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10 Cool Things the World Learned This Week

Fuzzy dinosaurs, coral with herpes, an autism gene? Here's a few stories you may have missed.

Didn't see Sarah Palin on "Today" this week....didn't really care about that. Or Levi becoming a dad, again. Or Bristol moving in with her boyfriend . There are always more fascinating things found in the heavens and on earth that don't get nearly as much air time as, well, other things, and we think they deserve some more. 

Here are 10 things you may have missed this week that are worth noting.

1. Mini-We’s

If you want to lose weight you could exercise and eat sensibly. Or you could do something that’s going to work, like surgery.

That’s kinda what three researchers are proposing in regard to global warming. Since cultural and policy changes aren’t cutting it, human engineering might do the trick, though one researcher seems to suggest the idea be taken with a grain of salt.

“We might not be entirely serious that people should be doing this,” Anders Sandberg of Oxford University told Wynne Parry of LiveScience,  but we should at least consider it. The article that will appear in the journal Ethics, Policy and the Environment suggests things like making humans red-meat intolerant, engineering us to be smaller, using drugs and education to make us smarter and oxytocin to make us kinder.

“Human engineering” might sound scarily sci-fi but, the researchers argues, vaccines amount to the same thing. Besides if we’re willing to use certain drugs to make ourselves temporarily dumber, why not a few to wise us up?

So, future humans: pint-sized vegetarian brainiacs? That wouldn’t be the end of the world…maybe even in a literal sense.

2. Google Goggles

The NY Times’ Nick Bilton reports that Google is sending some techno-explorers out into the world to test the company’s new augmented-reality glasses, i.e. “wearable technology.” The “Project Glass” prototype looks like lens-free specs, but it does have a tiny lens that streams information, uses voice commands to get and send messages and has a built-in camera. A video shows a man using a pair to message friends, avoid a closed subway station and find an alternative walking route to his destination. There may -- “hypothetically,” Bilton says -- even be Project Glass contact lenses one day (and yes, it does call to mind those contact lens cameras from Torchwood, potentially blurring that line between sci and fi).

Google wants to hear what the public wants from Project Glass and Gizmodo’s Mario Aguilar gave them his input on stylesaying “ People might actually wear them if they can get over how nerdy they look,” an observation accompanied by photos of wearers. Uh-oh! If those models are nerdy, we’re Julius Kelp . Help!

3. Gene Mutations Linked to Autism Risk

For the first time scientists have identified several gene mutations that “they agree sharply will increase the risk of a child developing autism,” writes the New York Times’ Benedict CareyOne group found the mutations four times more likely to originate with the father and all three found the risk increases with the age of the parents (especially dads over 35). The gene mutations may account for a small percent of autism cases but the findings provide a way to proceed in understanding the biology of autism. According to CDC numbers released last week, autism spectrum disorders, including Asperger’s syndrome, affect one in 88 kids in the U.S.-- a 78 percent increase since 2002,  reports Karen Weintraub of USA Today. 

4. Spit Smoothie Anyone?

Alicia Silverstone fa-reaked people out with a video of her pre-chewing food for her 10-month-old son Bear Blu and then feeding him mouth-to-mouth, like a baby bird. But Life’s Little Mysteries (via Newser) says that it’s not only safe, it was a common practice before kid food was sterilized and pulverized for us by modern helpers like Gerber and Cuisinart.

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