Are You a Hottie? Find Out With Hotstagram

According to the movie The Social Network, Mark Zuckerberg briefly dabbled in the idea of creating a site where people could rate girls. While the site only lasted a day or two, it inspired him to continue thinking about the medium.

So, too, apparently, is another internet sensation using the same formula.  A new site, Hotstagram, is actually crashing under the weight of its interest. Piggy-backing on the idea of the “Hot or Not” internet site, this site uses Instagram photos and puts two photos of women or men back to back for voting.

The creator is choosing to remain anonymous at the moment, but is a 27 year old with the code name Captain Kirk.

The site makers encourage women and men to be part of the game by adding the hashtab #hotstagram to their photos. Trying to avoid legal issues, Captain Kirk has made it known that anyone who wants his or her picture removed can do so with the Hotstagram site

Facebook, which now owns Instagram, has not issued an official response about the site.

Dinos Slimmed-Down By Scientists (To a Mere 23 Tons)

From Bones to Flesh- The Australian Museum

Scientists have discovered that the weight and mass of dinosaurs may be much lower than previously believed.

A new technique allows experts to estimate the weight of prehistoric animals by measuring something other than their weight and volume. The method will undoubtedly change all current illustrations of the creatures, and provide insight into their unique anatomies.

William Sellers of the University of Manchester’s Faculty of Life Sciences led his team in a project that measured the amount of skin needed to wrap around the skeletons of large animals such as elephants, giraffes and polar bears. The test revealed that almost all of the specimens had 21% percent more body mass than the minimal skin and bone volume.

“This is a huge help for any sort of reconstruction,” Sellers said. “We now have a number that suggests how much flesh to add to the bones and that should help people produce animals that are the right balance of too fat or too thin.”

He added, “This technique can also allow you to calculate the numbers you need for more sophisticated reconstructions, such as the running simulations we have produced in the past.”

The researchers applied their findings to the skeleton of a brachiosaur in a museum in Berlin. This dinosaur was previously believed to have weighed around 176,370 pounds. According to the new estimate, however, the figure was reduced to 50,706; a mere fraction of the original weight!

“The 23-ton weight is quite low, but I think it reflects the fact that all other dinosaur weights are getting lower,” Sellers explained. The new estimates, he said, “reflect a better understanding of biology, and I think the early estimates were set in that big, fat and slow lizard mindset before the dinosaur renaissance. I think we will find that the lower estimates are much more appropriate for many dinosaurs.”

Watch Your Next Film on Gas

While many of us mere mortals may barely understand this, researchers at the University of Maryland have just figured out a way to store film as a gas. Their findings, explained in a paper titled, “Temporally Multiplexed Storage of Images in a Gradient Echo Memory,” explain how they’ve managed to store two frames of light signals with room-temperature gas.

While there aren’t too many practical uses for the findings as of yet, it is possible that it could eventually be part of the building blocks for computers.

At the moment, the technique stores information in very small vials of rubidium and does so by beaming light into a 20cm long tube. Then, when they want to play the film back, they flip it backwards and the control beam is burned on. When the atoms move in the opposite direction, the film plays.

As one of the researchers explained, “The big thing here is that this allows us to do images and do pulses (instead of individual photons) and it can be matched (hopefully) to our squeezed light source, so that we can soon try to store ‘quantum images’ and make essentially a random access memory for continuous variable quantum information. The thing that really attracted us to this method—aside from its being pretty well-matched to our source of squeezed light—is that the ANU group was able to get 87% recovery efficiency from it – which is, I think, the best anyone has seen in any optical system, so it holds great promise for a quantum memory.”

While many of us may not have understood a word of this, we can certainly enjoy the YouTube song that was inspired by it.

LiquiGlide: New Finger-Licking Good Invention to Get to the Last Drop

Those of us who love ketchup can now sleep easier at night. That’s because an MIT University team just came up with a new bottle design called LiquiGlide. It’s a “super-slippery” coating that goes on the inside of the bottle to ensure that almost any substance will slide out with ease.

The device took two months to design by the MIT PhD candidate Dave Smith and his team of mechanical engineers and nano-technoogists at the Varanasi Research Group.

