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
Scientists bring saints back to life with imaging technology
RIO DE JANEIRO -- Brazilian scientists are using 3-D printing technology to reconstruct the faces of Roman Catholic saints and other holy people, producing life-size busts of what they actually looked like hundreds of years after they died.
This month the scientists will present their latest project: the faces of St. Rosa of Lima, the patron saint of Peru who died in 1617, and Sister Ana of Los Angeles Monteagudo, a Dominican nun from Peru, who died in 1686 and was beatified in 1985.
Their reconstructed features will be unveiled in Lima and Arequipa on July 21 and 24, respectively.
Cicero Moraes, a computer graphics designer, and Paulo Miamoto, a forensic dentist and anthropologist, use tomography (or CT scans) as well as a process of photogrammetry, in which hundreds of photographs are taken, to digitally map the preserved skulls, taking spatially accurate images and data from all angles. More
Earth: A Prematurely Inhabited Planet?
The study of the formation and logic of the universe (cosmology) and the study of exoplanets and their conduciveness to life do not seem to intersect much. Scientists in one field focus on the deep physics of the cosmos while the others search for the billions upon billions of planets out there and seek to unlock their secrets.
But astrophysicist and cosmologist Avi Loeb — a prolific writer about the early universe from his position at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics– sees the two fields of study as inherently connected, and has set out to be a bridge between them. The result was a recent theoretical paper that sought to place the rise of life on Earth (and perhaps elsewhere) in cosmological terms.
His conclusion: The Earth may well be a very early example of a living biosphere, having blossomed well before life might be expected on most planets. And in theoretical and cosmological terms, there are good reasons to predict that life will be increasingly common in the universe as the eons pass. More
Diamond labs say theirs are forever too — even if they were made yesterday
I’m here to check out the latest: A diamond mine the size of a passenger van that can be controlled with an iPhone.
“This is our unit foundry, the prototype foundry for the future. It includes our growth reactors in which we hot-forge diamonds under the heat of plasma,” says Martin Roscheisen, the CEO and founder of the Diamond Foundry, the man-made diamond industry’s hottest new start-up.
And how long does it take to make a batch?
“About two weeks,” he says.
Compare that to the 1 billion-plus years for the Earth to produce a diamond, and you get why the traditional diamond industry is up in arms. More
How Hackers Could Get Inside Your Head With ‘Brain Malware’
Hackers have spyware in your mind. You’re minding your business, playing a game or scrolling through social media, and all the while they’re gathering your most private information direct from your brain signals. Your likes and dislikes. Your political preferences. Your sexuality. Your PIN.
It’s a futuristic scenario, but not that futuristic. The idea of securing our thoughts is a real concern with the introduction of brain-computer interfaces—devices that are controlled by brain signals such as EEG (electroencephalography), and which are already used in medical scenarios and, increasingly, in non-medical applications such as gaming. More
Earth-Like Planet Found Orbiting the Nearest Star to the Sun
The next star over has a planet that's kinda like ours.
Astronomers just discovered the closest possible Earth-like planet outside our solar system. It orbits our closest neighboring star, Proxima Centauri. The planet is warm enough for liquid water, is almost certainly rocky and terrestrial, and could even have an atmosphere. At just 4.2 light years away, scientists are even wondering if this may be the closest home for life outside our solar system.
The newly discovered planet has been temporarily named Proxima B by its discoverers, an international team led by astronomer Guillem Anglada-Escudé at Queen Mary University in London. Proxima B is roughly 30 percent larger than Earth, and closely orbits a star far cooler and smaller than our own. Proxima B was unveiled in a paper in the journal Nature. More
Has a new form of life been discovered at the bottom of the ocean?
A mysterious purple orb sucked off the sea bed during a live-streamed Nautilus exploration has stumped scientists, and naturally the internet too. Inquisitive viewers of the YouTube video have made multiple guesses as to its origins, ranging from an 'alien egg' to a brand new species of Pokemon.
In fact it is more likely the bright orb, found by the Channel Islands of California, is a type of marine mollusc.
At least that is the current view of scientists who in all honesty are not completely sure, and it could take several years before they find out. In the video a team of researchers with the Ocean Exploration Trust are seen scouring the seabed with the floating laboratory Nautilus. More
Hundreds of genes seen sparking to life two days after death
When a doctor declares a person dead, some of their body may still be alive and kicking – at least for a day or two. New evidence in animals suggests that many genes go on working for up to 48 hours after the lights have gone out.
This hustle and bustle has been seen in mice and zebrafish, but there are hints that genes are also active for some time in deceased humans.
This discovery could have implications for the safety of organ transplants as well as help pathologists pinpoint a time of death more precisely, perhaps to within minutes of the event. More
Long Before Pokemon Go, There Was Geocaching
In 2000, a computer consultant named Dave Ulmer placed a five-gallon bucket in the woods near Beavercreek, Ore., leaving behind some CDs, a VHS tape, a slingshot, a Ross Perot book, a can of beans, and a logbook. He posted the coordinates online, using the global position system, and declared one rule: Take something, leave something.
Sixteen years later, there would be hundreds of thousands of smartphone-wielding people hoping to find a psychic duck or anthropomorphic turtle, using virtually the same game mechanics employed in Ulmer's strange scavenger hunt.
