This Artist Made a Radio Out of a Kitchen Sink
Some artists work in oils, say, or marble. Amanda Dawn Christie works in radio. Not radio in the sense of performing on air. But radio in the sense of the giant cultural and technological phenomenon that is broadcasting, and specifically shortwave broadcasting.
For decades, shortwave was the only way to reach a global audience in real time. Broadcasters such as the BBC World Service and Voice of America used it to project “soft power.” But as the Internet grew, interest in shortwave diminished.
Christie’s art draws from shortwave’s history, representing it in sculpture, performance, photography, and film. Her focus is the life of the Radio Canada International (RCI) transmitter complex, located in Sackville, New Brunswick, near Christie’s hometown. The transmitter was in operation from the 1940s until 2012. “Those towers were always just a part of the landscape that I grew up around,” says Christie. It took a radio-building workshop to spark her interest: “I built a radio out of a toilet-paper tube.... I thought I did a great job because I picked up Italian radio. It turned out I did not—I was just really close to this international shortwave site.” More
We Have More Evidence That Two Earth-Like Exoplanets Have Stable Climates And Seasons Just Like Us
Two exoplanets thought to be similar to Earth apparently are, at least when it comes to climate, Kepler-186f is the first identified Earth-sized planet outside the solar system orbiting a star in the habitable zone.
This means it's the proper distance from its host star for liquid water to pool on the surface.
The study, which appears in the Astronomical Journal , used simulations to analyze and identify the exoplanet's spin axis dynamics. Those dynamics determine how much a planet tilts on its axis and how that tilt angle evolves over time. Axial tilt contributes to seasons and climate because it affects how sunlight strikes the planet's surface. More
Scottish GPs to begin prescribing rambling and birdwatching
Doctors in Shetland are to start prescribing birdwatching, rambling and beach walks in the Atlantic winds to help treat chronic and debilitating illnesses for the first time.
From Friday, doctors working in the 10 GP surgeries on the islands will be authorised by the archipelago’s health board, NHS Shetland, to issue “nature prescriptions” to patients to help treat mental illness, diabetes, heart disease, stress and other conditions.
Patients will be given calendars and lists of walks drawn up by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds showing them particular bird species and plants, and suitable routes to take. The leaflets are to be available at surgeries. More
The Physics of a Spinning Spacecraft in The Expanse
The Expanse should just change their post credits for each episode to include a list of homework questions. Seriously—there are so many great things to explore in this hard science fiction show.
In a recent episode, one of the large spaceships (the Navoo) rotates in order to create artificial gravity (that's not really a spoiler). How about some questions and answers about this giant spinning spaceship?
How do you make artificial gravity?
Let me get right to it. You are probably somewhere near the surface of the Earth and there is a gravitational force between you and the Earth pulling you down. But here is the crazy part—you don't really feel this gravitational force. Since the gravitational force pulls on all parts of your body, you don't feel it. What you actually feel as "weight" is the force from the floor (or seat) pushing up on you. We call this the "apparent" weight. More
Helium temporarily bricks iPhones and Apple Watches in Chicago hospital, Android devices immune
A new report from iFixit today looks into a curious case of many iPhones and Apple Watches failing at a hospital, at the same time. At first the cause was thought to be an electromagnetic pulse, but further investigation revealed the issue was helium.
They mystery started when a new MRI machine was being installed at Morris Hospital, outside Chicago. Systems Specialist, Erik Wooldridge said that he started hearing that smartphones had stopped working in the building. More
BlackFly electric personal VTOL ultralight aircraft is USA-qualified
OPENER has announced that its BlackFly ultralight VTOL aircraft has been qualified for use in the US. The company says that BlackFly is simple to operate and master with no formal licensing needed in the US. BlackFly is fully amphibious and is designed to operate from small grassy areas for distances of up to 25 miles.
It is speed limited in the US to 62mph. The FAA requires no licensing for the use of ultralight qualified vehicles in the US. OPENER says that it will require all operators to complete the FAA Private Pilot written exam and complete a mandated vehicle familiarization and operator training. The vehicle is zero emissions and has eight propulsion systems spread across two wings. More
Why have humans never found aliens?
“IF ALIENS are so likely, why have we never seen any?” That is the Fermi Paradox—named after Enrico Fermi, a physicist who posed it in 1950.
Fermi’s argument ran as follows. The laws of nature supported the emergence of intelligent life on Earth. Those laws are the same throughout the universe. The universe contains zillions of stars and planets.
So, even if life is unlikely to arise on any particular astronomical body, the sheer abundance of creation suggests the night sky should be full of alien civilisations. Fermi wondered why aliens had never visited Earth. Today, the paradox is more usually cast in light of the inability of radio-telescope searches to detect the equivalent of the radio waves that leak from Earth into the cosmos, and have done for the past century. More
Anomalies in The Large Hadron Collider's Data Are Still Stubbornly Pointing to New Physics
Past experiments using CERN's super-sized particle-smasher, the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), hinted at something unexpected. A particle called a beauty meson was breaking down in ways that just weren't line up with predictions.
That means one of two things – our predictions are wrong, or the numbers are out. And a new approach makes it less likely that the observations are a mere coincidence, making it's nearly enough for scientists to start getting excited.
A small group of physicists took the collider's data on beauty meson (or b meson for short) disintegration, and investigated what might happen if they swapped one assumption regarding its decay for another that assumed interactions were still occurring after they transformed. More
Ancient Girl's Parents Were Two Different Human Species
When the results first popped up, paleogeneticist Viviane Slon didn't believe it. “What went wrong?” she recalls asking herself at the time. Her mind immediately turned to the analysis. Did she make a mistake? Could the sample be contaminated?
The data was telling her that the roughly 90,000-year-old flake of bone she had tested was from a teenager that had a Neanderthal mom and Denisovan dad.
Researchers had long suspected that these two groups of ancient human relatives interbred, finding whiffs of both their genes in ancient and modern human genomes. But no one had ever found the direct offspring from such a pairing. More
New Horizons Just Found Hints of a Huge Structure at The Edge of Our Solar System
Way out past Pluto, in the region of asteroid-filled space known as the Kuiper belt, NASA probe New Horizons just got a tantalising hint of a long-sought structure in the outer Solar System.
An ultraviolet glow picked up by the probe's Alice UV spectrometer could be evidence of the 'hydrogen wall', a region of dense hydrogen on the boundary between the Solar System and interstellar space.
"We're seeing the threshold between being in the solar neighborhood and being in the galaxy," astronomer Leslie Young of the Southwest Research Institute and New Horizons team told Science News. Although space has extremely low pressure, it still exists, and the solar wind exerts an outward pressure. At a certain point that wind is no longer strong enough to push back against interstellar space. More
Scientists Have an Interesting Theory on Why Some People Are Left-Handed
For a long time, scientists have debated why some people are left-handed. Formerly, people thought our hand orientation depended on genetic differences in our brain, but recent research seems to indicate that our preference actually stems from our spinal cord.
"The research — by Sebastian Ocklenburg, Judith Schmitz, and Onur Gunturkun from Ruhr University Bochum, along with other colleagues from the Netherlands and South Africa — found that gene activity in the spinal cord was asymmetrical in the womb and could be what causes a person to be left- or right-handed," explains an article by Lindsay Dodgson on Business Insider, citing research from a study published in the journal eLife in 2017. More
The Next Big Discovery in Astronomy? We Probably Found It Years Ago — But Don't Know It Yet
Earlier this year, astronomers stumbled upon a fascinating finding: Thousands of black holes likely exist near the center of our galaxy.
