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April 18, 2014

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10:00 PM | Over Meal Of Whale Meat, Japan Announces Plan To Restart "Scientific" Whaling In Antarctica
Harpooned whale A whale captured by the Yushin Maru, a Japanese harpoon vessel, in February 2008. Customs and Border Protection Service, Commonwealth of Australia On March 31, Japan was ordered to halt its whaling program in Antarctica by a United Nations court, which ruled that the activity amounted to a commercial operation and was not for research purposes as stated. Now, less than three weeks later, Japan announced it will re-launch its whale-killing […]
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9:08 PM | An Invisible Barn And Other Amazing Images From This Week
Invisible Barn What do you get when you wrap a barn in mylar? You get nothing. stpmj via Co.Design
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8:39 PM | Russia Ships The World's First Load of Offshore Arctic Oil
Oil Be There The Prirazlomnoye offshore drilling platform, in the Pechora Sea above the Arctic circle, began extracting oil in December 2013, and loaded its first shipment in April 2014 -- about a decade off schedule. The rig is 620 miles from Murmansk and just a few dozen miles from coastal and island wildlife reserves. Gazprom Russia has announced its first shipment of Arctic offshore oil.  Russian President Vladimir Putin watched oil loading from the Prirazlomnoye drilling […]
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7:45 PM | Smart Rear-View Mirror Sees Through The Stuff Piled In Your Back Seat
Nissan Smart Rear-View Mirror Corinne Iozzio A rear-view mirror is only useful if you can see out of the back of your car -- something, it happens, that's gotten increasingly difficult to do. We pack the trunks of our SUVs and hatch-backs to the ceiling with boxes and bags, or pile kids and pets into the backseat. Sometimes even the car itself is the culprit: As rooflines in coupes and sedans slope more aggressively downward, rear windshields are being overtaken by massive blindspots. […]
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7:06 PM | First Success Witnessed In World's Longest-Running Experiment
Here comes the pitch...  ... ... In baseball, that phrase would quickly be followed by an outcome, like strike three! But in the world's longest-running scientific experiment, waiting is the game. And so far, humans have struck out.  In 1927, scientists at the University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia, heated up a bunch of pitch, a derivative of tar once used for waterproofing boats. After letting it settle for three years they opened the seal […]
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5:00 PM | Events In Your Past Determine Which Microbes Live On You
Trillions of microbes live in and on our body. We don’t yet fully understand how these microbial ecosystems develop or the full extent to which they influence our health. Some provide essential nutrients, while others cause disease. A new study now provides some unexpected influences on the contents of these communities, as scientists have found that life history, including level of education, can affect the sorts of microbes that flourish. They think this could help in the diagnosis and […]
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4:24 PM | First Human Clone Embryos Created From Adults' Skin Cells
Human Embryonic Stem Cells—Not the Cloned Cells Described Below This image comes from a lab unrelated to the research described below. Clay Glennon, University of Wisconsin-Madison Scientists have created cloned embryos from the cells of two adults. This feat is the first hard evidence that it's possible to create clones from cells taken from adult humans. The idea is that in the future, doctors could create cloned embryos of patients when the patients need an organ transplant, for […]
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3:30 PM | Here Is Apple's iOS For Your Car
CarPlay Volvo Do you own an iPhone? Have you used your iPhone? Have you driven a car? If yes, you are prepared to use CarPlay, Apple's dashboard operating system—essentially, a pared-down version of a few apps, with a heavier focus on voice control.   We saw Volvo's version at the New York Auto Show, but it's essentially the same idea across vehicles: hook up your iPhone to your car, and your car becomes the medium for controlling your stuff. A display shows your […]
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2:47 PM | The Week In Drones: Shooting One Down In Montana, The FBI's Robot Missions, And More
Drone On Patrol Azin Haghighi, Fars News Agency Here's a roundup of the week's top drone news, designed to capture the military, commercial, non-profit, and recreational applications of unmanned aircraft. Iran On Patrol Released on Wednesday by Iran's state-run Fars news service as part of a slideshow about border protection, the photo above is notable for the hexarotor drone flying with the patrol. The rest of the equipment is fairly standard for a light patrol, with troops in […]
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1:00 PM | New Test Could Diagnose Asthma With A Single Drop Of Blood
Neutrophil A 3D-rendering of a neutrophil. BruceBlaus via Wikimedia Commons While some symptoms of asthma, like wheezing, are obvious, a diagnosis of asthma is not always clear cut, especially if they don't occur when patients are with their doctors, and involve trials of lung function and tests for allergies. But one new test could possibly diagnose asthma with a single drop of blood.  In the study, researchers found that neutrophils, a type of white blood cell, of […]