Before the Pokemon Go craze, combing the world in search of secret stashes at specified coordinates—a pursuit called geocaching—was the domain of a quieter subculture. The hobby was made possible by President Bill Clinton. The U.S. government had purposefully limited the accuracy of GPS tracking for the general public by adding errors to the system, citing national security concerns. In May 2000, shortly before Ulmer left his stash in the woods, the White House allowed anyone access to errorless location signals. More
Are aliens living just 40 light-years away? 2 nearby rocky planets have Earth-like atmospheres and could host life
A star 40 light years away that hosts three Earth-sized worlds was discovered earlier this year.
Now, evidence is building that two of these planets could be the perfect place for alien life.
By looking at the system through the Hubble Space Telescope, astronomers have deduced that the innermost planets are rocky, like our own, and are surrounded by compact atmospheres.
After discovering the planetary system, scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) judged from the size and temperature of the three planets that they may be suitable for life. More
The world's fastest consumer drone can record 4K video at 85 miles per hour
George Matus was 11 years old when he flew his first drone. "I was immediately hooked," the young man tells me with a grin. By age 16 he was competing as a professional drone racer and acting as a test pilot for new aircraft.
Now 18, he recently finished high school but decided to defer college, opting instead to pursue a fellowship offer from tech billionaire Peter Thiel. He used that money to start his own company, Teal, which today is launching its first product, a consumer facing drone that a beginner can easily fly with an iPhone to capture 4K video. The difference between Teal's first drone and the competition is that this unit can also perform like a racecar, reaching speeds of 85 miles per hour while flipping, diving, and performing barrel rolls. More
This Ancient Laptop Is The Only Key To The Most Valuable Supercars On The Planet
This is a Compaq LTE 5280 laptop from the early 1990s, running a bespoke CA card. In 2016, McLaren Automotive—one of the most high-tech car and technology companies on the planet—still uses it and its DOS-based software to service the remaining hundred McLaren F1s out there, each valued at $10 million or more.
McLaren Special Operations is a workshop like no other.
It’s located in an industrial complex a few minutes from their well known Technology- and Production Center in Woking, England, in a building where McLaren used to work on its Formula One racing efforts before deciding to give it a go against Ferrari on the streets as well.
I’ll have more detailed story on MSO later, but for now, let’s focus on the most challenging part of their job: the maintenance of McLaren F1s. More
The ‘Habitable Zone’ For Alien Life Could Be Far Bigger Than We Thought
lien life could be thriving in a part of the universe we had originally ruled out according to new research by astronomers at Cornell University.
When looking for places where alien life could grow the standard procedure is to follow the ‘goldilocks’ model – a specific band in a solar system where a planet is just the right distance from a star.
It’s very heavily modelled on our own solar system but can be adapted to take into account the intensity and class of the star and the types of planets that orbit it.
What it doesn’t take into account however is the age of the star, something which astronomers Ramses Ramirez and Lisa Kaltenegger felt was odd. The two Cornell researchers decided to expand their search to start including older red giant stars, and what they found was promising. More
Human sacrifice played a key role in shaping ancient societies
Human sacrifice may seem brutal and bloody by modern social standards, but it was a common in ancient societies. Now, researchers believe the ritualised killing of individuals to placate a god played a role in building and sustaining stable communities with social hierarchies.
In particular, a study of 93 cultures across Asia, Oceana and Africa, has found the practices helped establish authority and set up class-based systems.
Human sacrifice was once widespread throughout these Austronesian cultures, which used it as the ultimate punishment, for funerals and to consecrate new boats. Sacrificial victims were typically of low social status, such as slaves, while instigators were of high social status, such as priests and chiefs, installing a sense of fear in the lower classes. More
Tutankhamun’s blade ‘made from meteorite,’ study reveals
Ever since it was discovered wrapped in the folds of Tutankhamun's mummy in 1925, an ancient Egyptian dagger has puzzled historians.
How did the boy pharaoh's craftsmen make an iron blade of such quality that it survived more than 3,000 years inside a sarcophagus without turning to rust?
Scientists have now reached an extraterrestrial answer: the dagger was forged from the metal of a fallen meteorite.
A team of Egyptian and Italian researchers used X-rays to analyse the iron in the knife and discovered high amounts of nickel and a similar makeup to the iron found in crashed meteorites. "The blade's high nickel content...strongly suggests an extraterrestrial origin," the scientists concluded. More
Tiny Robotic Bees That Run On Static Electricity
RoboBee is the new tiny robotic bee developed by researchers from MIT. Using static electricity to power itself, the tiny bee no bigger than a quarter and no heavier than a penny can latch onto nearly any flat surface. Researchers published a study on this week’s issue of Science saying the new perching ability could be a pivotal point for insect-sized aerial capable robots. The ability could help with observational tasks, traffic management, and search-and-rescue operations.
The tiny robotic bee only weighs 0.08 grams, which is 31 times more lighter than a penny. The robot comes with tiny wings that beat up to 120 times per second. Originally, the robot was reliant on a mini tripod on it’s base for safe landings on top of flat surfaces. However, this much newer version of the mechanism lets it stick onto the undersides of almost any surface including: leaves, glass, wood, and brick. More
Mysterious Martian "Cauliflower" May Be the Latest Hint of Alien Life
The hunt for signs of life on Mars has been on for decades, and so far scientists have found only barren dirt and rocks. Now a pair of astronomers thinks that strangely shaped minerals inside a Martian crater could be the clue everyone has been waiting for.
