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SciShow News gives you the latest developments from the world of science, including some bug-number-crunching behind America's first edible-insect farm, and a look at the discoveries that won the 2014 Kavli Prize.
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Sources:
http://www.fao.org/docrep/018/i3253e/i3253e.pdf
http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg22229702.900-six-legs-tasty-first-edible-insect-farm-opens-in-us.html#.U4yU5vmSzUR
http://www.ent.iastate.edu/misc/insectnutrition.html
http://people.howstuffworks.com/entomophagy3.htm
http://www.fao.org/docrep/018/i3253e/i3253e00.htm
http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0014445
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/05/29/kavli-prizes-2014-scientists_n_5411253.html
http://www.kavlifoundation.org/about-kavli-prize
http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/gravity-waves-cmb-b-mode-polarization/
[Intro]

Is anybody hungry for bugs? Entomophagy, or the practice of eating insects, may be rare in the developed world today, but humans have been eating nature's crunchiest snack for tens of thousands of years. And soon, it may be coming to a table near you.

Last week, a warehouse in Youngstown, Ohio became the first edible bug farm in the United States. Called "Big Cricket Farms," it produces what's being called "bug flour," made from milled crickets, to produce a snack chip marketed as "Chirps"."

Now, there are already bug farms operating in Texas that produce insects for pet food, but food for people is held to a higher standard, thankfully, especially when it comes to what the insects are being fed. The bugs that end up on your plate have to be raised on feed-grade vegetables and grains, the same as livestock like cattle and sheep, so the Ohio crickets will be fed a steady diet of organic chicken feed.

And Big Cricket Farms are not alone in their thinking. Last year, the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization released a study concluding that bugs may be the key to the world's food security. According to their report, it takes 10 kilograms of cattle feed to produce a single kilogram of beef. But if you want a kilogram of delicious crickets, you only need a kilo and a half of chicken feed. Plus, bugs are rich in protein, as you might expect, but different foods contain different kinds of protein. And it turns out that many insect species are particularly rich in the compounds that make up proteins our bodies can't make on their own.

Many caterpillars and aquatic insects, for instance, are especially high in lysine, while termites and the larvae of common house flies are chock-full of tryptophan. Insect tissues also hold a ton of minerals: locusts, for example, have twice the iron by weight as red meat. And because their crunchy exoskeletons are made of the nitrogen-bearing starch chitin, they're also a great source of fiber.

"Chirps" are expected to hit the shelves this fall, and there are at least three other start-ups in the U.S. alone dedicated to making entomophagy a thing.


Now, in keeping with last week's news about doing science for fabulous prizes, this week the nine Kavli Prize winners have been announced. The Kavli Prize awards pioneers in the fields of astrophysics, nanoscience, and neuroscience, and they're only given out every two years.

The 2014 winners for astrophysics are the three scientists who pioneered Inflation Theory. That's the theory that the universe underwent a period of exponential expansion in the first tiny fraction of a second after the Big Bang. Alan Guth, Andrei Linde, and Alexei Starobinsky published their work in the late 1970s and early '80s, but, while Inflation Theory has dominated how astrophysicists think about the birth of the universe for the past 30 years, we couldn't prove it, until now.

In March of this year, scientists at the South Pole measured gravitational waves in the cosmic microwave background that could only have been caused by inflation.

The winners in the field of nanoscience, meanwhile, are all pioneers in the field of nano-optics, which helps us see things that are, like, really super small, smaller than the wavelength of light, or about 200 nanometers. This was long thought to be the unpassable threshold for what we can see using ordinary light. But Thomas Ebbesen, of France's Louis Pasteur University, demonstrated that light can pass through holes that are smaller than its own wavelength, essentially riding a current of oscillating electrons, which sounds amazing.

Meanwhile, his colleague Stefan Hell, of the Max Planck Institute, discovered a way to use Ebbesen's findings to see inside living cells, which means we can now directly observe life at nano scale resolution. And Sir John B. Pendry, of University College London, theorized how perfect lenses could be created using metamaterials, a kind of artificial matter that, according to Pendry's model, can be fashioned into lenses that distort light even less than a perfect vacuum does. Pffshh!

And finally, the three Kavli Prize winners for neuroscience, Brenda Milner, John O'Keefe, and Marcus Raichle, were awarded for their discoveries of the specialized brain networks we use for memory and cognition. Part of their prize-winning research involved studying the brain of a patient known as HM, who underwent experimental surgery in the 1950s to treat epilepsy, and then ended up losing the ability to form new memories. Analysis of HM's brain and those of other patients revealed that the region known as the Medial Temporal Lobe is crucial to memory formation.

And O'Keefe was awarded for his discovery of so-called "Cognitive Maps", our awareness of our specific location in our environment, which is housed in specialized nerve cells in that same lobe of the brain.

Each of this year's Kavli Honorees will be awarded one million dollars, which I imagine will buy them a whole lot of Chirps.

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[Outro]