SciTech Briefs

Russia suffers from damage after large meteorite

A 15-meter meteorite broke through the atmosphere and exploded above Chelyabinsk, Russia. The meteorite, which was the largest to hit the country in over a century, injured 1,200 people and caused approximately $33 million in damage. Some scientists drew comparisons to another meteorite that occurred in 1908, which caused damage to buildings over 100 miles away.

Even more astounding is the fact that a 50-meter asteroid made a record-breaking close pass with Earth on the very same day. The good news is that according to NASA’s Near-Earth Object Program, there are currently no expected large impacts for the next 100 years, as most projectiles burn up in the atmosphere long before causing harm.

Source: Reuters

Dogs are able to recognize other dogs on screen

According to a research team led by Dr. Dominique Autier-Dérian from the National Veterinary School in Lyon in France, dogs can differentiate between non-dog and dog faces. Researchers showed nine domestic dogs 144 pairs of pictures of various animal faces, including human faces, on a computer screen.

They observed that all nine dogs were able to recognize their own species, despite the large variety of breeds. This result demonstrates that dogs are able to group various dog breeds into one category, based only on visual cues. This is particularly impressive because, with over 400 known breeds, dogs have the largest morphological variety among all animal species. The researchers concluded that mating between breeds was still possible, despite the species being “stretched to its morphological limits.”

Source: Science Daily

Disabled turtle receives new set of prosthetic limbs

When Yu, a 25-year-old loggerhead turtle, was found washed up in a Japanese fishing net five years ago, her front flippers had been brutally ripped apart from a fight with a shark. The keepers at an aquarium in Kobe, Japan have been working on a high-tech cure that could help the turtle swim again.

To date, they have tried 27 models of prosthetic fins, all of which either caused the turtle pain or fell off when she tried to swim. Their latest version made of rubber and a material used in diving wetsuits, was finally successful in allowing the loggerhead turtle, an endangered species, to swim. “My dream for her is that one day she can use her prosthetic fins to swim to the surface, walk about, and dig a proper hole to lay her eggs in,” said Naoki Kamezaki, director of the aquatic park.

Source: Reuters

FDA approves artificial retina that gives vision to blind

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has recently approved a new technology, called the artificial retina, that can give limited vision to people who are blind. The artificial retina, which has been under development for over 20 years, is a sheet of electrodes implanted in the eye.

The artificial retina is part of a system called Argus II that includes glasses that have an attached camera and a portable video processor allow visual signals to bypass the damaged portion of the retina and be transmitted to the brain. Although the artificial retina does not give the blind person real vision, it allows him or her to make out boundaries and identify outlines of objects, particularly those with a large contrast in lightness and darkness.

Source: The New York Times

Psychologists reveal algorithm behind eHarmony

Psychologists at eHarmony, a matchmaking website, are arguing a claim made by a psychology journal that matchmaking sites do not use valid algorithms to pair people together. The site’s senior research scientist, Gian C. Gonzaga, recently spoke at the Society for Personality and Social Psychology to explain how the algorithm works.

According to Gonzaga, six main factors are used to determine two individuals’ compatibility: level of agreeableness, preference for closeness with a partner, degree of sexual and romantic passion, level of extroversion and openness to new experience, the importance of spirituality, and one’s level of happiness and optimism. The more similarities two people have in these categories, the more likely they are to develop a relationship, according to Gonzaga.

Source: The New York Times

Apple may be developing new wristwatch

Rumors that Apple is working on a new wristwatch made of curved glass have been confirmed by unnamed Apple insiders. The watch may operate on Apple’s iOS platform. Corning Glass Technologies, the company that manufactures the extremely durable Gorilla Glass used in iPhones, has recently developed Willow Glass, a glass that is as bendable as piece of paper.

While there is much secrecy regarding the details of Apple’s potential new wristwatch, Peter Bocko, the chief technology officer for Corning Glass Technologies, confirmed that Willow Glass is flexible enough to bend around a wrist like a watch. Like Google Glass, a new watch by Apple could bring us even closer to wearable computing. So far, however, the technology giant has remained silent on the issue.

Source: Discovery News