In 2008, scientists announced that NASA’s Spirit rover had discovered deposits of a mineral called opaline silica inside Mars's Gusev crater. That on its own is not as noteworthy as the silica’s shape: Its outer layers are covered in tiny nodules that look like heads of cauliflower sprouting from the red dirt.
No one knows for sure how those shapes—affectionately called “micro-digitate silica protrusions”—formed. But based on recent discoveries in a Chilean desert, Steven Ruff and Jack Farmer, both of Arizona State University in Tempe, think the silica might have been sculpted by microbes. At a meeting of the American Geophysical Union in December, they made the case that these weird minerals might be our best targets for identifying evidence of past life on Mars. More
The future of TV is arriving faster than anyone predicted
Late last week, Comcast announced a new program that allows makers of smart TVs and other Internet-based video services to have full access to your cable programming without the need for a set-top box. Instead, the content will flow directly to the third-party device as an app, including all the channels and program guide.
The Xfinity TV Partner Program will initially be offered on new smart TVs from Samsung, as well as Roku streaming boxes. But the program, built on open Internet-based standards including HTML5, is now open to other device manufacturers to adopt.
As video services move from hardware to software, the future of the traditional set-top box looks increasingly grim. With this announcement, Comcast customers may soon eliminate the need for an extra device, potentially saving hundreds of dollars in fees. More
Kindle Oasis Review: If you want the best e-reader money can buy, this is it
Kindle Oasis is the latest e-reader to join Amazon’s market-leading line-up. The Kindle Oasis is phenomenally thin, phenomenally light – and phenomenally expensive.
But when Amazon already offers Kindle devices at a range of different price points, the basic £59.99 Kindle, back-lit £109.99 Kindle Paperwhite and previous top-of-the-line £169.99 Kindle Voyage, does that really matter?
Out of the box, the first thing you’ll notice about the Kindle Oasis is that it looks absolutely nothing like any other e-reader designed by the team at Amazon. More
Man builds 'Scarlett Johansson' robot from scratch to 'fulfil childhood dream' - and it's scarily lifelike
A humanoid obsessive has built an incredibly realistic female robot from scratch - and it's got more than a passing resemblance to Avengers star Scarlett Johansson.
Ricky Ma, a 42-year-old product and graphic designer, has spent more than $50,000 (£34,000) and a year and a half creating the female robot prototype, Mark 1.
The designer confirmed the scarily lifelike humanoid had been modelled on a Hollywood star, but wanted to keep her name under wraps.
It responds to a set of programmed verbal commands spoken into a microphone and has moving facial expressions, but Ricky says creating it wasn't easy.
He said he was not aware of anyone else in Hong Kong building humanoid robots as a hobby and that few in the city understood his ambition. More
Tesla reveals its $35,000 car for the masses
These early buyers didn't know what the car would look like -- a lot like a smaller Model S with an up-turned nose -- or that it would have a starting price of exactly $35,000. They also didn't know that it would go from zero to 60 in less than 6 seconds and have a range of at least 215 miles.
"We don't make slow cars," CEO Elon Musk said at the car's unveiling, adding that these are minimum specs the company hopes to exceed. "You will not be able to buy a better car for $35,000, or even close, even if you get no options," he said later.
Musk said the Model 3 will seat five comfortably, and he emphasized "comfortably." After the launch event at the automaker's Southern California design studio, Tesla executives gave guests brief rides in prototype Model 3 cars. The vehicle does, in fact, seat at least four people comfortably. Five would probably be a squeeze. More
When NASA moves out of low Earth orbit, will private companies move in?
As it prepares to travel deeper into space in the next decade or so, NASA is urging private companies to leverage the investment it has made in low Earth orbit with the goal of commercializing this region of space near Earth.
Already astronauts aboard the International Space Station, an international crew of six people from the United States, Russia, Japan, and England, are doing research in microgravity for private companies like Merck, Novartis, and Procter & Gamble. But NASA says it wants to see this work expand broadly, and eventually, for commercial labs to operate in space independently of the ISS, a lab that NASA thinks it will be ready to leave by 2028.
"What I really hope is what we’re doing with these early commercial researchers, there will one day be way more than the ISS can handle,” Michael Read, who manages National Lab, an economic development program of the ISS, tells The Christian Science Monitor. More
Crewless 'drone ships' will be sailing the seas by 2020
emote-controlled “drone ships” will be plying the sealanes without crews on board by the end of the decade, according to Rolls-Royce.
The FTSE 100 company best known for its aircraft engines is heading a consortium working to develop the technology needed for ships controlled from land bases, making them cheaper to run.
“This is happening. It’s not a question of if, it’s a question of when,” said Oskar Levander, head of innovation for Rolls’s marine unit. “We will see a remote controlled ship in commercial use by the end of the decade.”
He predicted the system could turn ships into a seaborne version of car service Uber, with the potential to radically change the current shipping sector. More
There’s a good reason Americans are horrible at science
The United States of America has arguably done more to advance science in the modern world than any other country on earth. From the nimble ingenuity of Silicon Valley to the ascendency of US military technology, this nation has impeccable high-tech bona fides.
