Smart Water Pumps and the Colourful Personality of Birds
Milking away Obesity
A protein found in milk can keep obesity and diabetes at bay, as well as improve physical endurance.
When given to mice on a high fat diet, the protein nicotinamide riboside was found to prevent weight gain and type II diabetes by entering cells and increasing the activity of mitochondria - the powerhouses of the cell - to improve metabolism.
The protein could one day become a supplement but as it is found in a range of foods as well as milk, including bread and beer, a varied diet holds the key until then.
Johan Auwerx from the Ecole Polytechnique de Federale lead the work published in Science.
'Smart' Water Pumps
Mobile phones are being used to improve water supplies in rural Africa, according to research in the journal of hydroinformatics.
Patrick Thomson from the University of Oxford developed 'smart' water pumps containing data transmitters that use the increasing access to mobile networks now available across Africa to send out text messages when a pump breaks down.
The technology uses the movement of a pump's handle to estimate its water flow with data sent back to a central office when this flow is impaired to arrange for its repair with 70 being introduced in Kenya later this year.
Improving Reading abilities in Dyslexia
Increasing the spacing between letters significantly improves the readings skills of people with dyslexia.
Writing in the journal PNAS, Marco Zorzi from the University of Padua asked 94 French and Italian children with dyslexia to read pieces of text with both standard and double spaced wording and found that widened spacing doubled the accuracy of their reading and increased their reading speed by 20%.
The team suggest the spacing overcomes the problem of 'crowding' where letters are closely surrounded by other letters, making them harder to identify.
A colourful personality
And finally, the personality of a Gouldian finch can be predicted by the colour of its head.
Three aspects of personality were measured in 40 of these endangered Australian birds in the wild - risk-taking, aggression and boldness by exposing them to unfamiliar objects, silhouettes of predator birds and limited access to food.
The team, led by Claudia Mettke-Hofman from Liverpool John Moore's University found that Finches with red heads tended to show more aggression to access food whilst those with black heads were more bold and risk-taking.
And that work was published this week in the journal Animal Behaviour.