The X-ray images that enabled this discovery weren't from some state-of-the-art new telescope. Nor were they even recently taken – some of the data was collected nearly 20 years ago.
No, the researchers discovered the black holes by digging through old, long-archived data. Discoveries like this will only become more common, as the era of "big data" changes how science is done.
Astronomers are gathering an exponentially greater amount of data every day – so much that it will take years to uncover all the hidden signals buried in the archives. More
The next major innovation in batteries might be here
Lithium-ion batteries were first introduced to the public in a Sony camcorder in 1991. Then they revolutionized our lives. The versatile batteries now power everything from tiny medical implants and smartphones to forklifts and expensive electric cars. And yet, lithium-ion technology still isn’t powerful enough to fully displace gasoline-powered cars or cheap enough to solve the big energy-storage problem of solar and wind power.
Dave Eaglesham, the CEO of Pellion Technologies, a Massachusetts-based startup, believes his company has made the leap beyond lithium-ion that will bring the battery industry to the next stage of technological disruption. He and his colleagues have accomplished something researchers have been struggling with for decades: they’ve built a reliable rechargeable lithium-metal battery. More
We Might Finally Know What Smacked Uranus Sideways
Most planets have poles roughly aligned with the sun's, which we have labeled north and south. Not Uranus.
For whatever reason, the seventh planet from the sun has always rolled on its side, throwing off all sorts of strange magnetic activity in the meantime. It's unlikely Uranus was tilted when it formed, and astronomers have struggled to understand the cause.
New research published today in the Astrophysical Journal suggests that Uranus got hit by a planet twice the size of Earth long ago. This collision could have radically changed the planet, resulting in its telltale tilt and making it relatively frigid compared to farther-out Neptune. Uranus is about 14 times the mass of Earth and around four times larger in radius. Whatever hit Uranus is thought to have been between two or three Earth-masses. More
The Vanishing City
Every year around Labor Day weekend, about 75,000 people converge on the Black Rock Desert in Nevada to build a city. Occupying more than 14,000 acres, the pop-up metropolis features distinctive neighborhoods, extensive dining and entertainment, even a small airport. I find no hint of this when I visit the playa, or desert basin, on a sunny afternoon in March. All I see is a flat expanse of white alkaline soil, nearly identical to what pioneers described in their 19th-century journals.
The disappearing act is by design. It’s one of the core attributes of Black Rock City, guided by the tenets of the event for which this temporary metropolis is built: the annual pyrotechnic extravaganza known as Burning Man. Yet the weeklong festival’s leave-no-trace ethos has not stopped archaeologist Carolyn White from studying the city as she would any other vanished civilization. In fact, the cyclicality is one of the qualities that draws her here year after year. More
Science Explains What Happens To Someone’s Brain From Complaining Every Day
The human brain is remarkably malleable. It can be shaped very much like a ball of Play-Doh, albeit with a bit more time and effort.
Within the last 20 years, thanks to rapid development in the spheres of brain imaging and neuroscience, we can now say for certain that the brain is capable of re-engineering – and that we are the engineers.
In many ways, neuroplasticity – an umbrella term describing lasting change to the brain throughout a person’s life – is a wonderful thing. More
Engage Warp Drive! Why Interstellar Travel's Harder Than It Looks
How hard is it to hop to the nearest star system or soar across the galaxy? A typical "Star Trek" or "Star Wars" movie makes it look easy. When the heroes get a distant distress call, they use "warp drive" or "hyperdrive" and arrive at their destination within minutes or hours. If we got the right propulsion, would it be possible for us to voyage that quickly in real life?
Almost 50 years ago, humans were walking on the moon. But we stopped going in 1972 and never ventured any farther, except by sending robotic probes. Humans have never gone to Jupiter, as the book and movie "2001: A Space Odyssey" promised us, or even to Mars. What is it that makes travel far away so difficult? Besides the obvious human health concerns (living in microgravity tends to weaken a body over time) and budgetary issues, there are vast technological problems with traveling to faraway places. More
First-ever colour X-ray on a human
New Zealand scientists have performed the first-ever 3-D, colour X-ray on a human, using a technique that promises to improve the field of medical diagnostics, said Europe's CERN physics lab which contributed imaging technology.
The new device, based on the traditional black-and-white X-ray, incorporates particle-tracking technology developed for CERN's Large Hadron Collider, which in 2012 discovered the elusive Higgs Boson particle.
"This colour X-ray imaging technique could produce clearer and more accurate pictures and help doctors give their patients more accurate diagnoses," said a CERN statement. More
Andromeda may have eaten the Milky Way’s long-lost sibling
The Andromeda Galaxy (M31) is the largest member of the Milky Way’s gang of galactic neighbors, known as the Local Group. With around a trillion suns worth of mass, Andromeda’s gravitational influence is a force to be reckoned with. And according to new research, no galaxy in the Local Group knows this better than M32, an oddball satellite galaxy now orbiting Andromeda.
In a study published today in Nature Astronomy, researchers showed that about 2 billion years ago, the Andromeda Galaxy cannibalized one of the largest galaxies in the Local Group, turning it into the strange compact galaxy known as M32 that we see bound to Andromeda today. This massive collision stripped M32’s progenitor galaxy (dubbed M32p) of most of its mass – taking it from a hefty 25 billion solar masses to just a few billion solar masses. More
5,300-year-old Iceman's last meal reveals remarkably high-fat diet
In 1991, German tourists discovered, in the Eastern Italian Alps, a human body that was later determined to be the oldest naturally preserved ice mummy, known as Otzi or the Iceman. Now, researchers reporting in the journal Current Biology on July 12 who have conducted the first in-depth analysis of the Iceman's stomach contents offer a rare glimpse of our ancestor's ancient dietary habits.
Among other things, their findings show that the Iceman's last meal was heavy on the fat. The findings offer important insights into the nutritional habits of European individuals, going back more than 5,000 years to the Copper Age. They also offer clues as to how our ancient ancestors handled food preparation. More
Tesla bursts into flames after fatal crash in Switzerland
Swiss firefighters have indicated the impact of a fatal crash involving a Tesla car may have triggered a battery fire, causing the vehicle to go up in flames.
A 48-year-German driver died on Thursday when his car hit a barrier on a motorway in the canton of Ticino, southern Switzerland. The car burst into flames and was attended to by Bellinzona firefighters, who say the blaze may have been caused by the Tesla battery. More
Hyderabad radio ham receives world recognition
Hyderabad: Ashhar Farhan, founder of Lamakaan and a long-time radio ham, is in elite company after being recognized for popularising the open-source Bit-X semi-kits, thus opening up the world to more hams in a much more affordable way.
On Friday, the international magazine CQ Amateur Radio inducted Farhan along with 11 others to its 2018 Hall of Fame, with Farhan being the only living Indian on the list.
The other Indian name was Kalpana Chawla, the NASA astronaut killed in 2003. Apart from Chawla, Farhan shares space in the Hall of Fame with prominent personalities such as Hollywood actor Marlon Brando, NASA astronaut David Brown, cybersecurity expert Mark Pecen and World War II photographer Ed Westcott. More
Tech companies scramble as sweeping data rules take effect
A sweeping set of new data privacy regulations descending on Europe is leaving internet companies in the U.S. scrambling to overhaul their practices to avoid steep penalties.
Companies like Google, Twitter, Yelp and Uber have in recent weeks sent notices to their users about updates to privacy policies and user agreements aimed at making their data collection practices more transparent.