Many of the world’s top engineering schools are located on American soil, and we are even hanging onto our supremacy in medical research—though our lead is slipping quickly. If countries were students, America would have an A+ in science. We would win the egghead olympiad and do pretty well in the robotics competition. We might even get a place on the Asia-dominated mathlete team if every single European country decided to bow out because, I’m guessing, Europe is too cool for something as nerdy as mathletics. More
SpaceX Successfully Lands Rocket on Drone Ship, Sends Cargo To Space Station
SpaceX is launched yet another Falcon 9 rocket on Friday, as it continues to push forward with its reusable rocket technology.
The private company’s Dragon cargo spacecraft launched at 4:43pm Friday evening from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. It is bound for the International Space Station, carrying science research, crew supplies and hardware to the orbiting laboratory.
Shortly after the launch, the first stage landed itself on an autonomous drone ship floating off the Florida coast. Previous attempts to land on a ship had failed. More
Were ancient Babylonian astronomers math whizzes? Check out these tablets.
Rudimentary calculus may have been born over a thousand years earlier than previously thought.
Babylonian clay tablets dating to 350 to 50 B.C.E. display astronomers' calculations as they tracked Jupiter across the sky. And they did it using geometric calculations.
The technique, tracking the distance a body travels from a graph of its velocity against time, was thought to have been developed around 1350 in England.
But an astroarchaeologist describes the same type of computations on these older tablets in a paper published Thursday in the journal Science. More
Does this creature hold the secret to IMMORTALITY? Scientists claim the Hydra may be able to live forever
The Fountain of Youth, Philosopher's Stone and the Holy Grail were all believed to grant eternal life.
But researchers have discovered a group of tiny organisms that could have the same immortal capabilities. A recent study observed thousands of hydras in a laboratory and discovered these creatures have the ability to escape the aging process.
Hydras are 0.4 inch invertebrates made of mostly stem cells, which researchers suggest helps them live longer lives. More
Is the Future of Music a Chip in Your Brain?
THE YEAR IS 2040, and as you wait for a drone to deliver your pizza, you decide to throw on some tunes. Once a commodity bought and sold in stores, music is now an omnipresent utility invoked via spoken- word commands. In response to a simple “play,” an algorithmic DJ opens a blended set of songs, incorporating information about your location, your recent activities and your historical preferences—complemented by biofeedback from your implanted SmartChip. A calming set of lo-fi indie hits streams forth, while the algorithm adjusts the beats per minute and acoustic profile to the rain outside and the fact that you haven’t eaten for six hours.
The rise of such dynamically generated music is the story of the age. The album, that relic of the 20th century, is long dead. Even the concept of a “song” is starting to blur. Instead there are hooks, choruses, catchphrases and beats—a palette of musical elements that are mixed and matched on the fly by the computer, with occasional human assistance. More
Pioneers of 'pee-cycling' tout urine's value
BRATTLEBORO - “We’re all potty-trained,” Kim Nace reminded a small gathering of adults at the Rich Earth Institute in Brattleboro earlier this fall.
But, the nonprofit’s director added, humans can and should up their game.
Hundreds of urine donors in the area are making an effort. The prospect of clean water downstream, achieved cheaply — is reason enough to donate your pee to science, Nace said.
Furthermore, research at the institute, partially funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, demonstrates that pasteurized urine is a first-class fertilizer on nearby hayfields.
“Why waste it?” asked Nace, 57, who has transformed a garage into the institute's lab, workshop and processing center. More
Capable nano drone flies under the FAA’s radar
The ONAGOfly is a quadcopter like all the rest – four props and an onboard camera that records video at heights once the domain of TV news choppers.
But you don’t need to stand back to launch the ONAGOfly – not when the palm of your hand will do for a launch pad.
The size of a small bird, the ONAGOfly manages to carry a powerful payload, mainly a 15-megapixel camera that captures 1080p HD video at 30 frames a second. There is also “obstacle avoidance” sensors to minimize running it into walls, trees or anything that could send the nano drone plummeting to the ground. More
Wild birds choose love over food
Scientists from the Department of Zoology found that mated pairs of great tits chose to prioritise their relationships over sustenance in a novel experiment that prevented couples from foraging in the same location.
This also meant birds ended up spending a significant amount of time with their partners' flock-mates.
And, over time, the pairs may even have learned to cooperate to allow each other to scrounge from off-limits feeding stations. The results, published in the journal Current Biology, demonstrate the importance of social relationships for wild birds – even when pursuing those relationships appears to be detrimental. More
Secret Radio Stations by the Numbers
One thing has stayed with the James Bond movie franchise through the decades: Mr. Bond always has the most wonderful of gadgets. Be it handheld, car-based, or otherwise, there’s always something to thrill that is mostly believable.
The biggest problem with all of those gadgets is that they mark Commander Bond as an obvious spy. “So Mr. Bond, I see you have a book with many random five character groups. Nothing suspicious about that at all!” And we all know that import/export specialists often carry exploding cufflinks or briefcases full of unknown electronics in hidden compartments.
