Archive for the ‘Germany’ Category

A retiree in Germany has struck gold in his garden, finding the wedding band he lost three years ago wrapped around a carrot. The 82-year-old lost the ring while gardening in the western town of Bad Muenstereifel.

The incident happened shortly after the man, whose name was not released, celebrated his golden wedding anniversary. The man’s wife reassured him at the time that the ring would eventually reappear.

She died six months before being proven right.

http://wgntv.com/2016/11/05/german-mans-wedding-band-lost-in-garden-unearthed-by-carrot-after-wife-dies/he

German police say they’ve arrested an 18-year-old man who was wanted for evading a prison sentence after he ventured out to play the newly launched “Pokemon Go” smartphone game with friends.

Police in Trier, on Germany’s western border, said the group’s “peculiar behavior” as they played the game in the city on Friday prompted officers to check their papers.

The 18-year-old initially gave a false identity but police quickly established that there was an arrest warrant out for him. He was detained and is now serving a six-month prison sentence he had previously avoided serving — police wouldn’t specify for what.

http://bigstory.ap.org/15e655e1560d4f3d9d1a450d9cc61687

A mother in central Germany came up with an unusual tactic to allegedly steal from a pharmacy on Monday. She distracted staff at a pharmacy in Darmstadt, Hesse, by lifting up her top and squirting her breast milk at them.

The mother entered the store at 4.25pm and asked to buy a breast pump, police reported.

But after handing over a €200-note to pay for her €20 purchase, she suddenly uncovered one breast and used her fingers to squirt milk from it at the pharmacist.

She then rummaged through the counter display and went to a second cash register.

Ignoring the pleas of staff and customers to cover herself up, she again rooted through the counter displays and unleashed a fresh spray of milk.

Apparently satisfied with her handiwork, she quickly left the pharmacy, leaving the breast pump behind.

The pharmacists only noticed that €100 was missing from their cash register some time later when counting the day’s takings.

Police believe the woman, who they described as having a “robust” figure, long dark hair tied into a ponytail and speaking an unknown language, stole the cash while customers and staff were distracted by her antics.

Officers described the woman’s antics as “almost unbelievable”.

http://www.thelocal.de/20141028/thief-squirts-her-breast-milk-to-steal-german-pharmacy-darmstadt

archer fish
Footage captured by two high-speed cameras shows the fish’s ability in detail

The jets of water that archer fish use to shoot down prey are “tuned” to arrive with maximum impact over a range of distances, according to a study.

By Jonathan Webb
Science reporter, BBC News

High-speed cameras were used to analyse fishes’ spitting performance in detail.

As they create each jet, the fish tweak the flow of water over time, causing a focussed blob of water to gather just in front of the target, wherever it is.

The ability comes from precise changes to the animal’s mouth opening, which may prove useful in designing nozzles.

Senior author Prof Stefan Schuster, from the University of Bayreuth in Germany, explained that jets of water and other fluids are used to cut or shape materials in industries ranging from mining to medicine.

He believes his new fish-based findings could improve the technology.

Patience and precision
“I’ve never seen anything in which they use a nozzle that changes its diameter,” he told the BBC. “The most standard approach is adjusting the pressure.”

But pressure, which the archer fish apply by squeezing their gill covers together, is not the secret to their ballistic precision.

Prof Schuster and his PhD student Peggy Gerullis found no evidence for pressure adjustments, nor for chemical additives or flicking movements in the water, which might account for the fishes’ ability to control the stability of the water jet, and focus the accelerating blob at its tip.

“The fish add nothing – they only shoot water, and they keep absolutely still during release of the jet,” Prof Schuster said.

“They just do it with the mouth opening diameter. It is not a simple manoeuvre… The diameter is continuously changing.”

That makes the new study, published in Current Biology, the first evidence of an animal actively manipulating the dynamics of a water jet.

Prof Schuster and Ms Gerullis trained two archer fish to hit targets at distances from 20cm to 60cm, under bright lights to help with filming.

The targets were small spheres, which allowed the team to calculate the forces involved.

Accuracy, of course, was rewarded – usually with a small fly. “You can easily train a fish to shoot at anything you want,” said Prof Schuster. “They are perfectly happy as long as something edible falls down.”

The tricky part was organising the angles.

“To be ready to monitor to the right spots with reasonable spatial resolution, you have to convince the fish somehow to fire from a defined position. That was the hardest part of the study, actually.”

