Laboratory-grown penises might sound like something from bad science fiction, but scientists are working to make them a reality. In fact, human trials of lab-grown penises may be coming soon, thanks in part to new funding from the Armed Forces Institute of Regenerative Medicine.
“The goal is to conduct a clinical trial within the next four to five years,” Karen Richardson, a spokesperson for the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine, told The Huffington Post in an email.
Researchers at Wake Forest made headlines in 2009 for growing penile erectile tissue in a lab and building a “functional engineered solid organ” for rabbits, and now are making progress on a human version.
Dr. Anthony Atala, head of Wake Forest’s regenerative medicine institute, in his lab at Piedmont Triad Research Park in Winston-Salem, NC, Friday, Jan. 5, 2007. | ASSOCIATED PRESS
The human tongue may have a sixth sense—and no, it doesn’t have anything to do with seeing ghosts. Researchers have found that in addition to recognizing sweet, sour, salty, savory, and bitter tastes, our tongues can also pick up on carbohydrates, the nutrients that break down into sugar and form our main source of energy.
Past studies have shown that some rodents can distinguish between sugars of different energy densities, while others can still tell carbohydrate and protein solutions apart even when their ability to taste sweetness is lost. A similar ability has been proposed in humans, with research showing that merely having carbohydrates in your mouth can improve physical performance.
The human tongue can taste carbohydrates, along with sweet, sour, salty, savory, and bitter flavors, researchers say. | Hapa via Getty Images
Conspiracy theorists have gotten the green light to chatter about another strange object on the Red Planet. This time it’s not a Mars rat or a jelly doughnut that’s been spotted in a photo taken by NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover, but a “traffic signal.”
The extraterrestrial “signal” was spotted by a British UFO enthusiast named Joseph White. Curiosity snapped the photo at 1:08 a.m. EDT on sol 753 (Sept. 19). You can see the original here.
“I have been following the images from NASA since the start and I flick through them on the NASA website every day,” White said, according to the Western Daily Press. “I saw this one and I thought ‘Hang on, that looks a bit strange.'”
While White said he believes what he spotted is “clearly intelligently designed,” as he wrote on his latest video on the Youtube Channel ArtAlienTV-Mars Zoo, the formation is most likely just a rock.
On June 28, 2009, the world-famous physicist Stephen Hawking threw a party at the University of Cambridge, complete with balloons, hors d’oeuvres and iced champagne. Everyone was invited but no one showed up. Hawking had expected as much, because he only sent out invitations after his party had concluded. It was, he said, “a welcome reception for future time travelers,” a tongue-in-cheek experiment to reinforce his 1992 conjecture that travel into the past is effectively impossible.
But Hawking may be on the wrong side of history. Recent experiments offer tentative support for time travel’s feasibility—at least from a mathematical perspective. The study cuts to the core of our understanding of the universe, and the resolution of the possibility of time travel, far from being a topic worthy only of science fiction, would have profound implications for fundamental physics as well as for practical applications such as quantum cryptography and computing.
Can a venomous snake really inflict a lethal bite even after its head has been chopped off? That question has been in the air since late August, when reports surfaced of a chef in China who died after being bitten by a decapitated snake.
According to an Aug. 22 report by the Daily Mirror, the chef had been preparing snake soup when he was bitten by the severed head of an Indochinese spitting cobra. The snake reportedly had been decapitated some 20 minutes before the bite occurred. The chef died before emergency workers could get to him, the Mirror reported.
Though it sounds almost impossible that such a thing could happen, the phenomenon is “entirely possible and does happen,” Dr. Matthew Lewin, director of California Academy of Sciences’ Center for Exploration and Travel Health and an expert on venomous snakebites, told The Huffington Post in an email.
Scientists at Michigan State University announced this week the creation of a “transparent luminescent solar concentrator” that could turn windows and even cellphone screens into solar-power generators.
This technology could mean that one day entire skyscrapers might be able to generate solar power without blocking out light or ruining tenants’ views.
The material works by absorbing light in the invisible spectrum (ultraviolet and near infrared) and then re-emitting it in the infrared. The infrared light is then channeled to the edge of the clear surface, where thin strips of photovoltaic cells generate the power.
Solar power with a view: MSU doctoral student Yimu Zhao holds up a transparent luminescent solar concentrator module. | Yimu Zhao
Scientists have created a swarm of over a thousand coin-sized robots that can assemble themselves into two-dimensional shapes by communicating with their neighbours.
At 1,024 members, this man-made flock — described in the 15 August issue of Science — is the largest yet to demonstrate collective behaviour. The self-organization techniques used by the tiny machines could aid the development of ‘transformer’ robots that reconfigure themselves, researchers say, and they might shed light on how complex swarms form in nature.