As Flashy As A Sea Sapphire

Growing up any kid would like to be able to control color on demand. Explode into different shades of light and cause your very own firework show. There is actually a creature that is able to flash up brightly and then completely disappear, on the fly. These ant size creatures live in subtropical or warm tropical seas, aptly called Sea Sapphires.

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They are a form of marine planktonic copepod: a scientific word that basically means “a very small floating shrimpy thing that you find in the sea.” But the incredible thing is these little beasties can produce ranges of brilliant vivid colors. Depending on the species you can find intense blues to reds and even golds.

So how do they do it? Are these little creatures radioactive?

No, not at all. To put it simply their skin has amazing properties that allow light to be reflected, allowing them to light up. Otherwise, they are pretty much completely transparent. This is a kind of camouflage technique they use to be hard to catch by predators. It depends on the angle the light hits them: one moment they may shimmer and the next poof they have disappeared into the deep dark sea. What are these amazing skin properties you ask?

Very little crystal plates are found all over their skin cells and form a honeycomb pattern. So they really are just little live sapphires floating merrily around the sea. Similar sort of skin systems is found on chameleons and silver spiders also. All masters of cloaking themselves to their surroundings, it seems the sea sapphire has simply been able to take this trait into the sea. It is not all about camouflage though, scientists also believe that the colors they display help them find mating partners.

When a male sea sapphire is actively looking to mate, they swim in spirals displaying a sort of full-on light show to the female. Is the light actually some sort of signaling language that they understand? Whatever the case, we can definitely agree they put on a beautiful show.

Swarm Robots Ready For Mass Production

If you have had ever had nightmares about robots taking over the world, then maybe you should close this article right now. The Zebro swarm robot is an insect hive mind-like robot which is pretty much ready to be mass produced. Why are we potentially causing a Terminator plot like scenario?

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These autonomous swarms of robots have been designed to search even the most dangerous terrain. Making them the perfect tool to use to search for survivors during natural disasters. Soon we could see them deployed to places that have suffered a severe earthquake. Initially, robots being sent into dangerous terrain did not look like a cost-effective use of resources. However, engineers have now been able to come up with a way to cheaply mass produce these insect-like machines.

Students from the Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands have been able to create this colony of robots to have hive mind capabilities. By that we mean they can work together to move around troubling terrain, send messages to each other and report back to the controller.

The design is a hexapod robot, with its multiple legs giving it the skills it needs to get over any sort of rubble or rock. Audio sensors are attached to them so they are able to pick up on any cries from trapped victims. Once they pick up a distressed shout, they are able to quickly notify the emergency services about the location. Think of them as a pack of rescue dogs that can work without rest and without any handler.

But the real design breakthrough is that they have been built to be modular, so they can easily be stacked on top of each other like Lego bricks. In fact, the robots are made up of about 200 pieces that can all be easily clicked and snapped together. This makes large-scale manufacturing very simple and therefore very cheap!

Swarm robots have actually been tipped to be the next big thing in the technology world of robotics. Completing complex tasks always does seem easier when you have more people there to help you, and the same logic applies to robots. In fact, some scientists believe we will be pollinating crops and flowers by microbots in the not so distant future.

 

When Ants Go To War They Bring The Medics

A species of aggressive Viking-like raiding ants actually save their wounded and then stitch them up. Yes, it appears they have dedicated doctor and nurse ants ready to save the wounded.

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And the incredible thing is researchers have determined that this strange behavior actually gives the injured ant a 90% survival rate. So should we all be going to the ant hospital when injured then? Probably not, unless you feel a good licking will save you from your injuries.

For some time it was known that this particular species of sub-Saharan ants did bring their wounded back to their nest. But as their nests were always underground, scientists had no idea what they were doing. However, researchers now know that the injured ants are brought back from the battlefield in hopes of patching up their wounds.

