Posts

July 22, 2014

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10:02 PM | Uncontacted Amazonian Tribe Voluntarily Contacts Scientists, Catches Flu
Amazon Rainforest This photo was taken near the city of Manaus, Brazil, which is northeast of the Acre region discussed below. Phil P. Harris on Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 2.5 Late last month, something extraordinary happened at the edge of the rainforest in Acre, Brazil. Members of an uncontacted Amazonian tribe voluntarily approached scientists from the Brazilian government, Science magazine reports. This is the first time in decades that an uncontacted community chose to meet with […]
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5:15 PM | How To Watch An Animal Develop Cell By Cell
2,458 Cells Fernando Amat et al., "Fast, accurate reconstruction of cell lineages from large-scale fluorescence microscopy data," Nature Methods, 2014 What is this fuzzy creature? Sadly, it's not pettable. This is a microscope image of a fruit fly embryo, showing the individual cells within it. That's 2,458 cells, to be exact. The bottom image shows each cell in a different color, with lines to show how those cells moved around. The image comes from a new technique scientists developed to […]
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2:16 PM | U.K. Supermarket To Run On Electricity Made From Its Own Rotting Food
An Anaerobic Digestion Plant City of Lincoln, Nebraska One U.K. grocery store plans to power itself using biogas harvested from its own unsold, rotting produce. Yum. A Sainsbury's store in Cannock in central England is getting access to anaerobic digesters. The store plans to use electricity solely from the digesters, taking no electricity from the U.K.'s national power grid, which is fed by a combination of coal, natural gas, nuclear power plants and other sources. Sainsbury's will […]

July 21, 2014

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4:51 PM | Tiny Traps Capture Individual Blood Cells
Trapped! An illustration and two microscope images showing the pyramidal self-folding traps and round cells. From Kate Malachowski et al., "Self-Folding Single Cell Grippers," Nano Letters 2014 Gotcha! These little pyramids are actually microscopic traps designed to gently enclose single cells without killing them. The idea is that in the future, such traps could be a part of a system for capturing and analyzing individual cells, perhaps as a part of cancer monitoring. The traps, which […]

July 18, 2014

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10:00 PM | This Week In Numbers: A Surprising Comet, A Creepy Robot, And More
250,000,000 miles: how far away the Rosetta spacecraft is from Earth. However, Rosetta is just 8,000 miles from its target, a comet that is called 67P and is surprisingly shaped like a rubber ducky. 2,700,000: the number of Wikipedia articles written by this one bot. That's 8.5 percent of all the articles on Wikipedia. The bot mostly creates those short "stubs" you might have run into on the online encyclopedia. 2,000: approximate number of people who attended this year's Porcupine Freedom […]
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5:45 PM | Computer Models Show What Exactly Would Happen To Earth After A Nuclear War
Wasp Prime Test From Operation Teapot Wikimedia Commons You've seen what a nuclear winter looks like, as imagined by filmmakers and novelists. Now you can take a look at what scientists have to say. In a new study, a team of four U.S. atmospheric and environmental scientists modeled what would happen after a "limited, regional nuclear war." To inexpert ears, the consequences sound pretty subtle—two or three degrees of global cooling, a nine percent reduction in yearly rainfall. […]

July 16, 2014

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9:59 PM | The CDC Goes Before Congress And Five More News Updates Since Last Week's Smallpox Find
A CDC Scientist Puts Samples Into Liquid Nitrogen For Storage James Gathany, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Last week, we learned that U.S. government scientists found six vials of smallpox virus that they didn't know they had. Because the virus is so deadly, only two labs in the world are supposed to hold samples of it. Other labs are not prepared to secure the vials as well as they should. Although nobody got sick from the smallpox discovery, it was an unsettling mistake for […]

July 15, 2014

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9:44 PM | Scientifically Measuring A Sitting Butt With An MRI Machine
FONAR Upright MRI Machine So you can scan someone while she sits FONAR Once upon a time, in a land not so far away, a team of four scientists put together a paper about scanning a healthy lady's butt with an MRI machine. They team wanted to measure what happened to her buttocks when she sat. This fantastic tale might have been lost among the millions of scientific papers that are published every year, but luckily, Discover magazine's "Seriously, Science?" blog found it. You can read […]
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5:00 PM | New Material, Darker Than Black, Could Help Space Cameras See Better
NanoTube Black, As Seen Under a Scanning Electron Microscope Evangelos Theocharous et al., Optics Express, 2014 The latest super-dark material absorbs so much light, you can't tell when it's been crumpled or folded. "You expect to see the hills and all you can see … it's like black, like a hole, like there's nothing there. It just looks so strange," Ben Jensen, chief technical officer of Surrey Nanosystems, told the Independent. Surrey NanoSystems researchers worked with the U.K.'s […]
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2:26 PM | Chinese Businessman Builds Nation's First City-To-City Electric Car Charging Route
A U.S. National Renewable Energy Laboratory charging lot for employees' electric cars Dennis Schroeder Well, this is one way to get things done. Businessman Zong Yi has set up China's first between-city electric-car charging route, Caixin Online reports. The route winds from Beijing to Guangzhou, covers 3,570 miles, and includes 20 charging stations Zong paid for himself. Zong, a resident of Guangzhou in the south, was inspired after he bought a Tesla Model S from a dealer in Beijing in […]

