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Chemical code used to store Jane Austen quote in plastic molecules

Chemical code used to store Jane Austen quote in plastic molecules

×ByWritten words and other information can be encoded in synthetic molecules and then recovered by analysing the chemicals.This means that microscopic bits of plastic could potentially hold much more data than is stored on today’s , says Eric Anslyn of the University of Texas at Austin.AdvertisementCurrently, data is stored using binary code – long strings of 0’s and 1’s. Its simplicity makes the code easy to decipher, but this approach requires significant space on a hard drive, says Anslyn.His approach may be a space saver, although the initial aim wasn’t to encode data at all. Anslyn had...

Apr 23
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Dementia risk doubles if people have both vision and hearing loss

Dementia risk doubles if people have both vision and hearing loss

×ByOlder adults who start losing both vision and hearing may be at an increased risk of developing dementia.Gihwan Byeon at Kangwon National University Hospital in South Korea and his colleagues studied 6520 people, aged 58 to 101, over six years. At the start of the study, they asked each person to rate their ability to see and hear. The participants also underwent cognitive testing every two years.AdvertisementThe team found that 7.6 per cent of those reporting both vision and hearing loss had dementia at the start of the study, and another 7.4 per cent developed it within six...

Apr 12
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Human brain organoids grown in cheap 3D-printed bioreactor

Human brain organoids grown in cheap 3D-printed bioreactor

×ByIt is now possible to grow and culture human brain tissue in a device that costs little more than a cup of coffee. With a $5 washable and reusable microchip, scientists can watch , growing in real time under a microscope.The device, dubbed a , is a 4-by-6-centimetre chip that includes small wells in which the brain organoids grow. Each is filled with nutrient-rich fluid that is pumped in and out automatically, like the fluids that flush through the human brain.AdvertisementUsing this system, Ikram Khan at the Indian Institute of Technology Madras in Chennai and his colleagues at the...

Apr 9
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Bees have higher brain cell density than birds – but ants don’t

Bees have higher brain cell density than birds – but ants don’t

×ByMany bees have a brain cell density greater than that of small birds – but most ant contain a far lower density of neurons. The difference may be down to the insects’ lifestyles: because bees fly, they may need more brain cells than ants do in order to process .Scientists have already compared the size and weight of various insects’ brains, which contain independent specialised regions to process visual information, sounds, smells and even memories.AdvertisementBut brain size, whether in insects or vertebrate animals like birds and mammals, doesn’t always give a realistic idea of . This...

Mar 26
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Kangaroos can learn to ask for help from humans just like dogs do

Kangaroos can learn to ask for help from humans just like dogs do

×Kangaroos in zoos and sanctuaries use body language to ask humans for help, much like horses and dogs do, which suggests that even wild animals can learn to engage in interspecies communication just by being around humans.This overturns previous theories that animals’ ability to communicate with humans resulted from domestication, says Alan McElligott at City University of Hong Kong.Fifty million kangaroos – an animal family that has never been domesticated – . They are so common that they are “the equivalent of deer in Europe”, says McElligott. However, thousands of these marsupials live...

Dec 16
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Octopuses taste their food when they touch it with their arms

Octopuses taste their food when they touch it with their arms

×Octopuses can taste their prey before eating it by to “lick” it, which researchers say adds to evidence that the cephalopods’ eight appendages are analogous to tongues with “hands” and “brains”.Octopus arms are lined with suckers that include cells for neural processing of touch and taste signals. These allow them to determine if an animal is good to eat or is toxic, says Nicholas Bellono at Harvard University. That is particularly useful since octopuses tend to “blindly” hunt, sticking their limbs into holes and crevices to find hidden prey.Bellono and his colleagues studied the sucker...

Nov 4
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Octopuses taste their food when they touch it with their arms

Octopuses taste their food when they touch it with their arms

×Octopuses can taste their prey before eating it by to “lick” it, which researchers say adds to evidence that the cephalopods’ eight appendages are analogous to tongues with “hands” and “brains”.Octopus arms are lined with suckers that include cells for neural processing of touch and taste signals. These allow them to determine if an animal is good to eat or is toxic, says Nicholas Bellono at Harvard University. That is particularly useful since octopuses tend to “blindly” hunt, sticking their limbs into holes and crevices to find hidden prey.Bellono and his colleagues studied the sucker...

Nov 2
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Some male fish use their tails to fan rivals’ sperm away from eggs

Some male fish use their tails to fan rivals’ sperm away from eggs

×To boost their chances of fertilising a nest-load of eggs, some male fish use their tailfin to fan away the sperm deposited by rivals.Scientists have previously determined that . However, the new study is the first to discover that even among animals that fertilise eggs outside the body, males have strategies to remove rivals’ sperm and increase their paternity chances.Takeshi Takegaki of Nagasaki University in Japan and his colleagues studied the behaviour of 12 nest-holding male dusky frillgoby fish (Bathygobius fuscus), common in the Indo-Pacific Ocean, when faced with rival sperm in...

Oct 22
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