Posts

September 17, 2014

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10:15 PM | Washington D.C. Is Littered With Phony Cell Towers
The White House Wikimedia Commons Continuing a sort of cross-country tour to detect phony cell towers, also known as interceptors or IMSI catchers, researchers associated with the security firm ESD America have detected 15 of the covert devices in Washington D.C., plus three more in nearby Virginia. The company used their ultrasecure CryptoPhone 500 to search for the interceptors, which can compromise phones through baseband hardware […]
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9:50 PM | White-Dominated Medical Studies Put U.S. Minorities At Risk
Glassware in a medical laboratory Rafi Letzter When medical research focuses on white people, things get missed, and people die. That's the essence of a commentary published this week in Nature. In it, bioengineer Esteban Burchard, from the University of California at San Francisco, argues that medicine has more or less excluded minorities from studies, with dangerous results. "Since 1993, the National Institutes of Health has funded […]
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8:00 PM | Lockheed Laser Brings Turrets Back To Airplanes
ABC Laser Turret In Test Flight Air Force Research Laboratory In World War II, mighty bombers came equipped with gun barrels, manned by gunners at the ready to protect the plane from attacking fighters. The B-52 Stratofortress even came with a tail gun for self defense and last used it in combat over Vietnam in 1972. The change in fighter weapons from guns to missiles made tail guns obsolete, but now Lockheed and DARPA are bringing them back. As freakin’ […]
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7:15 PM | Help Scientists By Marking Penguins In Pictures
Mark Those Birds! Zooniverse Penguin Watch Check out this latest citizen-science project. It's a site where you can look at photos gathered by an Antarctic network of wildlife cameras and mark if there are penguins in the photos. In other weo you get to look at cute animals online and help environmental science! Sounds like a win-win to me. A warning: When I went to try the site, the first photo I got showed an overwhelming number of penguins. After all, penguins often […]
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6:30 PM | Spooky Action In Threes: Physicists Entangle Three Particles Of Light
Weird Light This is the University of Waterloo lab where a team of physicists conducted their photon entanglement experiments. It's kept dark to help the equipment sense small amounts of light. Shalm/NIST As if it weren't hard enough already to imagine it in twos, physicists have entangled three photons with each other. Entanglement is a counterintuitive quantum physics phenomenon, in which a particle influences all the others with which it's entangled -- even if […]
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5:00 PM | Big Pic: A Texas-Sized Algae Bloom
The Arabian Sea's Algae Bloom, As Seen From From Space. Norman Kuring/NASA Lake Erie has gotten a lot of attention recently because of its toxic algal blooms, and all that attention seems to have made the Arabian Sea green with envy.  A paper in Nature Communications reports that a phytoplankton named Noctiluca scintillans has invaded a dead-zone off the coast of India, where it's threatening to disrupt natural foodchains as well as the local fishing […]
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4:15 PM | Light Forms Crystal-Like Structure On Computer Chip
Visible light shining The study used microwaves. Zouavman Le Zouave via Wikimedia Commons Princeton researchers have managed to cause light to behave like a crystal within a specialized computer chip, according to a recent paper. This is the first time anyone has accomplished this effect in a lab. Here's why it's so hard: Atoms can easily form solids, liquids, and gasses, because when they come into contact they push and pull on each other. That push and pull […]
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3:30 PM | 23andMe Decides It Won't Automatically Reunite Long Lost Relatives
DNA 2.0 Synthetic genetic code could give biology a sci-fi makeover. Hybrid Medical Animation/Photo Researchers 23andMe, a service offering personal DNA testing, announced over the weekend that it is canceling a planned change to its online privacy settings, according to Vox. The firm had recently notified around 350,000 customers that as of Sept. 12, they would be automatically “opted-in” to recieve notifications if their genetic profiles closely […]
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2:30 PM | Texas Considers Textbooks That Contain Climate Change Denial
Texas State Flag Courtesy of Little Black Spot on the Sun Today via Flickr.com Oh Texas. All that juicy low-carbon windpower you're generating – and wiring into the grid – makes us love you. But then you have to go and deny anthropogenic climate change. Such a turn-off. Several news outlets -- including The Guardian,  the National Journal, the Huffington Post, and others -- are reporting that the state's board of education is […]
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1:30 PM | Where Is This Comet's Tail?
Comet 67P ESA/Rosetta/NAVCAM Here's a refresher from middle school science class: An asteroid is a huge rock tumbling through the solar system, and that's pretty much all it looks like--a big rock. Meanwhile, a comet is a ball of ice and dust that has a long bright tail, which is caused by the Sun blasting that ice and dust off of the comet's surface as it zooms around. The European Space Agency's Rosetta mission has sent back some amazing photos as it approaches […]
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12:30 PM | The Brilliant Ten of 2014
The 2014 Brilliant Ten. Illustrations by Alvaro Tapia Hidalgo Each year, Popular Science goes through a six-month selection process to identify the most inspired young scientists and engineers—researchers whose ideas will transform the future. Here are 2014's best and brightest. Nicole Abaid: Studies Bats To Make Drones Smarter Studies how animals swarm in order to glean insights that will improve robotic drones, such as underwater vehicles that rely on […]

