Light Friday: The World’s Most Useless Machine 2.0

Plus: Scientific Cures for Hangovers, the Invisible Sound Wave Knife and Fireworks in Reverse.

The Scientific Way to Cure a Hangover

Did you have too good a time on New Year’s Eve (or plan to next year)? In that case, finding a way to cope with hangovers is probably at the top of your to-do list. Luckily, there are several scientifically based hangover cures out there that rely more on facts than rumors.

“The main reason your head pounds after too much alcohol is dehydration. Your liver works overtime while you’re partying to clear alcohol’s toxins from your system; meanwhile, alcohol prompts your kidneys to produce more urine, making you pee more fluid than usual,” LiveScience notes. “Once you’re dehydrated, your body can’t flush out all those toxins your liver has been busily filtering. In addition, alcohol can irritate your stomach lining, causing nausea…it can also disrupt your sleep cycle, leading to grogginess.”

The simplest strategy for reducing a hangover’s effects is to make sure your stomach is full prior to drinking, which helps slow down the rate of alcohol absorption – fatty foods and carbohydrates like pasta are particularly useful for this. More importantly, staying hydrated by drinking a glass of water along with every alcoholic beverage helps the body flush out toxins.

The type of alcohol you choose to imbibe can also influence your hangover. Dark liquors like whiskey, bourbon and red wine generally contain more cogeners, which are fermentation byproducts that can significantly worsen a hangover. Likewise, drinking beer before liquor can lead to painful results, as carbonation from the beer increases the alcohol absorption rate from any subsequent drinks.

Oddly enough, asparagus may the key to solving hangover troubles. According to a 2009 study published by the Institute of Food Technologists, “amino acids and minerals found in asparagus extract may alleviate alcohol hangover and protect liver cells against toxins.”

If you’re not inclined to gorge on asparagus shoots and leaves when your head is pounding, the folks at ASAP Science have a helpful video that breaks down some of the easier scientific solutions to hangovers:

The World’s Most Useless Machine 2.0

You may remember the world’s most useless machine built back in 2009 – it’s essentially a device that turns itself off the moment someone turns it on. Now, another inventor has built an updated version that expands the original principle into an even more useless machine.

Known as the Useless Machine Advanced Edition, the upgraded model is a redesigned printer equipped with an RC servo, a control unit and software. When a user flips one of eight toggle switches, the machine deploys a mechanical arm that automatically unflips it, then retreats back inside the case.

Here’s a look at the useless device in action:

The Invisible Knife

Engineers have developed a super-fine sound beam that could lead to “invisible scalpels” for surgeons in the near future. The breakthrough technology concentrates high-amplitude sound waves that are so strong they can cut into minuscule areas, a process that may one day be used for a variety of noninvasive (and possibly painless) surgeries.

Scientists at the University of Michigan were able to generate a beam by converting light from a pulsed laser into sound via a lens coated with nanotubes and polydimethylsiloxane, a “rubbery material.” The carbon nanotube layer generates heat from absorbed light and the rubbery layer expands from the heat, boosting the signal by rapid thermal expansion. The sound waves generated are 10,000 times higher than the frequency limit for human hearing and are capable of exerting pressure for microsurgery.

Unlike current techniques, this new process (which hasn’t been tested on humans yet) is ultra-precise. Today’s technology focuses on incisions scaled to several millimeters or centimeters, while the super-fine sound beams are capable of cutting micrometers – one-thousandth of a millimeter wide. This degree of precision may help doctors avoid nerve fibers during surgery.

The technology has already been used to drill a 150-micrometer hole within a confetti-sized kidney stone, which could allow doctors to someday probe cells or tissues at a much smaller scale, according to Jay Guo, an engineering professor and the co-author of a paper on the new technique.

The ultrasound technique may also be a way to deliver drugs, perform cosmetic procedures or even fight cancer, Popular Science reports.

Fireworks in Reverse

New Year’s Eve featured many amazing fireworks displays around the world. While these shows were intended to provide an explosive thrill to audiences, one observer was curious to see if they could have the opposite effect.

Filmmaker Julian Tay recorded the New Year’s Eve fireworks spectacle over Melbourne, Australia, and digitally reversed the footage to show the detonations retreating backward into a single point of light. The result is a surprisingly soothing, yet still beautiful display:

Have a great weekend, folks!



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