The Vine That Is A Master Mimic

When it comes to changing into something else or camouflaging, the world is filled with organisms that can do this. The Chameleon is, of course, the most famous one, that can alter its color and blend in with its background. And in the insect world, you will find butterflies that mimic toxic insect or sticks that are actually alive or even mantises that look like orchids.

In the bird world, you can find the Lyrebirds that can make themselves sound like anything, even a car alarm. And even in our own human species, we find many people who can impersonate the voices of famous people. But when it comes to plants and trees, finding mimics are a little harder to locate. However, two scientists in Chile have found a species of vine that can make itself look like a host plant and even impersonate trees.

Reporting in the magazine Current Biology, Ernesto Gianoli, and Fernando Carrasco-Urra, two university researchers explained this amazing discovery. The vine Boquila trifoliolata it is called, which can be found climbing and impersonating other plants in Chile or Argentina. It seems that it just loves their temperate rain forests.

The vine typically will produce a cluster of three leaflets but every shape, size, color, and orientation of the leaves is always different, so they took a closer look at the 45 vines growing on 12 different types of trees. And that is when they noticed the vines were copying their host plant.

When the tree had a thing and pointy leaves, then so does the vine. Or if the tree’s leaves are short and stubby then so is the vine’s leaves. Only when the vine is growing alone or on a tree that did not have any leaves would it actually stick to an original form. The researchers found the master mimic skill actually pays off massively.

Vines that don’t grow on trees or camouflage themselves into their host plants are much more likely to be eaten up by small herbivores such as weevils or leaf beetles. They do not really know how the vine mimics and copies a tree, because they appear to be able to do it without even touching a tree. The vine might be picking up on chemical signals that the trees emit.

The Invention Of Artificial Sweetener Was By Accident

Constantin Fahlberg was a famous Russian chemist who by accident discovered an artificial sweetener by the name of saccharin, this allowed him to become extremely wealthy by mass producing it for the public Here is his story.

The artificial sweetener was known as the new coal tar sugar, and despite the name that seems a bit off-putting it was a big deal back in 1879. The story of its invention is as much great scientific discovery kinds of by accident and a little by the study. Saccharin is known to be the oldest artificial sweetener.

And was discovered when Fahlberg was doing research on the chemical compounds that make up coal tar for Johns Hopkins University. The discovery was made when he made the error of rushing home for lunch, forgetting to wash his hands. Early in the day, Fahlberg had spilled chemicals all over his hands, and as he ate his food he noticed that everything seemed to taste unusually sweet. At first, he thought nothing of it, thinking that his bread was actually a cake or a sweetmeat.

Then he rinsed his mouth and washed his mustache with his napkin. This is when he realized something strange was going on, his napkin seemed even sweeter than the bread. Fahlberg then drank some water and even this tasted like he was drinking syrup. He realized he had discovered a universal sweetener, and it tasted even better than any confectionery he had ever eaten. He knew at that moment he had created a substance that out-sugared sugar!

He ran back to the lab and tasted every beaker in his lab, luckily none of them were poisonous. He found one that contained his invention but it was very impure, after a couple of months of studying he created the best way to make it, scientifically and commercially.

And Saccharin went on to be a big success, it does not decay, mold or ferment and also can’t be attacked by bacteria. During the sugar rationing of World War I was when it really blew up, causing it to be so popular that during the 1960s and 1970s we found Saccharin in diet soft drinks or Sweet’N Low.

A Song That Will Reduce Your Stress By Over 65%

There is a song that neuroscience has dubbed the clear winner when it comes to reducing stress. It stirs your soul and calms your nervous system all in one go. We know that in the modern world everyone needs a little help to manage their stress, and when things get difficult at work or school when we start to try using every tip to reduce our anxiety.

And of course, every guru has their own trips, tricks, and techniques to let you know how it can be done the best. There is a science-backed plan though, and that is to make a playlist of songs that have been proven to reduce your stress. Sound therapies have long told the world that the way to relax and restore one’s health is done by listening to a melanic tune.

Without a doubt sound and music is ingrained in human culture, we have for centuries seen it as a way to improve our health conditions and have fun. But not until today have neuroscientists actually studied which songs produce the best results, and well there is really only one clear winner. And that is the song titled Weightless by Macaroni Union.

The study was done by researching participants while they attempted to solve puzzles as quickly as possible, all while being connected to sensors. The puzzles were made to create certain levels of stress with the participants. This allowed the researchers to measure brain activity and also things such as heart rate, blood pressure or breathing. Giving the researchers an overall view of participants level of stress and how more relaxed they became listening to certain songs.

