Everybody knows and loves eating the Japanese snack food Pocky, don’t they? It’s those biscuit sticks mostly coated in chocolate that can be consumed in mere seconds. Well, now there’s another reason to buy Pocky over the other delicious snacks available at your local store: it can help teach you and your kids to code.Learning to code using just the chocolate-covered sticks would be a difficult (and messy) task. Instead, the company behind Pocky, Ezaki Glico, has produced a free app called Glicode and made it available for Android (an iOS version is in development, apparently).Glicode tasks the user with helping a character move around a 3D world filled with obstacles. Movement is based on a sequence of commands, which are issued by arranging Pocky into specific shapes and snapping a photo of them with your smartphone. The app translates the shapes into the relevant commands and the character moves accordingly.It’s a very simple idea, but one that offers kids something more than just a tasty snack to eat, which should sit well with parents making the snack-buying decisions. And of course, Glico isn’t just limiting this coding experience to Pocky. You can also use its Almond Peak chocolates and Biscuit Cream Sands to issue commands.Hopefully Glicode will end up encouraging more children to get interested in programming their smartphone rather than just using and spending money on it. The one concern with that being these new programmers may also fuel their coding sessions with junk food, because that’s how they started out–sugary snacks and cute character manipulation.
Stay on target Rats Are Chowing Down on New Car Wiring, Because It’s Made With SoyNaked Mole-Rats May be Immune to Aging Anyone who has ever cut their finger knows how painful it can be. The pain makes us very aware of the injury, and so we automatically protect that area more readily so that it can heal. But nobody likes pain, and if we could remove it from the healing process that would be great.There is one animal that feels no pain, though, and scientists have figured out why. That animal is the naked mole-rat, also commonly referred to as a sand puppy.These 10cm-long naked rats live underground in East Africa. They have very distinct large and protruding teeth used to move through soil very quickly (forwards and backwards). They are also insensitive to pain. You can pour acid on them, or rub capsaicin into their skin (the active component of chili peppers) and they won’t even flinch.The pain insensitivity extends to cuts on their body, which will happen regularly if you’re spending most of your day digging underground. When cut, humans and other mammals experience heat hyperalgesia around injuries, which means even only slightly warm temperatures can feel like they are burning you. Our bodies even increase the amount of pain sensors around the injuries. Naked role-mats don’t experience this.We know that the mole rats don’t suffer pain because they lack a key neurotransmitter called Substance P that sends pain signals to the central nervous system. Researchers at the Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine have now discovered that it’s an enzyme change that blocks any pain from registering or any negative reaction happening around cuts, like increasing the amount of pain sensors. The rat’s body just gets on with healing the injury while the little rodent carries on unaware.Roman Klementschitz/WikimediaIt is hoped that the way in which the naked mole-rat body doesn’t react to pain can be fully understood and used for other mammals and maybe even humans. We’d still be injured, we’d still need to heal, but if the wound can be protected and the pain reaction removed completely, that would be great, right?