September 16, 2014

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10:20 PM | Want A Ride To The ISS? SpaceX And Boeing Will Take You
CST-100 Boeing will receive $4.2 billion to develop its CST-100 spacecraft. Boeing Ladies and gentlemen, we have a winner – well two, actually. Today, NASA announced that two private companies will be tasked with taxiing NASA astronauts to and from the International Space Station, beginning in 2017. And the spoils go to Boeing and SpaceX. The companies will sign contracts with NASA to further develop their spacecraft to deliver astronauts to and from the […]
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9:00 PM | Scientists Test Yacht As Miniature Research Vessel
Indigo V On Leg Three Of The Journey Indigo V Expeditions The ocean is vast and full of data. Getting that data, however, is tricky. A new paper published in the journal PLOS Biology argues that there’s a cheap and easy way to get more information about more of the ocean: citizen scientists. Equipping the people already travelling the ocean with simple tools to document the world around them could mean more data and a better scientific understanding of the […]
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8:00 PM | The Rise Of Open Source Hardware
An open source 1-inch OLED screen. miker on Tindie Emile Petrone founded Tindie for selfish reasons. “The basic idea was that there wasn’t a marketplace for the things I was interested in,” he says. At the time, those things were his latest DIY hardware obsessions—specifically, kits to support Arduino and Raspberry Pi. “Ebay’s not really right, and neither is Amazon. Hardware projects had no natural home.”  So in the summer of […]
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7:00 PM | A New 'Radar Gun' May Spot Drivers Who Text Behind The Wheel
Radar Speed Gun at Work at a Naval Base, 2006 Photo by the U.S. Department of Defense. See it at the U.S. National Archives. ComSonics, a company specializing in cable leakage detection, is working on a device that would sense when drivers are texting, the Virginian-Pilot reports. The Virginia newspaper suggests the final product, designed for police to use, might look something like the "radar gun" gadgets that police currently use to log drivers' […]
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6:03 PM | NASA Flies Over Lake Erie To Scan For Dangerous Algae Blooms
John H. Glenn Research Center At Lewis Field NASA What started as a small research project at NASA has become an important tool in a campaign to combat the toxic algae blooms that recently left 500,000 people in the Toledo area without drinking water. NASA is deploying flight missions equipped with hyperspectral imaging instruments similar to those intended to distinguish dust components on Mars. The technology is being used to identify the components of algal blooms affecting […]
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5:07 PM | Now Live: The October 2014 Issue of Popular Science
Letter From The Editor Disruption Comes In Cycles Now Defend Your Home With Artificial Intelligence The Greatest Things Of October 2014  The Evolution Of Sneakers  Hockey Gear Made to Measure  The Buzz On Health Trackers  The Bike That Never Needs Repairs  The Ultimate Slo-Mo Camera Next Kicking Ice And Taking Names  Building Better Knees For The NBA  How The New Sugar Stats Will Kill Halloween (But Save You)  How Tweets Can Save […]
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4:15 PM | Google vs The DMV: How To Test A Self-Driving Car
View from Google's 2012 Driving Test Nevada DMV In May 2012, Google's self-driving car underwent a classic American teenage ritual. It took a driving test at a DMV. The car passed, but apparently not without a little lobbying from its parent. As state officials have monitored the robot car's mileage on public roads, Google has lobbied for the car to get different tests and to report different accident figures than the DMV wants, a new series of reports finds. The reports […]
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3:35 PM | An Origami Microscope For Less Than a Dollar
Little device, big magnification. Photograph by Brian Klutch Imagine a world where every child owns a microscope. A clever new method to fold the instrument from a single sheet of paper may bring that dream closer to reality.  In the Foldscope, invented by Stanford University engineers, creased paper creates a scaffold, which holds a lens and an LED in alignment. A microscope slide sits between them. As users peer at the sample, they flex the paper to adjust the lens […]
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2:11 PM | How Reshma Saujani Is Building A Generation Of Girls Who Code
Reshma Saujani's Girls Who Code aims to expose 1 million young women to computer science by 2020. Courtesy Girls Who Code When Reshma Saujani toured New York City schools during her 2010 primary run for Congress, the gender divide in computer-science classrooms shocked her. “I’d be in a robotics lab on the Upper East Side where there would be a hundred boys,” says the politician and lawyer. “And then I’d be in Queens and there’d be […]