The moves are part of an industry-wide effort to prepare for the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which goes into effect on Friday and forces companies to give full disclosure about what they do with the digital data they collect and offer their users more control over their information. More
Life inside hidden ’uncontacted’ Amazonian tribes REVEALED
Despite popular opinion so-called uncontacted tribes do have relations with neighbouring groups or tribes – whether they are friendly or not.
They are, however, considered to be people who have no peaceful contact with anyone in mainstream society. Survival International, a group that aims to protect the rights of tribal people, estimates there are about 100 uncontacted tribes across the globe.
Many groups who live in isolation from larger society carve out an existence in hunter-gatherers or bartering communities. They live in communal groups that rely heavily on the rainforest where they hunt, fish and harvest food. More
Facebook Disabled 1 Billion Fake Accounts in the Last Year
Facebook continued to give the public a peek behind the curtain, releasing a major report on Tuesday that announced the Silicon Valley company removed more than one billion fake accounts. Facebook also said it purged millions of posts that violate its rules in the last year.
The first-ever “Community Standards Enforcement Report,” a robust 81 pages, details the company’s efforts to weed out unsavory content, including violence and terrorist propaganda. The report accounted for the fourth quarter of 2017 and first quarter of 2018. More
Tesla owner who turned on car's autopilot then sat in passenger seat while banned from driving
A man who switched on his car's autopilot before moving to the passenger seat while travelling along a motorway has been banned from driving for 18 months. Bhavesh Patel, aged 39, of Alfreton Road, Nottingham, pleaded guilty to dangerous driving at St Albans Crown Court on Friday, April 20.
The court heard that at 7.40pm on May 21, 2017, Patel was driving his white Tesla S 60 along the northbound carriageway of the M1, between junctions 8 and 9 near Hemel Hempstead.
While the £70,000 car was in motion, he chose to switch on the supercar's autopilot function before moving across to the passenger seat and leaving the steering wheel and foot controls completely unmanned. More
Is Facebook secretly building an internet satellite? Signs point to yes
Facebook may be secretly working on its own satellite broadband service.
The possible move comes just a few months after SpaceX launched its first two prototype satellites for an internet constellation it hopes may one day be over 11,000 strong.
A partially redacted FCC application obtained by IEEE Spectrum outlines a plan for an experimental satellite from a mysterious company called PointView Tech LLC, which IEEE goes on to connect to Facebook. More
Star Wars Rebel Alliance symbol on an insect? Bee-lieve it
Humans aren't the only animals that can cosplay. Mother Nature endowed an unusual bee with one of the most famous symbols in all of sci-fi: the Star Wars Rebel Alliance logo.
Joseph Wilson, co-writer of The Bees in Your Backyard field guide, is celebrating May the 4th, Star Wars Day, with a photo of Triepeolus remigatus, a cuckoo bee with a distinctive marking that makes it look like it should be battling the Imperial forces alongside a bunch of Jedi and rebels.
But this particular bee has a dark side. Wilson said it "sneaks into the nests of squash bees and hides its egg. When its baby hatches, it kills the baby squash bee and eats the pollen that was left for the squash bee." That sounds a lot more Sith than Jedi. More
Police using 'drone killers' to disable flying devices in emergency situations
Drones have been used for a lot more than making videos and delivering pizzas.
They have dropped drugs into prison yards, scouted out illegal border crossings and grounded lifesaving efforts by accidentally wandering into the flight paths of firefighting aircraft.
The sky may be the limit for drones, but local law enforcement agencies are looking for a way to bring them back to earth. A new electronic device called a "drone killer" could be the answer. More
Why Asparagus Makes Your Urine Smell
If you’ve ever noticed a strange, not-entirely-pleasant scent coming from your urine after you eat asparagus, you’re definitely not alone.
Distinguished thinkers as varied as Scottish mathematician and physician John Arbuthnot (who wrote in a 1731 book that “asparagus…affects the urine with a foetid smell”) and Marcel Proust (who wrote how the vegetable “transforms my chamber-pot into a flask of perfume”) have commented on the phenomenon.
Even Benjamin Franklin took note, stating in a 1781 letter to the Royal Academy of Brussels that “A few Stems of Asparagus eaten, shall give our Urine a disagreable Odour” (he was trying to convince the academy to “To discover some Drug…that shall render the natural Discharges of Wind from our Bodies, not only inoffensive, but agreable as Perfumes” More
In Smart Cities of the Future, Posters and Street Signs Can Talk
One day, signs may be able to talk to us through our phones and our car radios. Okay, so this may not be a technological breakthrough you’ve long awaited. Given how much time we already spend interacting with devices, you may be wondering if we really need to have more opportunities for inanimate objects to communicate with us.
Allow Vikram Iyer to explain.
“We think this is a technique that can really be used in smart cities to provide people with information when they’re outdoors,” he says. More
DARPA Is Researching Time Crystals, And Their Reasons Are 'Classified'
The US military likes to stay at the forefront of the cutting edge of science - most recently investigating ways they can 'hack' the human brain and body to make it die slower, and learn faster.
But in an unexpected twist, it turns out they're also interested in pushing the limits of quantum mechanics. The Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has announced it's funding research into one of the strangest scientific breakthroughs in recent memory - time crystals.
In case you missed it, time crystals made headlines last year when scientists finally made the bizarre objects in the lab, four years after they were first proposed. More
Flowering Plants Originated Between 149 and 256 Million Years Ago
Angiosperms (flowering plants) are neither as old as suggested by previous molecular studies, nor as young as a literal interpretation of their fossil record, according to new research.
“The discrepancy between estimates of angiosperm evolution from molecular data and fossil records has caused much debate,” said co-author Dr. Jose Barba-Montoya, of University College London.
“Even Darwin described the origin of this group as an ‘abominable mystery’.” More
Autism, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder share molecular traits, study finds
A UCLA-led study, appearing Feb. 9 in Science, has found that autism, schizophrenia and bipolar disorder share some physical characteristics at the molecular level, specifically, patterns of gene expression in the brain. Researchers also pinpointed important differences in these disorders' gene expression.
"These findings provide a molecular, pathological signature of these disorders, which is a large step forward," said senior author Daniel Geschwind, a distinguished professor of neurology, psychiatry and human genetics and director of the UCLA Center for Autism Research and Treatment. "The major challenge now is to understand how these changes arose."
Researchers know that certain variations in genetic material put people at risk for psychiatric disorders, but DNA alone doesn't tell the whole story. Every cell in the body contains the same DNA; RNA molecules, on the other hand, play a role in gene expression in different parts of the body, by "reading" the instructions contained within DNA. More
Opportunity will celebrate its 14th year on Mars
Opportunity, one of the two Mars Exploration Rovers launched in 2003, landed successfully on the Red Planet at 04:54 UTC on January 25, 2004. Its original mission parameters planned for 90 martian days (called sols) of operation during the mild summer on the Meridiani Planum near the planet’s equator.
As of January 16, 2018, Opportunity has been operational for 4,970 sols and driven 28.02 miles (45.09 kilometers) on the martian surface. On January 25, 2018, Opportunity turns 14 — in Earth years. In Mars years (which last about 687 Earth days, or 669 sols), she turns 7.4. More
Scientists warn we may be creating a 'digital dark age'
You may think that those photos on Facebook or all your tweets may last forever, or might even come back to haunt you, depending on what you have out there. But, in reality, much of our digital information is at risk of disappearing in the future.
