August 21, 2014

5:30 PM | Weird Microbes Thrive In Asphalt Lake And Sunless Glacial Water
Drilling on Lake Whillans Researchers and technicians lived in orange tents while drilling into Lake Whillans in January 2013. Reed Scherer, National Science Foundation Over the past week, scientists have published the results of studies analyzing two very strange -- and very different -- lakes. One is Pitch Lake, a lake made of asphalt and filled with hydrocarbon gases on the Caribbean island of Trinidad. The other is Lake Whillans, a freshwater body located 800 meters under the […]
1:45 PM | Scientists Have No Idea Why U.S. Teens Are Having Fewer Babies Than Ever
Babies Nebraska Early Development Network The U.S. National Center for Health Statistics released today its latest report on American teenagers having babies. The results are both happy and strange. American teens are having babies at their lowest rate ever -- and that rate is falling fast. Yet, as Vox discovered, nobody knows why this is happening. One of the steadiest trends in American life is inexplicable. Here's the first graph in the NCHS report, showing a peak in teen births in […]

August 20, 2014

6:30 PM | New Painkiller Soothes The Nerves That Sense Hot Chile Peppers
Painful Peppers Warren Rachele (Wrachele) via Flickr, licensed under Creative Commons It's a chemical compound so new, it doesn't have a name.* In a paper, its creators call it either V116517 or Compound 37. (Like Chanel's No. 5 perfume! Except a drug.) Compound 37 is an early-stage, experimental painkiller drug... that works by incapacitating the protein that makes chiles taste spicy. The protein, TRPV1, appears in human nerves. In addition to sensing capsaicin, the spicy-pepper molecule, […]
1:45 PM | A Volcanic Asteroid Roamed Our Solar System Billions Of Years Ago
Asteroid Contrail This cellphone photo shows the contrail left by asteroid 2008 TC3, from which researchers gathered evidence that early Solar System bodies could be volcanically active. Image by Shaddad, accessed via NASA The objects that dominated the Solar System early in its history may have been small…but they didn't lack flair. A new study has found that at least one early Solar System object -- likely hundreds of kilometers or smaller in diameter -- hosted volcanic […]

August 19, 2014

8:45 PM | Twitter Bot Helps Chicago Officials Find Dirty Restaurants
Food Poisoning From an infographic for Foodborne Chicago by Payal Patel Designs Those moules frites you had at the French bistro last night were delicious, but now you're feeling kind of funny. Worse than funny. Actually, you're trapped in your bathroom, suffering from food poisoning. Who are you going to tell about this? Many cities have hotlines where citizens can report getting food poisoning from restaurants, but not everybody uses them. So, in a recent project, the city of Chicago […]
1:00 PM | Epigenetics News Articles Put Too Much Pressure On Moms
Healthy Choices Dreamstime Maybe you've heard of King Henry VIII's tendency to blame his wives for giving birth to baby girls instead of male heirs. That the sex of a baby is somehow a mom's fault is a belief that's cropped up in a number of pre-scientific societies. It's total bull, of course. The sex of babies is random. For those conceiving in the old fashioned manner, there's no way to control the outcome. Most of us have come a long way since the days of blaming queens for […]

August 18, 2014

8:16 PM | This Bacterium Shoots Out Wires From Its Body To Power Itself
Bacteria and their Nanowires These photos show two bacteria, labeled B and C, and their nanowires. The glowing inset images are pictures of the same bacteria, taken with a different microscope technique. Sahand Pirbadian et al., PNAS 2014 Power companies channel electrons around using copper wires. As it turns out, certain bacteria appear to do something similar. In the absence of oxygen, a number of common soil bacteria species grow tiny nanowires, along which they push electrons to […]

