Titanic passengers ate for lunch the day their ship hit the iceberg

posted by Larra Morris

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On the afternoon of April 14, 1912, first-class Titanic passengers lunched on a sumptuous array of corned beef, Chicken à la Maryland, and fillet of brill. Approximately 12 hours later, the “unsinkable” ship collided with an iceberg; a mere three hours after that, it sank into the Atlantic.

Among the 705 survivors, a lifeboat filled with wealthy voyagers remained. One of its individuals had saved the menu from the previous day’s afternoon meal. Now, 103 years after the Titanic’s sinking and 30 years after its wreckage was found, the rare document is up for online auction. Its seller, Lion Heart Autographs, expects the menu to fetch as much as $70,000. 
via Mental Floss

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Image: Lion Heart Photographs

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Sep 04, 2015

Completely paralyzed man steps out in robotic exoskeleton

posted by Larra Morris

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Working with a team of UCLA scientists, a man with protracted and complete paralysis has recovered sufficient voluntary control to take charge of a bionic exoskeleton and take many thousands of steps. Using a non-invasive spinal stimulation system that requires no surgery, this is claimed to be the first time that a person with such a comprehensive disability has been able to actively and voluntarily walk with such a device.
via Gizmag

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Sep 04, 2015

Making custom gummy bears is a 3D printer's true calling

posted by Larra Morris

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It’s not just electronics and other product manufacturing that 3D printers promise to revolutionize. The machines might one day replace all the appliances in your kitchen when it comes to making dinner, or more importantly, making candy.

A German candy-maker called Katjes has created the world’s first 3D printer that extrudes soft gummy candy instead of melted plastic. You’re probably already familiar with gummy bears, gummy worms, and even gummy cola bottles, but soon anything you can imagine (and model in 3D) could be turned into a gummy candy.
via Gizmodo

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Sep 03, 2015

Starfish-killing robot close to trials on Great Barrier Reef

posted by Larra Morris

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An autonomous starfish-killing robot is close to being ready for trials on the Great Barrier Reef, researchers say.

Crown-of-thorns starfish have have been described as a significant threat to coral.

The Cotsbot robot, which has a vision system, is designed to seek out starfish and give them a lethal injection.

After it eradicates the bulk of starfish in a given area, human divers can move in and mop up the survivors.

Field trials of the robot have begun in Moreton Bay in Brisbane to refine its navigation system, Queensland University of of Technology researcher Matthew Dunbabin told the BBC.
via BBC News

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Sep 03, 2015

3D printing resurrects Iron-Age Irish musical instruments

posted by Larra Morris

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A PhD student at the Australian National University recently used a 3D printer to duplicate an Irish artifact previously known as the "Conical Spearbutt of Navan," thought to be a tool and weapon. Billy Ó Foghlú's replica was able to prove that the ancient spearbutt was, in fact, an ancient mouthpiece -- likely to an iron-age horn.

While bronze-age and iron-age musical instruments, specifically horns, have been found throughout Europe and Scandinavia, the lack of mouthpieces had led historians to believe that Ireland went through a "musical dark age." Ó Foghlú used the exact measurements of the artifact to produce a 3D copy which he then used with his own horn. He said it produced a "richer, more velvety tone," and feels that the lack of recovered instruments in the area is due not to a supposed dark age, but because the instruments were "ritually dismantled and laid down as offerings when their owner died."
via Engadget

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Sep 03, 2015

How a gene sequencing machine saved the chocolate bar

posted by Larra Morris

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Cacao, the primary ingredient in chocolate bars, is a slow-growing plant: a cacao tree only produces enough pods to make about a pound of chocolate a year. In part because output is so low, and the process of growing the trees so slow, scientists knew that if the blight wasn’t stopped soon, there would be widespread ramifications. Not only would the price of chocolate shoot up, but the livelihoods of the 6.5 million farmers who tend the cacao trees would be at risk. Though scientists were working to breed fungus-resistant trees, the process was slow-going. They had to wait for the trees to mature fully before they could test them for resistance—a process which took years. 

That’s where the Roche 454 GS FLX + DNA Gene Sequencer comes in. By 2008, gene sequencing was becoming a more and more accessible scientific tool, but back then, it took time—a lot of it—to sequence an organism's genome. The Human Genome Project, for example, took years; the Roche could complete the same process in a matter of days. Unfortunately, the Roche machines were prohibitively expensive. So the Mars candy company stepped in, and agreed to fund a project sequencing the entire cacao genome. With access to the full thing, instead of waiting years for trees to mature, scientists could identify fungus-resistant genes in advance and begin growing healthy trees right away. 
via Mental Floss

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Sep 02, 2015

A smarter desk for tomorrow's schools

posted by Larra Morris

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Designed to enhance future teaching environments, the Future Desk is easy to move and can be assembled in different group formations for discussion. The touch panel and interactive screen that forms the desk surface allows students to receive information from the teacher instantly.
via Yanko Design

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