• This Plant Makes Music

    The Magic Kingdom is synonymous with Walt Disney World, but that name could easily stand in for Disney Research Pittsburgh, a Disney-owned research facility in -- you guessed it -- Pittsburgh.

    To see why, look no further than one of the lab’s latest creations: a musical plant.

    Called the “Botanicus Interacticus,” this sonorous plant emits a harp-like melody when its petals are touched. How? By placing an electrode in the plant’s soil, engineers can map a hundred different frequencies around the plant.

    When someone sweeps those frequencies by touching the plant, a computer connected to the electrode registers the touch and translates it into musical notes that play out from a speaker. This would also work on any conductive object, including a human being.

    Music just seemed like an appropriate output for this technology, explained Jessica Hodgins, Disney Lab Pittsburgh’s director: “It could be be triggering computer graphics, a light show, or any other kind of signal.”

    Hodgins shrouded

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  • Americans like their beer, so it’s no surprise that food makers have been trying to infuse the flavor of beer into a variety of foods for years. We have beer flavored ice cream, beer can chicken and even beer-battered shrimp.

    And now, Jelly Belly, the risk-taking creator of such jelly bean flavors as Buttered Popcorn, Tabasco and Moldy Cheese are taking a spin at infusing the flavor of beer into a jelly bean. They call their creation “Draft Beer.”

    This new bean is flavored to taste like a crisp refreshing beer right out of the tap. Jelly Belly spent three years tinkering with the recipe until they created a flavor they thought matched the taste of draft beer.

    Our question: can you realistically create a sweet treat that resembles the bitter and hoppy flavors of beer?

    To find out, we took Draft Beer jelly beans to bars in New York City and had bartenders, professionals who spend their working day around beer, taste test them. Watch the video above to see if Jelly Belly got it right.

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  • Would You Eat a Protein Bar Made With Crickets?

    Protein bars are a convenient and filling snack on-the-go. But with many well-known bars containing high amounts of sugar and using chemical proteins, they may not be the most nutritional option for your workout or hike.

    A rash of upstart protein bar companies are seeking to change that by offering protein bars made with protein from crickets instead of from soy, whey and almonds.

    That’s right, crickets. -- (cricket noise) --

    EXO, a new startup founded by Gabi Lewis and Greg Sewitz, two recent Brown University graduates.The duo came up with their cricket bar iteration in their senior year when Lewis told Sewitz that he was looking for a healthy protein bar for his gym workouts.

    Sewitz, who had just attended an environmental conference where he learned about edible insects as a method for combating food insecurity, suggested to Lewis that he make protein bars with cricket flour.

    “When Greg suggested crickets, my mind instantly made that psychological leap to thinking of crickets as

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