Don't print contracts or constitutions on this paper
With so many of today's offices filling their trash and recyclable bins with wasted paper—documents printed but never retrieved, pages blank except for a header that reads "page 2 of 2," etc.—Xerox Corp. (a staple in the photocopier and printer markets) is looking for a way to get those unusable sheets immediately back into circulation. Researchers at the company's Palo Alto Research Center (PARC) and Xerox Research Center of Canada are developing self-erasing, reusable paper, which the company demonstrated at a technology show it hosted recently in New York City. The chemical compounds in the paper form images when exposed to a specific wavelength of light (the company is developing a printer with a light source that can do this). In its present version, the paper self-erases these images in about 16 to 24 hours (faster, if exposed to heat) and can be used multiple times, according to NetworkWorld.com. The company admits it needs to do further work before it can bring the technology to market. For example, will faded words be legible under a microscope, exposing important information (such as Social Security numbers or passwords) thought to be erased?
Are those Buffalo wings hot enough for ya? Ask the nanotubes
Think you can handle that picante sauce sitting on a bar in front of you? Well, carbon nanotubes may soon be the judge of that. University of Oxford researchers have developed a way to measure the precise amount of capsaicinoids, the chemicals responsible for the hot taste of chili peppers, in samples of chili sauce using electrodes containing carbon nanotubes, according to a report in the Royal Society of Chemistry journal The Analyst. The researchers were looking for a way to clearly figure out how hot a particular food is without relying on the machismo of taste testers who would rather burn the skin off of their lips than admit something is too hot to handle. The scheme: put the chili sauce into a solution of ethanol and boric, phosphoric and acetic acids, then use the electrodes to measure the change in electrical current as the capsaicinoids are broken down. The greater the change in current, the hotter the sauce. Researchers say this method is more exact than the most popular method currently used, which involves adding increasing amounts of sugar water to pepper extract until the hot taste is no longer detectable. The more of the sweet solution you need, the hotter the peppers. That's known as the Scoville Organoleptic Test, in case you see it—or electrodes—on a pub menu anytime soon.
Study links autism in children to schizophrenia in parents
Autism can be inherited and is probably related to other mental illnesses, particularly schizophrenia, according to a new study. By examining 26 years of medical records that going back to 1977, researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (U.N.C.) found that the parents of 1,327 Swedish children with autism were twice as likely to have been hospitalized for mental illnesses compared with the parents of 30,000 healthy kids. The pattern was the same before and after the autism diagnosis—in many cases, the parents' troubles arose before their kids were born. This suggests, the authors wrote in the journal Pediatrics, that the link is genetic and not the result of mental strain from their offspring's behavior. Depression was more common in mothers of autistic children, but diagnoses of schizophrenia were twice as frequent for both mothers and fathers. U.N.C. School of Public Health epidemiologist Julie Daniels told The Wall Street Journal that the results show a "mental illness trend in families." She added that the difference in illnesses between parents and children are likely due to other genes or differing environmental exposures.