Edison Gets Outsung
17 years before Thomas Edison sang “Mary had a little lamb” into his phonograph, Edouard-Leon Scott de Martinville was recording french women singing folk songs.His 1860 recording of “Au Clair De La Lune” is believed to be the oldest known recording of human sound. The sound which was recorded by a “phonautograph” was never intended to be played back. The phonautograph etches sound waves into a paper covered in soot by a needle however, there was no method of playing the sound back until recently. Using what has been dubbed a “virtual stylus,” scientists scanned the paper and reproduced the sound recorded nearly a century and a half ago. Though Martinville’s sound supercedes Edison’s recording, Edison is still technically the first person to produce a sound and have it played back to him.
If Martinville’s invention was not designed to playback the sounds he recorded, what was its function? Did he plan to invent another machine to accomplish the task but never got around to making it? What else could he have recorded? Perhaps we’ll find scientific data that he dictated to the machine, or some other valuable information.
All I Want is World Peace
Beauty contestants are often asked what they would want if they could obtain anything. They usually assert that they want world peace. While some speculate that these responses are disingenuous, there is one beauty contest where such a reply seems appropriate. In an effort to raise awareness about landmines, the Angola de-mining commission is holding the “Miss Landmine Survivor” pageant on April 2nd. Eighteen girls who have been mutilated by mines will participate. The event coordinator says that the commission’s aim is to boost the confidence of all of the girls who have been injured, by showing that they are all beautiful. Thousands of Angolans have been, and continue to be injured by mines that were planted during a civil war that lasted 27 years. Even though the war ended six years ago, the UN reports that millions of mines remain scattered across Angola. While I am ordinarily against beauty contests, this is a type of beauty contest that I can definitely approve of. It demonstrates that an imperfect person is still beautiful, a message that the victims probably should hear.
Between the Wind and the Deep Blue Sea
Recently there has been a lot of interest in solutions to Global Warming, which is a very controversial topic. Despite the dispute over humans’ effect on the Earth, many are looking into different forms of energy. An issue with many of these solutions is waste of energy, not only cost. For example, if we have a lot of wind at night when most are not going to need energy, that wind would be lost.
Seamus Garvey, a professor from the University of Nottingham, believes we can store wind energy in bags at the bottom of the ocean. He feels that with the growth in interest of renewable energy sources that we have to create a system to harness and hold that energy. By holding the wind energy underwater, in large bags, we would also have the ability to gain energy from the waves in the water. His idea has been given the green light, and he’ll be able to set up his prototypes in a little over a year.
It is the first time, the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Centre says, that an animal has been successfully treated with its own cloned cells. In a study published in Nature Magazine, researchers showed that mice with Parkinson’s disease had their conditions improved upon receiving therapeutic cloning. Therapeutic cloning is a process during which the nucleus of an adult cell is inserted into a nucleus-free egg. Then, the egg is allowed to develop into an embryo, at which point stem cells are collected. These stem cells, which have the ability to become any cell in the human body, become dopamine-producing neurons in the brain. The neurons that form must produce dopamine, because it is the chemical that allows for smooth, coordinated movement. The chance of rejection in this procedure is zero, because the stem cell is based off the recipient’s nucleus (and, in the case of females, egg). With such promising advances, hopefully it will only be a matter of time before Parkinson’s disease is a thing of the past.
-Amina H. Tajbhai