Smith explained how they came up with their idea. As he said, “We were really interested in – and still are – using this coating for anti-icing, or for preventing clogs that form in oil and gas lines, or for non-wetting applications like, say, on windshields.  Somehow this sparked the idea of putting it in food bottles – it could be great just for its slippery properties.

He went on to explain, “Plus, most of these other applications have a much longer time to market – we realized we could make this coating for bottles that is pretty much ready. I mean, it is ready, as you can see. We had a limited amount of materials to pick from – I can’t say what they are, but we’ve patented the hell out of it.”

Smith is no novice to patents – he already holds nine of them. When asked why they decided to focus on bottles, rather than some other substance, Smith explained, “You tell them the market for bottles – just the sauces alone is a $17billion market. And if all those bottles had our coating, we estimate that we could save about one million tons of food from being thrown out every year.”

The team promises that its non-toxic coating with become FDA approved and that it is completely safe for users.

Now that sounds finger-licking good!

Scientists Turn Skin Tissue into Beating Heart Cells

Scientists from the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa have transformed skin tissue into beating heart cells, forging a path for further research into more effective post-heart attack therapy options.

The breakthrough may eventually pose as a solution for patients with severe organ damage by eliminating the risk of rejection by the body’s own immune system. For now, the cells have not been returned to patients, though they are healthy and beat in tandem with those of other heart cells in lab rats.

“We have shown that it’s possible to take skin cells from an elderly patient with advanced heart failure and end up with his own beating cells in a laboratory dish that are healthy and young- the equivalent to the stage his heart cells were in when he was just born,” explained Lior Gepstein, a cardiologist working on the project.

The original theory was suggested back in 2007 by two separate teams of scientists; Shinya Yamanaka in Japan and James Thomson in the U.S. Both researchers discovered ‘pluripotency’ genes that could apparently bring older cells back to a much younger developmental stage.

In the Israeli study, the scientists took skin cells from two heart attack survivors over the age of 50. With the help of three pluripotency genes, they brought them back to an immature stage, and then grew them into brand new heart muscle tissue.

“What was interesting was the cells could integrate with the rat tissue and contract in synchrony,” Gepstein said once the cells were injected and accepted by the rats’ hearts. “If you put the cells in and they beat with a completely different timing, you wouldn’t see any improvement in heart function and may even cause a dangerous arrhythmia.”

A consultant cardiologist at Edinburgh University, Nicholas Mills, said: “More people are surviving following a heart attack than ever before and therefore the number of people living with a damaged heart and heart failure is increasing. Unfortunately, the body has only very limited capacity to repair the heart following a heart attack, There is therefore an urgent need to develop effective and safe treatments to regenerate the heart.”

He added, “this technology needs to be refined before it can be used for the treatment of patients with heart failure, but these findings are encouraging and take us a step closer to our goal of identifying an effective means of repairing the heart and limiting the consequences of heart failure.”

Certain Orangutans Able to Control Their Sexual Maturation

In a fascinating scientific discovery, researchers have found that the orangutans of Sumatra in the Indonesian islands have found a way to hold off their sexual maturity for up to ten years.  This delayed development allows them to mature only as they are old enough and strong enough to fight off stronger males.  As far as researchers can tell, no other primate species, even the orangutans’ cousins in nearby Borneo, are able to do so.

Gauri Pradha, a University of South Florida researcher, found with her team that these orangutans can hold off the growth of their secondary sexual features for as long as ten years. Typically, male orangutans are able to reproduce at 15, but they won’t attract female attention until they have their secondary sexual characteristics which include cheek flanges and increased muscle.

What the researchers found to be truly amazing was that the sexual development of the secondary traits was delayed only in orangutan groups where a few dominant males controlled all of the females.  Such arrested development wasn’t documented for groups of orangutans in Bornean where male orangutans didn’t monopolize individual females.

In the troops in Sumatra, the orangutans would delay their development until they had enough strength to depose the dominant males – then they would quickly reach sexual maturity.

Researchers still do not know how they are able to control their sexual maturation and whether or not they do so consciously.