November 13, 2014

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

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 […]
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 […]
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

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 […]
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

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. […]
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

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

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 […]
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 […]
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

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

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 […]
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

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

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. […]
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 […]

October 28, 2014

7:05 PM | Big Pic: Jupiter Gets An Eye In Its Storm
True-Color Jupiter, April 21, 2014 NASA, ESA, and A. Simon (Goddard Space Flight Center) When the Hubble Telescope snapped this true-color image in April, NASA scientists found Jupiter staring right back at them. That black dot is Ganymede's shadow, crossing Jupiter's Great Red Spot, creating an eerily blank-looking eye. It is almost certainly the eye of a large and emotionally stunted monster. The shadows of Jupiter's four major […]
5:17 PM | Plan To Save Great Barrier Reef Is 'Inadequate,' Scientists Say
The Great Barrier Reef, 2003 Image provided by NASA Goddard Space Flight Center's Landsat Team using data courtesy the Australian ground receiving station teams The Australian government has been working on a plan for taking care of the Great Barrier Reef over the next four decades—but scientists say it's inadequate. The Australian Academy of Science released today an 11-page critique of the government's latest draft of its "Reef 2050 Long-Term Sustainability […]
1:45 PM | Your Washing Machine Could Charge Your Smartphone Someday
Wireless Charging Alison Seiffer Hanging out in the kitchen? Chances are, you—and your smartphone—are within 15 feet of the refrigerator. Right now, two companies are planning for a future in which that means you could get the charge on your phone topped off. Haier, a large-appliance maker, and Energous, a wireless-charging startup, have signed an agreement to develop their products together, Computerworld reports. The companies are thinking of placing Energous' […]

October 27, 2014

8:00 PM | '3-D Cutter' Othermill Goes On Sale
An Othermill Other Machine Co. You can think of an Othermill as the opposite of a 3-D printer. Instead of building up objects from raw materials, Othermills create objects by cutting away a larger block of material into something smaller. They're like tiny robotic sculptors, similar to the artists who chisel away at a big block of marble until it becomes a work of art. Like home 3-D printers, however, Othermills are made to fit on a tabletop. And they've gone on […]
3:00 PM | Chemists Find A New Chemical Bond
Bromine, Hydrogen, Bromine Photos of both the bromine and hydrogen samples were taken by Heinrich Pniok (, CC BY-NC-ND 3.0 Fresh evidence suggests there exists a type of chemical bond that nobody has ever seen before, Chemistry World reports.  Not that they haven't looked. In the early 1980s, chemists searched for--but couldn't find--evidence of this type of bond after some theorized it should exist. The bond occurs between two heavy atoms with a […]

October 24, 2014

7:45 PM | This Paper Ticket Holds A Tiny Biological Machine
Gene Circuit on a Paper Ticket Harvard's Wyss Institute The paper ticket you see pictured above is actually a little biology machine. It's a gene circuit stored on a slip of paper. To turn the gene circuit on, you simply wet the paper with a dropper and all of its microscopic components will come to life. Depending on what circuit scientists freeze-dry onto the paper, these slips could be used to detect disease-causing microbes or medically important molecules, such as […]
4:48 PM | How To Fast-Track An Ebola Vaccine
A Doctor Prepares a Measles Vaccine in Guinea, 2014 Photo by UNICEF Guinea on Flickr, CC BY-NC 2.0 The World Health Organization said it will have Ebola vaccines ready to give to hundreds of thousands of West Africans by the middle of next year, Reuters reports. Right now, there's no approved vaccine for Ebola. Researchers worked on vaccines before, but trials stalled because the disease is rare and because it mostly afflicts poor countries, so companies haven't been […]

October 23, 2014

8:30 PM | Can Robots Help Fight Ebola?
Helping Hand Takao Someya Group/University of Tokyo Engineers make disaster-response robots precisely because robots are able to work in situations that are too dangerous for humans. Now the humans have got a new idea: Perhaps robots could carry off waste from Ebola patients, or bury the bodies of people who have died from Ebola in West Africa. Roboticizing such tasks would keep people from having to touch bodies when they're most infectious. Working with the White […]
6:01 PM | New Microscope Makes Gorgeous 3-D Movies Of Living Cells
Protist T. thermophila, Imaged with a Lattice Light-Sheet Microscope Click here to enlarge. Betzig Lab, HHMI There's a new microscope in town and the images it produces are stunning. An international team of engineers and biologists is announcing it's made a microscope that's able to see phenomena such as single proteins diffusing through thickly-packed cells, and the movement of the fibers that pull cells apart when they divide. Everything remains alive […]
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