September 15, 2014

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9:30 PM | Genetically, Schizophrenia Is At Least Eight Separate Diseases
An illustration of DNA via Pixabay Research published in the American Journal of Psychiatry shows that schizophrenia is not a single genetic disease, but in fact a class of diseases with variable symptoms. Schizophrenia is known to be passed in families, implying genetic origins, but no single mutation has ever been shown to cause symptoms to emerge. It turns out, that's because different "orchestras" of mutations working together cause a range disorders that until […]
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9:15 PM | How It Works: A Flexible, Pneumatic Robot Snake
Your Tentacle Friend Screenshot from "CSAIL Robotic Arm Slithers Like A Snake Through Pipes" by MITCSAIL on YouTube So Gizmodo found this morning a seafoam-green, pneumatic, snake/tentacle robot that's able to wiggle its way through a simple, walled maze. Let's take a look: Yep, that's impressive. But what is this for, exactly? And how does it work? The robot's makers, a team of computer scientists from MIT, wrote up a paper that explains. Researchers that build soft […]
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8:30 PM | Drone Brain Makers Want To Create The DOS Of Flying Robots
Still From An Airware Video The idea is that the same red autopilot box works with all sorts of drone bodies. Drones soon may be bound together by a common code. Airware, a commercial drone software company with MIT roots, hopes to unify drones in a shared code architecture. Airware already makes an autopilot, but that’s just the first step to creating a drone operating system, allowing hardware from different manufacturers to communicate with one […]
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7:45 PM | Video: Liquid Metal Flows Into Different Forms, T-1000-Style
Above: The T-1000; Below: Getting there Carolco Pictures and Michael Dickey A team of researchers report that they understand a property of a liquid metal that allows them to manipulate it like the T-1000 from Terminator 2 and even build "scale models" of the violent automaton. Chemists at North Carolina State University have observed that when they apply an electric charge to a gallium alloy (which is naturally liquid at room temperature) in water, they are able to […]
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7:00 PM | 5 Educational Programs For Learning By Making
Students participate in hands-on learning at The Makery in New York City. Courtesy Makery NYC SparkTruck Frustrated with the decline of hands-on learning, Stanford University students created SparkTruck as a roving maker lab. They outfitted a Utilimaster van with tools like a laser cutter and hundreds of dollars worth of Popsicle sticks and miniature motors, then drove it across the country—twice—stopping at schools. It’s reached about 5,000 kids, plus […]
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6:15 PM | Fast-Running Robot Cheetah Let Off Its Leash
The MIT Cheetah Robot Jose-Luis Olivares/MIT, CC BY-NC-ND 3.0 It bounds just like a rabbit, but it's not quite as cute. Check out the latest iteration of MIT's Cheetah robot. It's just received an algorithm update that allows it to run by itself on grassy terrain: The robot is now able to run, untethered, up to 10 miles per hour on a treadmill indoors, its makers report. It can also jump over short obstacles and continue running. This lab previously showed its Cheetah […]
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5:15 PM | A Shift in Nuclear Powers [Infographic]
Nuclear energy provides 11 percent of the world’s electricity, but most reactors are now decades old. Many are approaching—or have surpassed—their initial 30- to 40-year lifespans (though upgrades can extend their lives to 60 years). Early nuclear adopters like France and Germany are curtailing their programs, even though analysts—including the authors of a recent report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change—say nuclear is necessary to keep worldwide […]
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4:30 PM | Here's Where The Rosetta Lander Will Touch Down ... Or Crash
Look Out Below! Philae will attempt a landing at Site J, shown here, in November. ESA/Rosetta/MPS for OSIRIS Team MPS/UPD/LAM/IAA/SSO/INTA/UPM/DASP/IDA The European Space Agency has finally chosen a target for Rosetta’s lander. The Rosetta spacecraft arrived at comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko in August, after a 10-year journey. Since then the orbiter has been circling the comet, looking for the perfect spot to deploy a lander onto the surface of the […]
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1:00 PM | Who Is Running Phony Cell Phone Towers Around The Country?
Who Is Running Interceptor Towers? Homeland On August 29, Popular Science published a map of interceptor towers, surveillance devices that masquerade as cell phone towers to intercept voice and data transmissions from every cell user in an area. 19 of the interceptors were found in the United States in August, and two more popped up on September 5: one in Garden City, NY and another in downtown Las Vegas. They were spotted by owners of the approximately $3,500 CryptoPhone 500 […]
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1:00 PM | Who Is Running Phony Cell Phone Towers Around The United States?
Who Is Running Interceptor Towers? Homeland On August 29, Popular Science published a map of interceptor towers -- surveillance devices that masquerade as cell phone towers to intercept voice and data transmissions from every cell user in an area. 19 of the interceptors were found in the United States in August, and two more popped up on September 5: one in Garden City, NY, and another in downtown Las Vegas. They were spotted by owners of the CryptoPhone 500 device, […]
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