Weightless by Macaroni Union was the overall winner, the Mindlab International who conducted the research, discovered that the song Weightless gave a reduction of 65 percent to a participant’s overall anxiety. And a 35 percent reduction to their usual physiological resting states.

And you know what the really cool thing is? The song was actually made to do just that! The group, Macaroni Union, created the song in collaboration with sound therapists as a way to reduce stress.

Human Hibernation May Be Achievable

Hibernation is practiced by numerous animals: bears, groundhogs, squirrels, turtles, and many other animals do it. But humans apparently cannot hibernate – at least that is what we have already thought.

However, scientists are looking into the deep underpinnings of hibernation in animals and started to make some startling discoveries. The fact of the matter is that scientists are not thinking they can unlock the superpower of hibernation for humans. Essentially the ability to hibernate does exist in our genetic code, it is just locked away. This sort of feat could transform the way we conduct routine medical care when patients need time to rest before receiving lifesaving treatment.

Or also it has huge possibilities in the world of space travel, astronauts would be able to hibernate and snooze their way during long flights to Mars or even further into deep space.

It is widely agreed that the first time the ability to hibernate was seen was one ancestral mammal, which was a furry tree-dwelling creature. This creature lived over 65 million years ago and eventually, it evolved into some of the modern animals we see today – even humans. So if that theory is actually right, that would mean humans to possess the ability to hibernate deep in their genetic code and the human genome.

It may sound and look like science fiction but the fact of the matter is not, this has a biological truth behind it. Anne Yoder from Duke University is a biologist, who has been studying hibernation for decades. And she asserts that everyone in the field believes ancestral mammal skills are not lost, they are just no longer using them.

Hibernation is much more than just long sleep, it actually causes huge changes to metabolism. It includes a drop in body temperature and a massive reduction in heart rate while breathing. This allows an animals energy consumption to plummet and need near to nothing to survive.

The real interest in hibernation though lies in the ability to return to normal activity within a couple of minutes from waking up, with no negative effects on an animals health. Humans suffer from major health problems from just lying in bed for a few weeks, such as bone loss or muscle wasting. So this is something scientists may be able to solve by re-activating our hibernation genes.

Dorodango The Strange Art Of Creating A Perfect Mud Ball

Hikaru Dorodango is the Japanese Art of perfecting a sphere out of a lump of dirt. If you translate the word Hikaru Dorodango it literally means shiny dumpling, it is the act of turning regular dirt into a slowly crafted perfect looking shiny spheres. And though it may look easy, it is a complicated art that requires years to master.

The object actually takes many hours and much patience to create, as the creator has to slowly add finer particles of dirt to create each layer painfully slow. And then depending on the overall effect the artist is going for, there may even be a piece of cloth used as the final layer. This will give the final layer of varnish a shiny sheen that is seen in the likes of a billiard or snooker ball.

And though you may think that these boulders are much like rocks, a completed dorodango is extremely fragile and delicate. This means these shiny spheres of dirt have to be handled with extreme care. It is said that the art is more focused on the meditative benefit of creating the sphere than actually the longevity of the artwork.

The process is not too complicated it just requires much patiences, the art uses mud. The creator has to mold earth and water together to create the shiny sphere, layer by layer. First you must carefully shape the sphere by hand until it is as round as possible. Then comes the drying process, and once the core has dried then you can carefully dust your dorodango ball with a layer of finely sifted soil to create a beautiful final layer around the core.

These steps can be repeated several times which allows the artist to produce the smooth and shiny surface they look for. The process is known to take over 7 hours to complete and one mistake could cause the dorodango ball to break completely. They have also featured in popular culture such as mythbusters, where they used the technique behind dorodango to show that it was possible to polish a turd.

Some Cities Use Urine Detectors In Their Elevators

If you were ever on a drunken night out and decided to urinate in an elevator, well you may wake up to a hefty fine in the mail. Now numerous cities are taking a stance against public indecency and installing urine detectors in their elevators. This means the number of places where you can pee in public is going down rapidly.

These urine detection devices or UDDs for short, are being installed all over public elevators such as car parks and subways. And these sorts of systems allow the police to act tough on enforcing public indecency laws. Cities such as Atlanta and Singapore have been using these devices for years, but now we are seeing major cities worldwide following their footsteps.

And this means that soon you may find elevators no longer have that urine stink in them and you can safely ride public elevators without having to throw away your shoes afterward. Still, it does mean that people who have been relieving themselves in elevators may be finding a hefty fine in the mail. And this is only a positive thing, after all, they have committed a crime.