Megaponera Analis or as we know them “War Ants”, are very skilled raiders. Think of them as the Vikings of the ant world. They regularly send a column of ants into termite nests, dragging termites out for food. War always comes at a cost: many ants get their limbs crushed or some termites just latch onto them refusing to let go. How do they get home then? Well if the ant is not too severely injured, he will curl up into a ball and let another ant carry him home.

The basic thought process is: if you can stand up then there is still a use for you in the colony. How do they nurse injured ants back to health then? With infrared cameras, the research team was able to determine that it appears the injured ants will be licked by a colleague. But how does this help?

No one is really sure, but the most likely theory is that this process must stop the ant’s wounds from becoming infected. It is believed this is the case because an ant that received the treatment only had a 10% chance of dying within the next 24 hours, but ones that did not get the treatment died 80% of the time.

So why do these ants save their colleagues? We are always taught that there are thousands of ants everywhere, surely they are easily replaced in the colony? But this is not the case for the “War Ants” who only see a dozen of baby ants born each day. This means anything they can do to reduce their mortality rate greatly increases the strength of the colony.

Secret Painting Found Behind A Picasso Masterpiece

A new scanning technique put together by art researchers in the US continues to undercover amazing art secrets. The newest discovery has been found beneath a Pablo Picasso’s masterpiece: The Crouching Woman or “La Misereuse Accroupie” as called in French.

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Scanning systems for art pieces have existed for some time however they have always been extremely expensive for museums or individuals to use. The new x-ray fluorescence technique that art institution researchers from Northwestern University in Chicago have put together is inexpensive and best of all it is portable. The non-invasive imaging scanner lets you take a sneak peek of what lays under the visible layer of paint. Fluorescence X-ray is used because this can tell what sort of elements are used in the paint. So what did Picasso hide under his renowned artwork?

A landscape of Barcelona can be found underneath the oil painting, and it was actually used as inspiration for the crouching lady. The landscape painting beneath has been turned 90 degrees, which means the outlines of the hills are actually the crouching lady’s back. Meaning that the lady is formed from the shapes of the Catalan countryside.

The Crouching Woman is a painting from Picasso’s blue period. Which is actually a time where he was known to have painted over a lot of his artwork. This new scanning technique is very interesting for art researchers as it helps them date exactly from what period an artist’s work comes from, but not only that.

Scanning the artwork and finding out exactly how an artist put together a painting, allows us to get an unprecedented sense of how an artist worked. For the first time, we are able to retrieve a sense of how Picasso’s thought process came together when painting. We can now know the steps they took to get to the visible forms we admire on the surface of their painting.

Transgender Women Able To Breastfeed

A transgender woman was able to happily produce healthy milk to feed her partner’s newborn child. A new report that was following the case shows she was able to breastfeed the baby for six weeks without any issues.

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This is a groundbreaking report and the first medical document of its kind that confirms transgender women would be able to breastfeed their children. Which is happy news for any transgender women interesting in being a mother?

Researchers advised this is the first study to follow lactation in a transgender woman. They are carrying out the study because they want their patients to have every option on the table when it comes to reproductive choices. Breastfeeding definitely is a vital part of motherhood and helps create that bond between a mother and their newborn.

After completing a treatment of hormonal therapy the transgender woman was able to breastfeed. The therapy is not quick though, this is a long grueling 3-month course of taking the correct doses of hormones. The process also does require the use of a breast pump, much like the same treatment that is used for a woman who is unable to produce their own breast milk. This is because a breast pump which is a mechanical device that can extract the milk does help stimulate lactation for women who have a lower milk supply.

As surprising as this study may seem, it was actually long known that males can produce milk. For example, there have been many cases of men who have to take a hormonal treatment to fight cancer starting to produce milk. Though it is rarer for a man to produce enough milk to fill up his breasts and start lactating. This is due to the huge difference in hormone levels between men and women.

Even with these differences, the study was able to help a transgender women lactate enough to feed her newborn child for six weeks. And it could have potentially been longer, however, to avoid any risk to the baby she decided to use formula after six weeks.

