SciTech Briefs

Warning signals in smart cars to reduce driving accidents

Through features like vibrating seats and refreshing citrus and peppermint scents, scientists hope to reduce the rate of car accidents. Warning signals to our senses will be incorporated into vehicles to keep drivers alert and awake. This development will add a new dimension to reaction time, which may eliminate 10-15 percent of accidents on the road. By stimulating the senses, designers are hoping to create features for future smart cars that will improve road safety.

Source: MSNBC

Advanced parking meters harder to fool

Due to remote sensors, the art of cheating parking meters is dying. In Monterey, Calif., and Chicago, Ill., parking enforcers no longer chalk tires on vehicles that exceed the time limit. Instead, they drive mini carts with GPS-cameras that scan license plates and report how long a car has occupied a given space. A wire grid installed underneath the pavement triggers a sensor when a car enters or leaves a parking spot. Signals sent over a wireless network to parking enforcers alert them of possible violations. The meter will reset when a car leaves a parking space so the next driver is unable to use the excess.

Source: MSNBC

Coffee best antioxidant source for Americans?

According to a new study, coffee is one of the top sources of antioxidants, agents that combat the effects of free radicals in the body. Date fruits have the greatest concentration of antioxidants per serving size. However, coffee takes the lead as a source of antioxidants for Americans due to consumption levels. The average person obtains about 1300 milligrams of antioxidants a day from coffee. Unfortunately, consuming too much caffeine can cause high blood pressure, stomach pain, and increased heart rates, so it is important not to drink excessive amounts.

Source: TIME

Anti-aging hormone found in mice

The lifespans of mice have increased with the aid of genetic engineering. Research showed that overexpression of the klotho gene, whose corresponding protein works similarly to an anti-aging hormone, increases the average lifespan of test animals by 20 to 30 percent compared to control animals. These results prompted scientists to consider the benefits of this ?anti-aging? hormone in humans. Although klotho plays a role in the human aging process, its importance remains undetermined. Furthermore, the effects of overexpression in humans are still unclear. However, scientists believe that if the klotho gene in humans were genetically manipulated, the length and quality of human life would increase.

Source: National Geographic

MP3 headphones found to damage hearing

Studies indicate that MP3 players cause long term hearing damage, due in part to the type of headphones used. Favored by the iPod crowd, among others, insertable headphones can increase sound by up to 9 decibles. This may not seem like much, but recall that sound is measured logarithmically, and the difference between 80 decibels and 90 decibels is like the difference between an alarm clock and a lawnmower. In addition, insertable headphones are not as efficient at blocking outside noise as those that cover the ears, causing the average music lover to pump up the volume. Bottom line: consider going unplugged.