Residents in Atlanta have championed their UDDs systems for years, advising that it was a terrible experience having to ride the elevators whenever you decided to take the subway. Many residents had complained that before the installation of this system you had to hold your breath when entering an elevator.

These detectors do not come cheap though, with a full city setup looking at putting the local government back a good $1,000,000 USD. Once a sensor picks up on a splash of urine, the alarm will go off and this will trigger an automatic police intervention. As the police will come and arrest the perpetrator and since there is also a closed circuit camera that records everything going on – anyone caught is surely to be charged.

Singapore which has strict laws against public urination has had this system in place since the 90s with extremely positive results, which appears to be why now the world is catching up.

The World’s First Cyborg Artist

Neil Harbisson is the world’s first cyborg that is an artist, thanks to an antenna that has been implanted into his skull. Harbisson is able to paint sounds and hear images due to this antenna. This allows him to make statements such as ringtones are green and that a certain artist may be red or pink.

Neil Harbisson also states that he can have phone calls in his own head, the antenna dangles over the top of his forehead curving behind his head over the back of his skull. This device is known as the Eyeborg and allows Harbisson to interface with Bluetooth devices or even connect to the internet. Harbisson can connect his mind with the internet or any device that is close by, which essentially means he is a cyborg that can connect to anything in the world.

Harbisson spends most of his time working with Moon Ribas, another artist that has a device implanted in her. Ribas has a sensor implanted in her left arm which will vibrate when an earthquake occurs, she feels this allows her to be connected directly to the Earth and provide a better dance performance. Ribas implant is hardly noticeable which is nothing like Harbisson own antenna which hovers above his head – you just can’t miss it.

The change in his lifestyle came about because Harbisson truly believes that humans have a duty to use technology to reach new senses. He has stated numerous times that this is not just a life decision, it is an artistic statement of using his body and brain as a canvas. The antenna he has inserted in his brain is a type of sensor that translates color into a sound. It is a device that can detect the hue in a light and converts them to a frequency of sound that humans can hear.

Originally the device was created to help Harbisson cope with a rare form of blindness that causes patients to see the world in greys. Though he still sees the world in greyscale, he can now hear the vivid colors which let him transform the way he sees the world. The first prototypes needed him to wear headphones, but later the University of Plymouth’s cybernetics department placed a vibrating chip inside his skull. This invention meant that Harbisson became the first cyborg artist.

The Micro-particles That Allow You To Live Without Breathing

Scientists at the Boston Children’s Hospital have made a medical breakthrough that may enable people to stay underwater for over twenty minutes or more. This is the type of medical breakthrough that could reshape the whole world of surfing. Surfers would be much safer knowing that if they run into difficulty they would be able to survive underwater for over 20 minutes.

The team has actually invented a micro-particle that once you inject into your bloodstream is able to continually and quickly provide the user with oxygenated blood. This means that the person can be kept alive without breathing for up to thirty minutes, even without taking a single breath.

This groundbreaking invention came about when Dr. John Kheir became inspired while studying cases of extreme pneumonia. One of his patients went into cardiac arrest because there was just so much blood in her lungs it was stopping her from breathing. This caused her to be unable to breathe for over twenty-five minutes: which led to severe brain damage.

These micro-particles can stop patients from suffering the same fate, they are extremely small between two and four micrometers in length. However, the main difference is that they over four times the amount of oxygen content compared to the original regular red blood cells. Which allows a surfer, for example, to stay underwater for over twenty minutes.

But the really cool part is it could help people who had been under too long or without oxygen for too long. If these injections are made available in hospitals and ambulances, patients can be saved by directly restoring their oxygen levels back to normal almost immediately.

This means that doctors could instantly save the patient from an eventual heart attack or even life-threatening brain damage. Although it may sound like some sort of science fiction movie where people can suddenly breathe underwater with some sort of magical air in a bottle. The reality is this new invention is pushing the boundaries of how we breathe underwater and providing new safety measures for the dangers of surfing.

Figs Are Actually Considered An Animal Product

When it comes to the list of foods that are non-vegan, the list can actually be a lot larger than you may think. Some fruits and vegetables even end up on the non-vegan list. Vegans always have to be on the lookout for products that they may mistakenly think are safe and accidentally end up eating an animal.

For example, there are certain beers that will use fish bladders as a filter. Or candies that are colored red will most likely contain a dye which is produced from beetles. And if you are unlucky your favorite burrito may be using beans that are fried in lard. But the most unlikely contender in the list is actually figs.