This really goes to show how close the sexes are anatomically speaking. There is not really that much that separates females and males, meaning that with the proper treatment and hormonal therapy it is possible for transgender people to allow their bodies to be closer to their gender.

Your DNA Could Stretch To Pluto And Back Over 17 Times

The human genome, the genetic code that makes a human well a human is a fascinating science. It continues to open up new doors and understanding about our wellbeing and health. Some things today we still do not fully understand. But what we do know is that the length of all your DNA combined is so long, it could reach Pluto and back over 17 times.

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How in the world is that possible you ask? The human cell contains over 23 DNA molecules. And each one of them contains up to two and a half million nucleotide pairs. Nucleotides are the building blocks that come together to create you. But they also are sort of like the architect plan of your body: they store all your genetic information.

Now a nucleotide comes in pairs and averages about five centimeters long, though some can be as big as 8. That does not really sound like they are very big though, right? But there are over 37 trillion cells in the human body. This means if you were able to unravel it all, then those little nucleotides would form a line so long that it could easily go from the Sun to Pluto and back.

Pretty incredible to think that they all fit inside the human body. And that is not the only fact that makes DNA such a fascinating science subject. Scientists are researching to make vaccines for deadly viruses such as HIV, flu or hepatitis C from synthetic DNA. The “fake” DNA can teach the body how to create the cells and proteins it needs to allow your immune system to fight these viruses. You can basically look at it like sending your DNA to university to learn some new skills.

For example, DNA vaccines for melanoma and hemorrhagic diseases have already been developed for horses and dogs. So it does seem only a matter of time before scientists can produce the same benefits for ourselves. And with so much more DNA to unravel it looks like scientists will discover new perceptions from DNA research for years to come.

American Woman Falls Asleep And Wakes Up British!

For a young woman in Arizona, this suddenly became a reality. Sounds crazy, doesn’t it? Even though she had never been out of the United States she woke up speaking with a British accent.

In 2015, Michelle Myers went to bed early with an extreme headache, just thinking she had a pretty bad migraine. Yet that was very far from the case because the next morning she woke up sounding like a British TV series. And for the last two years, her British accent has stayed with her. Michelle has noted it is rather difficult and causes problems in her daily life, as fellow Americans think she is just copying Mary Poppins’ voice.

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And this is not actually a unique phenomenon for her, on an earlier occasion in her life she woke up sounding Irish and even Australian! However, these accents only lasted for a week at most. Imagine tomorrow you woke up with an Indian accent, probably your family would just shout at you to stop doing an April’s fools.

So is she just faking it? Is it a funny joke to gain some news coverage? Not at all. Myers has been medically diagnosed with foreign accent syndrome or FAS for short. This disorder sees the patient encounter an abrupt change in their dialect, so much so that it seems they take on a foreign accent.

In most cases, the condition comes as a followup to a traumatic brain injury or a stroke. This Causes patients voice to be altered in terms of intonation, tongue placement or timing – all things that can make you sound foreign to your native country. It does, however, remain a very rare syndrome, with only around 60 cases ever reported.

If Michelle suffered a stroke or a bump that she was not aware of, doctors are not really sure. She does suffer from another condition called Ehlers-Danlos syndrome. This is a condition which causes the body to bruise and blood cells to rupture very easily. The theory is these conditions must somehow be connected. Whatever the case is, It is definitely a fascinating situation that will hopefully help researchers uncover more about this rare syndrome.

Avicenna The Scientist Responsible For Quarantine

Avicenna or Abu Ali Sina was a Persian scientist who is seen as one of the greatest thinkers that came out of the Islamic Golden Age. The Islamic Golden Age is an era where the Islamic world flourished, great scientific and economic development was possible and is generally dated from the 8th century all the way to the 13th century. Avicenna was born in 980 and lived until 1037, a time where great forward thinkers would have been rare!

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Every scientist had to painstakingly walk the line between religion and science, something that still happens even today.

