Posts

October 31, 2014

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5:30 PM | Meet A Woman Who Trains Robots For A Living
Curi the robot Harold Daniels Andrea Thomaz, who directs Georgia Tech’s Socially Intelligent Machines Lab, teaches a one-of-a-kind student: a robot with light-up ears, named Curi. We asked Thomaz how she envisions life with robots unfolding. Popular Science: Why should robots be able to learn? Andrea Thomaz: Personal robots are going to be out in human environments, and it’s going to be really hard for engineers to think of all the things we’re going to […]
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2:30 PM | Scientists Listen In To The Seismic Soundscapes Of Human Activity
Traffic Paulio Geordio Planes, trains and automobiles create the noisy background to our lives--especially in urban areas. In addition to getting us from point A to point wherever-we're-headed, the swift movement of transportation creates plenty of noise and vibrations. But the low-frequency noise of these vibrations is usually completely unnoticed by humans, until now. Scientists presenting their research at the Acoustical Society of America (ASA) meeting this week […]
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1:45 PM | Is The Human Species Still Evolving?
Flickr/spidermandragon5 Is there a Homo superius just around the next corner, waiting to take our place? Let’s think about what it would take: If we were to give rise to a new species, something would have to happen to us to create a bottleneck or isolated place for a founder-person and her or his mate to show up and get separated from you and me and our offspring. In the modern world, that is very unlikely. We have airplanes and ships and the Internet. What if there were an […]

October 30, 2014

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9:01 PM | China Plans To Put Floating Docks On Disputed Islands
Swallow Reef (Pulau Layang-Layang) in Spratly Islands, South China Sea Matthew Lee, via Wikimedia Commons What’s a country to do with a chain of disputed islands? One option is just “go ahead and build a dock to claim them,” and attach it to some of the islands. Shown off at the Shiptec China 2014 exhibition, China has a plan for floating docks it wants to put in the disputed Spratly Islands. Roughly, the Spratly Islands refers to an area 500 nautical miles […]
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8:11 PM | Big Pic: China's Lunar Spacecraft Snaps Trippy Pic Of The Moon And Earth
Role Reversal Xinhua On its trip around the Moon this week, China’s lunar test probe, Chang’e 5TI, snapped this mind-bending image of the Earth and its satellite, putting the objects in a unique perspective. The photo is taken from just beyond lunar orbit, and it gives the illusion that the Moon is actually the more sizable of the two, and that Earth is the tiny orbiter. The unmanned Chang’e 5TI is meant to test atmospheric re-entry technologies that […]
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7:11 PM | Movie Theaters Ban Google Glass
Google Glass lawrencegs via Flickr One of the selling points of Google Glass is its ability to take pictures and video of anything within your field of vision, but when that field of vision is occupied by the latest major motion picture, your Google Glass now needs to be far, far away.  This week, two major movie industry groups, the National Association of Theatre Owners (NATO) and the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) officially banned Google Glass […]
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6:00 PM | How To Give A Mouse Ebola
Emerging Diseases Lab, University of Washington This lab was one of several that worked on making the Ebola-symptom mice described below. Brian Donohue If you give a lab mouse the mouse version of Ebola, it will die. But not in the same way humans with Ebola do. Lab mice infected with Ebola don't get hemorrhagic fever. They don't form tiny clots in their blood, like human Ebola sufferers do, even though the genetic sequence of the mouse Ebolavirus differs from human […]
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4:45 PM | How Much Candy Can I Eat This Halloween?
The average U.S. trick-or-treater takes home 600 grams of sugar on Halloween—equivalent to three cups of pure sugar. Bad news, trick-or-treaters: A new recommendation from the World Health Organization (WHO) deals a serious blow to your annual candy binge. The guideline, set to be released this fall, drops the suggested daily intake of “free sugars”—those added to processed foods, such as high-fructose corn syrup, and those that result when naturally occurring sugars […]
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4:00 PM | Researchers May Have Found A Fragment of Amelia Earhart's Plane
Amelia Earhart Public domain via Wikimedia Commons Amelia Earhart disappeared 77 years ago, but 2014 is turning out to be a banner year for her. Her namesake completed a memorial flight around the world, reenacting the original Earhart's infamous flight (without so much of a tragic ending). Now, a group believes that they have found a piece of Earhart's ill-fated plane.    The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery (TIGHAR) announced in a press […]
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3:30 PM | What NASA Should Do Instead Of An Asteroid Retrieval Mission
An Asteroid Stops By At least one roughly 10-meter-wide asteroid passes as close as the Moon each week. Detlev Van Ravenswaay/SPL Criticism continues to grow for NASA’s Asteroid Retrieval Mission (ARM) -- the space agency’s plan to capture a 10-meter-wide piece of an asteroid and bring it into lunar orbit for further analysis. Among experts’ complaints: The mission is expensive; it doesn’t really further our knowledge of asteroids; […]
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2:45 PM | Throwback Thursday: 11 Amazing Costume Ideas From The PopSci Archives
Diving For Gold Diggers Popular Science Forget disco chic, or flower power-era costumes. Here are 11 truly retro Halloween costume ideas from our archives. This Throwback Thursday, we bring you the most eerie and wacky outfits to ever grace the pages of Popular Science.
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2:00 PM | How Sneeze Particles Travel Inside An Airplane
How Germs Travel SuperJet International via Flickr CC by-SA 2.0 At first, the video displays the virtual insides of a crowded passenger airplane. Then all of a sudden, one of the passengers seated in the middle "sneezes." Hundreds of multicolored particles are jettisoned into the air, creating a rainbow-speckled cloud that lingers above everyone’s heads. The cloud dissolves, and the particles disperse, making their way to the unlucky few seated adjacent to the sick […]
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12:00 PM | Feast Your Eyes On The Best Microscope Images Of The Year
Jumping Spider Eyes Noah Fram-Schwartz Every year since 1974, Nikon has herded a gaggle of nerds into a room for an impossible task: Pore over thousands of microscope images and pick the very best ones. I was lucky enough to join the judge’s circle this summer for Nikon Small World 2014—the 40th year of the microscopy competition. Our small group had to peruse more than 1,200 entries from 79 countries. It wasn’t easy. Many of the images had just the […]

