MySci Round-Up August 13: Ever Dream This Engine?


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This is the 108th anniversary of the birth of 
Felix Wankel, a true engineering visionary. And we mean that literally. When Wankel was a teenager, one night he had a bizarre dream in which he went to a concert in his own handmade car, which featured a peculiar sort of internal-combustion engine had a rotating triangular thing in the middle instead of pistons. In his dream, he boasted to friends about his super-powerful, amazing invention. Fortunately, unlike  Samuel Taylor Coleridge, who dreamed a massive epic poem, “Kubla Khan,” under the influence of opium, but forgot all but the first few lines after being awakened, Wankel retained the memory of his dream invention. However, it took him nearly four decades to actually build it. Technologically adventurous Japanese auto maker Mazda perfected Wankel’s rotary engine, and in 1967 unveiled the Cosmo Sport, the world’s first dual rotary engine automobile, and since then has produced several generations of super-fast rotary-engine sports cars. And with that, here are the science stories of the day.

Antibacterial nanoparticle socks may boost greenhouse gas levels in atmosphere. As it turns out, they emit a whole lot of nitrous oxide. But if it’s any consolation, it is summer in the Northern Hemisphere, which means we can get away without wearing socks altogether, providing our pants are long enough.

Immune responses during pregnancy have been linked to schizophrenia in offspring. The mother’s natural defenses to flu and viruses apparently have the downside of helping cause brain abnormalities in the fetus.

New evidence shows that human ancestors used stone tools and ate meat far earlier than previously believed. Human ancestors were meat eaters 3.4 million years ago, a million years earlier than we had thought.

Scientists identify portion of DNA that leads to each person’s uniqueness.
A Johns Hopkins University team identified a near complete catalog of the DNA segments that copy themselves, move around in, and insert themselves here and there in our genome. The insertion locations of these moveable segments helps determine why some are short or tall, blond or brunette, etc.

Volunteer scientists’ computers  discover pulsar in deep space. Three lay people’s PCS spotted the pulsar, which is 17,000 light years away.

Study: People who tend to trust others are better at detecting lies, too.  An optimistic view of human nature, as it turns out, gives one a finer-tuned sense of falsehoods.