Imagine you were a cold war era spy living in a hostile country with a cover job with Universal Exports. Would you rather get caught with a sophisticated encryption machine or an ordinary consumer radio? I’m guessing you went with the radio. You aren’t the only one. That was one of the presumed purposes to the mysterious shortwave broadcasts known as number stations. These were very common during the cold war, but there are still a few of them operating. More
Boeing demonstrates lightest metal ever
Airplane maker Boeing has unveiled what it calls the "The Lightest Metal Ever"—called microlattice, the material is a construct that is 99.99 per cent air. It has been developed by Boeing's HRL Laboratories along with colleagues at the University of California and the California Institute of Technology. The material has been developed as a way to reduce weight on airplanes or even rockets—a paper describing the development of the material was written by the team and published in the journal Science back in 2011—though the researchers have not yet revealed what sort of changes have been made since that time.
The more an airplane weighs, the more fuel it uses during takeoff, while flying and during landing, thus efforts to create lighter materials to replace those already in use have been underway for quite some time. The development team has released a video of the new material in action—demonstrating its lightness by placing a rectangular cuboid atop a dandelion. The team also points out that the material also has a high degree of absorption, which means it can be depressed and bounce back—another feature that would come in handy on airplanes. More
Thomas Jefferson's Lost Chemistry Lab Found
A worker renovating the Rotunda at the University of Virginia made an unexpected discovery when he crawled through a hole in the wall: part of a chemistry lab partly designed by Thomas Jefferson nearly 200 years ago, the Charlottesville Newsplex reports. The brick chemical hearth—one of the only remaining in the world—had been accidentally preserved since being walled off in the 1840s. "Just because of luck and geometry of the building, because it was bricked up, it survived the major fire in 1895," project manager Matt Schiedt says. "And it survived the major renovation in the 1970s, mostly because people didn't know it was there." According to the Christian Science Monitor, the hearth could give new insight into how chemistry was taught when it was built in the 1820s.
One University of Virginia official thinks Jefferson, who founded the school, built the lab for John Emmett, its first professor of natural history, the Dispatch Tribunal reports. According to the Monitor, Jefferson specified the size and location of the lab and worked with Emmet to equip it.. More
Move Over Bitcoin, Here Comes PotCoin
There is a Cryptocurrency for almost anything, so it is no surprise that there is a Cryptocurrency based on Marijuana, especially considering the legalization efforts in recent years.
What is surprising however is that there are 3 different types of Cryptocurrencies based on Marijuana: Pot Coin, Hemp Coin, and Dope Coin, and all of them launched within a couple months of each other.
All 3 weed Cryptocurrencies use the scrypt algorithm, meaning you can mine then with GPUs/CPUs or scrypt ASICs. They are all clones of Litecoin, the only difference is a weed symbol was slapped on them and the block rewards/block times/total coins were changed. Pot Coin for example will have 420 million total coins with 420 coins per block.
The reasoning behind the weed Cryptocurrencies is that they can be used to purchase marijuana from legal dispensaries (although illegal drug trades have already occurred with Pot Coin). If any of the weed Cryptocurrencies became popular with dispensaries, their price would rise significantly, since there is alot of money to be made in the legal weed business, and a Cryptocurrency would be a fast, secure, and anonymous way to purchase Marijuana. More
Latest experiment at Large Hadron Collider reports first results
After a two-year hiatus, the Large Hadron Collider, the largest and most powerful particle accelerator in the world, began its second run of experiments in June, smashing together subatomic particles at 13 teraelectronvolts (TeV)—the highest energy ever achieved in a laboratory. Physicists hope that such high-energy collisions may produce completely new particles, and potentially simulate the conditions that were seen in the early universe.
In a paper to appear in the journal Physics Letters B, the Compact Muon Solenoid collaboration at the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) reports on the run's very first particle collisions, and describes what an average collision between two protons looks like at 13 TeV. More
Bikini Cleans Ocean While You Swim
Style and function don’t always dictate fashion. But being environmentally aware is almost always de rigueur.
A bikini developed by a team at the University of California, Riverside is made of a material that repels water but absorbs harmful contaminants – meaning a day at the beach can also be a public service.
It’s turning some heads in competitions already.
“This is a super material that is not harmful to the environment and very cost effective to produce,” said Mihri Ozkan, professor of electrical engineering at the school’s Bourns College of Engineering.
The Sponge material is made from a heated form of sugar. Through the chemical change, it becomes hydrophobic. It repels water while absorbing other materials. More
Think the floppy disk is dead? Think again!
When was the last time that you used a floppy disk? While still used as the save icon in modern software packages like Microsoft’s Office suite, it’s unusual to see one out in the wild. Given that a typical floppy disk offers up a minuscule 1.44MB of space — not even enough to house a three-minute pop song in MP3 format — there’s seemingly no reason for these disks to stay in circulation.
But while the average user might not have any cause to use a floppy disk, there are those out there who can’t settle for anything else. They’re in dire need of the disks, which most manufacturers have stopped producing. The floppy disk might seem like something better left in the 1990s. Instead it’s a product that’s alive and well in the 21st century.
Here’s why. More
‘Maker Movement’ promises to help U.S. declare independence from Chinese goods
It started as a movement grounded in the rebellious “Do It Yourself” culture of punk rock music and libertarianism, and flowed to independent-minded engineers dismayed with “Made in China” mass-produced merchandise. Now lawmakers on Capitol Hill — from across the political spectrum — have gotten in on the action.
