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6

Scientists Create Simple Synthetic Cell That Grows and Divides Normally

The latest on the designer gene front has scientists figuring out how to control cell replication in order to make synthetic cells produce divisions that are consistent with the original cell.

Five years ago, scientists created a single-celled synthetic organism that, with only 473 genes, was the simplest living cell ever known. However, this bacteria-like organism behaved strangely when growing and dividing, producing cells with wildly different shapes and sizes.

Now, scientists have identified seven genes that can be added to tame the cells’ unruly nature, causing them to neatly divide into uniform orbs.

Now, this may seem like burying the lede, since you most likely had the same reaction I did: "Scientists created synthetic cells that reproduce? What?" But no, they did NOT create life in the lab. The synthetic cells were made from existing living microorganisms. Scientists removed the DNA and replaced it with completely new genes. So we can see that while DNA may be the basis for our identity, it is not the basis for life. At any rate, these synthetic cells do not have the functionality to exist outside the lab, which is reassuring. An article at NIST explains the value in this research.  -via Metafilter

(Image credit: Jerome Walker)


7

Chair with a Built-in Exercise Wheel for Cats

Oliver the cat wants to play, but his human servant needs to work. The two get along well enough thanks to The Loveseat, a chair designed by Stephan Verkaik and Beth Horneman. It's made out of beech wood and recycled polyurethane leather. The exercise wheel can be added to either side of the chair

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6

Hey, Come Meet My Sister!

Here’s a cute video to give us a little dose of cheer into the week! Watch as the newest big brother adorably shows off his sister to his friends. He wanted to have a little sister for a long time, the father shares, and his big grin as he pushes the stroller of his younger sister is proof enough of how much he adores his newest sibling. The video did make me smile! 

Image screenshot via Sixth Tone


6

Whale Culture In Photos

I wish I could hang out with cool animals. Brian Skerry had a chance to hang out with a nursing sperm whale, and produced several photos for National Geographic. Skerry dove into the Caribbean waters to capture the images of a new sperm whale mom with a five- to six-month-old baby. NPR has more details: 

"I very gently approached, just breath-hold diving, swam down. She saw me and then actually closed her eyes. I mean, she was so relaxed that I could enter into that world. I was being allowed into her world and could make these pictures."
That moment produced one of several rare images in a new issue of National Geographic magazine, the culmination of Skerry's three-year project exploring the culture of whales.
"Behavior is what we do. Culture is how we do it," he says, paraphrasing sperm whale biologist Shane Gero.
In the photographs, Skerry assembles examples of whale behavior that seem almost human: belugas play in the shallows, orcas teach their pups to hunt, sperm whales nurse and babysit.

Image source : National Geographic Magazine via NPR 


6

This Mysterious Monument Was Hidden In Plain Sight

Researchers have noticed a human-made structure hidden in the lowlands of northern Guatemala. Thanks to LiDAR (short for “Light Detection And Ranging”), they were able to discern the building, which was a pyramid. The pyramid was part of an ancient neighbourhood that included a large enclosed courtyard fringed with smaller buildings, as National Geographic details: 

Edwin Román-Ramírez, the director of the South Tikal Archaeological Project, began a series of excavations last summer. Tunnelling into the ruins, his team discovered construction and burial practices, ceramics, and weaponry typical of early fourth-century Teotihuacan. From an incense burner decorated with an image of the Teotihuacan rain god to darts made from green obsidian from central Mexico, the artifacts suggest that the site could have been a quasi-autonomous settlement at the centre of Tikal, tied to the distant imperial capital.
“We knew that the Teotihuacanos had at least some presence and influence in Tikal and nearby Maya areas prior to the year 378,” says Román-Ramírez. “But it wasn’t clear whether the Maya were just emulating aspects of the region’s most powerful kingdom. Now there’s evidence that the relationship was much more than that.”

Image via National Geographic 


6

Meet The Crystal That Is Stronger Than A Diamond

Here’s a fun bonus: it’s made of gunpowder. How cool is that? Scientists have found an alternative material that is as strong as diamonds. The material, called lonsdaleite (also known as hexagonal diamond), is a rare six-sided crystalline mineral that has seldom been found in nature — generally only at meteorite impact sites. However, researchers from Washington State University's Institute for Shock Physics have developed their own hexagonal diamonds, as Free Think details: 

"Diamond is a very unique material," Yogendra Gupta, director of the Institute for Shock Physics and an author on the study, said in a statement. "It is not only the strongest — it has beautiful optical properties and a very high thermal conductivity. Now we have made the hexagonal form of diamond, produced under shock compression experiments, that is significantly stiffer and stronger than regular gem diamonds."
Using gunpowder and compressed gas, Gupta's team launched dime-sized graphite disks at a transparent material at 15,000 miles per hour.
Upon impact, shock waves coursed through the disks, transforming them into lonsdaleite

Image via Free Think 


9

What It's Like to Experience a Coma

People who have been in a coma got there for a variety of reasons, and their experiences vary quite widely. Some are totally unaware of the passage of time, some have vivid (and sometimes terrifying) dreams, and some were affected by the things people around them said while they were unconscious.  