October 29, 2014

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10:04 PM | Good Idea/Bad Idea: Use Spray Paint To...
Good Idea, Bad Idea Chris Philpot Protect Animals (Good Idea) In Finland, reindeer herders are spraying antlers with a reflective paint to make the animals more visible to nighttime traffic. You can do the same for pets. Albedo 100's washable "Horses and Pets" blend is safe and effective on short-haired animals. In daylight, it appears as a semitransparent gray. On a clear night, it can reflect a vehicle's headlights from more than 500 feet. Cut a stencil from cardboard and […]
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7:35 PM | How Benedict Cumberbatch Became A Dragon [Video]
(MGM) A delightful clip of Benedict Cumberbatch playing Smaug for The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug made the rounds last week, showcasing the weirdness of motion-capture performance. In the video, he wears a full body suit, and white dots are speckled on his face. Yet as funny as this sight is, most people probably weren't surprised by it. After all, we've seen Hollywood actors decked out in ball-studded jumpsuits for motion capture roles throughout the past […]
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6:49 PM | Smallpox Samples Slated For Immediate Destruction Are Still Intact, Pending Red Tape
Smallpox Virions Imaged using a microscope, magnified about 370,000 times CDC/ Dr. Fred Murphy; Sylvia Whitfield After U.S. government researchers discovered six forgotten vials of smallpox in a freezer this past June, the plan was to destroy the vials. That's still the plan… but the demolition date has been pushed back, Nature News reports. The actual destruction should be fairly easy, biosecurity consultant Erik Heegaard told Popular Science in July. […]
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5:15 PM | How Four Technologies Will Carry The Weight Of War
U.S. Troops In Vietnam Getty Images "The ability to move is directly related to the ability to survive." Shortly after iron swords and spearheads became common, soldiers in sixth-century Greece ran into a problem. Infantrymen carted around breastplates, helmets, bronze-lined wooden shields, and iron-tipped spears—as much as 70 pounds of extra weight. The loads were so intolerable that soldiers routinely abandoned them on the battlefield. The famous Spartan phrase […]
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4:25 PM | Lava Flow Swiftly Approaching Hawaiian Town
Fence Lava overruns a fence on October 28 USGS/HVO Compared to most natural disasters, a lava invasion does not move all that fast. Nowhere is that more evident than the small Hawaiian community of Pāhoa, where a lava flow has been approaching the town since June 27. Now, the lava has finally arrived on the outskirts of town, overrunning private property. In the picture above, the lava behind the fence is chest-high. Geologists are keeping a close […]
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3:54 PM | Gallery: The Top 10 Failed NASA Missions
View of the Antares Rocket After Launch, October 28, 2014 Screenshot from Wallops Flight Facility's live, public video feed Orbital Science's Antares rocket exploded just seconds after liftoff yesterday. The rocket was carrying science experiments and supplies for the International Space Station. The mission was unmanned, and nobody on the ground was injured either, according to the public video feed from NASA's Wallops Flight Facility. The combined value of the […]
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2:55 PM | What Happens To A Body When It's 'Sleeping With The Fishes'?
Ocean Dom Crossley Forensic scientists often have to reconstruct the events leading up to and following a person's death, in case of foul play. The state of the body can reveal when the person died, how, and where the body was disposed of. Part of discerning that information depends on understanding the effects of decomposition. For that, scientists can observe bodies decaying on land in specially constructed body farms at universities. But what […]