With patience, the researchers collected enough measurements to reveal that the all-important blob of water at the jet’s tip, which allows archer fish to dislodge their prey, forms just before impact – no matter the target distance.

To accomplish this, the animals fine-tune not just the speed, but the stability of the water jet.

“It means that the physics the fish is using is much more complicated than previously thought,” Prof Schuster explained.

Cognitive evolution?

Dynamic jet control must now be added to an already impressive list of this fish’s abilities.

Other research has explored questions ranging from how archer fish compensate for the distortion of their vision by the water surface, to how they learn to hit moving targets by copying their companions, to exactly how they produce a water jet that catches up on itself to form their distinctive, watery missile.

Prof Schuster believes that their spitting accuracy may have evolved in a similar way to human throwing, which some theorists argue sparked an accompanying expansion of our cognitive abilities.

His team has also done fieldwork in Thailand, where they observed that the fish hunt in daylight, when their insect targets are few and far between. So having a good range, and not missing, are a big advantage for survival.

That power and precision requires brain power.

“People have calculated that to double [throwing] range requires roughly an 8-fold increase in the number of neurons involved in throwing,” Prof Schuster said.

So are these fish evolving into the cleverest animals under water?

“I don’t think they will develop into humans. [But] they have many strange abilities that you wouldn’t expect from fish.

“Maybe we can show by looking more closely at the brain, that shooting might have played a similar, prominent role in driving these abilities, as it’s thought that throwing played in human evolution.

“That’s just a crazy idea of mine.”

http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-29046018

Thank to Kebmodee for bringing this to the attention of the It’s Interesting community.

In the space of 24 hours last week, two spectacular rescue operations were carried out in southern Germany.

Both involved men who had become trapped deep inside cave-like structures, and a large team working to set them free. But if explorer Johann Westhauser is expected to soon tell the world how he got trapped inside Germany’s deepest cave, an anonymous exchange student might prefer to keep quiet about the story of how he got into a tight spot.

On Friday afternoon, a young American in Tübingen had to be rescued by 22 firefighters after getting trapped inside a giant sculpture of a vagina. The Chacán-Pi (Making Love) artwork by the Peruvian artist Fernando de la Jara has been outside Tübingen University’s institute for microbiology and virology since 2001 and had previously mainly attracted juvenile sniggers rather than adventurous explorers.

According to De la Jara, the 32-ton sculpture made out of red Veronese marble is meant to signify “the gateway to the world”.

Police confirmed that the firefighters turned midwives delivered the student “by hand and without the application of tools”.

The mayor of Tübingen told the Süddeutsche Zeitung newspaper that he struggled to imagine how the accident could have happened, “even when considering the most extreme adolescent fantasies. To reward such a masterly achievement with the use of 22 firefighters almost pains my soul.”

Thanks to Michael Moore for bringing this to the attention of the It’s Interesting community.

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/jun/23/us-student-rescued-giant-vagina-sculpture-germany


Electrodes attached to a cap convert brain waves into signals that can be processed by the flight simulator for hands-free flying.

New research out of the Technische Universität München (TUM) in Germany is hinting that mind control might soon reach entirely new heights — even by us non-mutants. They’ve demonstrated that pilots might be able to fly planes through the sky using their thoughts alone.

The researchers hooked study participants to a cap containing dozens of electroencephalography (EEG) electrodes, sat them down in a flight simulator, and told them to steer the plane through the sim using their thoughts alone. The cap read the electrical signals from their brains and an algorithm then translated those signals into computer commands.

Seven people underwent the experiment and, according to the researchers, all were able to pilot the plane using their thoughts to such a degree that their performance could have satisfied some of the criteria for getting a pilot’s license.

What’s more, the study participants weren’t all pilots and had varying levels of flight experience. One had no cockpit experience at all.

We have, of course, seen similar thought-control experiments before — an artist who can paint with her thoughts http://www.cnet.com/news/paralyzed-artist-paints-with-mind-alone/) and another who causes water to vibrate (http://www.cnet.com/news/artist-vibrates-water-with-the-power-of-thought/), for example, as well as a quadcopter controlled by brainwaves (http://www.cnet.com/news/mind-controlled-quadcopter-takes-to-the-air/) and a thought-powered typing solution (http://www.cnet.com/news/indendix-eeg-lets-you-type-with-your-brain/). But there’s something particularly remarkable about the idea of someone actually flying an airplane with just the mind.

