Biological Computers

Move over Intel, the new wave of micro-processors are about to hit the shelves. Colonies of yeast can be genetically engineered to form complex logical pathways which, when applied with particular stimuli, form incredibly powerful computations.

“It’s not an exact replica of a microprocessor. There are no hard wires or transistors. There are, however, complex cellular structures that responds very quickly and very accurately. We can use these to solve amazingly complex problems in the twinkling of an eye,” according to Ron Hamrick of Dubuque, “We calculated pi to one billion digits in less than twenty minutes with only half a teaspoon of sugar and a modest colony.”

While the bio-processors are hardly suitable for watches and computers, they do have a distinct advantage over commonplace silicon-based processors: they can grow.

“As the need for more processing power rises, we can increase the size of the colony. It seems that the processing power increases according to many factors, such as cell count, sugar content, surface area and oxygen / carbon dioxide ratios. The whole concept is scalable.”

After an exhausting set of trials, Ron and his team have settled upon a particular strain to serve as a bench-mark for future trials.

“We may see in the future that genetic engineering and microprocessing join forces to create ultra-complex pathways in living creatures. Who knows what the limits are?”ChesterLogoSmall

Edgar Allan Poe’s darker secret

While the literary works of Edgar Allan Poe are macabre and mysterious, investigations into his personal life reveal an even darker side: At least two of his famous works may actually have been inspired by real and, shockingly, personal events.

“It would seem that elements of ‘The Telltale Heart’ and ‘The Cask of Amontillado’ coincide with actual unsolved police cases, one a murder, the other a disappearance, suspected foul play,” says Ryan Ng, Researcher and Literary Analyst.

The revelations come to light after Ryan tracked the historical movements of Poe and compared them against police records. What he found has convinced him that Poe is guilty of more than just stealing our imaginations.

Twenty years after The Telltale Heart was published, renovations at a seaside manor in New Jersey uncovered the corpse of an elderly man from under the floorboards. The date of death was officially determined as being twenty-two years earlier which, Ryan demonstrates, is precisely the time when Edgar was known to have ‘visited a friend’ in that area.

“The timing is almost perfect. Also, in Virginia, there was a wealthy businessman, Kieth Hitchcock, who disappeared after attending a masquerade ball. The grounds next to the ball was a construction site, known to have been visited by Poe and his friends during a holiday from University. I would be keen to see if there are any skeletons buried inside those walls,” says Ryan, “If we look at the progression from killing a cat, then old men, then wealthy businessmen, we see a very real pattern of psychopathic behaviour.”

Publishing his stories is an sign of Poe’s restrained regret, Ryan says, whereas the details placed within the story, specifically highlighting the cleverness of his crimes smacks of the egotistical mind of a genuine serial killer.

“I’m currently investigating the Pit and the Pendulum to see if there are any crimes of torture to which he might be linked.”ChesterLogoSmall

Good Vibrations

The air we breathe, the food we eat and the water we drink all play a part in affecting our health. Now scientists are looking at vibration frequencies and how they affect our bodies.

“We know that certain frequencies can positively and negatively affect our bodies, from blood flow, to muscle development, even brain function. We have seen that there are some stimulus and response ‘notes’ that, when hit, resonate certain parts of our bodies,” says Deak Gorbon, curator of the study.

It was shown that certain low frequencies affect the heart rate of participants, along with blood sugar levels, mental aptitude and problem solving capabilities. On the flip side, higher frequencies can result in reduced oxygen levels at the extremities.

Of particular note are certain rates around the 50 to 60 Hertz, common worldwide for AC electrical systems and transmission, which was shown to affect brainwaves, with a notable decrease in Beta waves and increase Alpha waves, mimicking a sleep-like state.

“Environment affects every aspect of our lives. It’s only natural to expect that vibrations, possibly the most fundamental natural phenomenon, has an effect on our body as well. It appears that the resonant frequencies of various geometric structures in our bodies cause these reactions. We are looking to see how we can apply this in a medical way, such as to decrease healing time, or aid a patient’s paranoia.” ChesterLogoSmall

 

Ghost Hunting a Science

Following on from television shows like ‘Ghost Hunters‘ and books like ‘Paranormology‘, the hunt for ghosts and research into the spiritual realm is set to lose its pseudoscience badge in favour of a degree.

