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November 2, 2009

Weird News — Precision tuning of the fruitfly brain

— Scientists at England’s University of Oxford know how to make fruitflies scared of things they weren’t scared of previously — by implanting artificial memories in their brains after somehow locating and managing the precise 12 neurons that enable the flies to learn things. The implanted “danger” (the smell of sweat-soaked athletic shoes) causes the flies to scatter at the first whiff.

— Scientists at the University of Toronto know how to make fruitflies sexually attractive to flies of both sexes and to different fly species — by removing the specific hydrocarbon brain cells that produce the pheromones thought to attract sex-specific mates. (Only the choice of partners was modified and not horniness level.)

Great art!

Britain’s Clumsiest Art Patron: On the opening day of a Tate Modern gallery exhibit in London on Oct. 14, 12,500 visitors examined Polish artist Miroslaw Balka’s installation of a 100-by-42-by-32-foot box that is pitch black inside, lined with light-absorbing material. However, only one of the patrons managed to bump hard enough into a wall of the container to draw blood.

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