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Japanese Company Makes Low-Calorie Noodles Out of Wood 138

AmiMoJo writes: Omikenshi Co, an Osaka based cloth manufacturer best known for rayon, a fibre made from tree pulp, is expanding into the health food business. Using a similar process, Omikenshi is turning the indigestible cellulose into a pulp that's mixed with konjac, a yam-like plant grown in Japan. The resulting fibre-rich flour, which the company calls "cell-eat," contains no gluten, no fat and almost no carbohydrate. It has just 60 calories a kilogram, compared with 3,680 for wheat.

How Close Are We To a Mars Mission? (thenewstack.io) 173

destinyland writes: NASA is developing the capabilities needed to send humans to an asteroid by 2025 and Mars in the 2030s," reads the official NASA web site. But National Geographic points out that "the details haven't been announced, in large part because such a massive, long-term spending project would require the unlikely support of several successive U.S. presidents." And yet on November 4th, NASA put out a call for astronaut applications "in anticipation of returning human spaceflight launches to American soil, and in preparation for the agency's journey to Mars," and they're currently experimenting with growing food in space. And this week they not only ordered the first commercial mission to the International Space Station, but also quietly announced that they've now partnered with 22 private space companies.

Telemedicine: The State of Telepresence In Healthcare (robohub.org) 34

Hallie Siegel writes: Telemedicine can let doctors and nurses check in on patients who might be recovering at home, or monitor people in remote locations where it's hard to access physician services. This article gives an overview of the different systems that are out there, what are some of the legal obstacles, and how various countries are investing in the technology. From the article: "The Japanese government has allocated about $23M USD to the core technology market in an effort to develop products for its aging population. Toyota, for example, is focusing on home living assistance robots that will allow those with limited mobility the opportunity to live at home. While Japan might have the largest market in the world of 65+ citizens (over 30 million as of 2014), South Korea is estimated to be allocating nearly $6B USD to their own robotics research. The Koreans are taking a different approach, using robots for mundane tasks of delivering food, allowing humans to provide care."

Pesticides Turn Bumblebees Into Poor Pollinators (acs.org) 93

MTorrice writes about a new study that suggests neonicotinoids, one of the most widely used insecticides in the world, turn bumblebees into poor pollinators, leading to lower yields of apples and other plants. Chemical & Engineering News reports: "Neonicotinoid pesticides have been blamed for declines in bee populations worldwide. The chemicals don't kill bees, instead neonicotinoids impair the insects' abilities to learn, navigate, forage for nectar, and reproduce, according to studies published over the past several years. Now, researchers report that bees exposed to the pesticides also become less effective pollinators for crops. The study is the first to demonstrate that neonicotinoids can decrease the quality of a food crop by affecting bee pollination. About 30% of our food comes from crops, including fruits, nuts, seeds, and oils, that depend on insect pollinators, according to Dara A. Stanley of Royal Holloway, University of London, who led the new study. 'Basically,' she says, 'you can't have a balanced diet without insect pollination.'"

FDA Signs Off On Genetically Modified Salmon Without Labeling (consumerist.com) 514

kheldan writes: Today, in a historic decision, the FDA approved the marketing of genetically-engineered salmon for sale to the general public, without any sort of labeling to indicate to consumers they've been genetically altered. According to the article: "Though the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FD&C Act) gives the FDA the authority to require mandatory labeling of foods if there is a material difference between a GE product and its conventional counterpart, the agency says it is not requiring labeling of these GE fish 'Because the data and information evaluated show that AquAdvantage Salmon is not materially different from other Atlantic salmon.' In this case, the GE salmon use an rDNA construct composed of the growth hormone gene from Chinook salmon under the control of a promoter from another type of fish called an 'ocean pout.' According to the FDA, this tweak to the DNA allows the salmon to grow to market size faster than non-GE farm-raised salmon."

