3D GIF Shows How the Human Brain Folds During Development

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Have you ever looked at a picture or illustration of a human brain and wondered why there are so many wrinkles? Researchers have previously found that the folds are a result of the rate at which the brain's gray matter grows, as well as its thickness. Now, in a new study published in Nature Physics, scientists demonstrate how the folds develop using a 3D gel model of a fetal brain based on MRI scans. 

According to the study, folding begins in human brains around the 20th week of gestation and continues until the child is around a-year-and-a-half old. By coating and immersing the 3D gel model of a smooth brain in a solvent, the researchers at Harvard's John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, in collaboration with scientists in France and Finland, were able to mimic the folding that occurs as the cortex, or outer layer of the brain, expands.

As shown in the timelapse GIF above, the solvent causes the surface of the brain to swell as it absorbs the liquid and to form folds similar in size and shape to those on a real fetal brain. The researchers say this happens because the swelling—akin to cortical expansion—causes compression, which leads to a "mechanical instability" similar to buckling. This mechanical instability causes the folds.

"I knew there should be folding, but I never expected that kind of close pattern compared to human brain," co-author Jun Young Chung said of the model, which has the "same large scale geometry and curvature" of a real brain. "Our research shows that if a part of the brain does not grow properly, or if the global geometry is disrupted, we may not have the major folds in the right place, which may cause potential dysfunction."

Image credit: Mahadevan Lab/Harvard SEAS

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The Most Popular Netflix Show in Every Country
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If you're bored with everything in your Netflix queue, why not look to the top shows around the world for a recommendation?

HighSpeedInternet.com recently used Google Trends data to create a map of the most popular show streaming on Netflix in every country in 2018. The best-loved show in the world is the dystopian thriller 3%, claiming the number one spot in eight nations. The show is the first Netflix original made in Portuguese, so it's no surprise that Portugal and Brazil are among the eight countries that helped put it at the top of the list.

Coming in second place is South Korea's My Love from the Star, which seven countries deemed their favorite show. The romantic drama revolves around an alien who lands on Earth and falls in love with a mortal. The English-language show with the most clout is 13 Reasons Why, coming in at number three around the world—which might be proof that getting addicted to soapy teen dramas is a universal experience.

Pot comedy Disjointed is Canada's favorite show, which probably isn't all that surprising given the nation's recent ruling to legalize marijuana. Perhaps coming as even less of a shock is the phenomenon of Stranger Things taking the top spot in the U.S. Favorites like Black Mirror, Sherlock, and The Walking Dead also secured the love of at least one country.

Out of the hundreds of shows on the streaming platform, only 47 are a favorite in at least one country in 2018. So no hard feelings, Gypsy.

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Roadside Bear Statue in Wales is So Lifelike That Safety Officials Want It Removed
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Wooden bear statue.

There are no real bears in the British Isles for residents to worry about, but a statue of one in the small Welsh town of Llanwrtyd Wells has become a cause of concern. As The Telegraph reports, the statue is so convincing that it's scaring drivers, causing at least one motorist to crash her car. Now road safety officials are demanding it be removed.

The 10-foot wooden statue has been a fixture on the roadside for at least 15 years. It made headlines in May of 2018 when a woman driving her car saw the landmark and took it to be the real thing. She was so startled that she veered off the road and into a street sign.

After the incident, she complained about the bear to highways officials who agreed that it poses a safety threat and should be removed. But the small town isn't giving in to the Welsh government's demands so quickly.

The bear statue was originally erected on the site of a now-defunct wool mill. Even though the mill has since closed, locals still see the statue as an important landmark. Llanwrtyd Wells councilor Peter James called it an "iconic gateway of the town," according to The Telegraph.

Another town resident, who wished to remain anonymous, told The Telegraph that the woman who crashed her car had been a tourist from Canada where bears are common. Bear were hunted to extinction in Britain about 1000 years ago, so local drivers have no reason to look out for the real animals on the side of the road.

The statue remains in its old spot, but Welsh government officials plan to remove it themselves if the town doesn't cooperate. For now, temporary traffic lights have been set up around the site of the accident to prevent any similar incidents.

[h/t The Telegraph]

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