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Newcastle scientists inspect insects in specs

Scientists in Newcastle have successfully demonstrated that praying mantis insects do see in 3-D - after fitting some of the insects with miniature 3-D glasses.

They say the research will help improve the vision of robots.

The praying mantis seems surprised at what it can see through its 3D spectacles. Credit: ITV News

In an experiment that began almost a year ago, tiny 3D glasses have been made for praying mantises to help scientists understand sight.

In the experiments, mantises fitted with tiny glasses attached with beeswax were shown short videos of simulated bugs moving around a computer screen.

The mantises didn't try to catch the bugs when they were in 2D.

But when the bugs were shown in 3D, apparently floating in front of the screen, the mantises struck out at them.

This shows that mantises do indeed use 3D vision.

The stuff of science fiction. Credit: ITV News

"Despite their minute brains, mantises are sophisticated visual hunters which can capture prey with terrifying efficiency. We can learn a lot by studying how they perceive the world. Better understanding of their simpler processing systems helps us understand how 3D vision evolved, and could lead to possible new algorithms for 3D depth perception in computers."

– Jenny Read, Professor of Vision Science, Newcastle University

Watch: Dr Ghaith Tarawneh from Newcastle University, who says It is very exciting because insects are really simple beings and you wouldn't think they have the same level of perception as we do but obviously our experiments have demonstrated this.

Watch Professor Jenny Read, Professor of Vision Science at Newcastle University, who says we're going to compare it to how human 3D vision works.

We are going to compare it to how human 3D vision works. Is it the same? - in which case, that would be amazing that insects and humans have separately evolved basically the same sort of 3D vision, or perhaps even more interestingly, it is possible that insects have come up with a kind of cheap and cheerful 3D.

Newcastle scientist with glasses-wearing praying mantis. Credit: ITV News

The Newcastle University team will now continue the research examining the algorithms used for depth perception in insects to better understand how human vision evolved and to develop new ways of adding 3D technology to computers and robots.

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Newcastle medical students were killed 'unlawfully'

Two Newcastle University medical students who died after being stabbed in Borneo were unlawfully killed according to the findings of a coroner at the official inquest into their deaths.

Aidan Brunger, from Kent, and Neil Dalton, from Ambergate in Derbyshire, were killed in the unprovoked attack in Kuching, Sarawak, on the island of Borneo in August last year.

Neil Dalton (left) and Aidan Brunger (right).

The country's high court sentenced Zulkipli Abdullah, 23, to death for the murder in March. An inquest into their deaths at Derby and South Derbyshire Coroner's Court heard evidence from pathologist Michael Biggs who said both 22-year-olds suffered "sharp force injuries".

Mr Brunger suffered a stab wound to the left side of the chest, while Mr Dalton was found to have two stab wounds to the chest and a further two to the back.

Senior coroner for Derby and Derbyshire Robert Hunter said: "Having listened to evidence from Mr Parr (a witness) and the knowledge of criminal proceedings, there's one verdict that I can return in respect of both Aidan Brunger and Neil Dalton and that is unlawful killing.

"There were great hopes for them as doctors. The light that they shine far outweighs the darkness that befell them on August 8. I know you will miss them terribly."

Aiden Brunger and Neil Dalton were both medial students at Newcastle University Credit: PA

The families of both men released a joint statement on the announcement of the verdict.

We are satisfied with the coroner’s verdict of unlawful killing.

Aidan and Neil were murdered in a random and totally unprovoked attack on the street as they walked home with other medical students.

The loss of a child is utterly horrific and we still find it hard to believe we will never see our sons again.

We will always miss Neil and Aidan terribly, and wonder what might have been if they were able to pursue their dream of being doctors and helping others.

The support from family and friends has been overwhelming and we would like to thank them all.

We would also like to thank Newcastle University, Victim Support and our Police Family Liaison Officers, who have helped us through this dreadful time.

Our sons made us so proud of what they achieved in their too short lives, we loved them very much, and we always will.

– JOINT STATEMENT MADE BY BOTH NEIL AND AIDAN’S FAMILY

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North East study gives new hope to liver patients

Newcastle University is leading the world's largest study into liver disease.

The four year programme is being funded by 6 million euros (£4.3m) from the European Commission. It will focus on non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, which is caused by a build-up of fat in the liver cells.

There is currently no medical treatment for the life threatening illness. It affects nearly a quarter of the European population. Those with type 2 diabetes or overweight at most at risk.

This is Dr Quentin Anstee, the project co-ordinator:

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