He is frequently seen as the father figure of early modern medicine. It seems logically now that when you are sick you should be kept away from other people. But Avicenna was one of the first people to put forward that rare diseases and illnesses came from natural causes and thus could spread. He put forward the notion that the sick needed to be quarantined. Which is lucky for us! Because without quarantine, well, we humans may have all be wiped out by a major disease centuries ago.

Known to have published over 450 works, 40 of them were dedicated to medicine. Imagine that, having to write all those books by hand. Hopefully, he also found a cure for hand cramps?

His most studied works were The Book of Healing and The Canon of Medicine which became a staple in many medieval universities. His works were followed by standard medical practice, which leads to many of his medical encyclopedias being reprinted in New York. In fact, much of his work was still being used to teach up until the late 1650s.

In Iran, he is still considered a national icon and some even see him as one of the greatest Persian to ever have lived. Many universities, museums, and research institutions have been named in his honor. And though he remains a somewhat unknown scientist worldwide to the general public, his thoughts and theories changed the world.

You Can See An Owl’s Eyeball Through Their Ears

Ever wanted to see the inside of an owl’s eyeball? No, not really? Well if you did all you would have to do is have a quick peek inside their ears! You can just literally look into the inside of an owl’s head through their ears.

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Owls, like all birds, do not have an external ear structure that we find in mammals. Basically when you think about bird’s ears just think of them as some big gaping hole in their skulls. Sure the hole is covered with many feathers but if you were to push the feathers apart then you would have a bird’s eye view(pun intended!) into their mind!

Of course most birds are too small to even have a look, however, the northern saw-whet owl has an exceptionally large ear opening. This large ear hole lets us have a rare look into a live animals skull and see exactly what is going on. As per the photo above, we can see a bluish white shape visible by looking into the ear: this is the owl’s eyes!

It is pretty amazing as it lets naturalists and scientists get a glimpse of how owls have evolved to become the apex of night time stealth predators. The funny thing about the northern saw-whet owl is they are actually very small, meaning their eyes are about 5 percent of their overall body mass. They only grow up to about 7 inches and can weigh as little as 2 ounces!

The reason that owls ears are so big is, of course, to help them find their prey during the night. It allows them to track down prey in the dark. Every sound reaches their ear at a slightly different time, giving them the ability to triangulate where the sound is coming from. This means owls seem to always know where you are, no matter if they can not see you.

Owls have fascinated humans for centuries and when you look into all the cool traits they possess, not to mention you can literally look into their head: well it is easy to see why.

The Alien Looking Devil’s Flower Mantis

Insects are known to look gross and have bulgy eyes, but some… well… Some look as if they do not even come from Earth. Did Aliens fly by and drop off a couple of unwanted species? Maybe they are the first step of an invasion? Definitely looks that way when you check out this photo of the Devil’s Flower Mantis.

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Or the Idolomantis Diabolica as the scientists like to call them. This is one of the largest types of praying mantis that you can find. The females can grow up to 5 inches and can develop into numerous different colors.

Their name comes from this ability to mimic the natural coloring of the Devil’s Flower which is a type of orchid. This lets them blend in with the jungle and hide from their prey. A unique camouflage ability that sounds more at home in the Predator movie series. However, although these big insects to look very impressive they are actually quite timid.

In fact, they are not very brave at all and will become very skittish, this actually causes them to run around in a panicked frenzy. However, you may already be familiar with their most known trait: the dramatic display. The dramatic display is what we call a pattern for a sudden reaction to threatening or startling behavior.

The devil’s flower mantis has a particularly well-known one, it will raise its front legs and tilt them outwards. Showing off the different colors of its bright markings. It proceeds to move its arms and body in all directions hoping to confuse and scare off a predator. Or is it calling for backup from its alien overlords?

Do not fear though, they will not be hunting you down anytime soon. These mantids have a very relaxed hunting style, selecting to just sit and wait. If a fly comes close then they will snap him up for dinner, but otherwise, they will not be chasing down insects. This is because they have the ability to sit complete motionless and lure their prey in with their flower-like color patterns. So no need to worry just another cool insect!