Posts

September 01, 2014

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7:00 PM | Gut Microbes Take Over Your Body When You Die
Catching Killers With Gut Microbes Via Scottsdale Community College You have around 100 trillion bacteria living in your gut — and that’s a good thing. Known as gut flora or the gut microbiome, these microorganisms help your body digest certain foods, aid the immune system, and maintain a healthy gastrointestinal tract, all in exchange for a constant food supply. But when you die, your friendly gut flora quickly become your gut foe. Without food, the microbes escape your GI […]
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5:00 PM | Flying Foxes, Rococo Toads, And Other Creatures Of Darkness
After sundown, a completely different world comes to life.  Photographer Traer Scott writes that her journey into darkness started with moths, "the mysterious, moonlit cousins of the perky, sunny butterfly--flitting wildly and ever frantically near our porch lights but never coming quite close enough to be truly illuminated." Then she got to thinking about the bats that eat the boths, and an idea hatched. Her book, "Nocturne: Creatures Of The Night," calls itself the first […]
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2:00 PM | The Last Passenger Pigeon Died 100 Years Ago Today
Passenger Pigeon Exhibit Wikimedia Commons One hundred years ago today, the scientific community mourned the passing of a very important bird. Her name was Martha (after George Washington’s wife), and she was the last known passenger pigeon to have existed.  She died in her cage at the Cincinnati Zoo in 1914, marking the end of the passenger pigeon species, Ectopistes migratorius. Just a few decades prior to Martha’s death, the passenger pigeon flourished throughout much […]

August 29, 2014

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10:00 PM | The Week In Numbers: Hovercycles, Ashy Moon Smells, And A Disappearing Louisiana Coast
The Drone 3 In Flight I bet this would've caught Luke Skywalker on Endor. Malloy Aeronautics 15.4: combined weight in pounds of this robot riding a hovercycle. -268: temperature in degrees Celsius of liquid helium when it is used in MRI machines and particle accelerators. Below that, liquid helium starts to demonstrate weird quantum effects. 8 million: the amount of money, in dollars, in a U.K. emergency fund, intended to bankroll Ebola research to help the current outbreak. […]
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9:00 PM | The Week In Drones: Google Delivery, Reaper Gods, And More
Pumpkin King Scarecrow Imagine how much scarier this would be with a drone controlling it. SolarSurfer via Wikimedia Commons Here's a roundup of the week's top drone news: the military, commercial, non-profit, and recreational applications of unmanned aircraft. Drone Pilots Puppet Disney, whose theme parks are known for their animatronic robots, recently filed a patent for “Aerial Display System With Marionettes Articulated and Supported by Airborne Devices.” The puppet […]
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8:20 PM | Nautical Chimeras, Exploding Rockets, And Other Amazing Images Of The Week
Stunning Stinger The Portuguese man o' war is named after an 18th century warship. The creature may look like one organism, but it is actually a siphonophore -- a colony made up of different individual animals. That means each of its organs is composed of genetically distinct cells. National Geographic has more on the insane biology of these venomous creatures, as well as a collection of gorgeous photos. Aaron Ansarov
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5:16 PM | Google Already Testing Delivery Robots In Australia
Project Wing Drone Delivers Google In rural Australia, a drone delivers dog treats to a farmer. The robot is a proof of concept, part of Project Wing by Google X. The program is designed to show that delivery drones are possible, and it seems to be doing just that. Next for Google: figuring out the path from proven prototype to everyday utility. The drone is a tail-sitter, taking off vertically with its body perpendicular to the ground. At rest, it looks like a tiny […]
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4:16 PM | The Time I Got To Try On An Actual Space Suit
http://cf.c.ooyala.com/02YWZ4bzorKGBoB761QzJMynGZ3BaXnE/3Gduepif0T1UGY8H... Please enable Javascript to watch this video I was peering out through the helmet of my space suit, when something terrible happened: I got an itch. And with my hands unable to touch my face, scratching it the good old fashioned way was out of the question. Thankfully, the suit’s manufacturer’s had predicted this very scenario and planned accordingly. A strip of velcro was positioned inside the helmet for […]
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1:45 PM | The Alien Whisperer: Jill Tarter On 38 Years Of Hunting For E.T.
Jill Tarter, co-founder of the SETI Institute and formerly the senior scientist for the Allen Telescope Array (pictured)—the only radio telescope dedicated to the search for extraterrestrial life. Brad Wenner In the search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI), people typically seek messages, not send them. Think Jodie Foster in the movie Contact as an alien signal pulses in her headphones. The inspiration for Foster’s character, astrophysicist Jill Tarter, wants to help […]
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1:00 PM | Big Pic: Stunning Images From The Worlds Sharpest Commercial Satellite
Madrid From Space. DigitalGlobe The WorldView-3 satellite, which launched on August 13, has sent back its first images. They’re gorgeous, and kind of creepy. The new satellite can see to a resolution of 31 centimeters. That means each pixel of the camera captures one square foot of land, which is sharp enough to see home plate at Yankee Stadium, to map crops by pattern and type, to identify the type and speed of cars and trucks, and measure population density, all from […]

