Posts

November 27, 2014

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3:00 PM | Benjamin Franklin Once Electrocuted Some Turkeys For Science
Benjamin Franklin's famous kite-flying experiment, conducted in 1752, was not his first study with electricity. Before that, he tested electric shocks on some farmyard…

November 26, 2014

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10:00 PM | Deep-Sea Dwellers Make A Natural Antibiotic
On hot vents deep underneath the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, there lives something unusual: a gene that fights bacteria. The gene belongs to a microscopic organism,…
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9:00 PM | How To Keep Your Giraffe Warm
It's getting cold out there. Are you keeping your giraffes warm?
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4:01 PM | The Science And Engineering Of Macy's Thanksgiving Day Balloons
They're cute and fat and take real engineering to get up into the air. I'm talking about the iconic balloons in Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.

November 25, 2014

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5:13 PM | How To Make Extra-Efficient Solar Panels Using Old Blu-Ray Discs
You probably don't think of them that way, but Blu-ray discs have a gorgeous color. In fact, the same physics that gives butterfly wings and housefly eyes their iridescent…

November 13, 2014

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4:00 PM | Genetic Analysis Of 110-Year-Olds Finds No Secret
You Don't Have to Be Super-Healthy to Be a Supercentenarian But you do have to have the right genes. U.S. Census Bureau, Public Information Office (PIO) Is the secret to long life in a gene? We don't know, for now. A recent project to read the entire DNA sequence of 17 people aged 110 or older has found… there's nothing particularly different from ordinary folks. It is known that super-longevity is inheritable. It runs in families. An analysis of […]

November 12, 2014

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10:08 PM | IBM's Watson Will Give You Health Advice Based On Your DNA
DNA Richard Wheeler via Wikimedia Commons Maybe you have a fitness tracker. Maybe you've gotten your genome sequenced before. Probably your medical records are kept in electronic, instead of paper, form. Now some companies are seeking to combine all those things and more into a talking, personalized, health-advice app. Not sure when to give yourself your next insulin shot after having a croissant for breakfast? You can ask the app. How much exercise should someone with […]
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4:46 PM | U.S. And China Agree To Ambitious New Carbon Emissions Goals
Xi Jinping and Barack Obama in Rancho Mirage, Calif., 2013 Official White House Photo by Pete Souza After a meeting in Beijing, the U.S. and China—the world's top two polluters—have announced goals for reduced greenhouse gas emissions in the future. The Los Angeles Times called the goals "dramatic," noting that it would require the U.S. to move twice as quickly on carbon cuts as it has in the past. This is also the first time Chinese leaders have set a date […]
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3:45 PM | What It's Like To Work As A Contact Tracer For Ebola
Contact Tracing In A Nutshell presentation slide from Community Health Care Association Of New York State During Nigeria's attempts to control the spread of Ebola, officials contact traced nearly 900 people. Ultimately, 20 people fell ill in Nigeria and eight died before the World Health Organization declared the country Ebola-free October 20. Today, New York City—which has one-twentieth the population of Nigeria—is contact tracing 289 people. A recent New […]

November 11, 2014

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9:00 PM | How To Transform WWI Paper Diaries Into A Digital Database
British Soldiers in a Trench, 1916 Photo by Realistic Travels, LOC, LC-USZ62-75152 Unfortunately, documents from World War I don't come with metadata that computers are able to read. But you can help fix that. The U.K.'s Imperial War Museums have set up a website where you can read scanned versions of the original pages of diaries British officers kept. As you're reading, you can tag things on the pages such as dates, places, names, casualties, and unit […]
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5:30 PM | Factory And Irrigation Technologies Have Significantly Cut US Water Use
A Power Plant and Its Water Supply The Mount Storm Power Station in West Virginia Photo in the public domain In 2010, the U.S. used less water than it has in a generation, according to a new announcement from the U.S. Geological Survey. American power plants, factories, farms, and homes used a total of 355 billion gallons of fresh and salt water a day in 2010. If you divide that amount by the U.S. population in 2010, it comes out to 1,150 gallons per […]

November 10, 2014

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10:15 PM | USDA Approves A Genetically Modified Potato With Possible Health Benefits
Ordinary Russet Potatoes Photo by ZooFari, released into the public domain There's a new Mr. Potato in town. This weekend, the U.S. Department of Agriculture approved a few new genetically modified potato varieties for farmers to grow commercially. There are genetically modified versions of the popular Russet potato and the Atlantic potato, the New York Times reports. When fried, the new potatoes, called Innate potatoes, produce less of a chemical called acrylamide. […]
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8:05 PM | Kitty DNA Shows Cats Have Evolved To Learn From Treats
Samantha J. Kitty, Domesticated Cat Evan Kafka via Suzanne LaBarre A cat can't tell you much about its history (mrow?) but its genetics can. Today, an international team of geneticists is publishing the most thorough read yet of the DNA of a domestic cat. This is the first time scientists have read the cat genome carefully enough to tease out details about how evolution—and humans—have changed them. The team found evidence that a combination of evolution and […]

