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First Halophile Potatoes Harvested 117

Razgorov Prikazka writes "A Dutch-based company from Groningen is trying to create a potato race that is able to survive in a saline environment. The first test-batch was just harvested (English translation of Dutch original) on the island Texel and seem to be in good shape. The company states that rising sea-levels will create a demand for halophile crops. I do wonder if one still has to put salt on ones potatoes when they are grown in salt water."

Concrete That Purifies the Air 88

fergus07 writes "Although much of the focus of pollution from automobiles centers on carbon emissions, there are other airborne nasties spewing from the tailpipes of fossil fuel-powered vehicles. These include nitrogen oxides (NOx). In the form of nitrogen dioxide it reacts with chemicals produced by sunlight to form nitric acid – a major constituent of acid rain – and also reacts with sunlight, leading to the formation of ozone and smog. Everyone is exposed to small amounts of nitrogen oxides in ambient air, but exposure to higher amounts, in areas of heavy traffic for example, can damage respiratory airways. Testing has shown that surfacing roads with air purifying concrete could make a big contribution to local air purity by reducing the concentration of nitrogen oxides by 25 to 45 percent."

Comment Re:don't believe it (Score 1) 539

Absolutely right. That kind of finite-element simulation is futile because it simply "enacts" stuff that we know about. Sure, it might behave in ways we didn't foresee when we scale it up a billionfold, but it won't show us anything genuinely new. I suspect there is stuff going on in neurons that we don't even know how to look for. Well actually I *know* there is, because neurons are conscious. Aside from these philosophical objections, Markram's model doesn't even include glia, which are fully half of the interactional dynamics going on in the brain. We scarcely even know what glia are doing, and yet they are part of every synapse and their slow waves of activity strongly shape neuronal processing.

Comment They enhance touch perception - known for 50 years (Score 1) 347

I can't believe it when I see articles debating the purpose of fingerprints. They are mechanical amplifiers for vibration in the skin, thus enhancing touch perception; it's been known for 50-70 years that the ridges form a specific arrangement with the sensory fibre endings. In fact the ridges are CREATED by interactions between the developing skin and the nerve fibres which innervate it to provide touch sensation - this is why some nervous system defects result in abnormal fingerprints (e.g. Down syndrome). The only "Scientists [who] Wonder What Fingerprints Are For" are those unaware of the basic literature in the field. Here's a starting point:;323/5920/1503 Hope that helps.

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