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April 24, 2014

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6:06 PM | A Silent, Hybrid Motorcycle For The U.S. Military
BRD RedshiftMX Electric Bike The silent hybrid will likely be built from this body. BRD Key to many a successful military assault is the element of surprise. If an attacking force can arrive undetected—through terrain thought to be impassible—the battle is half won. The U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, the arm of the Pentagon most responsible for shiny, futuristic technology, recently gave a $100,000 grant to Logos Technologies, Fairfax, […]
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5:04 PM | Here's Why The FDA Is Regulating E-Cigarettes
Flickr/rpavich Early today, the FDA—after years of saber-rattling—proposed new rules to regulate e-cigarettes. You may have heard something about this, since people in both camps are losing it. Ah, so the FDA is really putting the clampdown on these, eh?  Well, relatively. Up until now, e-cigarettes were almost completely unregulated; the new system would make some changes, like banning sales to minors. Good! Yes! Unless you are in the camp that believes e-cigarettes are a […]
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2:00 PM | Predicting Wildfires Could Save Lives. So Why Are We So Bad At It?
A firefighter uses a flare to conduct backburn operations against the 89 Mesa Fire the night of May 6, 2010. Credit: USDA Forest Service, Coconino National Forest. Last year in Arizona, 19 firefighters got trapped in an unpredictably fast wildfire. All of them died. It was the highest firefighter death toll for a single fire since 1933. The same year, Sierra Nevada saw its largest fire ever, which ravaged 402 square miles, and Colorado suffered its most destructive wildfire in state […]
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1:00 PM | A 12,000-Mile, 24-Day, Cross-Country, All-Electric Road Trip
Charging in Barstow, California At the end of his road trip on Monday, Norman Hajjar had used a little more than 4,000 kilowatt-hours of energy. He drove a Tesla Model S sedan for 12,000 miles over 24 days, crossing 27 states along the way. The trip was a bid for a Guinness world record for the longest all-electric car trip. It was also a publicity stunt on behalf of electric vehicle technology. "It's a way to draw attention and amplify just how far we've come in electric vehicles," Hajjar […]

April 23, 2014

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9:29 PM | Human Gut Has The Surface Area Of A Studio Apartment
Micrograph Image Showing Intestinal Villi Photo hosted on Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 2.0 Textbooks (here are just a few) say the surface area of the human gut is about 300 square meters, or about the size of a tennis court. But who will fact-check the fact-makers, hmm? HMMMM? Never fear, two researchers recently revisited this question and came up with a correction. "Actually, the inner surface of the gastro-intestinal tract is only as large as a normal studio apartment," gastrointestinal […]
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7:08 PM | An Algorithm That Recognizes Faces Better Than People Can
Faces from the Dataset Used to Test the Algorithm Described Below Labeled Faces in the Wild, University of Massachusetts It's already a little eerie when Facebook suggests tags for who it recognizes in your photo, especially for faces that are small, blurry, or otherwise difficult to distinguish. What if Facebook were even better--better at recognizing people in pictures than you are? Two computer scientists are announcing they've made a program that is better at matching photos than […]
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5:22 PM | Jeans That Won't Let You (Or The Planet) Get Dirty
Photography by Brian Klutch Any time a drop of water rolls off a raincoat, a durable water repellent (DWR) treatment is doing its job. But with washing and wear, the treatments tend to rub off, bleeding into the ground, water, and even our bodies. (The EPA has classified common DWR chemicals, perfluorinated compounds, as toxic.) Schoeller’s Ecorepel is the first DWR to perform as well as—or better than—other treatments (without toxins).  Ecorepel, up close Long […]
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3:55 PM | Ask Anything: Can Insects Get Fat?
Miroslaw Kijewski/Getty Images Some initial work on chubby bugs occurred in the early 1960s, when a Florida entomologist started publishing research on obese mosquitoes. When he fed the wild-caught flies by hand (“by easing the proboscis into a micropipette”), he found that he could turn half their bodies into fat, by dry weight. More recently, scientists have studied obesity in male dragonflies. Ruud Schilder, a biologist at Penn State, showed that infection with a certain […]
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3:00 PM | Q&A: What Is Feminist Biology?
A Fertilized Human Egg Wellcome Images The University of Wisconsin-Madison is looking for a particular kind of biologist: a feminist one. The university has set up a fellowship, administered by its women's studies department, for life sciences research. While it may sound strange for a social sciences department to host a biologist, the researchers in charge of the new fellowship are hoping to make it more of a norm. Scholars have long talked about how gender bias affects biology research. […]
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1:00 PM | Starting Today, Google Maps Is A Time Machine
Google Even as Google continues expanding its Maps—going as far as documenting polar bear migrations—the company has to regularly dispatch their Street View cars to places they've already been: cities change, and it takes another lap to keep Maps up to date. That means major metropolises—Singapore, New York—have been updated as much as eight or nine times since Google's tool first launched. Now, you can finally take a look at all those past […]
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9:00 AM | Under Light, Chameleon-Like Material Changes Color And Shape
Humans are good at making things that are one color. But if you want to really blend into your surroundings, it would be best to have a material that can change its appearance based on its surroundings--like a chameleon. University of Michigan researchers have created a material imbued with a special type of crystal that can change its shape and color when different wavelengths of light are shone on it, that could be used in the future to create active camouflage.  […]