Students at the University of Mount Gambier in South Australia can now choose to become official Paranormologists. With the aim to make Paranormology as commonplace as geography or astronomy, the University is trialing the course over the next few years.

“The first few subjects deal with scientific methodology, the importance of thoroughly recording observations and peer review. Once the students have a grounding in the accepted practices, they then move on to equipment, practical training and observation techniques,” says Doctor Sue Rochester, “The word ‘ghost’ doesn’t even appear in any recommended text books until the third year.”

Unproven methodologies such as clairvoyance and seances are not part of the curriculum, says Sue, although they are addressed in the subjects of hoaxes.

“As a scientist working in a field that naturally attracts charlatanism, it’s important to know how to remain objective, how to spot human interference, how to use scientific analysis to rule out trickery.”

The Paranormology course is being piloted with a view for expanding into other fields, such as Cryptozoology and Ufology.

Flashing Personality

A remarkable discovery has been revealed from a ten month long investigation into cars and personalities. The speed of a car’s indicators reflects the personality of the owner.

“We have found that the rate of flash is proportional to the impulsiveness of the driver. More cautious drivers tend to have a slower flash rate,” says Freda Ghert, Lead Officer of the study at Long Beach Market Research.

In a bid to see what motivates customers to buy certain cars, Freda and her team have been probing in the psyche of vehicle owners and pairing the data with facts about their car.

“If I were a salesman, I’d look very carefully at the results of this study. Many of the findings are intuitive, many more are not,” she says, “The indicator speed is not the only correlation discovered, but it certainly is up there with the most surprising.”

Long Beach Market Research is looking to apply their new knowledge to develop an app to quickly determine the likely type of car a customer may want to purchase.ChesterLogoSmall

Cloud Tumours

Cosmic Radiation is the cause for tumours within clouds, says leading meteorological expert Sam Skediva.

The cysts are formed when vapour molecules within the clouds are struck by cosmic radiation, high energy protons and nuclei that come from the solar system. Using scanning radio telescopes, Skediva and his team have demonstrated that clouds act as a sacrificial barrier to the harmful radiation.

“The tumours you see are a result of the fantastically high energy of the incident radiation. Vapour molecules collect around the trail of the decaying particles, in a similar fashion to a cloud chamber, but what we find extraordinary is that the residual traces ‘grow’ to form a cyst,” he says, “Although some of the cysts do grow, and can eventually grow so large as to disrupt the functioning of the cloud, there is no solid evidence for alarm. This happens on a daily basis as clouds are formed and unformed and reformed.”

More likely than not, the rate of extinction of clouds is more than enough to mitigate any ill effects.”Most of these are what you might call ‘benign’, and those that are ‘malignant’ don’t hang around for long enough to cause any lasting effects.”ChesterLogoSmall

Good Robot!

Digital emotions aren’t new. Tamagochi, a children’s craze back in the 90’s, gave us a virtual pet that came with emotions, and responded to stylised pleasure and punishment.

Now engineers are looking to put that concept into the next advance in robotic control.

“Fuzzy logic is great for washing machines, and determinate, adaptive algorithms work for menial tasks. If you look to the animal world, the higher orders of animals are trainable not through direct logic and signals, but through pleasure and pain,” says Doctor Gerard Jung, lead roboticist in Germany’s Klein-Bach Laboratories.

“The beauty of pleasure and pain receptors means that the robot is trained not by a set of pre-calculated goals, rather the various environmental factors, including and especially humans, determine what is right and wrong,” he explains, “This way we let the robot ‘figure out’ what it is meant to do, create its own goals and boundaries. It’s very much like training a small dog or a young child. It’s not quite ‘right and wrong’ in a moralistic sense, it’s physically based at this stage.”

He says that the technology will ease the pathway of getting robots into the household and would lead to eventual robot ‘buddies’, one that could listen and actively sympathise with their owners.ChesterLogoSmall