August 15, 2014

7:00 PM | The Scientifically Best Way To Get Through A Day On No Sleep
How to Avoid This Simon Law on Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0 Thank you, Science! Science is an endeavor by a bunch of flawed people, and the institution can be problematic, so I'm not usually one to say things like, "I love science!" This time, however, I'm grateful. New York Magazine talked with sleep researchers about the best strategies for getting through a busy day after getting little sleep the night before. Sure, we all know we should get more sleep, but short nights still […]
5:16 PM | A Machine That Sniffs Out American Cash
Dollar Bills iBid, State of Illinois You know that unique smell of money. You're not imagining it, either; it's real, produced from a combination of the paper and ink it's printed with, and it's even detectable by sniffer dogs. Now, one California company is hoping to build a portable machine that can smell out money as well as a dog can. KWJ Engineering is developing something it's calling the Bulk Currency Detection System, to detect fat stacks of laundered American cash as it's carried […]
2:30 PM | 1,024 Robots Self-Assemble Into Any Shape You Want
At Your Service Michael Rubenstein, Harvard University How does one charge 1,000 robots? It would be a pain to plug them all in individually. Luckily, there's an easier way with Kilobots. These little robots have round bodies about the diameter of a quarter, with a metal spring on top and three thin metal legs. To charge them, you push them -- 10 at a time -- against a long charging rack. They all charge at once, as long as each has its spring top and two of its legs touching the […]

August 14, 2014

5:15 PM | The Sharpest-Yet Satellite Images Of Earth To Go On Sale In Six Months
WorldView-3 Ready for Launch Ball Aerospace Finer-than-ever satellite images may soon be available to anyone in the U.S. who's willing to pay for them. This is a development that depends on both technology—the ability to see stuff that small from space—and politics—whether U.S. regulations will allow a commercial company to sell high-resolution images of the Earth. Previously, the sharpest (commercial) eye on Earth was the GeoEye-1 satellite, which has a resolution of 41 […]
1:45 PM | 19-Year-Old Becomes The Youngest Person To Fly Solo Around The World
Matt Guthmiller in Cairo Limitless Horizons on Facebook Matt Guthmiller is a young man who went on a sort of old-fashioned adventure. He circumnavigated the globe, becoming, upon his return, the youngest person to do so alone in an airplane. Congrats, Matt! The journey took approximately 44.5 days. Guthmiller, who is 19, flew a 1981 Beechcraft A36 Bonanza. He stopped in 15 countries along the way. He's been using the trip to fundraise for, a nonprofit that offers free computer […]

August 13, 2014

8:30 PM | Vertical Takeoff Plane Design Flies Three Times Faster Than Helicopters
"XV-58 Manta" design by students at the Georgia Institute of Technology AHS International Image Does this illustration look a little sci-fi to you? It should: It's a design for a plane that takes off vertically, like a helicopter, but that flies about three times faster than any helicopter today. Yes, those are rotors in the wings. A team of graduate students from the Georgia Institute of Technology came up with the idea, which won first place at this year's American Helicopter Society […]
3:45 PM | NASA's Super-Black Material Arrives In Space
An Array Of Materials NASA Is Testing In Space The super-black material appears in circle "D." NASA/Bill Squicciarini A sample of one of the world's blackest materials—so dark, it's impossible to see when it's folded—is now getting tested in space. The material absorbs 99.5 percent of the visible light and 99.8 percent of the infrared radiation that hits it. (And you thought black T-shirts got uncomfortably hot in the sun.) Engineers are hoping to coat space […]

August 06, 2014

8:00 PM | A Tiny 3-D Printed Space Camera To Fit Inside CubeSats
Parts of the 3-D Printed CubeSat Camera This space camera has five to 10 times fewer parts than a comparable camera, made with conventional techniques, would have. NASA Goddard/Jason Budinoff NASA is experimenting with small space cameras made almost entirely of 3-D printed parts. One experimental telescope, sized to fit inside a four-inch CubeSat, will likely be finished this September, according to the agency. The telescope will then undergo vacuum and vibrational testing, but there […]
1:45 PM | Sane Reasons To Be A Mars Colonizer
Illustration Showing a Mars Colony with Living Quarters and Solar Panels Mars One Is it insane to sign up for a one-way trip to Mars? Mason Peck would like to assure you it is not. He addressed the sanity of Mars colonizers in a post yesterday on the Mars One website. Peck is a Mars One adviser who previously served as NASA's Chief Technologist; Mars One is the company that plans to send one-way missions to colonize the Red Planet starting in 2024. Mars One is now in the process […]

