MySci Daily Round-Up, July 14: Keeping Cool

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On this day in 1850 in Apalachicola, Fl, a physician, scientist and inventor named John Gorrie unveiled an ice-producing machine of his own making. Dr. Gorrie saw it not as a way to provide ice for the fruity cocktails with umbrellas in them that modern Floridians rely upon so extensively for respite from summer heat, but rather as a cure for Yellow Fever and other diseases. Gorrie believed that cold healed the body, and started suspending basins full of ice from the ceilings of hospital wards to cool patients. Originally, Gorrie tried procuring ice from up north, but soon designed an ice-producing contraption powered by horse, water, wind-driven sails, or steam power. Today, his prototype is in the Smithsonian Institution. Okay, now it’s time for some more cool stories of the day:

MIT researchers are working to develop fabrics that can hear and produce sound. The acoustic fibers have been created from a plastic that’s commonly used in microphones.

Scottish scientists have discovered how muscles regulate the nerves that control them. It’s a finding that may help to treat muscle-wasting diseases.

Windows XP lives! Microsoft has decided to extend Windows license holders’ right to downgrade a Windows 7 installation on a new computer all the way back to the venerable XP OS, which was released nine years ago and remains a favorite of some users who think Vista was too buggy and Windows 7 is underwhelming. Potentially, XP dead-enders may be able to revert for another decade, but support for the obsolete OS will end in 2014.

The celebrated, scientist-baffling jumping frogs of Calaveras County. Many of the annual contests’ jumpers turn out to exceed scientists’ predictions of the maximum possible leap, forcing researchers to reconsider their view of frog biomechanics. 

NASA invites ordinary folks to help design robots and satellites. Not only that, but the agency is offering millions in prize money.

Humans and monkeys both perceive faces of kin instantly. Both people and macaques have the ability to look at facial features and extract the information needed to distinguish between individuals.

Has FermiLab discovered real evidence of a Higgs Boson? Rumors are circulating on the Internets, based on a scientist’s blog post.