July 14, 2014

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8:16 PM | Big Pic: A Planet-Wide Map Of Martian Geology
Geologic Map of Mars By Kenneth Tanaka et al., 2014 The ground in Elysium is made of volcanic flows. That's according to the newest geologic map of Mars, above, from the U.S. Geological Survey. Elysium Planitia is a named feature on Mars, but we're guessing the area is rather drier than the mythical Elysium that Homer described as a meadowed paradise. We'd love for you to go explore the map on your own here. Before you go, however, we'll give you a guide on how to interpret it. All […]
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4:37 PM | Another Chinese National Indicted For Stealing American GMO Corn
Seeds of Sweet Corn Photo from the USDA Sometimes even a high-tech heist requires a little digging around in the dirt. Earlier this month, a federal court indicted a Chinese national for trying to steal GMO corn technology from DuPont, Monsanto, and AgReliant Genetics. The scientist's arrest is just the latest in a series of indictments against six other people linked to a Beijing seed-development company called Dabeinong Technology Group Co. The FBI alleges the Dabeinong staff were […]

July 11, 2014

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10:00 PM | The Week In Numbers: GMO Safety Testing, Guinea Worm Infections, And More
Golden Rice Compared to regular white rice, "golden" rice, at the top, has been genetically modified to produce beta carotene, a precursor to vitamin A. International Rice Research Institute via Wikipedia 1,700: the number of peer-reviewed safety studies that GMO foods have undergone. Learn more about the research behind GMOs in this month's Popular Science. $550: how much it will cost you to build a drivable tank for your goldfish. So worth it. 16 years: how long this new prototype […]
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4:30 PM | Baby Who Beat HIV For Months Is No Longer In Remission
HIV CDC The Mississippi baby who had been "functionally cured" of her HIV infection now has detectable levels of virus. It's a sad turn of events, but not necessarily a surprising one. You can read more about the Mississippi case in Popular Science's 2013 explainer. In short, the baby received an aggressive course of standard anti-retroviral treatment just 30 hours after she was born. Then, because her mother stopped bringing her to the doctor, she didn't get treated for a few months. Yet […]

July 10, 2014

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5:11 PM | Five Questions About The Smallpox Vials Found In Maryland
Signs like this were used to show which houses had received the smallpox vaccine PAHO Earlier this week, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced something surprising: Federal researchers discovered six 60-year-old vials with smallpox virus in them. The vials were in a forgotten freezer in a lab on the Bethesda, Maryland, campus of the U.S. National Institutes of Health. According to international agreement, samples of smallpox are only supposed to be kept in two […]
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2:41 PM | The Science And History Of A Pesticide-Turned-Diet Pill
Dinitrophenol in the 1930s U.S. Food and Drug Administration In 2012, Sean Cleathero died from drinking an explosive/pesticide mixed with water. His gym had sold it to him as a weight loss drug. The mixture gave him a fever of over 107 degrees and killed him within eight hours, even after he received care at the Wycombe Hospital outside of London. The case came up in the news again recently because three men who worked at the gym are on trial for manslaughter. A few weeks ago, a review of […]

July 08, 2014

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9:59 PM | A Remote-Controlled Birth Control Implant
An Implantable Microchip for Delivering Drugs These images are from 2012, when MicroCHIPS published a paper on using an implanted device to deliver daily doses of an osteoporosis drug. Courtesy of MicroCHIPS, Inc., Massachusetts It's a whole new level of set it and forget it. Researchers are testing a remote-controlled implant that releases daily doses of hormonal birth control into the body, MIT Technology Review reports. The implant is designed to last up to 16 years. If and when the […]
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6:31 PM | Smallpox Discovered In An Old Lab Freezer
Signs like this were used to show which houses had received the smallpox vaccine PAHO Surprise! While preparing to move to a new lab, scientists at the U.S. National Institutes of Health discovered something unexpected in the old one: little vials containing smallpox virus. By international agreement, samples of smallpox are only supposed to be kept in one of two labs in the world. One is part of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta. The other is the VECTOR […]
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3:58 PM | Big Pic: A Portrait Of Saturn's Best Features
Image of Saturn Taken by Cassini, April 2, 2014 NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute Like a photo of the New York City skyline with both the Empire State and Chrysler buildings in view, this image of Saturn shows off its most iconic landmarks. There's the hexagon-shaped jet stream feature at its north pole, plus its rings. The spacecraft Cassini took this image on April 2. Cassini recently celebrated the tenth anniversary of its arrival at Saturn. Now, its engineers are looking […]