August 05, 2014

8:55 PM | Harry Potter-esque Study To Come With A Continually Updating Graph
So Science This is a closeup from a chart that appeared in our May 2014 issue. Popular Science In the Internet Age, this shouldn't seem so novel, but… Here is a newly published paper whose graphs and charts can actually change over time. Figure 3 in the paper offers readers two different ways of displaying the same data, ooooh. But wait, Figure 4 is even cooler. Right now, it's a static graph. In the future, however, the paper's authors plan to publish a graph that's […]
5:15 PM | Galapagos Scientists May Have Witnessed The Birth Of A New Species
Darwin's Famous Finches Wikimedia Commons It's been nearly 20 years since the publication of The Beak of the Finch. Now, author Jonathan Weiner has an update. The husband-and-wife biology duo that the book follows, may have witnessed the birth of a new species, Weiner reports for the New York Times. "I think it's fantastic, the most exciting research finding I've read in the last decade," Jonathan Losos, an evolutionary biologist at Harvard University who was not involved in the new […]
2:45 PM | IBM's Watson Helps Run Your Business Meetings
Talking About Watson IBM researchers discuss Watson-based mobile apps in January 2014. IBM Communications on Flickr The folks at IBM are fine-tuning their Watson computer system to be able to offer solutions and suggestions at business meetings, MIT Technology Review reports. During a demonstration that a MIT Technology Review reporter watched, Meeting Watson learned about a company's strategy by reading a memo and responded to complex requests such as, "Watson, show me companies between […]

August 04, 2014

8:00 PM | Video: Great White Sharks Chomp On An Underwater Robot
REMUS SharkCam: The hunter and the hunted from Woods Hole Oceanographic Inst. on Vimeo. Want to see what it looks like when you get chomped on by a great white shark? Of course you do. This video, made by the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, shows great white sharks near Guadalupe Island, Mexico. In 2013, Woods Hole researchers equipped a Remote Environmental Monitoring Unit, A.K.A. a REMUS-100 robot, with five cameras to find sharks and tag them. When the researchers sent REMUS underwater […]
4:38 PM | How Two Americans Got An Untested Ebola Treatment
Ebola Virion An electron micrograph of an Ebola virion, with added color. CDC/Cynthia Goldsmith, downloaded from Wikimedia Commons Two Americans who contracted Ebola have been injected with a serum that hasn't yet been tested in humans, CNN reports. Kent Brantly and Nancy Writebol got sick while volunteering at an Ebola clinic in Liberia. American officials recently evacuated Brantly from Africa to Atlanta, Georgia, for treatment, making him the first patient from this Ebola outbreak to […]

July 31, 2014

6:00 PM | How Did The Deadliest Strain Of Ebola Travel From Central To West Africa?
Flying Bats Bev Sykes on Flickr, CC BY 2.0 Of all the strains of the Ebola virus, the Zaire strain (Zaire ebolavirus) is the deadliest. That's the species now infecting people in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia; in the ongoing outbreak, it's killed more than half of the people who contracted it. Yet before this outbreak, nobody had ever seen Zaire ebolavirus in West Africa. Zaire Ebola was known only to crop up in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Republic of Congo, and Gabon […]

