Trying to wrap your tongue around a phrase or short poem with repeated sounds is something humans have been doing for centuries -- at least that we know of; the practice probably goes back further than recorded history. We grew up giggling over tongue twisters like "Betty Botter bought a bit of butter" and "she sells sea shells by the sea shore" (and some more sweary variants).
Researchers at MIT now claim that they've conceived the most difficult tongue twister ever: "pad kid poured curd pulled cod." According to the lead researcher, psychologist Stefanie Shattuck-Hufnagel, the phrase tripped up test subjects with high frequency -- so much so that the team offered a prize to anyone who could say the phrase 10 times quickly at last week's meeting of the Acoustical Society of America in San Francisco. … Read more
Munch Time is a reasonably entertaining physics-based arcade puzzler starring (yet another) cute cartoon animal. While most of the gameplay is derivative of similar, earlier games, Munch Time does offer up a relatively interesting twist with its tongue-swinging shtick.
You play as Munch, a photogenic chameleon, as he searches for his lunch on a series of increasingly complex levels. Munch can move across the ground with a tap, but his preferred method of locomotion is with the looping swing of his adhesive tongue, lunging from flower to flower by tapping on them. This requires some timing and momentum management to … Read more
At the American Chemical Society's 238th National Meeting in Washington Monday, researchers from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign announced "the first practical 'electronic tongue' sensor" that identifies sources of sweetness and then changes colors depending on the type and quantity of sweeteners present.
Under the leadership of chemistry professor Kenneth S. Suslick--who may or may not return my phone call to explain, among other pressing matters, what is going on in his university Web site photograph--the Illinois team developed a sensor about the size of a business card that can simply be dipped into food samples. "We take things that smell or taste and convert their chemical properties into a visual image," Suslick said in a press release.
I can't help but cut to an image of a white-tablecloth restaurant with a little sign that asks patrons to please be discreet when pulling out their tongues.… Read more
Another member joins the anti-terrorism team: working bees.
Bees--or rather, bee tongues--are the olfactory key to the new "Vapor Detection Instrumentation" developed by a company called Inscentinel. The "instrument" detects explosives, cancer, drugs and pretty much anything else that stinks, according to the U.K. company.
Inscentinel uses Pavlovian principles to train the bees, the same way it's done with canines. For every successful sniff of contraband, the little guys are rewarded with food. The bees are taped to the "measurement device," and a camera alerts the operator when they stick their … Read more