The research was part of an EU-funded program called ” Brainflight.” “A long-term vision of the project is to make flying accessible to more people,” aerospace engineer Tim Fricke, who heads the project at TUM, explained in a statement. “With brain control, flying, in itself, could become easier. This would reduce the workload of pilots and thereby increase safety. In addition, pilots would have more freedom of movement to manage other manual tasks in the cockpit.”

One of the outstanding challenges of the research is to provide feedback from the plane to the “mind pilots.” This is something normal pilots rely upon to gauge the state of their flight. For example, they would feel resistance from the controls if they begin to push the plane to its limits. TUM says the researchers are currently looking for ways to deliver such feedback to the pilots.

Thanks to Kebmodee for bringing this to the attention of the It’s Interesting community.

http://www.cnet.com/news/mind-pilots-steer-a-plane-with-thoughts-alone/

Two men whose remains were recently excavated from tombs in western China put their pants on one leg at a time, just like the rest of us. But these nomadic herders did so between 3,300 and 3,000 years ago, making their trousers the oldest known examples of this innovative apparel, a new study finds.

With straight-fitting legs and a wide crotch, the ancient wool trousers resemble modern riding pants, says a team led by archaeologists Ulrike Beck and Mayke Wagner of the German Archaeological Institute in Berlin. The discoveries, uncovered in the Yanghai graveyard in China’s Tarim Basin, support previous work suggesting that nomadic herders in Central Asia invented pants to provide bodily protection and freedom of movement for horseback journeys and mounted warfare, the scientists report May 22 in Quaternary International.

“This new paper definitely supports the idea that trousers were invented for horse riding by mobile pastoralists, and that trousers were brought to the Tarim Basin by horse-riding peoples,” remarks linguist and China authority Victor Mair of the University of Pennsylvania.

Previously, Europeans and Asians wore gowns, robes, tunics, togas or — as observed on the 5,300-year-old body of Ötzi the Iceman — a three-piece combination of loincloth and individual leggings.

A dry climate and hot summers helped preserve human corpses, clothing and other organic material in the Tarim Basin. More than 500 tombs have been excavated in a graveyard there since the early 1970s.

Earlier research on mummies from several Tarim Basin sites, led by Mair, identified a 2,600-year-old individual known as Cherchen Man who wore burgundy trousers probably made of wool. Trousers of Scythian nomads from West Asia date to roughly 2,500 years ago.

Mair suspects that horse riding began about 3,400 years ago and trouser-making came shortly thereafter in wetter regions to the north and west of the Tarim Basin. Ancient trousers from those areas are not likely to have been preserved, Mair says.

Horse riding’s origins are uncertain and could date to at least 4,000 years ago, comments archaeologist Margarita Gleba of University College London. If so, she says, “I would not be surprised if trousers appeared at least that far back.”

The two trouser-wearing men entombed at Yanghai were roughly 40 years old and had probably been warriors as well as herders, the investigators say. One man was buried with a decorated leather bridle, a wooden horse bit, a battle-ax and a leather bracer for arm protection. Among objects placed with the other body were a whip, a decorated horse tail, a bow sheath and a bow.

Beck and Wagner’s group obtained radiocarbon ages of fibers from both men’s trousers, and of three other items in one of the tombs.

Each pair of trousers was sewn together from three pieces of brown-colored wool cloth, one piece for each leg and an insert for the crotch. The tailoring involved no cutting: Pant sections were shaped on a loom in the final size. Finished pants included side slits, strings for fastening at the waist and woven designs on the legs.

Beck and Wagner’s team calls the ancient invention of trousers “a ground-breaking achievement in the history of cloth making.”

https://www.sciencenews.org/article/first-pants-worn-horse-riders-3000-years-ago

A battered diamond that survived a trip from “hell” confirms a long-held theory: Earth’s mantle holds an ocean’s worth of water.

“It’s actually the confirmation that there is a very, very large amount of water that’s trapped in a really distinct layer in the deep Earth,” said Graham Pearson, lead study author and a geochemist at the University of Alberta in Canada. The findings were recently published in the journal Nature.

The worthless-looking diamond encloses a tiny piece of an olivine mineral called ringwoodite, and it’s the first time the mineral has been found on Earth’s surface in anything other than meteorites or laboratories. Ringwoodite only forms under extreme pressure, such as the crushing load about 320 miles (515 kilometers) deep in the mantle.

