Jamie Morton is the NZ Herald's science reporter.

Strange but true: Mantises go to the movies

Scientists have developed insect-sized three-dimensional glasses - along with a miniature cinema - to prove that praying mantises see their world in 3D. Photo / Newcastle University
Scientists have developed insect-sized three-dimensional glasses - along with a miniature cinema - to prove that praying mantises see their world in 3D. Photo / Newcastle University

The ice man's tummy bug

One of the planet's oldest humans had a stomach bug. Micro-biologists have just confirmed the presence of Helicobacter pylori - a bacterium found in half of all humans today - in Otzi, the so-called "Copper Age man", whose mummified body was discovered in an Italian glacier 24 years ago. The findings add weight to the theory that humans were already infected with this stomach bacterium at the very beginning of their history. Otzi, who is believed to have lived around 3,300 BCE, remains on display in the South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology in Italy.

Mantises go to the movies

Scientists have developed insect-sized three-dimensional glasses - along with a miniature cinema - to prove that praying mantises see their world in 3D. While most knowledge about 3D vision has come from vertebrates, a team of UK researchers have confirmed that the praying mantis, an invertebrate, uses stereopsis or 3D perception for hunting.

Using a specially-designed insect cinema and a modified version of "old school" 3D glasses - with one blue lens and one green one - the scientists ran a series of experiments to prove their hypothesis. After being fitted with tiny glasses, attached with beeswax, the bugs were shown short videos of simulated insects moving around. While the mantises didn't try to catch the bugs when they were in 2D, they struck out when they were shown in 3D, seemingly floating in front of the screen.

Moon villages by 2030?

Humans could be living on the moon by 2030. That's the consensus of a international conference of scientists, engineers and industry experts, who agreed science fiction could become reality with co-operation between astronauts and robotic systems on the lunar surface. The European Space Agency has outlined a vision that moon villages could serve as a springboard for future missions. Dr Clive Neal, a University of Notre Dame planetary geologist, said the ESA's presentation highlighted technology development in terms of precision landing, robotic sample return, and cryogenic sampling, caching, return and curation.

Nemesis a bad neurosurgeon

Ernst Stavro Blofeld, the cat-stroking evil mastermind and James Bond's long-time nemesis, might be a genius at hatching dastardly schemes - but his neuroanatomy skills are fatally poor. Played by Christoph Waltz the latest 007 film Spectre, Blofeld tortured the hero using restraints and a head clamp system fused with a robotic drill, intending to first inflict pain and then erase Bond's memory bank of faces. But Blofeld didn't quite know his brain anatomy, said Dr Michael Cusimano, a neurosurgeon at St Michael's Hospital in Toronto. "Aiming to erase Bond's memory of faces, the villain correctly identified the lateral fusiform gyrus as an area of the brain responsible for recognising faces. But in practice, the drill was placed in the wrong area, where it likely would have triggered a stroke or haemorrhage."

- NZ Herald

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