Reader’s Scigest 14-03-14

By bacon_400x600

Awaken to Bacon

Do you find waking up on time for lectures a daily struggle? Are you guilty of relentless snooze button abuse? Oscar Mayer, an American meat company, thinks they might have devised the solution to your morning woes. Their new iPhone app and scent dongle combine to form an alarm that tempts the user out of bed with the smell and sound of bacon. When the alarm goes off, the app blasts the sound of sizzling cured meat and the scent dongle, which can be plugged into a smartphone via the headphone socket, releases the smell of bacon. Unfortunately, whilst the app, entitled ‘Wake Up and Smell the Bacon’, is available to download for free, the plug-in is only available to winners of a contest; this clever device is not available to all.

Love by Laser

Neuroscientists have made flies ‘fall in love’ with a ball of wax in a powerful demonstration of laser-powered mind control. They created a gadget called the Fly Mind- Altering Device, or FlyMAD, which tracks a fly’s movement using a video camera and then directs an infrared laser at the fly’s head. Certain neurons in the brains of the flies in the experiment had been genetically engineered to activate when heated via a heat-sensitive protein called TRPA1 and the laser light provided this heat, causing a change in behaviour. In this case, the neurons were those that control courtship; flies that were subject to FlyMAD would flirt and attempt to mate with the ball of wax.

The Internet of Things

David Cameron has announced £45 million of research funding to go towards technology that will allow household objects to communicate with each other via the Internet. This new technology, dubbed the ‘Internet of things’, would allow fridges to order more milk when milk runs low and water pipes to give out warnings with pressure changes, for example, using cheap low-power chips. The Prime Minister made the statement at the CeBIT technology trade fair in Germany, one of the world’s largest IT events. He said that the technology had “enormous potential to change our lives” and would bring a “new industrial revolution” that he wanted the UK to lead, along with Germany, who will collaborate with us on the scheme.

Photograph: Kjetil Ree on Flickr

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