French wine isn't quite so French -- It seems the French didn't invent the art of wine making, they inherited it from the Italians, who in turn brought it to the Mediterranean from Iran, Armenia and Georgia around 6,000 years ago.
Researchers discovered molecular traces of wine in ancient amphorae from Italy found in France, which dated to an earlier period than the traces of wine on the grape presses known to have been some of the first in France. It seems the French wine industry was born out of a love of imported Italian wine, sometime in the sixth century B.C. The French may think their wine is the best in the world, but it all started out as a copy of the Italians. [PNAS]
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A virus-infused nasal spray might a new weapon against the dreaded flu -- Unfortunately, making an influenza vaccine takes months of work, which means scientists can either play a guessing game, betting on which strain emerges that winter, or have to constantly play catch-up. In the meantime we might have found a new weapon to help stop the spread of the deadly flu.
Researchers have discovered an anti-body that attacks all flu strains, locally protecting you from infection. Our bodies naturally produce this anti-body, but the flu virus tricks our immune system into lowering production and therefore rendering it ineffective. By genetically engineering a benign virus to carry the anti-body's DNA, scientists have been able to create a spray that over produces the protein, potentially protecting us from infection. Tests on mice and ferret noses have shown promising results, even against the deadly H5N1 "bird flu" virus. Hopefully this friendly virus-infused nasal spray will soon be cleared for human use, and we'll finally have an effective topical weapon against the scourge of flu, until we can kill it off once and for all. [Science]
10 genes linked to human intelligence -- It's well known that intelligence is about 50 per cent inherited, which means if your parents are smart, you've got a good chance of inheriting their intelligence. Now, 10 very small genetic variations have been linked with IQ.
Using a large combined genetic data set of 126,000 people, who have had their genomes sequenced, it was possible to attribute small mutations in certain genes to the increased likelihood of academic success. However, the researchers discovered that when they ran the statistics, the overall effect of even the 10 factors combined together was very small indeed. In fact, the proposed hypothesis is that there are 1,000s of these very small mutations, which all add-up together to impact on human intelligence. So, while we've found 10 of them, there many, many more to find before we'll be able to fully predict intelligence based on inherited genetics. [New Scientist]
Mind-controlled drone is go -- It's all very well being able to control a Parrot AR Drone with a phone, but it's not quite the same as controlling it directly with your mind. Now researchers have been able to develop an electrode cap that lets you control a drone by pure thought, with enough control to pilot it through an obstacle course.
The user simply imagines clenching their hands to steer the drone -- the left one to go left, right to go right, and both simultaneously to go up. This causes a change in the brainwave patterns of the motor cortex, which are picked up by the cap and translated into commands for the drone. The hope is that this kind of non-invasive brainwave interface system could be used to control artificial limbs without surgery. Of course, there could be no-end of uses for a reliable and easy to use brain-to-computer interface like this. [Nature]