August 28, 2014

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11:30 PM | Throwback Thursday: Flip Phones, The Baby Internet, And A Stephen Hawking Essay
Cover, August 1989 Popular Science As a magazine with 142 years of history, Popular Science sits on a treasure trove of vintage illustrations, perceptive predictions, obsolete technologies, essays by Nobel prize-winning scientists, and some seriously awkward advertisements. That's why we're using Throwback Thursdays as an excuse to dust off those back issues and share their stories with you, Dear Readers. Every Thursday we’ll bring you highlights from 25, 50, 75, or 100 years […]
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8:55 PM | Louisiana's Disappearing Coastline Threatens Entire U.S. Economy
An unholy trinity of forces – levees along the Mississippi River, sea level rise due to climate change, and fossil fuel extraction – have caused about 2,000 square miles of southeastern Louisiana to disappear into the Gulf of Mexico over the past eight decades. That's according to Losing Ground, a multimedia journalism collaboration between ProPublica and The Lens, offers an interactive, thorough, and thoroughly sobering look at it, with layered maps and satellite images, […]
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7:40 PM | Supersize Your DIY Computing With Tiny Titan
Tiny Titan runs a particle simulator. Each Raspberry Pi chip calculates the motion of one set of objects, communicating with its neighbors about the other particles’ locations. On a real supercomputer, this type of code can model galaxies or ocean wave Photo Courtesy of Adam Simpson Oak Ridge National Laboratory is most famously home to the Titan supercomputer, capable of performing more than 20 quadrillion calculations every second. But the lab also houses the lesser known […]
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6:16 PM | Evolution Video Game Tests Your Ability To Spot Camouflaged Bird Eggs
Egg Ancestors The evolution of a successful strain of egg camouflage. Project Nightjar Call it a case of virtual selection. Testing out Project Nightjar's experimental video game, I peered through the world in mongoose-tinted glasses, looking for the eggs of a nesting nightjar -- a nocturnal bird in the family Caprimulgidae. The clock ticked as I made my selection, and then I found the nesting mother. While I played the game, the researchers behind the project gained a little more […]
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5:00 PM | If A Fish Grows Up On Land, Will It Learn To Walk?
Walk This Way A Polypterus senegalus fish on land. Nature The old idiom about “being a fish out of water” just lost some of its luster. Researchers from McGill University in Canada successfully trained a group of fish to live on land and strut around. The idea was to simulate what might have happened 400 million years ago, when the first group of ancient fish moved from water to land, eventually evolving into the amphibians, reptiles, birds and other animals roaming the […]
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4:15 PM | This Weird Tumbleweed Robot Might Change Planetary Exploration
Super Ball Bot An early prototype of the robot V. SunSpiral et al. As the Mars Curiosity rover's "Seven Minutes of Terror" video showed us, landing on a distant world can be extraordinarily difficult. Now scientists are envisioning a robot that could just be dropped from space onto Saturn's largest moon Titan, a ball-shaped droid that wouldn't need an airbag to soften its fall, since its entire flexible body is essentially a cushion. Then, after the robot flattened on impact on Titan's […]
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2:46 PM | A Space Game Gets Real
The Gladiator, from the PC game Star Citizen 498,500 players have spent more than $48.1 million on virtual ships available for purchase. Courtesy Star Citizen The revelation of the hit PC game Star Citizen isn’t that people love space-flight—we knew that. It’s that they like their games as realistic as possible, with a universe obsessively hewing to Newton-ian physics for even the smallest detail. The crowdfunded Star Citizen features player-controlled spaceships that […]
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1:00 PM | Man 3-D Prints A Concrete Castle In His Backyard
Where Dreams Come True Andrey Rudenko, Total Kustom This is a castle that a man 3-D printed from concrete, using a printer he built himself. We like how variations in the concrete's color stretch perfectly across the castle—the product of care and engineering on the part of the maker, Andrey Rudenko. As he wrote on his website: Layering cement was an extremely difficult task- it required extensive tuning of the printer on a programming level, as well as using exact quantities for the […]