Unlike in previous decades, no physical record exists these days for much of the digital material we own. Your old CDs, for example, will not last more than a couple of decades. This worries archivists and archaeologists and presents a knotty technological challenge.
“We may [one day] know less about the early 21st century than we do about the early 20th century,” says Rick West, who manages data at Google. “The early 20th century is still largely based on things like paper and film formats that are still accessible to a large extent; whereas, much of what we're doing now — the things we're putting into the cloud, our digital content — is born digital.” More
In the Bones of a Buried Child, Signs of a Massive Human Migration to the Americas
The girl was just six weeks old when she died. Her body was buried on a bed of antler points and red ocher, and she lay undisturbed for 11,500 years.
Archaeologists discovered her in an ancient burial pit in Alaska in 2010, and on Wednesday an international team of scientists reported they had retrieved the child’s genome from her remains. The second-oldest human genome ever found in North America, it sheds new light on how people — among them the ancestors of living Native Americans — first arrived in the Western Hemisphere.
The analysis, published in the journal Nature, shows that the child belonged to a hitherto unknown human lineage, a group that split off from other Native Americans just after — or perhaps just before — they arrived in North America. More
New Horizons' Target Could Be Two Objects and Might Have a Moon
NASA's New Horizons space probe is charged with exploring some of the farthest reaches of the solar system: the Pluto system and the Kuiper Belt beyond. The spacecraft's next target, a Kuiper Belt Object (KBO) known as 2015 MU69, is believed to be a peanut-shaped rock, or possibly two rocks orbiting close together. New observations have suggested that MU69 could also have a moon.
The mystery speaks to how little is currently known about KBOs. "We really won't know what MU69 looks like until we fly past it, or even gain a full understanding of it until after the encounter," said New Horizons science team member Marc Buie, speaking at the American Geophysical Union (AGU) Fall Meeting in New Orleans. "But even from afar, the more we examine it, the more interesting and amazing this little world becomes." More
Why people don't work on their cars anymore
You can still purchase guides to fixing your car, and Haynes Manuals will be happy to sell them to you.
But the company asked customers what's keeping from getting under the hood — the survey was "informal" — and the answer wasn't surprising. That hunk of plastic covering the engine.
"You won't fix what you can't see," J Haynes, CEO of Haynes Publishing said in a statement.
"Most people don't realize that removing a few simple screws will provide easy access to undercover workings of their engine and allow them to work on their own cars and save lots of hard-earned money," he added. "We say there's no need to fear the plastic engine cover." More
Bright Spots on Ceres May Be Evidence of Aliens, Says NASA
NASA's Dawn spacecraft has been exploring Ceres, the largest object in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter since March 2015, and review of images Dawn has returned reveals that the dwarf planet is no mere hunk of dead rock.
Among the surface features of Ceres are hundreds of bright, reflective areas that stand out from its otherwise dark face.
"The mysterious bright spots on Ceres, which have captivated both the Dawn science team and the public, reveal evidence of Ceres' past subsurface ocean, and indicate that, far from being a dead world, Ceres is surprisingly active," said Carol Raymond, Manager of the Small Bodies Program at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. More
Are 'Flatliners' Really Conscious After Death?
Driven by ambition and curiosity to learn what lies on the other side of death, five medical students deliberately stop their hearts in order to experience "the afterlife" in the new thriller "Flatliners" (Sony Pictures), which opened in U.S. theaters on Sept. 29.
They quickly discover that there are unexpected and terrible consequences of dallying with death — but not everything they experience after "dying" is in the realm of science fiction. A growing body of research is charting the processes that occur after death, suggesting that human consciousness doesn't immediately wink out after the heart stops, experts say.
But what really happens in the body and brain in the moments after cardiac arrest? More
A group of scientists just discovered 20 new planets you might eventually be able to move to
Tired of living on Earth? You'll be happy to know that a group of scientists just discovered 20 new planets that boast Earth-like characteristics.
The discovery was made through Kepler, a space telescope that was launched back in 2009.
Although the contraption broke down in 2013, Kepler garnered so much data during its four working years that scientists are still rummaging through it. This time around, they scoured through a list of 4,034 exoplanets (basically, planets capable of sustaining life) to find those closest to Earth. Working off that shorter list, they then singled out 20 planets that most readily resembled Earth's defining properties. More
Meet the Brits who promised the world a $25 PC, and delivered a revolution
In 2015, Raspberry Pi became the bestselling British computer of all time.
Earlier this year, it passed the 12.5 million mark in sales, taking its place as the third highest selling general purpose computer ever built.
When the project got underway, though, its primary objective wasn’t to sell millions of units.
The Raspberry Pi was conceived as an educational device. Its enormous popularity is proof of how well it executed upon that vision.
In just five year’s time, the hardware went from a promising idea to a globally recognized brand – and we’re only going to see the full effect of how it makes computing more accessible as the next generation of programmers mature and flourish. More
Europe’s Famed Bog Bodies Are Starting to Reveal Their Secrets
If you’re looking for the middle of nowhere, the Bjaeldskovdal bog is a good place to start. It lies six miles outside the small town of Silkeborg in the middle of Denmark’s flat, sparse Jutland peninsula. The bog itself is little more than a spongy carpet of moss, with a few sad trees poking out. An ethereal stillness hangs over it. A child would put it more simply: This place is really spooky.
I drove here on a damp March day with Ole Nielsen, director of the Silkeborg Museum. We tramped out to a desolate stretch of bog, trying to keep to the clumps of ocher-colored grass and avoid the clingy muck between them. A wooden post was planted to mark the spot where two brothers, Viggo and Emil Hojgaard, along with Viggo’s wife, Grethe, all from the nearby village of Tollund, struck the body of an adult man while they cut peat with their spades on May 6, 1950. The dead man wore a belt and an odd cap made of skin, but nothing else.
Oh yes, there was also a plaited leather thong wrapped tightly around his neck. This is the thing that killed him. His skin was tanned a deep chestnut, and his body appeared rubbery and deflated. Otherwise, Tollund Man, as he would be called, looked pretty much like you and me, which is astonishing considering he lived some 2,300 years ago. More
Conspiracy Theorists Have a Fundamental Cognitive Problem, Say Scientists
The world’s a scary, unpredictable place, and that makes your brain mad. As a predictive organ, the brain is on the constant lookout for patterns that both explain the world and help you thrive in it. That ability helps humans make sense of the world. For example, you probably understand by now that if you see red, that means that you should be on the lookout for danger.
But as scientists report in a new paper published in the European Journal of Social Psychology, sometimes people sense danger even when there is no pattern to recognize — and so their brains create their own.
This phenomenon, called illusory pattern perception, they write, is what drives people who believe in conspiracy theories, like climate change deniers, 9/11 truthers, and “Pizzagate” believers. More
Beluga Living with Dolphins Swaps Her Calls for Theirs
In November 2013, a four-year-old captive beluga whale moved to a new home. She had been living in a facility with other belugas. But in her new pool, the Koktebel dolphinarium in Crimea, her only companions were dolphins. The whale adapted quickly: she started imitating the unique whistles of the dolphins, and stopped making a signature beluga call altogether.
“The first appearance of the beluga in the dolphinarium caused a fright in the dolphins,” write Elena Panova and Alexandr Agafonov of the Russian Academy of Sciences in Moscow. The bottlenose dolphins included one adult male, two adult females and a young female. But the animals soon got along, er, swimmingly. In August 2016, one of the adult female dolphins gave birth to a calf that regularly swam alongside the beluga. More
The Closest Star to Our Own Solar System Just Got a Lot More Interesting
Astronomers have announced they've discovered a ring of cold cosmic dust surrounding the closest star to our Solar System - the faint red dwarf Proxima Centauri.