April 17, 2014

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8:30 PM | The Digital Cameras NASA Sent Into Space In The 90s
Kodak Hawkeye II Tethered Imaging Accessory Credit: James McGarvey In December 1975, a Kodak lab engineer created the first fully digital camera—and snapped a 100-by-100-pixel image to a cassette tape in 23 seconds. Fast forward a couple decades and the CCD--charge-coupled device--started to emerge as the go-to technology for digital imaging. The image sensor converts light into electrical charges, thus replacing film inside traditional cameras. To catch on the trend, folks at NASA […]
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7:36 PM | Did Iapetus's Mountains Fall From Space?
The ridge of Iapetus NASA/JPL If you could hike to the equator of Saturn's moon Iapetus, you would find a strange sight: a sudden mountain range jutting out of the ground, more than 12 miles high. Images from the Cassini spacecraft show that the ridge is a narrow 12 miles in width, and extends for more than 800 miles along the middle of the moon. But where did this narrow ridge come from? Iapetus appears to lack the signs of volcanism […]
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6:02 PM | Found: The Most Potentially Life-Friendly Exoplanet So Far
What Kepler-186f Might Look Like If It Has Clouds and Seas NASA Ames/SETI Institute/JPL-CalTech Five hundred light-years away, Earth has a cousin. Kepler data has revealed there's rocky planet out there that's similar in size to Earth and may have the right conditions for liquid water on its surface. It's the first planet ever discovered with both these Earth-like qualities. Astronomers are constantly seeking more Earth-like exoplanets because, well, Earth is the only planet we know […]
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5:00 PM | Land Rover's New Concept SUV Doesn't Have Door Handles
Discovery Concept Land Rover Look closely at Land Rover's latest SUV concept and you might be able to see something missing: the door handles. The Discovery, you see, has evolved beyond the need for human hands—it will now allow you to enter and exit the vehicle only when its anatomically superior petrol-brain decides it is time.  No, kidding. The doors are gesture-controlled—you open them with a wave of the arm. Although, along with that, Land Rover […]
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4:00 PM | Toyota Has A Tron Bike
I have made this comparison before, and perhaps will again, but, damnit, this is a Tron bike, right? That is, inarguably, what this is. The FV2 is a concept motorcycle from Toyota, set up only a little ostentatiously at the New York Auto Show. Instead of a steering wheel, the cycle turns when a driver leans into a curve. Instead of tires, it has flashing UFO discs.  And it'll probably never hit the road. The plans for it are—we'll say ambitious. The cycle would learn […]
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3:00 PM | Beard Fashions Are Governed By Darwinian Selection
Darwinian whiskers Darwin had a righteous beard. Julia Margaret Cameron via Wikimedia Commons By the beard of Darwin! Some studies have shown that women generally like beards, while others show that whiskers make men appear older and more aggressive. New research suggests that it's all relative, though, and that men's beard fashions follow a pattern of Darwinian selection, becoming most attractive (to both women and men) when they are […]
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2:00 PM | Turn A Tea Bag Into A Lantern
The tea bag lantern Trevor Johnston Every plain, paper tea bag conceals an exciting crash course in lift. In a six-second video on Vine, user “oh so tracy” empties a tea bag, folds it into a tube, and lights it on fire. After the bag burns down, the remains of the still-flaming tube flies into the air to create a miniature Chinese lantern. We asked Mark Drela, an aerodynamics professor at MIT, how it works.  Cost: A few centsTime: 2 minutes Instructions: 1) Igniting the […]
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12:00 PM | Survey Reveals What Today's America Thinks The Future Looks Like
A 1910 Vision Of A Future Helicopter This image comes from an excellent series of French postcards made in the ealy 1900s about life in the 21st century. Villemard, via Wikimedia Commons In the next 50 years, Americans think they probably won't ride in driverless cars, that robots flying outside will have made everything worse, and that humans will be nowhere close to colonizing the solar system. Those are some of the conclusions from a Pew Research Center survey of 1,001 […]