Most of Earth’s volume is mantle, the hot rock layer between the crust and the core. Too deep to drill, the mantle’s composition is a mystery leavened by two clues: meteorites, and hunks of rock heaved up by volcanoes. First, scientists think the composition of the Earth’s mantle is similar to that of meteorites called chondrites, which are chiefly made of olivine. Second, lava belched by volcanoes sometimes taps the mantle, bringing up chunks of odd minerals that hint at the intense heat and pressure olivine endures in the bowels of the Earth.

In recent decades, researchers have also recreated mantle settings in laboratories, zapping olivine with lasers, shooting minerals with massive guns and squeezing rocks between diamond anvils to mimic the Earth’s interior.

These laboratory studies suggest that olivine morphs into a variety of forms corresponding to the depth at which it is found. The new forms of crystal accommodate the increasing pressures. Changes in the speed of earthquake waves also support this model. Seismic waves suddenly speed up or slow down at certain depths in the mantle. Researcher think these speed zones arise from olivine’s changing configurations. For example, 323 to 410 miles (520 to 660 km) deep, between two sharp speed breaks, olivine is thought to become ringwoodite. But until now, no one had direct evidence that olivine was actually ringwoodite at this depth.

“Most people (including me) never expected to see such a sample. Samples from the transition zone and lower mantle are exceedingly rare and are only found in a few, unusual diamonds,” Hans Keppler, a geochemist at the University of Bayreuth in Germany, wrote in a commentary also published in Nature.

The diamond from Brazil confirms that the models are correct: Olivine is ringwoodite at this depth, a layer called the mantle transition zone. And it resolves a long-running debate about water in the mantle transition zone. The ringwoodite is 1.5 percent water, present not as a liquid but as hydroxide ions (oxygen and hydrogen atoms bound together). The results suggest there could be a vast store of water in the mantle transition zone, which stretches from 254 to 410 miles (410 to 660 km) deep.

“It translates into a very, very large mass of water, approaching the sort of mass of water that’s present in all the world’s ocean,” Pearson told Live Science’s Our Amazing Planet.

Plate tectonics recycles Earth’s crust by pushing and pulling slabs of oceanic crust into subduction zones, where it sinks into the mantle. This crust, soaked by the ocean, ferries water into the mantle. Many of these slabs end up stuck in the mantle transition zone. “We think that a significant portion of the water in the mantle transition zone is from the emplacement of these slabs,” Pearson said. “The transition zone seems to be a graveyard of subducted slabs.”

Keppler noted that it’s possible the volcanic eruption that brought the deep diamond to Earth’s surface may have sampled an unusually water-rich part of the mantle, and that not all of the transition-zone layer may be as wet as indicated by the ringwoodite.

“If the source of the magma is an unusual mantle reservoir, there is the possibility that, at other places in the transition zone, ringwoodite contains less water than the sample found by Pearson and colleagues,” Keppler wrote. “However, in light of this sample, models with anhydrous, or water-poor, transition zones seem rather unlikely.”

A violent volcanic eruption called a kimberlite quickly carried this particular diamond from deep in the mantle. “The eruption of a kimberlite is analogous to dropping a Mentos mint into a bottle of soda,” Pearson said. “It’s a very energetic, gas-charged reaction that blasts its way to Earth’s surface.”

The tiny, green crystal, scarred from its 325-mile (525 km) trip to the surface, was bought from diamond miners in Juína, Brazil. The mine’s ultradeep diamonds are misshapen and beaten up by their long journey. “They literally look like they’ve been to hell and back,” Pearson said. The diamonds are usually discarded because they carry no commercial value, he said, but for geoscientists, the gems provide a rare peek into Earth’s innards.

The ringwoodite discovery was accidental, as Pearson and his co-authors were actually searching for a means of dating the diamonds. The researchers think careful sample preparation is the key to finding more ringwoodite, because heating ultradeep diamonds, as happens when scientists polish crystals for analysis, causes the olivine to change shape.

“We think it’s possible ringwoodite may have been found by other researchers before, but the way they prepared their samples caused it to change back to a lower-pressure form,” Pearson said.

http://www.livescience.com/44057-diamond-inclusions-mantle-water-earth.html

dog

Vets in Berlin are warning about an increase in the number of pets falling ill and being unable to walk properly after eating the drug-users’ faeces in the city’s parks.

