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Interactive advertising has arrived at a strange new frontier, called "crowdgaming." Computer systems equipped with video cameras and motion-capture software track the movements of a crowd and use them to control a cursor on a giant screen. "It turns a crowd into a human joystick," explains Sam Mazur, creative director at SS+K, an ad agency that developed a crowdgame to promote MSNBC's NewsBreakerGame.com site. In a recent trial, movie patrons leaned and waved in unison, trying to direct a ball bouncing on the big screen to knock bricks out of a stack. Each time a brick fell, news headlines flashed on the screen. The crowd's response quickly evolved from random waving to somewhat synchronized swaying—and much yelling. View the action at http://tinyurl.com/2qtyea. Plants and animals can repair themselves thanks to circulatory systems that carry healing agents to wounded tissue. Researchers at the Univ. of Illinois have created a new plastic that fixes itself the same way. The material is embedded with channels about as wide as a human hair. Each microtube holds a liquefied precursor to plastic that, when released by a crack, bonds with a second liquid in the vessel's coating to reseal the break. In earlier trials, the researchers used microcapsules. But once these emptied, the material could no longer repair itself at that breach. Fresh plastic in the minivascular system, in contrast, can fill the same crack up to seven times. Nancy Sottos, professor of material science and engineering, says the material could someday help airplanes or space vehicles fix themselves. At night the air is full of water, even in arid regions. This moisture condenses on surfaces, where it evaporates in the morning sun. Inspired by the way dew accumulates on spider webs, inventors from the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology have devised a low-tech way to harvest this water vapor for drinking.
Designed by Joseph Cory and Eyal Malka, graduate students in architecture and building planning, the contraption, called WatAir, resembles a 20-foot-wide tent turned upside down. At night, water vapor gathers on its sloping panels. Droplets form—up to 12 gallons' worth by morning—and roll down into a bucket at the bottom. Water gathered this way is naturally free of earthbound pathogens. WatAir, which can be made from recycled materials, canvas sheets, or other fabrics, is designed to be light enough to airlift to remote regions and compact enough to fit on urban rooftops. — A calorie-restricted diet leads to longer lifespans in some species, but scientists still don't know why. The key, says Massachusetts Institute of Technology biologist Leonard P. Guarante, may be in the mind—specifically, the neurons that regulate metabolism. His team found that when these neurons were killed in the brains of underfed worms, they lived no longer than well-fed worms. The link between calorie restriction and longevity hasn't been proved in humans. But if it exists, the neural connection is probably present, Guarante writes in Nature, and could lead to new targets for anti-aging drugs.
— More good news on wine. Earlier studies found that the nectar of the gods can lower the risk of cancer and heart disease; the latest research says it may also prevent tooth decay and sore throats. Scientists from the University of Pavia in Italy report in the Journal of Agricultural & Food Chemistry that they removed the alcohol from red and white wines and then tested the samples in a lab, where they showed antibacterial activity against a number of microbes known to cause cavities and some types of throat infections. Human experiments are now underway. Volunteers?