This finding means that the star, which is also home to the nearest Earth-like planet discovered just last year, hosts what could be a more elaborate planetary system than we previously thought.
Using data from the ALMA Observatory in Chile, a team of researchers has detected the faint glow of what appears to be a belt of dust surrounding Proxima Centauri several hundred million kilometres out from the star. More
More Accurate World Map Wins Prestigious Design Award
You probably don’t realize it, but virtually every world map you’ve ever seen is wrong. And while the new AuthaGraph World Map may look strange, it is in fact the most accurate map you’ve ever seen.
The world maps we’re all used to operate off of the Mercator projection, a cartographic technique developed by Flemish geographer Gerardus Mercator in 1569. This imperfect technique gave us a map that was “right side up,” orderly, and useful for ship navigation — but also one that distorted both the size of many landmasses and the distances between them.
To correct these distortions, Tokyo-based architect and artist Hajime Narukawa created the AuthaGraph map over the course of several years using a complex process that essentially amounts to taking the globe (more accurate than any Mercator map) and flattening it out. More
The ghostly radio station that no one claims to run
In the middle of a Russian swampland, not far from the city of St Petersburg, is a rectangular iron gate. Beyond its rusted bars is a collection of radio towers, abandoned buildings and power lines bordered by a dry-stone wall. This sinister location is the focus of a mystery which stretches back to the height of the Cold War.
It is thought to be the headquarters of a radio station, “MDZhB”, that no-one has ever claimed to run. Twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, for the last three-and-a-half decades, it’s been broadcasting a dull, monotonous tone. Every few seconds it’s joined by a second sound, like some ghostly ship sounding its foghorn. Then the drone continues.
Once or twice a week, a man or woman will read out some words in Russian, such as “dinghy” or “farming specialist”. And that’s it. Anyone, anywhere in the world can listen in, simply by tuning a radio to the frequency 4625 kHz. More
Trump officials have no clue how to rebuild Puerto Rico’s grid. But we do.
With Puerto Rico’s dirty, costly electric grid wiped out by Hurricane Maria, now is the time for a clean power rebuild.
Microgrids built around cheap renewable power and battery storage are now the fastest and cheapest way to restore power — while at the same time building resilience into the grid against the next disaster.
That’s been proven by Florida after Hurricane Irma, Japan after the tsunami that caused the Fukushima meltdown, and India after recent monsoons. More
The Cult of Amiga Is Bringing an Obsolete Computer Into the 21st Century
The IBM and Apple machines were better known among the legends of 80s computer. But perhaps no computer was more beloved by its users than the Amiga.
In the mid-1980s, Commodore released the Amiga 1000, a beast of a machine whose specs blew away the hardware of its day, and which became a cult favorite.
But by 1995, after several iterations of Amiga and years of questionable decisions by the Commodore company, the Amiga brand closed up shop. In the two decades since then, the rights to the computer and its software suite have been sold off and stuck in legal purgatory. And yet now, a group of hardware enthusiasts are trying to bring the revered 1980s computer into the 21st century. More
Researchers Think They've Figured Out What Mysterious Scottish Stone Circles Were Used For
New research into Neolithic stone circles on the Scottish islands of Orkney has revealed they were the party hotspots of the end of the Stone Age – places where people met to find partners, celebrate the summer and winter solstices, and pay tribute to the dead.
The study has also revealed how the area was a melting pot of different social groups and communities, a mix that eventually caused enough political tension for the groups to go their separate ways.
Part of a broader investigation into Neolithic living called The Times of their Lives, led by Historic England, the new analysis examines more than 600 radiocarbon dates, giving researchers a clearer view of the timing and duration of events between 3200 BC and 2500 BC on the islands. More
World’s Most Powerful Laser Is 2,000 Trillion Watts – But What’s It For?
The most powerful laser beam ever created has been recently fired at Osaka University in Japan, where the Laser for Fast Ignition Experiments (LFEX) has been boosted to produce a beam with a peak power of 2,000 trillion watts – two petawatts – for an incredibly short duration, approximately a trillionth of a second or one picosecond.
Values this large are difficult to grasp, but we can think of it as a billion times more powerful than a typical stadium floodlight or as the overall power of all of the sun’s solar energy that falls on London. Imagine focusing all that solar power onto a surface as wide as a human hair for the duration of a trillionth of a second: that’s essentially the LFEX laser. More
The brain on DMT: mapping the psychedelic drug's effects
N, N-Dimethyltryptamine (DMT) is famous for producing one of the most intense psychedelic experiences possible, catapulting users into a series of vivid, incapacitating hallucinations. But despite the kaleidoscope of variation on offer, the enduring mystery of DMT is the encounters it induces with 'entities' or 'aliens': "jewelled self-dribbling basketballs" or "machine elves", as the psychedelic missionary Terence McKenna described them.
McKenna, not really a scientist so much as a roving DMT performance poet, helped popularise the drug in the 70s, along with his own intuitive theories that the entities were evidence of alien life, or that DMT facilitated trans-dimensional travel.
“They’re really amazing, spine-tingling ideas,” says Robin Carhart-Harris, head of psychedelic research at Imperial College, London. “But, you know, arguably they’re bullshit.” More
Secrets of ‘lost eighth continent’ Zealandia to be unlocked as scientists set sail to explore underwater landmass
We know the dinosaurs died out 66 million years ago, so there is every chance scientists will find something totally unexpected in this drowned world.
It was originally part of the gigantic super-continent Gondwana, which was made up of many of the continents which now exist in the southern hemisphere.
Covering 1.9 million square miles, it extends from south of New Zealand northward to New Caledonia and west to the Kenn Plateau off Australia's east coast.
Drill ship Joides Resolution will recover sediments and rocks lying deep beneath the sea bed in a bid to discover how the region has behaved over the past tens of millions of years.
The recovered cores will be studied onboard, allowing scientists to address issues such as oceanographic history, extreme climates, sub-seafloor life, plate tectonics and earthquake-generating zones. More
The Asteroid That Just Came Close to Earth Is So Huge It Has Its Own Moons
Asteroid Florence flew by Earth last week, skimming at a distance of 7 million kilometres (4.4 million miles). It's the biggest asteroid to come this close in more than a century.
It's so big, in fact, that it has two tiny moons of its very own, according to radar images obtained by NASA when Florence was at its closest on 31 August and 1 September.
"While many known asteroids have passed by closer to Earth than Florence ... all of those were estimated to be smaller," said JPL-NASA's Paul Chodas, manager of the Center for Near-Earth Object Studies. More
How did Tesla make some of its cars travel further during Hurricane Irma?
Tesla drivers who fled Hurricane Irma last weekend received an unexpected lesson in modern consumer economics along the way. As they sat on choked highways, some of the electric-car giant’s more keenly priced models suddenly gained an extra 30 or so miles in range thanks to a silent free upgrade.