April 22, 2014

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9:15 PM | Unique Mineral Discovered In Australia
Purple mineral Crystals of putnisite, in purple. P. Elliott et al A previously unknown mineral has been discovered in a remote location in Western Australia. The mineral, named putnisite, appears purple and translucent, and contains strontium, calcium, chromium, sulphur, carbon, oxygen and hydrogen, a very unusual combination. While dozens of new minerals are discovered each year, it is rare to find one that is unrelated to already-known substances. "Most minerals belong to a […]
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8:00 PM | Use Your Tongue To Check Your Smartphone
Check Your Email While Here Screenshot from "World's Fastest Electric Superbike – Mojave Mile!" by Chip Yates on YouTube Among the muscles in the body, the ones in the tongue are probably the most overlooked. You don't go to the gym to work out your tongue. (Please do not tell me about your tongue workouts, thx.) Still, it's strong and dexterous. That's why engineers are looking into making tongue-controlled wheelchairs for people who aren't able to steer themselves with […]
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7:32 PM | Watch A Solar Plane Fly Over Milan [Video]
Airplane wings are broad, flat surfaces that almost always face the sky, which means they are ideal mounts for solar panels. Built by Solar Flight, a team of European engineers, the Sunseeker Duo is a two-seater airplane that flies purely by solar power. On December 17, 2013, it completed its first flight powered solely by its own battery. Earlier today, Solar Flight released video of that flight. The airplane has the lithe profile and shape more commonly associated […]
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5:19 PM | The Invention Of The Solar Cell
The Ivanpah Solar Farm At the Ivanpah solar farm, 347,000 software-controlled mirrors that track the sun’s movement throughout the day. They direct light toward one of three towers, where a water boiler creates steam that powers a generator. Ethan Miller/ Getty Images The great Scottish scientist James Clerk Maxwell wrote in 1874 to a colleague: “I saw conductivity of Selenium as affected by light. It is most sudden. Effect of a copper heater insensible. That of the sun […]
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4:34 PM | Miniature Roomba-Like Printer Hits Funding Goal
Pocket Printer The printer, if you even own one, is likely your most despised device. It's loud; it jams; it requires a fountain of ink that is literally more expensive than imported Russian caviar. Any forward progress on that front is appreciated. The latest is a tiny robot from a startup called ZUtA Labs, called the Pocket Printer: a fist-sized, Roomba-like robot that rolls across paper, trailing letters behind it like Hansel and Gretel dropping breadcrumbs. With 17 days to go, the […]
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4:01 PM | 'Mafia' Cuckoos Rule By Fear, Foisting Young On Other Birds
A great spotted cuckoo Yathin S Krishnappa via Wikimedia Commons Great spotted cuckoos lay their eggs in other birds' nests, and the host does all the work of raising the impostor. But if the new foster parent doesn't cooperate and ditch the new arrival, the  the cuckoo sometimes retaliates, destroying the poor birds' other eggs. Brown-headed cowbirds behave similarly. Whaddaya gonna do about it?  Scientists have puzzled over this […]
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2:00 PM | South Korea May Try To Curb Smartphone Use With Mobile Gaming Curfew
Korean consumers test the Galaxy S4 at an event held by Samsung Electronics in April 2013 ahead of the launch of the latest smartphone device Korea.net / Samsung Electronics South Korea is a country known for its absurdly fast internet access, whether it's on smartphones or desktop computers. It’s also home to Samsung, the native-Korean tech conglomerate that sweeps a whopping 30 percent of the global mobile device market. But the South Korean government is now worried […]
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1:00 PM | How To Turn A Clothespin Into A Matchstick Gun
DIY enthusiast Grant Thompson, who previously made a 10-penny battery that powered a small light for almost two weeks, is at it again. Inspired by another project tutorial, Thompson created seven variations of a mini-pistol that can fire matches over 20 feet. You'll need: Clothespins Wood glue Utility knife Matches Take apart the clothespin by removing its metal spring, then hold the two wooden clips back-to-back. With the utility knife, carve out a barrel for the matchstick […]

