Crops are being harvested at an experimental greenhouse in Qatar as part of a project to produce a steady supply of food to desert areas. The pilot plant, which relies on a greenhouse that utilizes seawater to grow crops year-round, even in the stifling heat of summer, is part of the Sahara Forest Project and has produced about 165 pounds of vegetables per square meter. The project is planning a larger facility in Jordan.
Researchers have discovered that apple snails use a poisonous neurotoxin called PcPV2 to protect their eggs from predators. The invasive species creates the toxin in an unusual way, by combining a pair of molecules similar to those found in the immune system of other animals. The only predators not affected are fire ants and researchers have not yet figured out how the ants survive.
Japanese hunter-gatherers living during the end of the ice age may have turned to pottery as a source of cooking, researchers report in the journal Nature. The study details an analysis of charred material from various ceramic vessels and fragments that revealed some of the earliest evidence of cooking using pottery. Scientists also say they found traces of fatty acids belonging to creatures such as fish and other marine animals. The resulting substance would have only resulted after prolonged exposure to heat -- suggesting long periods of cooking time.
Brain scans may help doctors track real evidence of a patient's pain level, suggests a study published in the The New England Journal of Medicine. Using functional magnetic resonance imaging, scientists were able to study activity patterns across brain regions known for signaling pain to isolate evidence of experiencing physical pain. "What we're evolving towards is trying to predict quantitatively from patterns of brain activity how much an individual is feeling," said neuroscientist Tor Wager.
Most senators and representatives do not understand the link between publicly funded research and economic growth, says Rep. Randy Hultgren, R-Ill. "It's especially important to focus on government support for fundamental research, because I don't see the private sector doing that," Hultgren said. Long-term budgets and reauthorization of the America COMPETES Act would help stabilize science funding in the U.S., he said.