Now that Food Tech week is winding down here at PopSci, it's time to sit back, rest our hands on the shelves of our full bellies and listen to the old timers tell us a few yarns about back in their day.
A larval fruit fly is hatched in the year 2011 and frozen while still pupating, half its body water solidified in frigid temperatures. After spending many generations in a state of suspended animation, the wee Drosophila melanogaster awakens and is allowed to grow up. One day, it wonders if it will ever be able to mate — but should it bring new larvae into this dystopian future?
DNA extracted from canned human brains could help researchers studying mental health disorders, if scientists can figure out how to mine it. Preserved brains taken from autopsied patients — some dating to the 1890s — could serve as a new archive of old data related to mental health.
Scientists from every discipline have more data than ever, but it's only as useful as the meaning behind it. Every bit of information is only explained by the context in which it was gathered, and often in the context in which it is used. "There is no such thing as raw data," says Bill Anderson of the School of Information at the University of Texas at Austin and associate editor of the CODATA Data Science Journal.
Take the number 37, Anderson says. Other than stating a numerical order, it means little on its own. But with some more information — 37 degrees Celsius, for instance — it can take on more meaning. Now give it some context: 37 degrees C is normal body temperature. Now 37 represents something useful, something a doctor or researcher could use, and it becomes a piece of knowledge that could comfort a patient or answer a question.
A cache of feathers preserved in amber, dating from around 70 to 85 million years ago, was just found in Canada, showing that border between winged dinosaurs and the earliest avians. The study indicates that these feathers, relatively modern, were already appearing even before the non-avian dinosaurs were extinct.
Click to see some amazing photos of feathers trapped in amber.
Those of us who want to keep meat from spoiling for more than a few weeks have had limited options till now. We can cure it into bacon or sausage; freeze it or dry it; or buy it supermarket-"fresh" in a shrink-wrapped envelope. Now Daniel J. O'Sullivan, a professor at the U. of Minnesota, has a new solution that might keep a piece of meat fresh for years on the shelf.
Staying alive on the organ transplant waiting list could get a bit easier with organs that last longer outside the body. That's the hope of Harvard startup Hibergenica, which looks to commercialize a liquid solution that preserves the metabolism of hearts and livers for about 10 days, Technology Review reports.
Australia has hosted a wide range of weird creatures, from rabid wombats to Yahoo Serious. And now, the Australian government wants to see what other interesting critters are hiding out on that island. To that end, they are funding a series of expeditions to the outback that the Environment Minister has labeled "Bush Blitz".