April 21, 2014

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9:40 PM | Meteors May Have Brought Vitamin B To Earth
Made in Space Karen Smith crushing meteorites with a mortar and pestle in Goddard’s Astrobiology Analytical Laboratory to prepare them for analysis. Vitamin B3 was found in all eight meteorites analyzed in the study. Karen Smith Did life here begin...out there? We don't yet know and may never. But there is compelling evidence that I might not be sitting here writing this today, or you reading it, if not for meteorite-enabled distribution of a simple vitamin billions of […]
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8:15 PM | LTE Will Let Your Car's Computer Update Like Your Smartphone
Chevrolet 4G LTE-Enabled Console Corinne Iozzio Carmakers seem to want to shout one simple phrase when they talk about adding high-speed 4G LTE radios into their cars: "Apps! We have apps now, too!" Yes, guys, you can have apps now, too. But that's not the half of it. Streaming Pandora and getting live weather reports is great and all, but let's be honest, we could already do that by connecting our smartphones to the console over Bluetooth (or plugging them in, a la Apple's new […]
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7:30 PM | A Test That Quantifies Basic Language-Learning Ability
Teaching An Old Dog New Words A U.S. Air Force Academy cadet at the board in Chinese class. U.S. Department of Defense Until recently, it's been used exclusively in U.S. government agencies and military schools. But now, a test for how easily a person will become fluent in a foreign language could be made available for civilians. Nautilus calls the test "one of the first civilian benefits to come out of America's war on terror." Nautilus looks at some of the science—and […]
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6:57 PM | How To Make Powdered Booze At Home
N-Zorbit courtesy Modernist Pantry Some truths we rarely question. The sky is blue. The sun rises in the east. Cocktails are wet. But a new product, called Palcohol, aims to crumble our everyday expectations. It's an alcoholic beverage -- in powder form. Carry a convenient lightweight packet of powder with you anywhere, and reconstitute it with water whenever you want a drink. Palcohol will be available in vodka and rum varieties, as well as mojito, margarita, and other premixed cocktail […]
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5:30 PM | Britain's Main Nuclear Waste Site Almost Certain To Leak In Near Future, Agency Says
Sellafield nuclear site The Sellafield nuclear site in northwest England. About six kilometers (4 miles) to the south is the nuclear waste site, the Low Level Waste Repository, where material from Sellafield and elsewhere is stored. For the last 55 years, most of Britain's low-level nuclear waste--the kind of material used in nuclear power stations and the like--has ended up at a repository in northwest England, on the coast near the Irish Sea. Some areas of the site are only 16 feet […]
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4:48 PM | The Best Of The 2014 New York Auto Show
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4:09 PM | High-School-Age Heroes Create Ketchup Lid That Doesn't Squirt Water
    What is one of The Worst Things In The World? (In the listicle sense, not the human tragedy sense.) Answer: when you empty the first squirt of ketchup from the bottle and it's a watery, brown, puddle-like mess, and you can feel each individual shard of your slowly shattering heart as the liquid dampens your fries. Thankfully, a group of young heroes has a solution: a mushroom-shaped 3-D printed cap insert with an opening that lets water collect at the bottom of the bottle, while […]
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3:00 PM | Hunting For The Genetic Secret To A Rare Disease
Geneticist Ohad Birk Consults with a Doctor in a Bedouin Village Before Birk discovered the genes responsible for PCCA, he worked on uncovering the genetic causes of certain birth defects among Bedouin people. Dani Machlis It was more than ten years ago that Dr. Tally Lerman-Sagie first saw babies with PCCA, a genetic disorder that causes severe mental and physical disabilities and brain atrophy—all before age three. Parents would bring in […]
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1:00 PM | Left To Their Own Devices, Robots Evolve Into Diverse Populations
Eat or Mate? Two robots spot one another across a field of six batteries. Stefan Elfwing and Kenji Doya, PLOS ONE, 2014 There are a few different ways you can study evolution. You could live for months at a time in a tent on tiny island with an isolated population and no fresh water. Or you could program a computer model and some squirrel-sized robots to act out a thousand generations of sex and death in the comfort of your own lab. Two researchers from the Okinawa Institute of […]

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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