April 16, 2014

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9:21 PM | Whence Life? Receptors Responsible For Fertilization Found
A fertilized human egg Wellcome Images Where do babies come from? If your kids ever ask, just tell them the story of Izumo and Juno, receptors found on the surface of sperm and egg cells, respectively. In a study on mice published today in the journal Nature, researchers found that these two proteins allow the sperm and egg to recognize one another, leading to fertilization--and life as we know it. These receptors are found in many mammals, including humans.  It previously […]
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7:09 PM | A Proposal To Save Electricity By Brightening The Moon
Before and After Moon Brightening Foreo Well, it gets points for creativity. Some pranksters—or perhaps just PR folks—at Foreo have put up a page proposing humankind solve its energy crisis by brightening the moon. A brighter moon would eliminate the need for nighttime streetlights, Foreo proposes. Super-moonlit streets would thus save electricity and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the page says. Now, I know Foreo is not serious, not least because it's a cosmetics company, […]
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4:15 PM | Put A Camera On Your Eyeball
Contact Lens On An Eyeball Antonio Calossi via Wikimedia Commons What's cooler than Google Glass? Almost anything, really, but something that is both cooler and smaller and still eyeball-centric is a patent for a camera-containing contact lens, filed by Google in late 2012. The patent was published March 27.  Sensors on the contact lens would detect blinks and respond to commands based on those blinks. The camera sits below the pupil on the contact, so it shouldn't […]
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3:45 PM | First Red Blood Cells Made From Adult Cells Ready For Human Transfusions
Red Blood Cells A mass of our most common type of blood cell. Annie Cavanagh, Wellcome Images One team of researchers has created red blood cells that are ready to go into human study volunteers. When the clinical trial testing the cells' safety starts, it will be the first time humans have ever received red blood cells made from adult cells, according to the Wellcome Trust, the project's funder. The cells are made from skin cells taken from a human donor. Researchers have long been […]
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2:00 PM | Robotic Cubes That Stack Themselves
How M-Blocks would build a bigger bot Courtesy MIT M-Blocks look unassuming, but they can pivot and jump without external moving parts—a feat engineers have been trying to accomplish for years. Because they’re mobile, the robotic cubes can stack on top of one another autonomously. Their inventors are now working toward the ultimate goal: programming them to combine into a larger, adaptable robot that performs tasks. M-Blocks Courtesy: John Romanishin of MIT Computer Science […]
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1:00 PM | You're Not Highly Evolved
Flickr/spidermandragon5 As humans, it’s tempting to think of ourselves as the pinnacle of evolutionary progress. But evolution can only work with what’s available, resulting in a body that’s a bundle of compromises.  FEET Our ankles and feet started out as flexible tree-climbing tools made of many small bones. But all of those tiny pieces amount to lots of opportunities to tear or twist something. And the way our shinbones and ankles are oriented to meet the demands of […]

April 15, 2014

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9:53 PM | New York City Restaurant Inspectors May Be Issued Google Glass
Google Glass Flickr/giuseppe.costantino New York City health inspectors might soon be donning Google Glass as they head out to check restaurants for rats and other hazards, under a recently proposed legislation. New York City Councilman Vincent Ignizio (R-Staten Island) suggested a yearlong pilot program that requires 10 percent of the current 160 health inspectors to wear video devices — including Google Glass — last week, the New York Post reported. “I think it […]
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8:53 PM | When Predators Bite Off More Than They Can Chew
Bad Idea Arsovski et al., Ecologica Montenegrina, 2014 We were entranced recently by a report of a young snake that tried to eat an old centipede. It seems the snake managed to swallow the centipede live, but then the centipede fought back, attempting to escape by eating its way out of the snake's body. Really. Read the full story at NBC News—and read the paper, too, which was published in the journal Ecologica Montenegrina. It's only a page long and worth every sentence.   […]
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8:00 PM | Snowboarder Glides With Handheld Airplane Thrusters
Dreamscience Propulsion Dreamscience Propulsion's snowboard thrusters are difficult to describe. It's like: if you stuffed airplane engines in American Gladiator batons? It's like: if you took a boom mic and used it to swat a drone out of the air? Words fail me. But, here they are: The thrusters, created by the U.K.-based company, let snowboarders—or surfers, or skateboarders—semi-automate their sport. Just hold on to the stick, and you get propelled along. The jet […]
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6:53 PM | Finally, A Way To Harvest Hydroelectric Energy From Toilet Flushes
    The average American flushes 24 gallons of water down the toilet daily, while—don't get me wrong, toilets; we appreciate all of your hard work—maybe some of the energy used in a flush could be put to an additional use. Here's one way: harvest some of the energy from the water and use it for power. A team of researchers in South Korea have created a transducer that translates water motion—from toilets, raindrops, or other […]
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6:00 PM | The Editor's Letter From The May 2014 Issue Of Popular Science
Cliff Ransom Photo by Marius Bugge On December 8, 1903, Samuel Pierpont Langley set out to achieve the first manned, powered plane flight. Langley was an experienced designer of flying machines, the head of the Smithsonian Institution, and funded by the U. S. War Department. If anyone was positioned for success, it was he. But moments after he launched his Aerodrome A, the aircraft collapsed in midair and plummeted into the Potomac River. Nine days later, two bicycle mechanics from Dayton, […]
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5:15 PM | Robot Sub Searching For Malaysian Jet Finds Itself Out Of Its Depth
A Bluefin-21 AUV at the Surface of the Water After a Mission Bluefin Robotics The search for Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 has moved underwater, but it's still not easy. A robotic submarine deployed yesterday returned to the surface sooner than expected because it encountered depths beyond its capabilities, Australian broadcaster ABC reports. The search is occurring in the southern Indian Ocean, northwest of the Australian city of Perth. BBC News has great graphics showing the sea-floor […]
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