2. "I was in a medically induced coma for three days during my cancer treatment. My identical twin brother died around a year prior (also to cancer). The entire time I was in the coma, I was with him. We were in a large green field with a lot of sun, and my conversations with him felt real."

"Other than that, I didn’t hear any of my family talking to me while I was asleep. It was just like I had gone to bed for three days, and I woke up feeling very tired.

I do wonder whether my interactions with my twin brother were real, or if it was just the drugs I was given causing them." —u/prince-william15

 7. "My wife was in a coma for about a month. I brought the kids to see her later after prepping them. Despite the initial shock at seeing her with a ventilator, they were vocally loving, hugged her, held her hand, etc. We sat in the room and talked. At one point, I asked the kids what their favorite vacation was. They both agreed it was the road trip we took from Vegas down to Arizona. My wife heard it all but in a hallucinatory way."

"We talked about driving all over and seeing all the incredible sights. We talked about rides and amusements along the way. It was nice, then they kissed her goodbye saying, 'See you soon.'

My wife now has — nearly 10 years later — a vivid memory of a second Arizona vacation she went on with us. She even asked me early on after she woke up if we had gone on vacation recently. Her mind went through every detail we talked about and even added to it as if it all actually happened. The memories of it are as real as any." -u/Coogcheese

Read the recollections of 18 people who have been in a coma and lived to tell the tale at Buzzfeed.

(Image credit: Edvard Munch)


7

Mask Tip: Hold Screws onto Your Face with a Magnet

If you're wearing a mask, how to you hold nails or screws in your mouth while on a home improvement project? Arlen Abraham helpfully suggests gluing a magnet to the inside of your mask. I'd bet that it would also help you keep track of any loose USB flash drives that you need to tote around.

-via Super Punch


8

Pig Calling Contest Goes Metal



There's something strangely rhythmic about pig calling. Andre Antunes noticed it, too, and put his guitar skills to work turning a pig calling competition into a heavy metal song. -via Kottke


7

This Lamp Turns on and off with a Marble Run

 

I don't have much information about this lamp design. But it appears that dropping a steel marble in the top activates the power switch. It takes about 21 seconds for the marble to spin in the video. Alternatively, I suppose, an impatient user could simply drop the marble down the hole.

-via Core77


8

Sea Glass Cats

Katerina Murphy, an artist in Ukraine, makes three-dimensional stained glass sculptures. They're made, specifically, out of sea glass, which is weathered glass that washes up on beaches. Slide a light inside and they turn into vibrant cat lamps.

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6

Bench Pressing While Underwater

Vitaly Vivchar of Tomsk, Russia trained with yoga and freediving techniques before attempting this amazing feat. While holding his breath, he climbed onto a submerged bench and pressed a 110-pound barbell 77 times! In doing so, Vivchar blasted pass the previous record of 62 presses.

Some sources are reporting that Vivchar only completed 76 presses. Either way, the current Guinness World Record is his.


10

US States Ranked from Best to Worst

A poll of 1,211 US adults was conducted by YouGov. The participants were instructed to choose which of two states is the better state, with seven matchups per participant. The results were ranked by which states were selected the highest percentage of the time. Whether the results reflect experience or reputation is up in the air, as we don't know whether the participants travel extensively or not. Read more about the survey at YouGov. -via Fark


8

Happy Birthday Portal 2!

Portal 2 turns 10! The popular co-op and puzzle game was announced in 2010, and was available for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and PCs. The game was rated the 2nd best on Time's list of best games of 2011. Happy birthday, blow out the candles, but be careful, the cake is a lie!


11

The Elephant of The Bastille

It was a decisive moment in French history when the notorious prison known as the Bastille was stormed in 1789. The Bastille was destroyed, but the site in central Paris remained important to the people of France. What kind of monument should be in that place? For 32 years, it was a huge elephant.  

When the Bastille fell in July 1789 and subsequently demolished, there was some debate as to what should replace the former prison. It was decided that the area would become a square celebrating liberty, and a column would be erected there. A foundation stone was laid but the column never materialized. Instead, a fountain was built in 1793, depicting the Egyptian God Isis with water flowing from her breasts. But Napoleon had more grandiose plans. In 1810, the emperor decreed that a new fountain was to be erected, in the shape of an elephant, one that would be heroic and delightful to all who beheld it.

Napoleon's vision was that the elephant should be made of bronze, incorporating the cannons he had seized from enemies. But Napoleon would only be in power a few more years, and that spelled doom for the elephant monument, although it outlived him for some time. Read about Napoleon's elephant at Amusing Planet.

(Image credit: Aquarelle de Jean-Antoine Alavoine)






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