You may think that figs have no business at all of being on the list of non-vegan foods because they are so naturally non-animal. I mean they grow on a tree. Beer, candy or refried beans are not that surprising, we can all understand that when things are processed in a factory they may come in contact with meat or animal products. But figs, are pulled off a tree and are not usually processed before ending up on your plate. So where do they come into contact with an animal product?

You see the actual answer is that all figs can contain an animal product before you even pull it off the tree. The issue comes from the possibility of a female dead wasp being inside the fruit. While it is true that figs can always contain a dead female wasp, there is an enzyme in the fruit that breaks down the carcass completely so there is never a chance of actually finding a dead wasp in the fruit.

It is kind of like how bees pollinate flowers, figs digest the wasp for pollination reasons. This is why certain vegans will refuse to eat figs. It is kind of personal preference, at the end of the day, even though the wasp could be inside the fig – it has happened all following natural steps of mother nature.

A Museum Of Non Visible Art

In an art project that looks as ridiculous as it sounds, the museum of non-visible art seems to be bringing over people from all over the world. For anyone looking at it from a logical point of view, it looks like an elaborate internet scam. In fact, selling fresh air sounds like the type of thing you may read about in a scammer’s spam email from a fake Nigerian prince.

Yet James Franco’s art project is actually real. Partnered with Praxis an art duo from New York, they created MONA or the Museum of Non-Visible Art. And this museum has everyone wondering if it is a real thing, a joke or an extremely shallow con.

Apparently, the art project is a way to promote artwork that is simply imagined by the artist. This has even led to people such as media producer Aimee Davison shelling out $10000 for a piece of non-visible artwork. Sounds crazy, doesn’t it? All she really got was a little card to hang on her wall that described a piece of art that did not even exist.

Davison has gone on record stating she bought the piece titled Fresh Air because it spoke to her as a media producer and that she identifies to its aspects. She felt the ideology of the project was closely aligned to how she worked on social media and represented the struggles artist find when creating and selling their art online.

It seems very odd that someone could pay what many people would refer to as a large sum of money. Just to essentially hand a little card on the wall, you will simply be staring at a blank wall if you were trying to appreciate the artwork.

Anyone who buys art from MONA does simply receive a description of the art piece, that once again: does not exist! The buyers do not receive a sculpture or a painting, this really is just paying for some words on a piece of paper.

Still, you have to tip your hat off to James Franco who seems to have figured out a way to sell invisible art for real money.

Lebanon And The Massive Bowl Of Hummus

The inventor of hummus has long been disputed and a cause for angry debates. Everyone from Lebanese to the Turks to the Syrians have all tried to lay claim to being the inventors of hummus. And since it is quite simple to make the variations really depend on how it is served. Afterall it is simply chickpeas, tahini, garlic, and lemon.

If it should be smooth or lumpy, or a little heavier on the tahini or on the chickpeas comes down to who is making it. And also what do you serve on the side? Chips or pickles, or maybe falafel. And though everyone loves eating hummus, it is indeed beloved all over the world, it is actually a source of tension over who invented the dish.

Everyone from the Lebanese to the Turks to the Syrians has tried to lay claim to the great hummus, but there is very little evidence to support their theories and claims. For example, all the ingredients have been available for many years and the chickpea dates back over 10,000 years in Turkey. Most historians believe it is one of the earliest vegetables ever to be cultivated in the Middle East.

The actual combination of these ingredients that make hummus and where it came from is really hard to pin down. Some say it is a Jewish food due to it being mentioned in their bible over 3,500 years ago. But in the Hebrew Bible, though it does mention “hometz” most linguistics now believe this means vinegar and not hummus. And other historians will tell you it first appeared in Nepal or Northern Indian – some believe this debate is just a little silly, but for many, the Hummus Wars is a real fight.

Starting in 2008, Lebanon accused Israel of cashing in and stealing their legacy, publicity, and money by claiming that Hummus was invented in Israel. The Lebanese government then petitioned for the EU to officially recognize hummus as being Lebanese and then tried to sue Israel for infringement of food-copyright. Both attempts proved fruitless.

So the minister of tourism in 2009, Fadi Abboud, decided the way they would settle this would be by making a plate of hummus so big they would be featured in the Guinness Book of World Records. And this goal was achieved, they made a record plate of 2,000kg of hummus.

Israel retaliated by producing a 4,000kg dish of hummus! And then Lebanon created a monster dish of 10,452kg of the dip – holding the record since 2010.