The bipartisan Congressional Maker Caucus, a group of 25 representatives, is determined to educate colleagues about maker technology with the belief that it one day could help America declare independence from Chinese-made generic goods.
The “Maker Movement,” a marriage of traditional craftsmanship techniques with the latest in modern designs and production technologies, promises an economy based on financial independence by manufacturing almost anything the market wants through a hybrid of electronics, robotics, metalworking, woodworking, 3-D printing and traditional arts and crafts. More
The Challenges Paul Elio Faces To Launch A Three-Wheel, 84-MPG, $6,800 Car
Startup Elio Motors, which needs $230 million to begin production of its radical lightweight, two-seat, three-wheeled fuel-efficient vehicle, is still about $165 million short.
CEO Paul Elio, speaking at last week's New York Auto Show, said it has taken more than 41,000 deposits from eager potential buyers.
But he also said the company's best financing plan is to obtain a low-interest loan from the U.S. Department of Energy under its soon-to-relaunch Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing program.
And the prospects of that happening are highly debatable. More
New map reveals a third of the stars in the Milky Way have dramatically changed orbit
It's easy to think of stars as being fixed in place, because that's how we see them in the sky. But like Earth and the other planets, they have orbits. And it turns out those orbits can change dramatically. In creating a new map of the Milky Way as part of the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS), scientists recently discovered that around 30 percent of the stars in our galaxy have done exactly that – they've moved into a totally new orbit.
The scientists came upon this revelation by studying the chemical composition of each star, which is evident in the spectra – or the range and intensity of light wavelengths coming from the star – with different lines in a spectrograph corresponding to elements and compounds.
"Stellar spectra show us that the chemical makeup of our galaxy is constantly changing," explains New Mexico State University professor Jon Holtzman, who was involved in the study. "Stars create heavier elements in their core, and when the stars die, those heavier elements go back into the gas from which the next stars form." More
Iowa DOT now testing new smartphone drivers' license
The digital licenses will eventually be an alternative to the physical license cards.
Officials said the pilot program involves hundreds of state employees testing their mobile licenses in retail and government settings. The test will provide feedback on how the new digital licenses work during everyday experiences.
"We were very encouraged by the interest generated by our first public announcement of Iowa’s Mobile Identity Application," said Paul Trombino, director of the Iowa Department of Transportation in a news release. "Although we're not yet ready to release the mDL for customer use, the lessons learned in this pilot will demonstrate the use case for our mDL Application to be offered in the future as an option to all citizens across the state, and may help guide other states who want to launch similar digital identity programs. I firmly believe this is an important first step in creating a one person, one identity, one credential opportunity for our customers." More
These Will Be The First Astronauts To Fly In A Private Spaceship
t’s weird timing, but today NASA revealed the astronauts who will make history by becoming the first to launch into space in a commercial vessel. Astronauts Robert Behnken, Sunita Williams, Eric Boe, and Douglas Hurley will train to fly on SpaceX and Boeing spacecraft. Three of them will be selected to pilot the first test flights in 2017.
What would normally be exciting news comes on the heels of a disastrous unmanned SpaceX cargo resupply mission to the space station, which saw SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket break apart in mid-air shortly after launch. SpaceX still hasn’t released its full analysis of what went wrong, but the failure underlines the inherent danger of these missions.
NASA has stated that the malfunction will not delay the 2017 timeline for launching manned missions to the International Space Station, and that the lessons SpaceX engineers learn from this failure could make crewed launches safer.
For better or worse, things certainly seem to be moving forward. More
The Verge Review of Animals: the pink grasshopper
Mostly in the last couple of years, pink meadow grasshoppers (Chorthippus parallelus) have been sighted by adventurous children in the Belfast hills and Japan. National Geographic's headline was "No, it's not a cocktail" apparently to provide clarification for all those who go on the National Geographic website looking for vintage cocktail recipes. Other headlines were like "No, it's not spraypaint" and "They were tickled pink." Please take a minute to compliment me on my non-sensationalist headline.
If you have red hair and freckles, you know what it's like to be considered a freak of nature. But did you know that the phenomenon that causes red hair in people is thought to be a variation of that which causes funky coloring in other animals? It's called erythrism — an unusual reddish discoloration of anything from hair to skin to feathers. It can sometimes be caused by diet (as in the case of bees feeding on the colorful corn syrup in jars of maraschino cherries and then turning into little pink chubbers), but it's usually caused by a genetic mutation to favor recessive genes, which is the case with this fancy grasshopper: More
Does This Egg-Shaped Tiny House Really Work Off-Grid?
A great big egg is all over the face of social media these days. The "Ecocapsule," designed by the Slovakian firm Nice Architects, is being hyped as a personal solution to our energy and water woes. But is it all it's cracked up to be?
Still in the design and pre-production stage, the ovoid tiny house, with 100 square feet of interior living space, does look pretty cool. Its designers claim that the solar panels integrated into the outer shell, along with an included wind turbine and energy storage system, will allow the Ecocapsule's owner to live without plugging into the power grid. And the capsule's integral rainwater collection, filtration, and storage system is designed to provide similar independence from local water delivery systems.
As a glowing mention in the alternative living site Inhabitat has it, the Ecocapsule "lets you live off-the-grid anywhere in the world." But is it true? More
Solar Filaments On The Sun Look Like Arrows Saying 'Keep Right'
"Keep right" signs aren't just all over U.S. roads. One "sign" appeared at least briefly at the center of the solar system last week.