The move, confirmed by Tesla, followed the request of one Florida driver for a limit on his car’s battery to be lifted. Tesla’s cheaper models, introduced last year, have the same 75KwH battery as its more costly cars, but software limits it to 80% of range. Owners can otherwise buy an upgrade for several thousands of dollars. And because Tesla’s software updates are online, the company can make the changes with the flick of a virtual switch. More
Why can't monkeys talk? Scientists rumble over a curious question
Decades ago, while Philip H. Lieberman was soaking in a bathtub and listening to the radio, he heard anthropologist Loren Eiseley ponder an evolutionary puzzle: Why couldn't monkeys talk? Like us, they're social primates, intelligent and certainly not quiet. Rhesus macaques grunt, coo, screech and scream. Infant macaques make sounds known as geckers. Despite the grunting and geckering, though, no other primates — not even the chimpanzees and bonobos, our nearest ape relatives — can make the vowel and consonant sounds we know as speech.
Scientists figured there were two likely sticking points. Either the brain was not wired for speech in nonhuman primates, or their windpipes were shaped the wrong way.
Lieberman, a professor emeritus of anthropology at Brown University in Rhode Island, got out of the tub and took the puzzle with him. In groundbreaking experiments with rhesus macaques in the late 1960s and early 1970s, Lieberman and his colleagues pinned the problem to monkey throats. They concluded that macaques lacked a sufficient supralaryngeal vocal tract, the space in humans that begins in the mouth and follows the hump of the tongue into the throat. Even if a monkey brain had the correct wiring for speech, the monkey vocal tract simply couldn't produce adequate sounds to talk. More
First Object Teleported from Earth to Orbit
Last year, a Long March 2D rocket took off from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Centre in the Gobi Desert carrying a satellite called Micius, named after an ancient Chinese philosopher who died in 391 B.C. The rocket placed Micius in a Sun-synchronous orbit so that it passes over the same point on Earth at the same time each day.
Micius is a highly sensitive photon receiver that can detect the quantum states of single photons fired from the ground. That’s important because it should allow scientists to test the technological building blocks for various quantum feats such as entanglement, cryptography, and teleportation.
Today, the Micius team announced the results of its first experiments. The team created the first satellite-to-ground quantum network, in the process smashing the record for the longest distance over which entanglement has been measured. And they’ve used this quantum network to teleport the first object from the ground to orbit. More
Apple is still selling very old and expensive computers – these are the ones you shouldn't buy
Apple is still selling you computers with 2013 specs for 2017 price tags.
While these computers will work fine, they have outdated specs that don't warrant their high price tags. You should steer your wallet well clear of them.
I've listed the Apple computers you shouldn't touch with a 10-foot pole, and added suggestions of computers you should consider instead.
Some of these computers are part of Apple's recent back-to-school promotion, where you can get a free pair of $300 Beats Solo3 Wireless headphones. Yet, even with the free pair of headphones, some computers aren't worth your time or money. More
Water exists as two different liquids
We normally consider liquid water as disordered with the molecules rearranging on a short time scale around some average structure. Now, however, scientists at Stockholm University have discovered two phases of the liquid with large differences in structure and density.
The results are based on experimental studies using X-rays, which are now published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Science (US).
Most of us know that water is essential for our existence on planet Earth. It is less well-known that water has many strange or anomalous properties and behaves very differently from all other liquids. Some examples are the melting point, the density, the heat capacity, and all-in-all there are more than 70 properties of water that differ from most liquids. These anomalous properties of water are a prerequisite for life as we know it. More
DNA scientists claim that Cherokees are from the Middle East
Archaeological evidence, early written accounts, and the oral history ofthe Cherokees themselves show the Cherokees as a mighty nation controlling more than 140,000 square miles with a population of thirty-six thousand or more. Often the townhouse stood on an earthen mound, which grew with successive ceremonial re-buildings.”
In his famous book, “The History of the America Indians” eighteenth century explorer and trader, John Adair stated that several hundred Cherokees, living in the North Carolina Mountains, spoke an ancient Jewish language that was nearly unintelligible to Jews from England and Holland. From this observation, Adair extrapolated a belief that all Native Americans were the descendants of the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel. More
Groundbreaking discovery confirms existence of orbiting supermassive black holes
For the first time ever, astronomers at The University of New Mexico say they've been able to observe and measure the orbital motion between two supermassive black holes hundreds of millions of light years from Earth - a discovery more than a decade in the making.
UNM Department of Physics & Astronomy graduate student Karishma Bansal is the first-author on the paper, 'Constraining the Orbit of the Supermassive Black Hole Binary 0402+379', recently published in The Astrophysical Journal. She, along with UNM Professor Greg Taylor and colleagues at Stanford, the U.S. Naval Observatory and the Gemini Observatory, have been studying the interaction between these black holes for 12 years. More
Snapchat launches location-sharing feature Snap Map
Snapchat’s next big feature wants to get you to meet up with friends in real life rather than just watching each other’s lives on your phones. Snap Map lets you share your current location, which appears to friends on a map and updates when you open Snapchat. It’s rolling out today to all iOS and Android users globally.
“We’ve built a whole new way to explore the world! See what’s happening, find your friends, and get inspired to go on an adventure!,” Snap writes on its blog. More
Feminist researcher invents ‘intersectional quantum physics’ to fight ‘oppression’ of Newton
A feminist academic affiliated with the University of Arizona has invented a new theory of “intersectional quantum physics,” and told the world about it in a journal published by Duke University Press.
Whitney Stark argues in support of “combining intersectionality and quantum physics” to better understand “marginalized people” and to create “safer spaces” for them, in the latest issue of The Minnesota Review.
Because traditional quantum physics theory has influenced humanity’s understanding of the world, it has also helped lend credence to the ongoing regime of racism, sexism and classism that hurts minorities, Stark writes in “Assembled Bodies: Reconfiguring Quantum Identities.”
Konchinsky's suit alleges that the officers' actions violated her First Amendment right to freedom of speech. More
Uranus Is Even Freakier Than We Thought
If David Lynch designed a planet, it would be Uranus. Much like every episode of Twin Peaks: The Return, Uranus is fiercely unique and weirdly endearing, even though it makes no fucking sense. The planet’s spin axis is 98 degrees, so it essentially rotates on its side—and while we have some idea as to what could have caused that, no one’s really sure. That’s just how Uranus rolls, literally.
New research from Georgia Institute of Technology suggests that Uranus’ unusual spin axis could be responsible for another one of the planet’s oddities. Uranus’ magnetosphere, the magnetic field that surrounds it, gets flipped on and off every day as it rotates along with the planet. More
How the Roland TR-808 revolutionized music
If you’re into hip-hop and pop, you’ve probably heard “808” at some point. That’s a reference to the iconic Roland TR-808, a drum machine created by Ikutaro Kakehashi in 1980. Its unique dribbling bass drum sound is what artists mean when they say “turn up the 808.” The pursuit of the perfect low-frequency 808 sound is a real struggle for producers. Make a powerful enough 808, and it can blow your speakers — which can be the goal, if you’re trying to make a real banger.
Over the weekend, Kakehashi died at the age of 87, leaving behind a legacy of creations that had an immeasurable impact on music all over the world. Born in Osaka, Japan, Kakehashi got his start repairing broken watches and clocks when he was 16, and later obtained a degree in mechanical engineering. In 1960, he found his way to electronic instruments at Ace Electronic Industries. He solidified a name for himself in 1972, when he founded Roland Corporation, and spearheaded the creation of synthesizers and drum machines, including the TR-808. More
Scientists Use CRISPR-Cas9 to Create Red-Eyed Mutant Wasps
The red-eyed wasps were created to prove that CRISPR gene-slicing technology can be used on the tiny jewel wasp Nasonia vitripennis, giving scientists a new way to study some of the wasp’s biology.
“No one knows how that selfish genetic element in some male wasps can somehow kill the female embryos and create only males,” said Dr. Omar Akbari, an assistant professor of entomology at the Institute for Integrative Genome Biology at the University of California, Riverside.
