September 11, 2012

Search and Rescue Cockroaches – The Daily Orbit

Remote controllable cockroaches?  You better believe it!

Have researchers discovered Fountain of Youth? I hope so!

And getting emotional with your computer!

All that and more coming up on the Daily Orbit!

Hi I’m Emerald Robinson, welcome to the Daily Orbit!  Researchers at North Carolina State University have developed a biological interface to steer cockroaches.  These bugs will be able to help out in times of disaster, such as rescuing trapped earthquake victims.  Researchers embedded a chip into Madagascar hissing cockroaches with a wireless receiver and transmitter that spurs the bugs into motion.  They “steered” the insects by sending electrical signals to their antennae, making the insect believe they were hitting an obstacle, and forcing them to turn in the other direction.     No bugs were harmed during this experiment. (haha) Backpacks were installed to each of the roaches in such a way as to avoid neural damage.

And the FBI wants your face!  Sound a little scary?  The FBI is  implementing it’s new Next Generation Identification program (NGI) which will store DNA analysis, facial and iris scans, and voice recognition as well as the old fingerprint and palm database.  Using a specialized algorithm, the system would be able to scan images from security cameras for any person of interest, including possible leads in an investigation.  It would also be able to identify a person by scars, tattoos, or other marks.  Testing has already begun in several states with more to follow.  The FBI plans to have a full facial recognition database by 2014.

You may look even better on those FBI scans thanks to a new stem cell technology.  Clinical trials are ramping up for a treatment that eliminates wrinkles with stem cells derived from a patient’s own blood.  Researchers say introducing large numbers of the stem cells into the right place will cause production of fibroblasts which increases skin’s elasticity. Stem cells from fat are already being used for the treatment of wrinkles, but the company spearheading the testing–Pharmacells–says those cells derived from the blood are larger in number and quality, making them superior.  The company is hopeful that this research could be helpful in the fight against heart attacks, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and cancer.  This might be the closest we get to the fountain of youth!

Can you tell if I’m happy or sad?.   Well, researchers in Malaysia are teaching a computer to interpret human emotions based on lip patterns in order to improve the way people interact with computers.  They are training the computer to recognize the six common human emotions- happiness, sadness, fear, anger, disgust, and surprise- and also neutrality.  The computer studies the upper and lower lips separately and uses a genetic algorithm to determine the emotion.  Researchers say this technology could help disabled persons lacking speech to interact more effectively with computer based-communication devices.

Thought the red planet couldn’t get any hotter?  A new finding suggests that the Martian clay was actually formed by HOT water-rich magma.  This throws some cold water on the idea that Mars could have been habitable in the past, because this water would have been way too hot to support microbial life. Researchers from Caltech base their theory on comparisons of clay in the rock formation on Mururoa Atoll in French Polynesia.  This clay, which formed from cool magma, bears a striking resemblance to the Martian clay.  This theory contradicts two other theories that have scientists searching Mars for evidence of life. Fortunately our little Martian man can survive in any conditions!

And that’s it for today’s Daily Orbit!  “See you tomorrow!”

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