The formation on the sun appeared to resemble a cosmic "keep right" sign -- or the school of pointing fish in "Finding Nemo."
The "arrows" were made by two solar filaments, or clouds of solar material held in place by magnetic force.
While unstable, some formations can stay in place for days or weeks, NASA said.
These filaments can also erupt, with the solar material either raining back down onto the sun or shooting out into space as a coronal mass ejection. The two filaments in the "keep right formation" would each be the diameter of the sun if straightened out, or about 1 million miles long. More
Kanzius Cancer Machine Gets Its First Human Trial
His body ravaged by chemotherapy treatments, retired radio engineer John Kanzius spent months in his basement in 2003 cobbling together a makeshift tumor-killing machine. Kanzius had no medical background. He had been a ham radio operator and the owner of a television and radio station company. But he had leukemia, and he did not want to die.
He was also sharp, dogged and a quick learner. He immersed himself in scientific studies, poring over the latest cancer research. Radio waves heated metal, and he wondered if they could be safely transmitted into humans to destroy tumors. He did not know it then, but the John Kanzius's Noninvasive Radiowave Cancer Device that evolved from this thought experiment would eventually make the pages of respected medical journals and attract the support of leading cancer researchers, as well as a Nobel Prize winner. When I interviewed him in his Erie, Pennsylvania, home in 2007, he vowed to live to see the day that his device would treat humans. He also desperately wanted to cure himself. More
Pluto photographs thrill Nasa scientists after nine-year mission
Cheers, whoops and flag waving broke out at Nasa’s New Horizons control centre as scientists celebrated the spacecraft’s dramatic flyby of Pluto, considered the last unexplored world in the solar system.
The probe shot past at more than 28,000mph (45,000 km/h) at 12.49pm BST (7.49am ET) on a trajectory that brought the fastest spacecraft ever to leave Earth’s orbit within 7,770 miles of Pluto’s surface.
The moment, played out on Tuesday to the sound of The Final Countdown by the 1980s glam metal band Europe, marked a historic achievement for the US, which can now claim to be the only nation to have visited every planet in the classical solar system. More
Dwarf planet Ceres offers big surprises for scientists
The closer we get to Ceres, the more perplexing the dwarf planet grows. NASA's Dawn spacecraft has found several more bright spots as well as a pyramid-like peak jutting out of the frigid world's surface.
The discovery is painting an increasingly complex portrait of one of the biggest "fossils" from the early solar system.
"I expected to be surprised because we knew so little about Ceres," Christopher Russell, Dawn's principal investigator and a planetary scientist at the University of California, Los Angeles, said in an email. "I never expected bright spots and a pyramid to be the surprises."
Ceres is one of five dwarf planets in the solar system and the largest member of the asteroid belt, the vast ring of rocky debris that stretches between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter. More
Scientists show future events decide what happens in the past
Quantum physics is a weird world. It studies subatomic particles, which are the essential building blocks of reality. All matter, including ourselves are made up of them. But, the laws governing the tiny microscopic world seem to be different to those dictating how larger objects behave in our own macroscopic reality.
Quantum laws tend to contradict common sense. At that level, one thing can be two different things simultaneously and be at two different places at the same time. Two particles can be entangled and, when one changes its state, the other will also do so immediately, even if they are at opposite ends of the universe – seemingly acting faster than the speed of light.
Particles can also tunnel through solid objects, which should normally be impenetrable barriers, like a ghost passing through a wall. And now scientists have proven that, what is happening to a particle now, isn't governed by what has happened to it in the past, but by what state it is in the future – effectively meaning that, at a subatomic level, time can go backwards. More
Dentists benefit from 3-D technology
MONROEVILLE, Pa. — Most people dread going to the dentist to get a crown on one of their teeth.
The procedure can be long, tedious and often uncomfortable. Once in the chair, patients must bite down on a putty-like material — which can trigger the gag reflex — to create an impression of their teeth.
Patients must wear temporary crowns for a few weeks until their permanent crowns have been made from the impressions, sometimes returning to the office for corrections if one falls out or is uncomfortable.
Traditionally, crown fittings take three weeks and multiple visits to the dentist to complete. These permanent tooth-shaped “caps” — made of durable material such as steel, porcelain, or ceramic — are put on to protect a weak tooth, restore a broken tooth, cover and support a tooth with a large filling, or serve other uses. More
LightSail Spacecraft, Summoned Back To Life, Sail Its Way Through The Solar System
LightSail, a solar sail propelled test spacecraft, goes back online after signals checked in at 2:21 p.m. EDT (18:21 UTC) Saturday. The spacecrafts’ batteries went offline with no current since its deployment Wednesday afternoon.
The spacecraft uses light rays from the sun hitting on its Mylar sails (radiation pressure) in order to sail its way through our solar system. All the components of the spacecraft, including the solar sails and the solar panels for its power, are initially kept in a box about the size of a loaf of bread. Upon deployment in outer space, the sails commence to unfurl to a span of almost 345 square feet. More
Microsoft explains what you’ll lose by upgrading to Windows 10
Microsoft announced today that it will be launching Windows 10 on July 29th, encouraging Windows 7 and 8.1 users to reserve their free upgrade with a notification in their task bar. However, while the company has been busy highlighting all the shiny new features in the upcoming OS, it's been a bit quieter when it comes to spelling out the limitations — including making updates automatic for Windows 10 Home users.
