An ancient snake was longer than a school bus

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Fossils of an ancient giant snake found near a coal mine in India is estimated to have stretched 36 feet (11 metres) to 50 feet (15 metres). The behemoth lived 47 million years ago in western India’s swampy evergreen forests. It could have weighed up to 2,200 pounds (1,000 kilograms), researchers said in Scientific Reports.

It was named Vasuki indicus, after “the mythical snake king Vasuki, who wraps around the neck of the Hindu deity Shiva,” said Debajit Datta, a study co-author at the Indian Institute of Technology Roorkee.

This monster snake wasn’t especially swift to strike, and probably subdued its prey through constriction. The largest living snake today is Asia’s reticulated python at 33 feet (10 metres).

Diamond created out of red peonies

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Chinese scientists have created the world’s first three-carat diamond exclusively out of carbon elements derived from red peonies.

The diamond, valued at 300,000 yuan, was unveiled in Luoyang, China’s Henan Province, and donated to the Luoyang National Peony Garden by Luoyang Time Promise Co. that specialises in artificial diamonds. The city’s peony garden had supplied the diamond company with the peonies.

Carbon elements from various sources like hair, bones and flowers are extracted in a specially designed device that breaks the chemical bonds between the extracted carbon atoms, which are recombined into a diamond structure, to form an actual diamond.

The world’s most expensive mushrooms

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Japanese matsutake mushrooms are the most expensive mushrooms in the world. Fetching up to $500 per pound, they grow on the Korean Peninsula, in China, and even in the US, but only those harvested in Japan, especially around the Kyoto area, fetch high prices. While imported Matsutake cost around $50 per pound or less, the Japanese ones cost up to ten times more.

Japanese matsutake are prized for their strong aroma, meaty texture and earthy taste. They are only harvested once a year in September or October, with less than 1,000 tonnes of matsutake each year. They grow on the red pine trees and have to be hand foraged in the wild. Because of their brownish colour, the mushrooms blend in the autumn foliage, so are difficult to spot.

AI-generated coffee blend

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The Helsinki-based Kaffa Roastery has introduced a coffee blend developed by artificial intelligence in a trial to see if technology can ease the workload in a sector that traditionally prides itself on manual work.

Finland, a nation of 5.6 million, consumes the most coffee in the world at 12 kilogrammes per capita annually, according to the International Coffee Organisation.

The blend, a mixture with four types of beans dominated by Brazil’s velvety Fazenda Pinhal, is the end result of a joint project by Kaffa, Finland’s third-biggest coffee roastery, and local AI consultancy Elev. Kaffa Roastery hopes this will open dialogue between coffee professionals in Finland, which has both a strong coffee culture and a passion for technology, with a flourishing startup scene.

Published in Dawn, Young World, May 4th, 2024

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