Magnetic fields applied to the brain can be used to treat ADHD, improve memory and even control your behavior and sense of morality. But unless you're a neuroscientist, it's hard to see the physiology of this phenomenon, other than trying to interpret colorful brain scans.
The following video accomplishes this beautifully.
Using a camera with a frame rate faster than anything Hollywood could ever imagine, a group of German scientists has become the first to successfully capture the mechanism of a jellyfishs stinger cells on film. Shot at a blistering 1.4 million frames per second—fast enough to make a speeding bullet creep through the frame like a snail—the video reveals the intricate workings of the stinger cells, one of the fastest cellular processes in nature.
A jellyfishs stinger cell, called a nematocyst, contains a sharp dart spring-loaded into the cell by a tightly packed collagen structure. When the tentacle comes in contact with prey and the lids of the nematocysts open, the dart is hurled forth with a pressure of seven billion Pascals—roughly equivalent to the force of a gunshot wound and strong enough to pierce the hard shells of mollusks. The poison is then injected through the dart via osmosis, resulting in searing pain and a ruined vacation if youre human, or instant paralysis and lunch status if youre not. —John Mahoney
Link [New Scientist] with video.
They even got the three-cylinders part right...
Today, New Scientists crack patent watcher picked up an interesting non-lethal riot-control weapon that sounds suspiciously similar to something Egon, Ray and the boys cooked up some years back. Heres a quote—and if youve seen Ghostbusters II, this should all ring a bell:
Riot police or troops would wear a back pack with three cylinders one containing compressed air, another filled with plain water and a third containing a supply of very dry, finely ground, polyacrylamide powder. A nozzle, resembling a shower head, would blasts two separate jets, containing the water and the polymer powder, in the general direction of an ugly crowd.
The resulting substance would be slippery enough to cause rioters (but do they have to be ugly?) to stumble and fall, hopefully quelling their rage. But if you were part of a rioting crowd, wouldnt getting sprayed with slippery slime make you even more crazed? It also remains to be seen whether said slime can make the Statue of Liberty walk through the streets of New York. —John Mahoney
As if the Speech Accent Archive from yesterdays blogging wasnt fascinating enough, it seems humans arent the only creatures being subjected to linguistic analysis these days. A new study appearing in the Journal of the Acoustical Society of America suggests that whales may be speaking a more complex language than previously thought.
The study offers new evidence that whales, like humans, communicate in a hierarchical language—that is, one that uses building blocks such as words to form more complex constructs like clauses, the clauses then forming sentences, and so on. The studys authors analyzed recordings of Hawaiian humpback whales using a special algorithm to isolate patterns in the sounds and found that whale songs do appear to follow a hierarchical structure. Decoding the hierarchys meaning, though, is something else entirely. Will we ever know what whales are talking about? My guess is they mainly talk about food and the attractiveness of whales of the opposite sex, just like humans do. —John Mahoney
Link via New Scientist (check out the sound clips, too).