Grow Your Daily Protein At Home With an Edible Insect Desktop Hive 381

HughPickens.com writes: Fast Coexist reports on the Edible Insect Desktop Hive, a kitchen gadget designed to raise mealworms (beetle larva), a food that has the protein content of beef without the environmental footprint. The hive can grow between 200 and 500 grams of mealworms a week, enough to replace traditional meat in four or five dishes. The hive comes with a starter kit of "microlivestock," and controls the climate inside so the bugs have the right amount of fresh air and the right temperature to thrive. If you push a button, the mealworms pop out in a harvest drawer that chills them. You're supposed to pop them in the freezer, then fry them up or mix them into soup, smoothies, or bug-filled burgers. "Insects give us the opportunity to grow on small spaces, with few resources," says designer Katharina Unger, founder of Livin Farms, the company making the new home farming gadget. "A pig cannot easily be raised on your balcony, insects can. With their benefits, insects are one part of the solution to make currently inefficient industrial-scale production of meat obsolete."

Of course, that assumes people will be willing to eat them. Unger thinks bugs just need a little rebranding to succeed, and points out that other foods have overcome bad reputations in the past. "Even the potato, that is now a staple food, was once considered ugly and was given to pigs," says Unger adding that sushi, raw fish, and tofu were once considered obscure products. "Food is about perception and cultural associations. Within only a short time and the right measures, it can be rebranded. . . . Growing insects in our hive at home is our first measure to make insects a healthy and sustainable food for everyone."

TV Networks Open Neuroscience Labs To Improve Their Shows and Ads (reuters.com) 109

An anonymous reader writes: NBCUniversal's recently-opened Orlando neuroscience lab is trying to develop methods of delivering advertisements related to the scene in the show preceding them, such as delivering a food advertisement directly after a scene which has been shown to make test-subjects hungry. Viacom is building a lab right now to take electroencephalagrams of viewers while they watch. "And ratings firm Nielsen Holdings, which just bought neuroscience firm Innerscope Research earlier this year, is adding facial coding and biometrics to its labs, which currently conduct eye tracking and perform EEGs." NBC doesn't trust what viewers say when asked for their opinion on shows. They want to use science to determine which scenes trigger an emotional response, whether the viewer acknowledges it or not.

How DMCA Rulemaking Has a Chilling Effect On Security Research (vice.com) 31

citadrianne writes: Jay Radcliffe is a security researcher with diabetes. In 2011, he gave a talk at Black Hat, showing how his personal insulin pump could be hacked—with potentially deadly consequences. As a result of his 2011 presentation, he worked with the Department of Homeland Security and the Food and Drug Administration to address security vulnerabilities in insulin pumps. "The specific technical details of that research have never been published in order to protect patients using those devices," he wrote in his testimony to the Librarian of Congress and the U.S. Copyright Office. Every three years, the Librarian of Congress puts a whole bunch of people through a twisted bureaucratic process called DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act) rulemaking. Technically speaking, DMCA rulemaking doesn't make things illegal or legal per se, but many people—like Jay Radcliffe—look to the rulemaking for a green light to do their work.

Farmer Coalition Offers $250K Prize For Blueberry Picking Robot (robohub.org) 112

Hallie Siegel writes: Having spent many a back breaking hour in deep woods Ontario picking wild blueberries in summer time, I can only imagine the challenge of farming and harvesting these awesome little flavour nuggets. Blueberries are in record demand (probably my son alone accounts for a significant percentage of that!) so it's no surprise, really, that a coalition of farmers has banded together to offer a prize for automated blueberry picking solutions. We've seen competitions and challenges spur innovation in other areas of robotics — think robocar — why not blueberry picking? Can't wait to see the results of this one.
Emulation (Games)

MAME Emulating a Sonic the Hedgehog Popcorn Machine (polygon.com) 33

New submitter AmericaCounterweight writes: Polygon is reporting that the MAME development team has unearthed and emulated one of the most obscure pieces of Sonic heritage: a popcorn machine. MAME developer David Haywood reports that contributors "purchased the PCB for another novelty Sonic item, this time a SegaSonic Popcorn Shop, a popcorn dispenser machine with a video display. It runs on the Sega C2 board (Genesis type hardware)." This follows news from earlier this year that the MAME team would be switching to a true Open Source license for the project and concentrating on more than just arcade games. MAME project coordinator Miodrag Milanovic also recently appeared at the BalCCon2k15 event to speak about MAME, the current direction of the project, and software preservation.

