A ten­ta­cled find

What’s hot and what’s not in the world of sci­ence and tech­nol­ogy.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - SCIENCE TECH HEAD - By Mandy Thoo


MEET “Casper” – a newly dis­cov­ered oc­to­pus that lives 4,000 me­tres below sea level and re­sem­bles “the friendly ghost”.

Found near the Hawai­ian Is­lands, the lit­tle oc­to­pod was rest­ing on a flat rock, and lacked the pig­ment cells as well as the usual amount of mus­cles found on other oc­to­pus. “This re­sulted in a ghost­like ap­pear­ance, lead­ing to a com­ment on so­cial me­dia that it should be called Casper... It is al­most cer­tainly an un­de­scribed species and may not be­long to any de­scribed genus,” says one of the re­searchers Michael Vec­chione.

Watch the video of it at: http:// bit. ly/ 1YQv4iW Smart skin

Re­searchers from King Ab­dul­lah Univer­sity of Sci­ence and Tech­nol­ogy in Saudi Ara­bia have de­vel­oped ar­ti­fi­cial skin us­ing alu­minium foil, sticky notes, sponges and tape.

Called “pa­per skin”, it makes use of dif­fer­ent char­ac­ter­is­tics of th­ese com­mon house­hold items to sense hu­mid­ity, tem­per­a­ture and even hu­man touch.

Cost­ing fewer than RM10 to make, the re­cy­clable and af­ford­able “skin” is hoped to re­place real skin in the fu­ture.

The team says it can be worn by burn vic­tims and even ro­bots, and can help mon­i­tor signs such as heart rate, blood pres­sure, breath­ing pat­terns and move­ment.

See: http:// bit. ly/ 21cOsbj Mar­tian veg­gies

Peas, toma­toes, quinoa and other veg­eta­bles have been suc­cess­fully grown on Mars­like soil cre­ated by NASA.

The soil, cre­ated based on sam­ples from the moon as well as data col­lected from robotic mis­sions, in­cluded those from a Hawai­ian vol­cano and dirt from a desert in Ari­zona.

While the team from Wa­genin­gen Univer­sity and Re­search Cen­tre, Nether­lands, didn’t ex­pect the crop, they say the soil used con­tained heavy me­tals such as lead, ar­senic and mer­cury.

Their next ex­per­i­ment is to find out whether the plants are ed­i­ble, and fun­ders will be in­vited for a “Mar­tian meal”.

See: http:// bit. ly/ 24Og­gFJ Mouth-tear­ing meals

Sci­en­tists have de­ter­mined how hy­dras rip apart their mouth ev­ery time they eat.

To de­ter­mine ex­actly how it digs into its prey, the team from the Univer­sity of Cal­i­for­nia in the US tagged dif­fer­ent skin lay­ers of the crea­ture with green and red flu­o­res­cent pro­teins.

They found that the cells of the hydra change their shape when the mouth opens, much like how our eye mus­cles con­tract to open our pupils.

It then spits out left­over food and sews up its mouth again, wait­ing for the next meal.

Watch how it works at: http:// bit. ly/ 22diK1x

Skinny heart

Mas­sachusetts Gen­eral Hos­pi­tal ( MGH) has cre­ated func­tional heart tis­sues us­ing skin cells.

In the study, the team ob­tained 73 do­nated hu­man hearts and re­placed the cells with ones of the skin. The or­gans were then placed in an en­vi­ron­ment sim­i­lar to that of liv­ing hearts.

Af­ter grow­ing for 120 days, the hearts started to con­tract by them­selves.

While this wasn’t the cre­ation of an en­tire heart, th­ese tis­sues could still re­place patches that were dam­aged by heart at­tacks, the team says.

See: http:// bit. ly/ 1piKAYk

Sci­en­tists say they have dis­cov­ered what might be a new species of oc­to­pus while search­ing the Pa­cific ocean floor near the hawai­ian Is­lands. — reuters

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