Researchers have developed a “lickable screen” device capable of recreating taste sensations associated with food when in contact with a human tongue. The device uses electrolytes inserted into five coloured gels — each controlling intensity levels of five basic flavours: bitter, salt, umami, sweet, and sour. Virtual taste is provided via electrophoresis — the migration of microscopic particles activated via electric charge. When the device’s five tubes touch a tongue, the person subjectively perceives all five taste sensations. But when varying electrical charges are applied in lower, harmless voltages, some tastes may be amplified while others diminish.
Called XRSpace, the project has been in the works for three years and its centerpiece is a mobile VR headset equipped with fifth-generation wireless networking and over three hours of battery life. Priced at $599, the XRSpace headset has a high cost of entry, but the company envisions bundling it with carriers’ 5G service packages or in other forms for educational institutions. After its home market of Taiwan, it’ll look to expand to the U.S. and Europe with the rest of Asia to follow. XRSpace’s headset uses cameras to pick up hand gestures and track the wearer’s motions, and it creates a lifelike avatar from a selfie.
A violent, catastrophic collision between two galaxies has given rise to an extremely rare ring galaxy (R5519), lurking some 11 billion light years from the Earth. The monstrous, donut-shaped galaxy is making stars in its huge ring at a rate 50 times faster than our home galaxy. Probing the features of R5519, a companion galaxy was detected — G5593. They suspect this cosmic neighbour is the “intruder” galaxy that may have collided with R5519 around 40 million years ago. If R5519 is caused by a huge collision, that would make it an extremely rare cosmic phenomena. Only one in every 10,000 galaxies in the local universe are formed in such a way.
Six-month old infants recognize when adults imitate them, and perceive imitators as more friendly, according to a new study. The babies looked and smiled longer at an adult who imitated them, as opposed to when the adult responded in other ways. Babies also approached them more and engaged in imitating games. “Imitating young infants seems to be an effective way to catch their interest and bond with them. The mothers were quite surprised to see their infants joyfully engaging in imitation games with a stranger.” Even when the researcher did not show any emotions at all while imitating, the babies still seemed to recognize that they were being imitated.
UK supercar maker and Formula 1 team McLaren plans to cut more than a quarter of its workforce after the coronavirus crisis hit sales and advertising revenue. The firm employs about 4,000 people, and of the 1,200 to be made redundant, the vast majority will be in the UK. Formula 1 racing has been suspended, while orders for McLaren’s supercars have fallen because of the pandemic. The company said it had worked hard to cut costs and avoid layoffs. “But we now have no other choice but to reduce the size of our workforce.” McLaren’s Formula 1 operation expects to lose about 70 people from its 800-strong workforce.
Global financial markets have rallied on rising hopes for a coronavirus vaccine and a smooth recovery for the world economy as governments gradually ease lockdown restrictions. In the UK the FTSE 100 rose by 1.2% or 74 points as countries around the world begin the lengthy task of reopening their economies as the health emergency shows signs of gradually easing. Airline company stocks, holiday firms, pubs and cinema groups were among the biggest risers on London’s stock market. The S&P 500 index of leading American company shares rose above 3,000 for the first time since March.
JK Rowling has surprised fans with the announcement of a brand new children’s book, which she is publishing in daily instalments on her website for free. The Ickabog is her first children’s story not to be linked to Harry Potter. She wrote it over a decade ago for her own children and has now dusted it off. It’s for “children on lockdown, or even those back at school during these strange, unsettling times”, she said. Chapters of The Ickabog are being published daily until 10 July on The Ickabog website.
Three young Bolivian boys were hospitalized earlier this month when they were stung by a black widow spider while tending goats in a small Bolivian village. Believing a bite by the spider would give them powers like comic book superhero Spider-Man, the boys, aged 12, 10 and 8 from Chayanta, approached the spider and poked it with a stick. They were taken to the Children’s Hospital with muscular pain, sweating, fever and general tremors. After administering a serum against bites, they were able to recover.