A Real-Life Space Botanist Comments On the Potato Garden In 'The Martian' (cnet.com) 134

MarkWhittington writes: In the hit movie, The Martian, stranded astronaut Mark Watney famously survives on Mars by creating a potato garden using Martian soil mixed in with composted human excrement. According to a story in CNET, NASA believes that the movie is on the right track as far as astronauts growing their own food on long-duration space missions. However, some caveats exists concerning how the film depicted space agriculture.

3D-Printed Teeth Can Kill 99% of Dental Bacteria (thestack.com) 120

An anonymous reader writes: A research group in the Netherlands has developed a new plastic resin that can destroy most dental bacteria when used for the creation of dental appliances via 3D-printing. The process involves embedding antimicrobial quaternary ammonium salts inside extant dental resin polymers. Since the salts are positively charged, these disrupt negatively-charged bacterial membranes. The process is also being mooted for use in the creation of knee arthroplasties, and in the manufacture of children's toys and food packaging.

The Google Employee Who Opted For a Truck Over Bay Area Rents (dice.com) 492

Nerval's Lobster writes: A little over a year ago, Google employees on a Quora thread announced they'd discovered an interesting way to live in the ultra-expensive Bay Area: Rather than pay for conventional housing, they resided in trucks and RVs parked near (or on) the company's campus, and took advantage of corporate perks—including free food, gym facilities, and dry cleaning—to get by on a day-by-day basis. Now one Googler, Brandon S., has taken to his blog to describe how he engaged in a little off-grid living within sight of Google's high-tech headquarters. First he spent $10,000 of his Google signing bonus on a 2006 Ford truck with 128 square feet of room in the back, which he filled with a bed, dresser, and coat rack. Google pays for his phone, and he uses the company's gym and cafeterias to eat and shower. For those Bay Area tech pros who think Brandon's lifestyle sounds appealing, his list of drawbacks includes "social suicide," the inconvenience of not having a bathroom or fridge in close proximity, stress, insect infestations, and the upfront costs of purchasing a large-enough vehicle. On the other hand, he's also using the cash savings to rapidly pay down his student loans.

Wildflowers Give Bees a Dose of Pesticides 38

JMarshall writes: Wildflowers growing near fields sown with pesticide-treated seeds can be reservoirs of bee-harming neonicotinoid compounds, according to new research. The study suggests bees get most of their exposure to these pesticides from wildflowers, rather than from the crops the pesticides are designed to protect. At the peak of flowering season, 97% of the pollen brought back to beehives tested in the UK came from wildflowers, not the canola crops they were growing alongside.

The Most Disruptive Technology of the Last 100 Years Isn't What You Think 330

HughPickens.com writes: Ana Swanson writes in the Washington Post that when people talk about "disruptive technologies," they're usually thinking of the latest thing out of Silicon Valley but some of the most historically disruptive technologies aren't exactly what you would expect and arguably, the most disruptive technologiy of the last century is the refrigerator. In the 1920s, only about a third of households reported having a washer or a vacuum, and refrigerators were even rarer. But just 20 years later, refrigerator ownership was common, with more than two-thirds of Americans owning an icebox. According to Helen Veit, the surge in refrigerator ownership totally changed the way that Americans cooked. "Before reliable refrigeration, cooking and food preservation were barely distinguishable tasks" and techniques like pickling, smoking and canning were common in nearly every American kitchen. With the arrival of the icebox and then the electric refrigerator, foods could now be kept and consumed in the same form for days. Americans no longer had to make and consume great quantities of cheese, whiskey and hard cider — some of the only ways to keep foods edible through the winter. "A whole arsenal of home preservation techniques, from cheese-making to meat-smoking to egg-pickling to ketchup-making, receded from daily use within a single generation," writes Veit.