“To understand that, we need to pursue their paternal sex ratio (PSR) chromosomes, perhaps by mutating regions of the PSR chromosome to determine which genes are essential for its functionality,” added Dr. Akbari, who is the lead co-author of a paper describing the research, published this week in the journal Scientific Reports. More
"Period Emoji" Could Be Coming To Your Phone Pretty Soon
Women's rights group Plan International is asking supporters to vote on a variety of "period emoji" to be included in the global emoji keyboard.
The organisation has created five emoji and is urging supporters to vote on their favourite. From there, the emoji with the most votes will be submitted to the Unicode Consortium – the group that standardises characters across devices.
The CEO of Plan International Australia, Susanne Legena, said the inclusion of a "period emoji" could help change the taboo surrounding menstruation in many parts of the world. More
DNA Study Sheds Light on Evolution of Dog Breeds
Genetic material from 161 modern breeds helped a team of researchers at the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) of the National Institutes of Health assemble the most comprehensive evolutionary tree of dogs. The results are published in the journal Cell Reports..
The team, led by NHGRI dog geneticist Dr. Elaine Ostrander, examined genomic data from the largest and most diverse group of breeds studied to date, amassing a dataset of 1,346 dogs representing 161 breeds. Included are populations with vastly different breed histories, originating from all continents except Antarctica, and sampled from North America, Europe, Africa, and Asia. More
Epsilon Eridani System is Remarkably Similar to Our Own
The star Epsilon Eridani, also known as eps Eri, 18 Eri and HD 22049, is located 10.5 light-years away in the constellation Eridanus and is visible in the night skies with the naked eye.
The star’s temperature of 5,116 degrees Kelvin (almost 700 Kelvin cooler than the Sun) and low luminosity (34% solar) tell of a lower mass, approximately 83% that of the Sun.
Though its rotation speed appears similar to that of the Sun, the star is much younger, some 800 million years old, or one-fifth the age of the Sun. The Epsilon Eridani system is the closest planetary system around a star similar to the young Sun and is a prime location to research how planets form around Sun-like stars. More
First Humans Arrived in North America 116,000 Years Earlier than Thought: Evidence from Cerutti Mastodon Site
The Cerutti Mastodon site was discovered by San Diego Natural History Museum researchers in November 1992 during routine paleontological mitigation work.
This site preserves 131,000-year-old hammerstones, stone anvils, and fragmentary remains — bones, tusks and molars — of a mastodon (Mammut americanum) that show evidence of modification by early humans.
An analysis of these finds ‘substantially revises the timing of arrival of Homo into the Americas,’ according to a paper published this week in the journal Nature.
“This discovery is rewriting our understanding of when humans reached the New World,” said Dr. Judy Gradwohl, president and chief executive officer of the San Diego Natural History Museum. More
Is Diagnosing Your Car Problems With Your SmartPhone the Future of Car Tech?
I was driving home from work this past week, and as I was topping a hill on the freeway the dashboard lit up with some ominous error messages about my engine. Next, the check engine light came on.
I was able to get home without issues, but I was assuming that I would need to bring the car in to get it fixed.
Before I went too far, however, I went online to do some research on the specific issue my car was having…
When your check engine light comes on, it’s important to get it checked out right away. The light could be an indication that there is a serious problem like a major engine issue (that could be a safety issue), or it could be something simple like tightening your gas cap (which my wife had to do one time). The point is, until you get it checked, you just don’t know. So get it checked. More
“Super Agers” Have Brains That Look Young
As we get older, we start to think a little bit more slowly, we are less able to multitask and our ability to remember things gets a little wobblier. This cognitive transformation is linked to a steady, widespread thinning of the cortex, the brain's outermost layer. Yet the change is not inevitable. So-called super agers retain their good memory and thicker cortex as they age, a recent study suggests.
Researchers believe that studying what makes super agers different could help unlock the secrets to healthy brain aging and improve our understanding of what happens when that process goes awry.
“Looking at successful aging could provide us with biomarkers for predicting resilience and for things that might go wrong in people with age-related diseases like Alzheimer's and dementia,” says study co-author Alexandra Touroutoglou, a neuroscientist at Harvard Medical School. More
Volcano On Mars Continuously Erupted For Two Billion Years
A meteorite discovered in Algeria in 2012 has led scientists to conclude that a volcano had erupted in Mars continuously for 2 billion years.
Mars has been host to several volcanoes and also houses the largest volcano of our solar system, the Olympus Mons'Study of the meteorite led the researchers to believe that a volcano did exist on the Red Planet, which erupted continuously for 2 billion years.
"Even though we've never had astronauts walk on Mars, we still have pieces of the Martian surface to study, thanks to these meteorites," shared Marc Caffee, member of the meteorite research team and professor of physics and astronomy at Purdue. More
US Army asks for biodegradable ammo
The U.S. Army gets through a lot of ammunition thanks to the amount of training it carries out. But that ammunition doesn't come without waste which slowly degrades over hundreds of years polluting whatever ground (and nearby water sources) it happens to fall upon.
So the Department of Defense (DoD) decided to do something about it, and is requesting environmentally friendly ammunition for use during training exercises.
The request was made via the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program. Specifically, the DoD wants "biodegradable training ammunition loaded with specialized seeds to grow environmentally beneficial plants that eliminate ammunition debris and contaminants." More
Octopuses Are ‘the Closest We Will Come to Meeting an Intelligent Alien’
Convergent evolution is what happens when nature takes different courses from different starting points to arrive at similar results. Consider bats, birds, and butterflies developing wings; sharks and dolphins finding fins; and echidnas and porcupines sporting spines. Or, if you want to annoy a traditionalist scientist, talk about humans and octopuses — and how they may both have consciousness.
This is the thrust of Other Minds: The Octopus, the Sea, and the Deep Origins of Consciousness, a new book by the scuba-diving, biology-specializing philosopher Peter Godfrey-Smith, originally of Australia and now a distinguished professor at the City University of New York’s graduate center. The book was written up by Olivia Judson in The Atlantic, and you should read the whole thing, but what I find mesmerizing is how categorically other the eight-tentacled ink-squirters are, and how their very nature challenges our conceptualizations of intelligence. More
Study Finds Most Government Workers Could be Replaced by Robots
A study by a British think tank, Reform, says that 90% of British civil service workers have jobs so pointless, they could easily be replaced by robots, saving the government around $8 billion per year.
The study, published this week, says that robots are “more efficient” at collecting data, processing paperwork, and doing the routine tasks that now fall to low-level government employees.
Even nurses and doctors, who are government employees in the UK, could be relieved of some duties by mechanical assistants. There are “few complex roles” in civil service, it seems, that require a human being to handle. More
Power Company Sends Fire-Spewing Drone to Burn Trash Off High-Voltage Wires
What happens when your power lines get all kinds of trash hanging from them and it’s not safe to send up a human? In Xiangyang, China, you send in the drones. Specifically, the drones that shoot fire.
Just in case you were worried that the robot uprising was delayed, fear no more. It appears to be right on time, as these fire-spewing drones are sent to burn off trash that gets stuck on high-voltage wires. The drones are being used by an electric power maintenance company in China to get rid of plastic bags and other debris that get caught in places that are hard to reach with a human in a cherrypicker. More
Even Cavemen Brushed Their Teeth — and They Probably Had Better Teeth Than You
As long as humans have had teeth, it’s probably safe to presume, we’ve been getting stuff stuck in them. And as long as we’ve been getting stuff stuck in our teeth, we’ve also been looking for ways to fish it out — which means our ancestors, before inventions like toothpaste and floss, had to get creative with what they had. As the Washington Post reported earlier this week, an archaeologist has discovered the first evidence of how cavemen brushed their teeth.
