Posts

July 30, 2014

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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 […]
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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" […]
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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

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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

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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 […]
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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 […]
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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

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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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2:59 PM | Why DARPA Wants An Experimental Spaceplane
Artist's Concept for an Experimental Spaceplane DARPA So DARPA wants a reusable spaceplane. I mean, who doesn't? For decades, space experts have tried to design quick-turnover, reusable launch systems. So far, however, no one has made one that works. "There really isn't any kind of vehicle today that does exactly what they're asking people to do," Micah Walter-Range, director of research and analysis at the Space Foundation, tells Popular Science. "You can certainly compare it to […]

July 23, 2014

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3:28 PM | 101-Year-Old Citizen Scientist Has Called In Weather Observations Every Day For 84 Years
Richard Hendrickson Takes a Weather Measurement, 2008 NOAA Generations before anyone came up with the idea of "citizen science," an 18-year-old Richard Hendrickson called in his first weather report to what was then the U.S. Weather Bureau. That was in 1929. Hendrickson is now 101 years old and has provided the National Weather Service with twice-daily observations from his Long Island farm for 84 years. Hendrickson is a part of the Cooperative Observer Program, a network of more than […]

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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