November 06, 2014

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6:15 PM | How Some West African Countries Have Kept Ebola Out
They Don't All Have Travel Bans Satellite image of nighttime lights in Africa by Robert Simmon, using Suomi NPP VIIRS data provided courtesy of Chris Elvidge (NOAA National Geophysical Data Center) While attending a conference for tropical-disease experts yesterday in New Orleans, Popular Science contributing editor Brooke Borel found that 30 experts who were planning to be there had ultimately stayed away--because the state of Louisiana asked them to. These 30 folks […]

November 05, 2014

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9:45 PM | Where Do Genitals Come From?
House Snake Embryo, Six Days Old Patrick Tschopp, PhD; Harvard Medical School, Department of Genetics Whence your phallus? You probably have one—the term includes clitorises as well as penises—and, until now, scientists had never examined which cells in an embryo make it. In biology, that's unusual. Tracking which embryonic cells become what body part is an important part of figuring out the basic rules for making life. For example, scientists know, in […]
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6:00 PM | Experimental Particle Accelerator Boosts Electrons On A Wave
The Plasma Wakefield Accelerator The plasma is contained in that metal box in the center. SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory The SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory's linear accelerator cuts through the grass and trees just west of Stanford University in California, running for two miles, its path clearly visible from the air. Now, in a lab on the same campus, a 36-centimeter-long device is supposed to do the same thing. The device is a plasma wakefield […]
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2:45 PM | How To Make 'Noise-Cancelling Headphones' For Your Nose
Sniff Test This is a nose model the Oregon Healthy Authority uses for educational presentations. Oregon Health Authority A pair of scientists say they've figured out how to make the smell equivalent of "white noise." They've written the equations. Now what's left is to make a device that's able to cancel out everything from onions to locker-room musk, although it's unclear whether such a machine will ever be made. "Olfactory white" works differently from […]

November 04, 2014

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8:20 PM | Entrepreneur Seeks To Make Handheld Ultrasound Window Into The Body
12 Weeks, In Ultrasound Wolfgang Moroder on Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 3.0 Biotech entrepreneur Jonathan Rothberg is working on a handheld ultrasound device that can replace the big machines hospitals use today to check on growing fetuses, evaluate tumors, and more. Plug the device into a smartphone, hold it up to a person's body, and you'll get a window-like view of what's inside, the device's patent promises. Popular Science previously covered Rothberg's work on a […]

November 03, 2014

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9:45 PM | World's Most Powerful X-Ray-Making Accelerator To Open This Year On Long Island
Two Accelerators, Long Island, New York, July 2013 This aerial photo shows the white, circular National Synchrotron Light Source-II under construction in 2013. In the background is another circular accelerator, the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider, which opened in 2000. RHIC is for studying conditions after the Big Bang. Brookhaven National Laboratory In the land of accents and Uggs, the U.S. Department of Energy is getting ready to open its newest particle […]
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4:30 PM | Antarctic Scientists Infiltrate Penguin Huddles With Adorable Remote-Controlled Car
RFID Car Approaches an Emperor Penguin and Chick Nature Methods, Le Maho, et. al. Oh, hello. What have we here? I'm intrigued and I'm not even a penguin. So this little chick on wheels is actually a remote-controlled RFID reader. A team of researchers from Europe and Australia developed the machine to keep track of the birds they study. The birds themselves are implanted with radio-frequency identification chips, similar to the microchips that pet owners can have […]

October 30, 2014

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6:00 PM | How To Give A Mouse Ebola
Emerging Diseases Lab, University of Washington This lab was one of several that worked on making the Ebola-symptom mice described below. Brian Donohue If you give a lab mouse the mouse version of Ebola, it will die. But not in the same way humans with Ebola do. Lab mice infected with Ebola don't get hemorrhagic fever. They don't form tiny clots in their blood, like human Ebola sufferers do, even though the genetic sequence of the mouse Ebolavirus differs from human […]

October 29, 2014

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6:49 PM | Smallpox Samples Slated For Immediate Destruction Are Still Intact, Pending Red Tape
Smallpox Virions Imaged using a microscope, magnified about 370,000 times CDC/ Dr. Fred Murphy; Sylvia Whitfield After U.S. government researchers discovered six forgotten vials of smallpox in a freezer this past June, the plan was to destroy the vials. That's still the plan… but the demolition date has been pushed back, Nature News reports. The actual destruction should be fairly easy, biosecurity consultant Erik Heegaard told Popular Science in July. […]
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3:54 PM | Gallery: The Top 10 Failed NASA Missions
View of the Antares Rocket After Launch, October 28, 2014 Screenshot from Wallops Flight Facility's live, public video feed Orbital Science's Antares rocket exploded just seconds after liftoff yesterday. The rocket was carrying science experiments and supplies for the International Space Station. The mission was unmanned, and nobody on the ground was injured either, according to the public video feed from NASA's Wallops Flight Facility. The combined value of the […]
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