July 07, 2014

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9:13 PM | The Sound From Ships May Attract Unwanted Critters
Barnacle Hull House U.S. Navy via Flickr A ship at anchor isn't necessarily quiet. Many crews leave their generators on while at anchor, to power refrigerators or air conditioners. But maybe they should consider shutting down, if they can. The thrum of a ship's generator can attract sea squirt larvae from as far away as 500 meters, according to a new study. The little larvae are a big problem for ships. Sea squirts, barnacles, algae and other sea creatures that attach […]
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7:00 PM | An Electronic Tag You Activate With A Phone Call
A Printable Electronic Tag From "All-printed diode operating at 1.6 GHz" by Negar Sani et al., PNAS, 2014 Bzzz bzzz! Who are researchers calling in this video? It's not a person. It's a thin little electronic tag. The call activates the tag's display, which then shows some graphics. The tag's makers think it's the first all-printed electronic label that's able to communicate directly with a cellphone. http://cf.c.ooyala.com/d2M2NxbjrbkJSJgjMuQalEUybyptiTuq/Ut_HKthATH4eww8X... Please […]
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5:35 PM | Database Of Loans Shows That English Is The World's Top Borrower And Lender Of Words
"Internet" is a Commonly Borrowed English Word This Internet café is in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam Yun Huang Yong on Flickr, CC BY 2.0 Chemise, schadenfreude and Tennessee*… English seems to have borrowed words from nearly every other language English-speakers have encountered. So it's charming to think that now, English is the number-one donor of words to other languages in the world, as the Boston Globe reports. In Finland, Globe reporter Britt Peterson encountered […]

July 04, 2014

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3:59 PM | The Week In Numbers: Big Tails, Deep Dives, And More
Writing Robot Mirko Tobias Schaefer/Gastev on Flickr, CC BY 2.0 176,000: the number of business stories the AP is now able to produce in a year, using its new, no-human-needed, story-writing software. 887: combined horsepower of the 2015 Porsche 918 Spyder, a hybrid sports car. Porsche 918 Courtesy Porsche 17.6 teslas: the strength of a magnetic field recently trapped in a thumb-size bar of superconducting material. This is the strongest magnetic field ever trapped in a […]

July 02, 2014

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8:42 PM | Microscopically Structuring Steel Like Bamboo Makes It Stronger Yet More Flexible
The experimental steel is made of grains that go from small to large Yuntian Zhu People's teeth and bamboo stalks may not seem very durable compared to bars of steel. But, a new series of experiments finds, making metals mimic those materials could improve metals' endurance and strength. A team of chemists from China and the U.S. manufactured steel with a particular microstructure, inspired by teeth and bamboo. The resulting material was both more flexible and able to handle higher amounts […]
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6:00 PM | Can You Guess What These Cute Pink Tiles Are Made Of?
Cooksey, Allen/NIST These are some nice color swatches, don't you think? I can just imagine them as decorative bathroom tiles. But what if I told you these are samples of people's skin? They are! The top set is a series of photos of the skin from the inside of different people's forearms. The bottom set are images of the same people's skin, but the images were enhanced with techniques researchers are developing for medical diagnoses and biometric applications. You might notice that while […]
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3:17 PM | Nature Retracts Two Long-Troubled Stem Cell Papers
Photo Of A Mouse Fetus From The STAP Stem Cells Work Haruko Obokata The journal Nature has finally retracted two major studies it published in January, which claimed to have found new and easy ways to turn regular cells into stem cells. Not long after the papers first went online, independent scientists began noticing apparent plagiarism within them. Independent teams were unable to replicate the papers' findings. Later, a genetic test found that the stem cells described in the papers […]
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2:15 PM | Superconductor Traps The Strongest Magnetic Field Yet
A Puck of Superconducting Material Levitates Over a Permanent Magnet University of Cambridge Engineers have trapped the strongest-ever magnetic field inside a superconductor. The result was a super-powerful magnet—about six times as strong as the magnets found in an MRI machine—about the size of a human thumb. The research is part of an ongoing effort to create superconductor magnets that don't need to be cooled to extreme temperatures. Such magnets could go into flywheels for […]

July 01, 2014

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7:46 PM | CDC Maps Show Which States Prescribe The Most Opioids
Pills of the Opioid Painkiller OxyContin U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration Doctors in Alabama give out almost three times as many opioid painkiller prescriptions as doctors in Hawaii. Doctors in the Northeast write more prescriptions for high-dose and long-acting opioids than anywhere else in the U.S. These numbers and more come from a survey that scientists from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently analyzed. The survey couldn't answer why doctors in some states […]
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5:10 PM | Associated Press Will Use Robots To Write Articles
Reel Room of the New York Times, 1924 Photo by Majory Collins. Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, FSA/OWI Collection, LC-DIG-fsa-8d22753 The venerated AP now plans to generate and sell thousands of automated business articles a year. The robot-written stories will bring up the AP's story count in this area by an order of magnitude, Poynter reports. Over the past few years, several news organizations have used robot writers for some of their stories. Forbes uses […]

June 30, 2014

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7:31 PM | Donated Livers Last Three Times Longer When Supercooled
Supercooled Rat Liver Sitting in its own little pump system Wally Reeves, Korkut Uygun, Martin Yarmush, Harvard University To keep a handful of rat livers super-fresh, researchers kept them supercool—that is, stored at temperatures below the freezing point of water. The procedure was part of an experimental new method for treating donated organs. The method is still in its early stages of development, but it's showing some promise. Rat livers treated in this new way lasted three […]
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