July 30, 2014

9:15 PM | Milky Way Has The Mass Of 800 Billion Suns, Study Finds
As Seen From Earth Science@NASA, Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) and NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center Astronomers have performed yet another checkup on our home galaxy, this time asking it to step on a scale. The Milky Way has a mass equal to 800 billion suns, according to the team of researchers from Europe, Canada and the U.S. The team also found there's a 95 percent chance that the Milky Way is smaller than Andromeda, which is the closest spiral galaxy to our own […]
6:17 PM | Many Fraudulent Stem Cell Beauty Treatments Are Being Sold Online
So Pretty These are fibroblasts from a mouse. Fibroblasts are a type of stem cell that's being studied for cosmetic procedures. SubtleGuest on Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 3.0 A number of experimental stem cell treatments have shown promise in patients recently. Facelifts, breast augmentations, and vaginal rejuvenation procedures (!!!) using stem cells, however, are not among the promising techniques. Nevertheless, unscrupulous clinics are selling these cosmetic "stem cell" […]
1:00 PM | Engineers Make The World's First Verified, 2-Dimensional Polymers
Crystal on its way to becoming a 2-D polymer Max J. Kory et al., "Gram-scale synthesis of two-dimensional polymer crystals and their structure analysis by X-ray diffraction," Nature Chemistry, 2014 In spite of its looks, this is not the lovechild of an accordion and an earthworm. It is actually a whole new material photographed in the middle of its creation process. It's a crystalline material being soaked in a special acid solution. After some days of soaking, the pleats in this structure […]

July 29, 2014

6:30 PM | Pest In Brazil Has Evolved Resistance Against GMO Corn
Corn Field AmeriFlux Crop-munching caterpillars in Brazil are no longer put off by genetically modified plants designed to kill them, Reuters reports. The report is just the latest in a series that have emerged over the past few years. In this case, the GM plant is Bt corn and the pest in question is the Spodoptera frugiperda, which is native to tropical regions of the Americas. Bt plants are engineered so that they have genes from a soil bacteria called Bacillus […]

July 25, 2014

10:00 PM | The Week In Numbers: Our Favorite Citizen Scientist, Our Favorite Moonwalkers, And More
Long Service U.S. National Atmospheric and Atmospheric Administration volunteer Richard Hendrickson looks out over the Atlantic Ocean sometime in the 1930s. Hendrickson still volunteers today. D. L. Hendrickson 150,000: the number of weather observations that have been recorded by a 101-year-old farmer, the U.S. National Weather Service's longest-serving volunteer, who has called in temperatures, rainfall and other measurements from his home for 84 years. 50,000 degrees […]
7:15 PM | Korean Baseball Team To Fill Seats With Robot Fans
Telepresence Robots Do the 'Wave' by Holding Up LED Signs Hanwha Eagles The Hanwha Eagles of Daejeon, Korea, have been on a long losing streak, the BBC reports… but they are winners in our hearts here at Popular Science. That's because they have decided to amp up their fans by giving them access to three rows of telepresence robots. Not able to score a ticket to an Eagles game? No problem. These robots will be able to cheer, chant, show the faces of remote fans on their own […]
5:35 PM | Fukushima Monkeys Have Fewer Blood Cells Than Monkeys Elsewhere, Study Finds
Sorry, Big Guy A Macaca fuscata in Osaka, photographed in 2010 KENPEI on Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 3.0 Following the meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, monkeys living in nearby forests have been found to have lowered blood cell counts, according to a new study. What that means for people living—or who once lived—in the area is unclear. Because these Japanese macaques are closely related to humans, the results suggest similar exposure to radiation might […]

July 24, 2014

3:45 PM | An Animated Avatar Could Screen Humans For National Security
The Avatar Tested for National Security Interviews NCAA When the paperwork at your doctor's office asks you how much alcohol you drink, do you write down the truth? Would you be more likely to tell the truth if an animated head interviewed you instead? One team of U.S. military psychologists is betting you would. In a new study, researchers from the U.S. National Center for Credibility Assessment have determined folks are more likely to say more about their alcohol use and mental […]
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