This Week in Genius

1218571295In which we tally who’s smarter than you this week. The short answer? A lot of guys from MIT.

Put on your 6-D glasses

MIT researchers have found a way to create super-realistic “6-D images” that not only have a full three-dimensional appearance, but also respond to their environment, producing natural shadows and highlights depending on the direction and intensity of the illumination around them.

The image system creates a fourth dimension that changes the image as the viewing angle moves up or down. Then, a new “lighting aware” system adds additional layers of lenses and screens to add two more dimensions of change. The resulting image is then not only based on the position of the viewer, but also on the direction of the illumination. Co-ooool.

Insect scuba-diving

MIT mathematicians have discovered exactly how some insects breathe underwater. When submerged, many species trap a thin bubble of air outside their water-repellant coat that serves as oxygen storage. Using these external lungs, insects can stay below the surface indefinitely and dive as deep as 30 meters. Through a mathematical model, the researchers found that there is not only this maximum depth beyond which the bubble collapses, but a minimum depth above which the bubble can not meet the insect’s respiratory needs.

Great cocktail fodder, this knowledge. Trust us.

Addicted to food

Tufts researchers have found that the tendency toward obesity is directly linked to the brain system involved in food reward and addictive behaviors. The study showed that people trending toward being fat have impairments in their dopamine system from an early age; the neurotransmitter dopamine is considered to be the major neurochemical signature of drug addiction. The findings provide the molecular link between eating and mental health, and strengthen the argument that obesity is an addictive disorder rather than a metabolic one.

Blocking out dementia

Researchers at Boston University School of Medicine have found that a specific class of medicines called angiotensin receptor blockers, or ARBs, has been associated with a big decrease in the occurrence and progression of dementia. Patients taking ARBs had a 35-40 percent lower chance of getting Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, and those who were already suffering had a 45 percent lower chance of developing delirium, being admitted to nursing homes, or dying. These results show that Neitzche lived about 100 years too soon.

Image used by permission from MIT News, by Martin Fuchs; Ramesh Raskar; Hans-Peter Seidel; and Hendrik P. A. Lensch