October 28, 2014

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9:41 PM | Microscopic Robots Learn To Move Like White Blood Cells
Microscopic beads Juan Aragones, Josh Steimel, and Alfredo Alexander-Katz In the 90s kids show The Magic School Bus, eccentric teacher Ms. Frizzle took her class for a wild ride in a sick student’s immune system -- only to be attacked by white blood cells. White blood cells tracked the bus using the same chemical traces they follow to find infected sites or navigate their way to viruses. If microscopic robots could replicate this complex navigation system, […]
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7:50 PM | Future Airplanes Might Replace Windows With OLED Screens
Windowless Airplane Concept Centre for Process Innovation There may be no such thing as a window seat on the airliners of the future. A concept released by the U.K.’s Centre for Process Innovation (CPI) envisions airliners with thinner walls, made by doing away with cabin windows altogether. In their place, CPI sees OLED screens lining entire interior walls, which would show passengers the sky around them. Weirdly, the OLED screens aren’t CPI’s selling […]
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7:05 PM | Big Pic: Jupiter Gets An Eye In Its Storm
True-Color Jupiter, April 21, 2014 NASA, ESA, and A. Simon (Goddard Space Flight Center) When the Hubble Telescope snapped this true-color image in April, NASA scientists found Jupiter staring right back at them. That black dot is Ganymede's shadow, crossing Jupiter's Great Red Spot, creating an eerily blank-looking eye. It is almost certainly the eye of a large and emotionally stunted monster. The shadows of Jupiter's four major […]
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6:15 PM | Shipping Containers Could Relay Quantum Information Across Oceans
Cargo Ship Glen via Flickr Physics says that if two particles are entangled on a quantum level, they are permanently linked -- a change in one particle will instantaneously affect the other one, no matter the distance between them. That’s something that could be fantastic for quickly transporting information across vast distances … but only if we can figure out how to use it. Scientists (and corporations) are already building working computers that […]
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5:17 PM | Plan To Save Great Barrier Reef Is 'Inadequate,' Scientists Say
The Great Barrier Reef, 2003 Image provided by NASA Goddard Space Flight Center's Landsat Team using data courtesy the Australian ground receiving station teams The Australian government has been working on a plan for taking care of the Great Barrier Reef over the next four decades—but scientists say it's inadequate. The Australian Academy of Science released today an 11-page critique of the government's latest draft of its "Reef 2050 Long-Term Sustainability […]
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3:15 PM | Smoke Rings And A Giant Six-Legged Robot, From Maker Faire 2014
http://cf.c.ooyala.com/VkbHRjcTpV1uCFO6B0loNa0GuZ1cupk4/MGngRNnbuHoiqTJH... Please enable Javascript to watch this video In September, Popular Science attended World Maker Faire at the New York Hall of Science. We saw giant robots, tiny Tesla coils, and musical instruments made out of anything you can imagine. Check out some of the coolest projects with us! Just outside of Boston, an intrepid group of humans is building a giant hexapod robot. Nicknamed Stompy, the behemoth will […]
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1:45 PM | Your Washing Machine Could Charge Your Smartphone Someday
Wireless Charging Alison Seiffer Hanging out in the kitchen? Chances are, you—and your smartphone—are within 15 feet of the refrigerator. Right now, two companies are planning for a future in which that means you could get the charge on your phone topped off. Haier, a large-appliance maker, and Energous, a wireless-charging startup, have signed an agreement to develop their products together, Computerworld reports. The companies are thinking of placing Energous' […]
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12:58 PM | Interstellar Travel Won't Look Anything Like The Movie
The Very Green Interior Of An Imagined Colonial Transporter Rick Guidice/NASA Ames Research Center via Wikimedia Commons Christopher Nolan's Interstellar imagines a human journey to planets beyond our star. But that kind of trip would seem impossible in today's terms. Fortunately, a DARPA-funded task force is already working to make it happen in the next century. Mae Jemison, leader of the 100 Year Starship Project (100YSS) told Popular Science that enormous challenges […]

October 27, 2014

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8:46 PM | To Kill Malaria Parasite, Feed Bacteria To Mosquitoes
Blood Meal An Anopheles albimanus mosquito bites a human. These species is a malaria vector in Central America. The deadly malaria parasite, a protozoan named Plasmodium, rides inside the bellies of mosquitoes to get from human to human. While some scientists have proposed using genetically engineered or sperm-free mosquitoes to fight malaria, a new method aims straight for the stomach: Researchers have found that feeding mosquitoes bacteria […]
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8:00 PM | '3-D Cutter' Othermill Goes On Sale
An Othermill Other Machine Co. You can think of an Othermill as the opposite of a 3-D printer. Instead of building up objects from raw materials, Othermills create objects by cutting away a larger block of material into something smaller. They're like tiny robotic sculptors, similar to the artists who chisel away at a big block of marble until it becomes a work of art. Like home 3-D printers, however, Othermills are made to fit on a tabletop. And they've gone on […]
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