August 28, 2014

11:30 PM | Throwback Thursday: Flip Phones, The Baby Internet, And A Stephen Hawking Essay
Cover, August 1989 Popular Science As a magazine with 142 years of history, Popular Science sits on a treasure trove of vintage illustrations, perceptive predictions, obsolete technologies, essays by Nobel prize-winning scientists, and some seriously awkward advertisements. That's why we're using Throwback Thursdays as an excuse to dust off those back issues and share their stories with you, Dear Readers. Every Thursday we’ll bring you highlights from 25, 50, 75, or 100 years […]

August 27, 2014

4:05 PM | Where Does The Moon's Smell Come From?
What's That Smell? NASA In 1969, mankind got its first few whiffs of the lunar surface after astronauts tracked moon dust into the Apollo lander. In an article on, Apollo 17 astronaut Harrison “Jack” Schmitt describes the Moon’s scent as being similar to spent gunpowder. Buzz Aldrin of Apollo 11 says it smells like charcoal, or fireplace ashes sprinkled with water. And scientist Larry Taylor, director of the Planetary Geosciences Institute at the University of […]

August 25, 2014

6:45 PM | Sensorized 'Skin' Could Help Aircraft Detect Damage
Did You Feel That? A concept drawing of how a "smart skin" could work on aircraft. BAE Systems Engineers at BAE Systems have announced that they’re trying to develop a “smart skin” for aircraft. The coating would have tens of thousands of tiny sensors embedded within it to constantly measure wind speed, turbulence, temperature, damage, and more. If the engineers succeed in bringing the idea to fruition, the aircraft coating will be able to sense changes and report back […]

August 22, 2014

8:09 PM | U.S. Copyright Office Denies Monkeys Rights To Their Selfies
Smile Wikimedia Commons In 2011, British wildlife photographer David Slater was traveling through the jungle in Indonesian when a crested black macaque grabbed his camera and started snapping selfies. Somebody posted the images in Wikipedia Commons, meaning anybody could use them for free. A legal battle ensued, with Slater claiming the images belong to him, and Wikipedia countering that the images belong to the public since they weren't created by a human. The U.S. Copyright Office […]

August 21, 2014

4:43 PM | Russian Cosmonauts Report Sea Plankton On The Outside Of The ISS
Plankton In Space. Note: This isn't what it actually looked like. Popular Science/NASA/Nickelodeon Cosmonauts have apparently discovered plankton and other microorganisms on the outside of the International Space Station’s windows, according to an announcement from a Russian official.  NASA has not yet confirmed or denied the findings.  "As far as we're concerned, we haven't heard any official reports from our Roscosmos colleagues that they've found sea plankton," NASA […]

August 20, 2014

8:44 PM | Welcome To Mars. Here's Where You'll Be Staying
Martian Pyramid Rendering Valcrow NASA has plans to put humans on Mars in the 2030s or 2040s, and the private company Mars One is already interviewing applicants to for its one-way trip to the Red Planet. But a couple of crucial questions remain. One is, How do we get there? And another is, How the heck will we survive once we’re there? Mars is a pretty hostile environment. Astronauts who go there will need to contend with the lack of oxygen, high radiation levels, dust storms, and […]
5:17 PM | What Happens When A Volcano Erupts Under A Glacier?
A Glacial Lake Near The Eyjafjallajökull Volcano Paul Clement via Flickr By CC 2.0 When Iceland’s Eyjafjallajökull volcano blew up in 2010, the relatively small eruption belched out a 30,000-foot-tall plume of ash that shut down airports throughout most of Europe for six days. Now Iceland is warning airlines that another volcano named Bárðarbunga may be about to blow. On Monday scientists registered the area’s largest earthquake since 1996, and […]

August 18, 2014

1:00 PM | Why Scientists Want To Throw Lawn Darts At Mars
The ExoLance Concept. "Arrows" fall from a spacecraft, penetrate the ground, and expose the life-detecting equipment inside. Explore Mars Inc. Mars almost definitely has water below its surface, and it’s possible that it might have life there too -- buried deep in the soil, where it’s protected from dryness, radiation and temperature extremes. Unfortunately, NASA doesn’t seem too interested in looking for it, preferring to look for "conditions" that might support life […]

August 14, 2014

6:00 PM | Four Predictions About The Ebola Outbreak
Ebola Virus. Ebola filaments (red) bud from a cell (blue). NAIAD via Flickr CC BY 2.0 The latest data from the World Health Organization (WHO) show that 128 more West Africans have contracted Ebola since Sunday, bringing the total number of cases to 1,975, including 1,069 deaths. Meanwhile, WHO is now warning that the disease is in danger of spreading to nearby Kenya. We caught up with Steve Morse, an epidemiologist at Columbia University, to talk about the outbreak and where it might go […]

August 08, 2014

4:43 PM | Why Ebola Isn’t A 'Global Health Emergency'–At Least Not In The Way You Might Think
Ebola Virus Particles Thomas W. Geisbert via Wikimedia Commons In the wee hours of the morning, the World Health Organization officially declared that the Ebola outbreak in West Africa a “Public Health Emergency of International Concern." Sounds pretty scary, right? So does that mean Americans should be hiding under their beds so the Ebola virus doesn’t get us? The short answer is: Definitely not. The announcement basically reinforces what public health officials knew […]

August 06, 2014

5:28 PM | Rosetta Finally Reaches 'Rubber Ducky' Comet
The View From Rosetta. Credit: European Space Agency/BBC News Are you ready for your closeup, Comet 67P? After a 10-year journey, the Rosetta spacecraft finally reached its destination this morning. Launched by the European Space Agency in 2004, the spacecraft has traveled across four billion(!) miles to a comet named “67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko." Now both objects are circling the Sun somewhere between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter, traveling at 34,000 miles per hour. Rosetta […]

August 01, 2014

5:00 PM | 6 Weird Ways To Hunt For Aliens
Dyson Sphere Anders Sandberg via Flickr CC By 2.0 At a meeting in July, NASA scientists predicted that humans will detect extraterrestrial life within the next 20 years. The Kepler telescope has churned up thousands of new exoplanet candidates over the past few years, and now scientists estimate that there could be upwards of 100 billion planets in the Milky Way. At the same time, here on Earth, we’ve found life thriving even in the strangest places. That’s got some […]

July 31, 2014

9:41 PM | New Mars Rover Will Have Lasers, X-Ray Vision, And More
Curiosity Rover NASA The Curiosity rover (or Mars Science Laboratory, as NASA wonks call it) has been an immensely successful mission so far. Though it landed on Mars less than two years ago, the SUV-sized rover has detected evidence that the Red Planet was once warm and flowing with drinkable water, suggesting it may have been able to support life in its past—and according to some scientists, it may still today. Now NASA is planning the next mission to Mars, and today the agency […]

July 29, 2014

5:36 PM | Where Do Geysers On Enceladus Erupt From? Probably A Buried Ocean
Enceladus's South Pole. Those things that look like beams of light are actually geysers. Giant, 125-mile-high geysers. NASA/JPL-Caltech/SSI A map of more than 100 geysers on the surface of Saturn’s moon Enceladus has helped scientists determine where those water jets are spouting from—and the results are encouraging for scientists who want to look for life there. NASA’s Cassini spacecraft first spotted the 125-mile-high geysers erupting from Enceladus’ south pole […]
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