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Crossing From Asia, the First Americans Rushed Into the Unknown

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Three new genetic analyses lend detail, and mystery, to the arrival of prehistoric humans in the Western Hemisphere.
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Michdevilish
9 days ago
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Canada
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Spinal-cord stimulation allows three paralyzed men to walk with assistance

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Multiple combined images of a man starting out in a wheelchair progressing to using a wheeled walker.

Enlarge / A composite image showing David Mzee standing and walking with assistance. (credit: EPFL / Hillary Sanctuary)

“It’s an amazing feeling,” says David Mzee, whose left leg was paralyzed in 2010. Mzee has now regained some ability to walk thanks to a breakthrough in spinal-cord stimulation technology. “I can do a knee extension of my left leg... flex my hip and even move my toes.”

Mzee is one of three participants in a study that used a new technique to overcome spinal-cord injury and restore walking ability in patients with varying degrees of paralysis. The results, published in Nature and Nature Neuroscience today, are dramatic. All three patients recovered some degree of walking ability, and their progress in physical-therapy sessions has translated to improved mobility in their daily lives.

The basis of the technique, called epidural electrical stimulation (EES), is not new at all—it’s been investigated as a potential treatment for paralysis for decades, with a lot of success in animals. And in September this year, two separate papers reported breakthroughs in allowing patients with paralysis to walk, with assistance, as a result of EES.

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Michdevilish
16 days ago
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Canada
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What’s Wrong with Bananas - Issue 66: Clockwork 

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Of the important global crops, the banana is the most genetically uniform. A single cluster of nearly identical genotypes, the Cavendish subgroup, nearly monopolizes the world’s banana groves and banana trade. In contrast to the riotous rainbow of genetic diversity that lends sustainability to natural plant and animal populations, the world’s banana industry has the stability of an upside-down Egyptian pyramid balanced on its tip.

That fact leads to another superlative: The commercial banana is the world’s most endangered major crop. The future of the intercontinentally traded banana was once, and is again, precarious. Given that their wild progenitors are as variable as most species, how has it come to pass that most of the banana plants growing in the world have become so uniform? And what does that uniformity mean for their future as the “world’s most perfect food”?

Gros Michel bananas.Zwifree / Wikimedia

Reproductively, domesticated banana plants are self-copying machines. Proto-farmers who found an individual whose fruit they liked (maybe tasty and not so seedy) could dig up its suckers and replant them in a nearby clearing or even along the trail. In a few years, an industrious proto-farmer might have had reproduced dozens of plants of that…
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superiphi
10 days ago
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Idle, Bradford, United Kingdom
Michdevilish
16 days ago
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Canada
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Cleaning with spit, and now with pillars and pancakes

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Last month human saliva got its due, with the awarding of the 2018 Ig Nobel Prize for chemistry, as an effective agent to clean surfaces. This month, pillars and pancakes are served up as an effective way to pattern surfaces so that those surfaces will be self-cleaning.

Pillar/pancake details are in the new study “Pillars or Pancakes? Self-cleaning surfaces without coating,” Naureen Akhtar, Peter J. Thomas, Benny Svardal, Stian Almenningen, Edwin de Jong, Stian Magnussen, Patrick R. Onck, Martin Anders Fernø, and Bodil Holst [pictured here]. Nano Letters, epub 2018.

The authors, at the University of Bergen, Norway and the University of Groningen, The Netherlands, report:

“Surfaces that stay clean when immersed in water are important for an enormous range of applications from ships and buildings to marine, medical and other equipment. Up till now the main strategy for designing self-cleaning surfaces has been to combine hydrophilic/hydrophobic coatings with high aspect ratio structuring (typically micron scale pillars) to trap a (semi-)static water/air layer for drag and adhesion reduction. However, such coating and structuring can [bring unwanted side-effects]. Here we present a radically different strategy for self-cleaning surface design: We show that a surface can be made self-cleaning by structuring with a pattern of very low aspect ratio pillars (“pancakes”). Now the water is not trapped. It can flow freely around the “pancakes” thus creating a dynamic water layer. We have applied the new pancake design to sapphire windows and made the first surfaces that are self-cleaning through structuring alone without the application of any coating. An offshore installation has now been running continuously with structured windows for more than one year. The previous uptime for unstructured windows was 7 days.”

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Michdevilish
17 days ago
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Canada
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250 Things An Architect Should Know

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“The proportioning system for the Villa Rotonda. The basics of mud construction. The direction of prevailing winds. The difference between Winchester Cathedral and a bicycle shed. What went wrong in Fatehpur Sikri. The smell of concrete after rain. The angle of the sun at the equinox. How the pyramids were built. How to ride a bicycle. The depth of the aquifer beneath you. The slope of a handicapped ramp. The depths of desire. The heights of folly. Low tide. The Golden and other ratios”
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Michdevilish
30 days ago
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Canada
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Granadilla, Branded

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A purple-skinned, fragrant berry that grows on a vine

h/t: Passiflora edulis, also known as granadilla. (Yon passionfruité follows Passion of the Flower!)

Have some fun before you get (de)cease(d) and desisted:

Brand New Roman by Hello Velocity spells Granadilla

Dollar Brand would be proud.

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Michdevilish
78 days ago
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Canada
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