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Your Gut May Be Telling You Something

From a psychiatric standpoint, the underlying causes of depression are still not fully understood and depression remains difficult to treat in some cases. Given increasing interest in the role of the microbiome in a range of human health issues, this has led many researchers to also investigate potential links between mental health and the microbiome — specifically the microbial flora of the gut.

“The main idea of our review is that there is strong communication between the gastrointestinal tract and the brain, and that changes to the microbiome-gut-brain axis could be associated with the etiology of different neuropsychiatric disorders such as depression,” says Juan M. Lima-Ojeda, lead author of the review and a physician and researcher at the University of Regensburg, Germany.

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Toyota's Cloaking Device All Mirrors, Smoke Optional

By carefully placing mirrors, Toyota's patented cloaking device makes it possible to bend light around an object—in this case, a vehicle pillar—and see the other side of it. This sort of technology already exists today, but with the help of cameras and other expensive components. Therefore, Toyota felt a more practical and less expensive option was deemed necessary.

It's not clear if and when Toyota will implement the cloaking device solution, but the patent was filed by the company's American arm. With that said, it's likely the solution would be implemented on the automaker's U.S. cars and trucks. We may not ever see a day when thin, creatively-crafted vehicle pillars return, but we suppose at least seeing around the massive structures is better than nothing.

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2D Printing Advances with New InkJet Ink Technology

"The formulation represents a significant scientific and technical achievement in terms of using this Black phosphorous (BP) ink material for future applications. The functional ink, containing very small 'flakes' of BP, allows us to print on a wide variety of substrates, including plastic, which remains stable for a prolonged period."

Professor Meng Zhang from Beihang University led the work on printing BP-based non-linear optical devices which can be inserted easily into lasers to act as ultra-quick optical shutters.

A continuous beam of laser radiation is converted into a repetitive series of very short bursts of light (or pulses) which is highly suited to industrial and medical applications, for example, machining, drilling, imaging and sensing.

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Making +Pool a Reality

+Pool is meant to be a 9,000 square foot water-filtering pool that’s shaped like a plus sign and designed to clean the river it floats in. The pool’s multi-layered filtration system is designed to remove wildlife, debris, trash, bacteria, and viruses from the river before the water becomes swimmable. If/when it’s completed, the +Pool will reportedly be able to hold 5,000 visitors and filter more than 600,000 gallons of river water per day.

If this sounds familiar, it’s probably because you’ve heard about the project before. The idea first gained widespread media coverage back in 2011, and has been slowly gaining steam ever since. Now, six years down the road, Heineken is throwing its hat in the pool by pledging to donate $100,000 to the project, as part of the beverage company’s Cities Project — but only if +Pool can get 100,000 signatures from New Yorkers who pledge to swim in the pool once it’s finished. The plan is to show those signatures to the city of New York in order to get permission to put the +Pool in the East River.

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Goosebumps: The Emerging Culture of Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response (ASMR)

Not everyone experiences Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response, or ASMR, but those who do describe is as a tingling sensation in the back of their skull, triggered by soft sounds like whispering, page turning, or hair brushing. Maria and other so-called “ASMRtists” make work—mainly video, and mainly on YouTube—that induces this sensation. “It’s a huge milestone, not just for my channel, but for the whole ASMR community,” Maria whispers into the camera in her celebration video, before reflecting on the “different twists and turns . . . and media exposure, positive and negative” along the way.

Because of the fact that it stimulates a physical sensation—ASMR has often been perceived as having an erotic connotation. Some sub-sects of the community do consider ASMR to be explicitly sexual, but, by and large, most people in the ASMR community consider it to be more about relaxation and self-care. Many watch the videos to ease anxiety, insomnia, or depression. Even people who don’t feel the tingling sensation can find the videos therapeutic.

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Going Paperless

You can't collect ticket stubs for Miami Heat home games anymore, because the team is shifting to mobile-only entry. Even if buy your ticket from American Airlines Arena's box office, you'll still have to present your phone at the entrance to get in.

The spokesperson also said that NBA teams are shifting to mobile tickets to reduce fraud. Like other types of digital transaction, though, it will also give them a chance to gather more info about their audiences, which could lead to more opportunities to market goods and services. To buy digital tickets for the team's home games, you'll have to download Heat's official app from Google Play or iTunes.

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Integrating Basic Research Across Time

Uber and other location-based mobile applications rely on GPS to link users with available cars nearby. GPS technology requires a network of satellites that transmit data to and from Earth; but satellites wouldn't relay information correctly if their clocks failed to account for the fact that time is different in space – a tenet of Einstein's general theory of relativity. And Einstein's famous theory relies on Riemannian geometry, which was proposed in the 19th century to explain how spaces and curves interact – but dismissed as derivative and effectively useless in its time.

The point is not just that mathematicians don't always get their due. This example highlights an ongoing controversy about the value of basic science and scholarship. How much are marketplace innovations, which drive broad economic prosperity, actually linked to basic scientific research?

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Drinking Like a Fish

Humans and most other vertebrate animals die within a few minutes without oxygen. Yet goldfish and their wild relatives, crucian carp, can survive for days, even months, in oxygen-free water at the bottom of ice-covered ponds.

During this time, the fish are able to convert anaerobically produced lactic acid into ethanol, which then diffuses across their gills into the surrounding water and avoids a dangerous build-up of lactic acid in the body.

The molecular mechanism behind this highly unusual ability, which is unique among vertebrates and more commonly associated with brewer's yeast, has now been uncovered and is published in the journal Scientific Reports.

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Plasmonic Resonators Enable 100,000 Pixels per Inch

As part of the Dynamic Nano project, funded by the EU's European Research Council, Prof. Liu has fine-tuned the size and distance between magnesium blocks to tailor the rhythm at which plasmons oscillate within them. Each configuration reflects light of a different frequency, adding a new colour to her palette.

"The blocks are so small that you can pack 100 000 pixels into every inch," said Prof. Liu. "This resolution is orders of magnitude higher than what we can achieve today with printers."

Yet the defining feature of the image is neither its permanent brightness, nor its resolution, according to Prof. Liu. She believes that what sets it apart from other advances in plasmonics is that she can alter the colours of the image on demand.

In January this year, Prof. Liu demonstrated the potential of her colour-shifting material by animating a fireworks display on an area the size of a pinhead. She also showed how the technique could be used to encrypt hidden messages. The first commercial application that she foresees is a security label to authenticate medicines in emerging markets.

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New Featherweight, Flame-Resistant, and Super-Elastic MetaMaterial

The composite combines nanolayers of a ceramic called aluminum oxide with graphene, which is an extremely thin sheet of carbon. Although both the ceramic and graphene are brittle, the new metamaterial has a honeycomb microstructure that provides super-elasticity and structural robustness. Metamaterials are engineered with features, patterns or elements on the scale of nanometers, or billionths of a meter, providing new properties for various potential applications.

Graphene would ordinarily degrade when exposed to high temperature, but the ceramic imparts high heat tolerance and flame-resistance, properties that might be useful as a heat shield for aircraft. The light weight, high-strength and shock-absorbing properties could make the composite a good substrate material for flexible electronic devices and "large strain sensors." Because it has high electrical conductivity and yet is an excellent thermal insulator, it might be used as a flame-retardant, thermally insulating coating, as well as sensors and devices that convert heat into electricity, said Gary Cheng, an associate professor in the School of Industrial Engineering at Purdue University.
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