How Fake Meat May Change Our Future Thanksgiving Dinners

If you’ve ever had a vegetarian at your Thanksgiving dinner you know the drill: when the turkey comes to the table so does the tofurkey — that rotund, strange, turkey alternative.

While it may not appeal to the masses, meat alternatives such as tofu and seitan are good for the environment and may be necessary when the demand for meat outstrips the production of livestock, according to a new video (above) released by the American Chemical Society on Monday.

What are food chemists and other scientists doing to make fake meat taste as good as the real thing? Just watch the video to find out. Happy Thanksgiving!

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Scientists Reveal Secret Behind Army Ants’ Bridge-Building Ways

Ants are pretty awesome. They clump up into islands to survive floods. They construct ginormous colonies. They even do acrobatics to build bridges (above) — and now scientists have figured out exactly how.

Army ants construct complex bridges from their own bodies to span crevices as they move across tropical forest floors in Central America, and they adjust their bridges for efficiency based on a cost-benefit trade-off, according to a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences on Monday.

“For the first time, we show how army ants can build long suspended bridges between locations that cannot be spanned by one or two ants only,” Simon Garnier, a researcher at New Jersey Institute of Technology and a co-author of the study, said in an email.

For the study, the researchers made a Y-shaped platform to mimic a gap in the trail of army ants in Barro Colorado Island, Panama and then filmed time-lapse videos of the ants traveling across the platform.

The researchers noticed that at first, the ants formed their bridge across the narrow side of the Y-shaped apparatus so as to use as few workers as possible. But then they realize that to create the shortest path for those crossing the bridge, they must move out to the wider side of the Y.

The ants benefit from shorter traveling distances, the researchers said, but they also incur a cost by sequestering workers that could be used for other important tasks, like catching food or transporting the young.

The researchers concluded that the ants do a sort of “cost-benefit analysis.” When the bridge reaches a happy middle ground of making a short path while not occupying —> Read More

10 Mind-Boggling Science Facts That Will Make You Feel Grateful

From the farthest reaches of the cosmos to the curious behavior of subatomic particles, science helps us understand our universe. But science can console as well as explain.

How does it do that? By helping us realize that some of our everyday problems are actually pretty puny.

Consider these 10 common annoyances and some super-awesome scientific facts that help put things in perspective:

1. This weather is absolutely unbearable. Yes, Earth can get really hot sometimes — and really cold. And pretty stormy. But the weather is worse elsewhere in the solar system. If you lived on the side of Mercury that faces the sun, for example, you’d be coping with temperatures of 426 degrees Celsius — or almost 799 degrees Fahrenheit. It’s even hotter on Venus, which unlike Mercury has a heat-trapping atmosphere.

And get this: on Neptune, the winds blow at 1,600 miles an hour, the temperature can drop to -201 Celsius (-330 Fahrenheit), and the seasons last more than 40 years.

2. You cut yourself shaving. OK, so you nicked a blood vessel. Did you know an adult body contains about 100,000 miles of blood vessels?

3. You dropped your glasses in the deep end of the pool. Good thing you didn’t drop them in the deepest part of the ocean! That would be the Mariana Trench, in the Pacific Ocean. It’s an almost unfathomable 11,034 meters deep — almost seven miles down.

4. It took forever for that elevator to come. Forever? A few minutes isn’t much when you consider the universe is 13.8 billion years old. And even that’s not forever.

5. You got caught doing 70 in a 55-mph zone. Next time that happens, maybe you should tell the officer at least you weren’t going the speed of —> Read More

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