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Einstein’s brain was seriously well-connected

The unsurpassed intellectual brilliance of Albert Einstein could have to do with the way the hemispheres of his brain were connected.

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When the great physicist Albert Einstein died at the age of 76 in 1955 his brain was preserved, and it has been the subject of neuroscientific research ever since. Scientists have hoped that by understanding how his brain differs from the average brain, they could discover the biological basis of genius. And research groups have indeed found many unique characteristics of Einstein’s cerebrum that could explain the fellow’s extraordinary intellectual capabilities.

The most recent findings show that the left and right hemispheres of Einstein’s brain were unusually well connected. The research group that conducted the study was led by physicist Weiwei Men of East China Normal University who developed a new technique to study the corpus callosum, which is the brain’s largest bundle of fibres that connects the two hemispheres of the brain, allowing them to communicate with each other.

Eat, sleep, repeat

In an effort to understand how sleep, hunger and metabolism interact, scientists activated a molecule in flies that made them do nothing but snooze and eat.

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Hunger and sleep work together in a weird way: if you go to bed hungry, you may find it more difficult to go to sleep, especially if you’re thinking about burgers and other delicious foods. In the same way, after eating a big meal you may find yourself in a food coma, which will make you drowsy. But by studying a single molecule in fruit flies (Drosophila), scientists have been able to unravel this complicated relationship.

The researchers found that the neuropeptide sNPF, which partly controls the amount of food you eat and your metabolism, is also largely responsible for making you sleepy. They discovered this after they activated sNPF in fruit flies and watched them fall asleep almost immediately. When the flies did wake up, they stayed conscious only long enough to eat before falling back to sleep again for days at a time. The flies even slept on the food source they were eating from, making it very convenient to wake up, take a few bites, and fall back to sleep again, all without even getting up to move about.

can you eat pizza in space?

 

Forget takeaway, in the future you may be able to print your favourite dinner.

3D printing has been around for a while, but only recently has it  started to take off, with everything from tools to jewellery, clothing and even human ears  being made with the push of a button. NASAis getting in on the action too, and has spent US $125,000 to fund Anjan Contractor, head ofSystems and Materials Research Corporation, to develop a 3D food printer.

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The idea is to provide tasty treats for astronauts while they’re on long journeys in space. Currently, astronauts dine on pre-packed meals such as the MREs (meals ready to eat), similar to the food served to the military. These require a lot of processing and over time lose their nutritional value.

The printer will work by using replaceable powder cartridges filled with the basic building blocks of foodstuffs, such as oils, powdered protein and powdered carbohydrates. By combining each basic ingredient, Contractor is hoping that a wide range of hot, nutritious foods will be made by the printer. The cartridges will have a lifespan of 30 years, more than long enough to enable long-distance space travel.

The first item of the food printer’s menu is pizza. Pizza is made by layering different ingredients on top of each other (dough, sauce, cheese and toppings), so it is a perfect starting point for the 3D technology, which works by using a similar layering process, but on a microscopic scale. First the dough will be printed, cooking as it goes, then a tomato powder will mix with water and oil to create the sauce before a protein layer is added.