For Science! Blog
Well strictly it's not a worm, but a larvae (and no, not the larvae we spoke about in Ep 9 of For Science!).
Todays Science Story of the Day is features both the awesome and what many people might consider the grotesque.
First up the awesome.
Casini returns new photos of Saturn
The Casini probe has been orbiting Saturn and its moons since 2004, returning more and more information about the ringed giant and providing us with up close images of the third biggest body in our solar system.
Last week NASA released more images taken by Casini, including the first images of meteorites striking the rings:
They also released the image below of a storm near the north pole:
They're not sure how long the storm has been going for, the area has only just come out onto the day side of the planet. What they do know is that the eye of the storm is some 2000 kilometers across (twice the distance between Sydney and Melbourne).
Mighty Maggots bring the fight against flesh eating bugs
Now for the slightly grotesque story.
Now I'm not a huge fan of maggots myself. There is just something about them which seems to trigger that feeling of creeping nausea. However it's long been known that they are nothing short of amazing when it comes to treating wounds that have gone bad.
Dr Melanie Thomson and Dr Michelle Harvey have started a new research project to examine how well maggots can be used as an alternative to the surgeons knife in treating skin ulcers caused by the bacteria m.ulcerans.
Gross and yet fascinating at the same time no?
The future, it just keeps happening really.
Imagine if you will, that you have been in a horrific accident. You have had to have a limb removed, say your arm. The realm of prosthetics has advanced in leaps and bounds over the last few years. Work is being done on limbs that can tie directly into the patients nervous system, 3d printing is being used to mould custom facings and powered limbs are sensitive enough now to allow people to use them to pick up delicate objects with confidence.
Up until now however they hav been lacking in something that we all take for granted. The sense of touch. As powerful and refined as these limbs can be, they cannot transmit the feeling of holding an eggshell between your fingers or even the temperature of a sinkful of water.
A team from Georgia Institute of Technology is aiming to change that with a material embedded with microscopically thin zinc alloy sensors which generate an electric signal when deformed. By measuring the signal generated by these thousands of sensors they are able to build up a sensation model.
The key is to now figure out how to turn this model into something that the brain can translate.
It's long been known that we humans tend to anthropomorphise the world around us. Pets are treated like little people, we assign evil intent to table corners in the middle of the night and some of us would prefer it if it was possible to marry our cars.
It turns out that we do the same with robots. A study, to be released at the annual International Communications Association conference in London in June, has concluded that people show the same emotional and physiological reaction to seeing robots being treated badly as they do watching humans. Interestingly enough, the same was not noticed when watching robots being treated affectionately.
While this study deals with the immediate reaction, it does lay the groundwork for further research into how we are going to react to a world where robots are increasingly becoming accepted as main stream.