In a paper recently published in the journal Science of Nature, archaeologist Karen Hardy, a researcher at the Catalan Institution for Research and Advanced Studies, analyzed the remains of a million-year-old jawbone taken from an archaeological site in northern Spain. The bone, one of the oldest human remains ever found in Europe, was too incomplete for researchers to determine the hominid species it belonged to – but luckily for Hardy, there was still plenty of plaque preserved on the teeth, waiting to be examined. “Once it’s there it stays there,” Hardy told the Post. “It’s kind of like a tattoo of biological information — a personal time capsule.” More
Warming up your car engine on cold mornings may be a bad idea
Everybody likes to get into a roasty, toasty vehicle with the heat blasting full force on a cold winter morning.
And the best way to do that is to warm your ride up by letting the engine idle for 10 minutes or more, right?
Not so fast...
A lot of people think that a cold engine needs to warm up in the morning. But the engineers at Road & Track magazine believe otherwise. The idea that engines need to warm up to a certain operating temperature dates back to the time of carburetors. But today's fuel-injected engines can warm up quickly even in the coldest weather. More
Sharks wary of SMS patterned wetsuit says UWA
ASX listed Shark Mitigation Systems have achieved scientific validation of their unique, patented, shark deterrent wetsuits after the University of W.A completed a ground breaking trial of the company’s “SAMS” wetsuit technology with live white sharks in South Africa.
UWA put Shark Mitigation Systems’ claim that their uniquely patterned wetsuits that mimic the colour spectrum of water can deter shark attacks to the test and the results are quite stunning.
In a live scientific trial conducted in June and reported this week, the University of W.A says it took on average 400% longer for sharks to engage with the patterned wetsuits that contained the “SAMS” technology when compared to an ordinary black wetsuit. More
Parallel worlds exist and interact with our world, say physicists
Quantum mechanics, though firmly tested, is so weird and anti-intuitive that famed physicist Richard Feynman once remarked, "I think I can safely say that nobody understands quantum mechanics." Attempts to explain some of the bizarre consequences of quantum theory have led to some mind-bending ideas, such as the Copenhagen interpretation and the many-worlds interpretation.
Now there's a new theory on the block, called the "many interacting worlds" hypothesis (MIW), and the idea is just as profound as it sounds. The theory suggests not only that parallel worlds exist, but that they interact with our world on the quantum level and are thus detectable. Though still speculative, the theory may help to finally explain some of the bizarre consequences inherent in quantum mechanics, reports RT.com. More
Vera Rubin, Who Confirmed Existence Of Dark Matter, Dies At 88
Vera Rubin, the groundbreaking astrophysicist who discovered evidence of dark matter, died Sunday night at the age of 88, the Carnegie Institution confirms.
Rubin did much of her revelatory work at Carnegie. The organization's president calls her a "national treasure."
In the 1960s and 1970s, Rubin was working with astronomer Kent Ford, studying the behavior of spiral galaxies, when they discovered something entirely unexpected — the stars at the outside of the galaxy were moving as fast as the ones in the middle, which didn't fit with Newtonian gravitational theory. More
Time travellers could use parallel dimensions to visit the past, scientists claim
THERE are multiple timelines playing out in parallel universes, according to a team of researchers.
The sensational claim was made by a team of physicists, who believe that the parallel universes can all affect one another.
Professor Howard Wiseman and Dr Michael Hall, from Griffith University’s Centre for Quantum Dynamics, claim that the idea of parallel universes is more than just science fiction. Fellow researcher Dr Dirk-Andre Deckert, from the University of California, helped further the researchers’ theory, which goes against almost all conventional understanding of space and time. More
Is Your GPS Scrambling Your Brain?
Before Noel Santillan became famous for getting lost, he was just another guy from New Jersey looking for adventure. It was last February, and the then 28-year-old Sam’s Club marketing manager was heading from Iceland’s Keflavík International Airport to the capital city of Reykjavík with the modern traveler’s two essentials: a dream and, most important, a GPS unit.
What could go wrong? The dream had been with him since April 14, 2010, when he watched TV news coverage of the Eyjafjallajökull volcano eruption.
Dark haired, clean-cut, with a youthful face and thick eyebrows, he had never traveled beyond the United States and his native Mexico. But something about the fiery gray clouds of tephra and ash captured his imagination. I want to see this through my own eyes, he thought as he sat on his couch watching the ash spread. More
Female monkeys use wile to rally troops
Female vervet monkeys manipulate males into fighting battles by lavishing attention on brave soldiers while giving noncombatants the cold shoulder, researchers said Wednesday.
As in humans, it turns out, social incentives can be just as big a driver for male monkeys to go to war as the resources they stand to gain from fighting, whether it be territory or food.
"Ours is the first study to demonstrate that any non-human species use manipulative tactics, such as punishment or rewards, to promote participation in intergroup fights," study co-author Jean Arseneau, a primate specialist of the University of Zurich, told AFP.
Arseneau and a team studied four vervet monkey groups at a game reserve in South Africa for two years. They observed that after a skirmish with a rival gang, usually over food, females would groom males that had fought hardest, while snapping at those that abstained. More
What It Feels Like to Die
“Do you want to know what will happen as your body starts shutting down?”
My mother and I sat across from the hospice nurse in my parents’ Colorado home. It was 2005, and my mother had reached the end of treatments for metastatic breast cancer.
A month or two earlier, she’d been able to take the dog for daily walks in the mountains and travel to Australia with my father. Now, she was weak, exhausted from the disease and chemotherapy and pain medication.
My mother had been the one to decide, with her doctor’s blessing, to stop pursuing the dwindling chemo options, and she had been the one to ask her doctor to call hospice. Still, we weren’t prepared for the nurse’s question. My mother and I exchanged glances, a little shocked. But what we felt most was a sense of relief. More
Alien Star Passed Through Our Solar System 70,000 Years Ago
Around the time modern humans are thought to have first spread across Asia, a red dwarf star passed just 0.8 light-years from the sun, a group of astronomers have concluded.
Our wandering ancestors probably never noticed. Scholz's star, as the red dwarf star is nicknamed, is so faint that, despite being just 20 light-years away, it was only discovered in 2013. Even when 25 times closer, and therefore 600 times brighter, the star officially known as WISE J072003.20-084651.2 would have required binoculars to detect (had they existed at the time). However, magnetically active stars like Scholz's can flare and it's possible that it may have occasionally become bright enough to puzzle an observant early human.
Scholz's star almost certainly passed through the Oort cloud, where most comets dwell, but probably didn't reach the inner cloud where a gravitational disturbance can trigger a cascade of comets into the inner solar system. More
Want Power? Fire Up the Tomatoes and Potatoes
Summer is high season for composting food waste—and, at large scale operations, for generating power by burning the biogas it generates. But scientists around the globe are figuring out new ways to turn decomposing food into power beyond the trash heap, and they’re finding that some foods are better-suited to the job than others.
That matters because figuring out which foods turn into fuel efficiently makes it easier to reuse waste where it starts: in the fields and supermarkets.
Every year, more than half the fruits and vegetables produced in North America and Ocenania end up in the garbage heap, and a full 20 percent of produce grown fails to even make it off the farm. More