Technologies like the smartphone, the computer and the Internet have, of course, dramatically changed the ways we live and work but consider the spread of electricity, running water, the flush toilet developed and popularized by Thomas Crapper and central heating and the changes these have wrought. "These technologies were so disruptive because they massively reduced the time spent on housework," concludes Swanson. "The number of hours that people spent per week preparing meals, doing laundry and cleaning fell from 58 in 1900 to only 18 hours in 1970, and it has declined further since then."

A Fresh Take On Fake Meat 317

JMarshall writes: Impossible Foods, a Silicon Valley food start-up started by a Stanford professor who quit his job, just raised $108 million to pursue a plant-based burger that truly tastes like meat. This ACS article explains how Impossible Foods and other startups and researchers are tackling the tricky chemical and engineering challenge of making fake meat that tastes real. "Meat flavors and aromas come from thousands of volatile small molecules released by muscle and fat cell destruction. Flavor precursors start with an animal’s diet, which influences the molecular composition of its cells. After slaughter, enzymes in an animal’s muscle cells begin breaking down biomolecules into simpler amino acids, sugars, and fatty acids. This means some flavor molecules develop even as the meat ages during its trip to the store. Other flavor and aroma components emerge from reactions between sugars, amino acids, or fatty acids as the meat is cooked."

Majority of EU Nations Seek Opt-Out From Growing GM Crops 330

schwit1 writes: Nineteen EU member states have requested opt-outs for all or part of their territory from cultivation of a Monsanto genetically-modified crop, which is authorized to be grown in the European Union, the European Commission said on Sunday. Under a law signed in March, individual countries can seek exclusion from any approval request for genetically modified cultivation across the 28-nation EU. The law was introduced to end years of stalemate as genetically modified crops divide opinion in Europe. The requests are for opt-outs from the approval of Monsanto's GM maize MON 810, the only crop commercially cultivated in the European Union, or for pending applications, of which there are eight so far, the Commission said.

Michigan Mammoth May Have Been Butchered By Humans 41

Forbes reports that a mammoth recently unearthed in rural Michigan includes evidence that the animal was butchered for food: From the article: A small stone that could potentially be a cutting tool was also found with the mammoth bones. To confirm that this animal was butchered by humans, researchers will examine the bones for cut marks that would indicate people were processing it for meat. A third piece of evidence is the organized way the neck vertebrae of the mammoth were found. "An animal doesn't just come apart naturally leaving a sequence of tightly articulated vertebrae like that," Fisher said, indicating that the animal would have had to have been moved by humans for paleontologists to find the bones laid out in such a fashion.

The Decline of 'Big Soda': Is Drinking Soda the New Smoking? 570

HughPickens.com writes: Margot Sanger-Katz reports in the NYT that soda consumption is experiencing a serious and sustained decline as sales of full-calorie soda in the United States have plummeted by more than 25 percent over the past twenty years. Nearly two-thirds of Americans say they are actively trying to avoid the drinks that have been a mainstay of American culture but bottled water is now on track to overtake soda as the largest beverage category in two years. The changing patterns of soda drinking appear to come thanks, in part, to a loud campaign to eradicate sodas. School cafeterias and vending machines no longer contain regular sodas. Many workplaces and government offices have similarly prohibited their sale.

For many public health advocates, soda has become the new tobacco — a toxic product to be banned, taxed and stigmatized. "There will always be soda, but I think the era of it being acceptable for kids to drink soda all day long is passing, slowly," says Marion Nestle. "In some socioeconomic groups, it's over." Soda represents nearly 25% of the U.S. beverage market and its massive scale have guaranteed profit margins for decades. Historically, beverage preferences are set in adolescence, the first time that most people begin choosing and buying a favorite brand. But the declines in soda drinking appear to be sharpest among young Americans. "Kids these days are growing up with all of these other options, and there are some parents who say, 'I really want my kids to drink juice or a bottled water,' " says Gary A. Hemphill. "If kids grow up without carbonated soft drinks, the likelihood that they are going to grow up and, when they are 35, start drinking is very low."