Jan. 29th, 2009

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Improbable research: Beware the perils of poppy seed bagels | Education | The Guardian

More foods that can throw off a drug test. In 1997 a patient tested positive for morphine, despite claims that they don't use morphine. After some queries, they discovered that the patient ate a lot of poppy seed bagels. The patient was asked to abstain from eating anything containing poppy seeds for a period two weeks. They then provided a urine sample, ate half a poppy-seed bagel under supervision, then provided a second urine sample. The second sample came up positive, as did tests at 24 and 48 hours.

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Machine machinations: Smart robot capable of hunting for its own "food" | NetworkWorld.com Community

DARPA is backing the development of a biomass-powered mobile robot that, among other things, searchers for its own fuel. The system is expected to be able to "ingest" any type of conventional or alternative fuels, including gasoline, coal, cooking oil, and solar energy. The idea is to develop a robot capable of long-endurance tasks such as surveillance.
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Care for a Silkworm With Your Tang? -- Choi 2009 (113): 2 -- ScienceNOW

Several weeks ago, Science magazine reported that silkworms (shown here) are being recommended as the astronaut food of the future. The pupae are mostly protein, they breed quickly and generate little waste, and contain much more essential amino acids than pork, milk or eggs. Even the silk that they produce can be made edible through a chemical process to provide additional nutrients. The scientists estimate that each astronaut would need to consume up to 170 silkworm pupae per day to meet their minimum protein intake requirements.

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BBC NEWS | Science & Environment | Mammoth-killing comet questioned

The theory that a comet wiped out the megafauna and Clovis people of North America has taken a hit thanks to a thorough analysis of charcoal layers beneath lakes and peat bogs from across North America. The discovered two things: there is no evidence of a continent-wide fire, and that the number of wildfires during the 5,000-year period around the time of the supposed strike increased dramatically. In fact, they discovered that the incidence rate of wildfire increased during periods of rapid climate change such as the one the Earth is currently undergoing.
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Cheap, super-efficient LED lights on the horizon - tech - 29 January 2009 - New Scientist

Researchers in the UK have cracked a limitation to making LED lights as cheaply as compact fluorescent lights (CFL). The problem was the wide difference in temperatures at which gallium nitride (GaN) and silicon are deposited, which results in the GaN cracking during cooling. the group added an aluminum gallium nitride layer that takes up the stresses so that the GaN doesn't crack. As a result, they can produce LED lights, which have no warm-up time and can burn for more than 100,000 hours, as cheaply as CFLs.

January 2010

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