Parks in the Treptow and Kreuzburg areas of the capital see groups of drug users gathering – some of whom go to the toilet in the bushes. The results of which, the Tagesspiegel newspaper reported on Monday, are proving dangerous for dogs.

Vets told the newspaper that they had seen a rise in the number of dogs being brought in that had eaten human waste. Tests revealed that they had been poisoned by illegal drugs, like heroin, still present in the excrement.

Vet Reinhold Sassnau told the paper that symptoms include dehydration, shaking, an inability to walk properly and a rapid heartbeat. He sees a lot of these cases during his night shifts, he said.

If owners take their dog to a vet in time, the animal can be given an emetic which forces them to vomit up the faeces. If not, treatment can require staying in a clinic for some time to stabilize. Sassnau said fatal cases were rare.

One student, identified only as Malte, told the newspaper that he had to take his 10-year-old dog, Bob, to an emergency vet after walking him through Görlitzer Park, an area well-known for drug-dealing. “We thought he was going to die,” he said.

Jörn Bischof, the vet at the Charlottenburg clinic who treated Bob earlier in October, told the paper: “This is becoming more frequent.”

He added that although dogs are often tempted to eat waste they come across outdoors, owners should try to train them not to.

http://www.thelocal.de/society/20131021-52497.html

solar cell

German Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems, Soitec, CEA-Leti and the Helmholtz Center Berlin announced today that they have achieved a new world record for the conversion of sunlight into electricity using a new solar cell structure with four solar subcells. Surpassing competition after only over three years of research, and entering the roadmap at world class level, a new record efficiency of 44.7% was measured at a concentration of 297 suns. This indicates that 44.7% of the solar spectrum’s energy, from ultraviolet through to the infrared, is converted into electrical energy. This is a major step towards reducing further the costs of solar electricity and continues to pave the way to the 50% efficiency roadmap.

Back in May 2013, the German-French team of Fraunhofer ISE, Soitec, CEA-Leti and the Helmholtz Center Berlin had already announced a solar cell with 43.6% efficiency. Building on this result, further intensive research work and optimization steps led to the present efficiency of 44.7%.

These solar cells are used in concentrator photovoltaics (CPV), a technology which achieves more than twice the efficiency of conventional PV power plants in sun-rich locations. The terrestrial use of so-called III-V multi-junction solar cells, which originally came from space technology, has prevailed to realize highest efficiencies for the conversion of sunlight to electricity. In this multi-junction solar cell, several cells made out of different III-V semiconductor materials are stacked on top of each other. The single subcells absorb different wavelength ranges of the solar spectrum.

“We are incredibly proud of our team which has been working now for three years on this four-junction solar cell,” says Frank Dimroth, Department Head and Project Leader in charge of this development work at Fraunhofer ISE. “This four-junction solar cell contains our collected expertise in this area over many years. Besides improved materials and optimization of the structure, a new procedure called wafer bonding plays a central role. With this technology, we are able to connect two semiconductor crystals, which otherwise cannot be grown on top of each other with high crystal quality. In this way we can produce the optimal semiconductor combination to create the highest efficiency solar cells.”

“This world record increasing our efficiency level by more than 1 point in less than 4 months demonstrates the extreme potential of our four-junction solar cell design which relies on Soitec bonding techniques and expertise,” says André-Jacques Auberton-Hervé, Soitec’s Chairman and CEO. “It confirms the acceleration of the roadmap towards higher efficiencies which represents a key contributor to competitiveness of our own CPV systems. We are very proud of this achievement, a demonstration of a very successful collaboration.”

“This new record value reinforces the credibility of the direct semiconductor bonding approaches that is developed in the frame of our collaboration with Soitec and Fraunhofer ISE. We are very proud of this new result, confirming the broad path that exists in solar technologies for advanced III-V semiconductor processing,” said Leti CEO Laurent Malier.

Concentrator modules are produced by Soitec (started in 2005 under the name Concentrix Solar, a spin-off of Fraunhofer ISE). This particularly efficient technology is employed in solar power plants located in sun-rich regions with a high percentage of direct radiation. Presently Soitec has CPV installations in 18 different countries including Italy, France, South Africa and California.

http://phys.org/news/2013-09-world-solar-cell-efficiency.html

Thanks to Kebmodee for bringing this to the attention of the It’s Interesting community.