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Backyard Brains of Ann Arbor, Mich., recently developed a RoboRoach toy that allows a cockroach to be controlled with an iPhone. The sensory capabilities of insects could play a huge role when it comes to helping human beings.

Alien Worlds and Androids brings guests face to face with worlds far beyond their own. Or are these worlds really that far away after all?

One of the many fascinating topics explored in the exhibition is cybernetic organisms — cyborgs, for short. A cyborg is an organism that has restored function or enhanced abilities due to the integration of some artificial component or technology that relies on some sort of feedback.

In this day and age, people and cockroaches can both be cyborgs. Both are already sensational in their own ways.

A cockroach can live for a week without its head. They breathe through little holes in each of their body segments. But without a head or mouth, they can't drink water and die of thirst.

The sensory capabilities of insects could play a huge role when… Keep reading.

Filed Under: Breaking Science
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Claude Monet's <i>Water Lilies</i>

Last winter I had a really bad cold. I think I blew my nose 15 times an hour! OK, so what I am about to share may be disgusting but I know I am not the only one.

I looked carefully at what was in my tissue.

Call it curiosity or call it what you will — I could not believe the palette of colors and consistency of my snot. What a beautiful visage I had blown onto the canvas of my bathroom tissue! It was yellow and green, with reddish tinged spots distributed throughout, a virtual landscape of boogers.

Had I discovered a new art form? Gastro-respiratory-impressionism, perhaps? Could this be where Jackson Pollock found his inspiration? Was Monet's Water Lilies inspired by a snot rocket he shot onto his own blue Kleenex?

What is the deal? What do those colors mean? How much mucus doe… Keep reading.

Filed Under: Inside Discovery
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Brave Museum educators say these chocolate covered mealworms taste similar to a KIT KAT bar.

One of the "Random Acts of Science" that Discovery Place does to accompany Animal Grossology involves asking guests to try chocolate covered bugs.

Frequently the response is unadulterated revulsion. I must admit that I do not want to eat bugs either. I also find mayonnaise repulsive.

At least the scientist in me recognizes that these feelings are irrational.

For example, did you know that avoiding insect parts in your food is next to impossible? According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the acceptable level of insect fragments in chocolate is not more than 60 per 100 grams. And we won't even talk about rodent hairs.

So what's the big deal? If you can't see it, who really cares?

Insects are cheap, found almost everywhere and full of protein.

Would you rather tole… Keep reading.

Filed Under: Breaking Science
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Vygotsky unveiled

Lev Vygotsky contends that human beings are simultaneously the product of biology and their human cultures. His principal premise is that human beings are products not only of biology, but also of their human cultures. Part of the explanation for how we function intellectually can be explained by our social history. The sharing of this social history with adults and other children is how students learn higher intellectual functions.

Vygotsky espouses the idea of inner speech. Children learn when they have dialog with “more capable peers. Vygotsky demonstrates that children actually use speech to solve problems. If a task is particularly difficult the children tend to use more external egocentric speech. For example they speak to themselves by saying such t… Keep reading.

Filed Under: Breaking Science
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Driving through the Discovery Place parking deck one morning, I noticed a van had just hit a moth. Interested in identifying what type of moth had just suffered this unfortunate fate, I quickly parked and headed toward the scene of the “hit and run” with the intention of collecting the critter and getting it to my office. But as I approached, an uninvited guest swooped down and stole the object of my wonder, carrying it just out of my reach. As the thief started to peck vigorously at his prey my insect friend bounced in small arcs over and over in a brave attempt to escape. The attacker was not giving up easily though, doggedly pursuing the moth as I, wide eyed with wonder, marveled at the ancient predator vs. prey drama unfolding right before my eyes.

Finally, as the moth surrend… Keep reading.

Filed Under: Breaking Science
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A Damselfly muches on a fly

Back in 2000, Dr. C. Everett Koop said: “Except for smoking, obesity is now the number one preventable cause of death in this country. Three hundred thousand people die of obesity every year.” Childhood obesity is certainly a national concern. To address this science and health based issue, Discovery Place ScienceReach offers a popular program entitled: “You Are What You Eat” The program helps learners to make healthy and wise dietary choices. But how do we show the importance of nutrition with living things so that people can experience and observe it? How could I experiment with this idea? So this got me thinking …

Do organisms other than humans have to make “wise nutritional choices”? Specifically, do insects get fat?

It is always a good idea to learn what you can before you … Keep reading.

Filed Under: Breaking Science
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D-Day: Normandy 1944

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