August 27, 2014

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10:09 PM | Found: The Part Of The Mouse Brain That Motivates Exercise
Lab Mouse Wikimedia Commons A team of researchers has found a part of the brain that controls how motivated mice are to exercise, according to a new study. The researchers created genetically modified mice that lacked neurons in the dorsal medial portion of a region of the brain called the habenula. The major difference was that the mice didn't like to run on mouse wheels, which normal mice love to do, the researchers reported in a paper they published in the Journal of Neuroscience. "They […]
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9:13 PM | China's Future Submarine Could Go The Speed Of Sound
Supercavitating Submarine South China Morning Post The submarine of the future may come to America in a super fast bubble, traveling under water. Researchers at China's Harbin Institute of Technology developed a new concept for submarine “supercavitation,” where an underwater vessel creates a pocket of air around itself. Inside this bubble, the submarine can travel much faster without friction of water creating drag and slowing it down. Theoretically, a supercavitated […]
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8:35 PM | Sneaky Panda Fakes Pregnancy For Extra Treats And Attention
Giant Panda Flickr CC by 2.0 Ai Hin was all set to be a star. The 6-year-old giant panda had shown signs of pregnancy last month, and staff at the Chengdu Breeding Research Centre in China had planned to film her labor in the first ever live broadcast of a panda giving birth. Now that momentous occasion has been cancelled, as it turns out Ai Hin’s pregnancy was all just a clever ruse. Chengdu staff revealed that the panda had experienced a “phantom […]
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6:45 PM | The Rise Of The Crypto Phone
Good luck hacking into this guy. Photograph by Brian Klutch Between revelations of NSA spying and a sense that marketers and hackers are picking our digital pockets, we’re all getting a little edgy about cellular security. Hence the rapid growth of the cryptophone industry. Most of the handsets run on “hardened” versions of Android that make privacy the default for app permissions and network connections. Wary users can also employ tools to convert voice or text messages […]
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5:52 PM | What Could Cause A Nationwide Internet Outage?
Partial Map of the Internet, 2005 "Internet map 1024" by The Opte Project - Originally from the English Wikipedia. Licensed under CC BY 2.5. If you looked at the news or Twitter this morning -- or perhaps you couldn't, because your Internet was malfunctioning -- you might have heard: Time Warner suffered a major outage in its Internet service at about 4:30 a.m. Eastern. The outage, affecting much of the U.S., lasted two hours, Reuters reported. Maps created by the outage-tracker […]
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5:00 PM | Mysterious Phony Cell Towers Could Be Intercepting Your Calls
Unencrypted Connection Les Goldsmith Like many of the ultra-secure phones that have come to market in the wake of Edward Snowden's leaks, the CryptoPhone 500, which is marketed in the U.S. by ESD America and built on top of an unassuming Samsung Galaxy SIII body, features high-powered encryption. Les Goldsmith, the CEO of ESD America, says the phone also runs a customized or "hardened" version of Android that removes 468 vulnerabilities that his engineering team team found in the stock […]
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4:05 PM | Where Does The Moon's Smell Come From?
What's That Smell? NASA In 1969, mankind got its first few whiffs of the lunar surface after astronauts tracked moon dust into the Apollo lander. In an article on Space.com, Apollo 17 astronaut Harrison “Jack” Schmitt describes the Moon’s scent as being similar to spent gunpowder. Buzz Aldrin of Apollo 11 says it smells like charcoal, or fireplace ashes sprinkled with water. And scientist Larry Taylor, director of the Planetary Geosciences Institute at the University of […]
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1:45 PM | How The World Wastes Food [Infographic]
Every year, the planet loses nearly a third of its food—a staggering 1.4 billion tons. That’s according to a 2011 United Nations study that assessed food networks in 152 countries. The researchers’ results reveal where in the food-supply chain farmers, engineers, and consumers might more effectively get comestibles into mouths.  Food waste, by production stage and food type Click to see larger image. Katie Peek Katie Peek What to do about it The planet may have […]
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1:00 PM | That's A Job: Imaginary Mechanical Engineer
In Momentum, set in 2043, a former fighter pilot enters a rally race featuring magnetically levitating hover cars. Simons outfitted the star vehicle, the Maggy, with a set of shock-absorbing boom arms. Momentum is directed by Michael Chance with VFX by GOMA. Photo courtesy of Robert Simons, Peggy Chung, Mark Yang Robert Simons intended to design real cars for a living. But when his sketches drew Holly-wood’s attention during an internship, he turned to sci-fi instead. […]

August 26, 2014

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7:29 PM | Army's Hypersonic Missile Explodes During Testing
Advanced Hypersonic Weapon Concept Launch Test From the November 18, 2011 test. Courtesy photo, U.S. Army The art of the war is complicated, but the science of war is often just a matter of shooting something pain-inducing at the other guy faster and from further away. The Army’s Advanced Hypersonic Weapon program wants to do just that, by creating a missile that moves faster than Mach 5, or almost 3,800 miles per hour. That hypersonic future may be just a little further […]
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6:30 PM | The Swine Flu You Can Get From American County Fairs
Pooger Source Photo by Lance Cheung, U.S. Department of Agriculture Before 2012, outbreaks of so-called "influenza A variant" infections in the U.S. only popped up once in a while in the medical literature. The strain normally infected pigs and was rarely seen in humans. Then, in 2012, healthcare workers across the U.S. reported 309 human cases of influenza A (H3N2) variant, also known as H3N2v. Sixteen people were hospitalized, and one woman in Ohio died. Researchers think there were […]
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4:53 PM | Ask Anything: Why Is Picking Up A New Language Easier As A Kid?
When learning languages, the earlier the better. Illustration by Jason Schneider In 1967, neuroscientist Eric Lenneberg laid out his argument for a “critical period” in language acquisition: Beyond a certain age, he said, and without the normal stimulation, a person could never really develop a natural way of speaking. Then he added, almost as a throwaway: The same applies to second languages. If you don’t start learning them during your youth, he suggested, you’ll […]
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