Firstly there are the software losses. Most of these will only affect a small number of users, but upgrading will mean saying goodbye to Windows Media Center, the card game Hearts, and Windows 7's desktop gadgets. Anyone in the habit of using floppy disks on Windows will also have to install new drivers, and Microsoft warns that watching DVDs will also require "separate playback software." Microsoft manager Gabriel Aul has said on Twitter that a DVD option for Windows 10 is coming "later this year," but early upgraders can always download VLC instead. More
How Elon Musk Willed SpaceX Into Making the Cheapest Rockets Ever Created
Over the span of little over a decade, SpaceX went from being a space company made up of amateur rocketeers and a dude who helped start an internet banking company to our best chance to set up a colony on Mars. Along the way, it's managed to create the cheapest rockets we’ve seen yet.
Now, when SpaceX says it can launch a military rocket for $90 million compared to ULA's $380 million, you just kind of nod your head and move on.
The reasons the company can offer launches for a quarter the price of competitors are often contained in a throwaway line in an article somewhere: The company does most everything in-house and have little of the bloat common in rocketry today. That quick explanation isn't inaccurate, but it's a little bit flip. More
The $9 PC CHIP was launched on Kickstarter, rivals Raspberry Pi
A new Kickstarter project is looking to replace Raspberry Pi as the “cheapest PC” in the market.
Created by the developer team Next Thing Co., the device is called C.H.I.P., or CHIP, and it is set to become the world’s most inexpensive working computer at only $9 per piece (base unit).
This tiny computer with 1GHz processor, 512MB RAM, and 4GB of on-board storage is nearly 4 times cheaper than Raspberry Pi 2 which is currently on sale at $35.
CHIP can connect to WiFi, so you can watch YouTube with it, and it supports Bluetooth 4.0 support, which means, you can use wireless Bluetooth mouse and keyboard with it. More
Researchers Can Tell Twins Apart Because Of Environmental Changes To DNA
In late 2012, a man raped six women in the south of France. DNA evidence led officials to two suspects, a pair of twins. The victims recognized the men, but couldn’t tell them apart; since the twins' DNA is identical, officials didn’t have a way to figure out which one of them to prosecute.
Forensics specialists have a few ways to tell twins apart, such as testing sperm or using identifying markings like tattoos or scars, but these techniques are very limited. Now a team of researchers has developed a new way to differentiate twins’ DNA by identifying parts of it that have changed over time because of environmental factors.
Over time, factors like diet and smoking can change how our DNA is expressed, which is called epigenetics. These environmental factors often cause certain chemicals that are part of the methyl group to attach to the DNA. But the methylation does more than just change how the DNA is expressed—it changes the DNA’s melting point. More
The Cockpit of Solar Impulse Is Not For the Faint-Hearted
The solar-powered airplane Solar Impulse is heading toward one of the most difficult phases of its around-the-globe flight: crossing the Pacific Ocean. That means the pilot will have to sit for five days and nights in the confined cockpit of the plane. As you can see, it’s not particularly luxurious.
The plane recently landed in Nanjing, China and the next flight is due to start on May 5th, when Solar Impulse will take off for its seventh flight to Hawaii. The lonely pilot, Bertrand Piccard, will fly the zero-fuel airplane about 8172km (4412 nautical miles) for an estimated time of 120 hours. All the while he’ll be sat in the unpressurized cockpit where temperatures swing wildly between day and night, staring at the bank of displays and instruments shown above. Piccard is one amazing guy. More
Anglo-Saxon medicine is able to kill modern-day superbug, researchers find
Dr Christina Lee, an Anglo-Saxon expert from the School of English has enlisted the help of microbiologists from University’s Centre for Biomolecular Sciences to recreate a 10th century potion for eye infections from Bald’s Leechbook an Old English leatherbound volume in the British Library, to see if it really works as an antibacterial remedy. The Leechbook is widely thought of as one of the earliest known medical textbooks and contains Anglo-Saxon medical advice and recipes for medicines, salves and treatments.
Early results on the ‘potion’, tested in vitro at Nottingham and backed up by mouse model tests at a university in the United States, are, in the words of the US collaborator, “astonishing”. The solution has had remarkable effects on Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) which is one of the most antibiotic-resistant bugs costing modern health services billions. The team now has good, replicated data showing that Bald’s eye salve kills up to 90% of MRSA bacteria in ‘in vivo’ wound biopsies from mouse models. They believe the bactericidal effect of the recipe is not due to a single ingredient but the combination used and brewing methods/container material used. Further research is planned to investigate how and why this works. More
Nasa finds evidence of a vast ancient ocean on Mars
A massive ancient ocean once covered nearly half of the northern hemisphere of Mars making the planet a more promising place for alien life to have gained a foothold, Nasa scientists say.
The huge body of water spread over a fifth of the planet’s surface, as great a portion as the Atlantic covers the Earth, and was a mile deep in places. In total, the ocean held 20 million cubic kilometres of water, or more than is found in the Arctic Ocean, the researchers found.
Unveiled by Nasa on Thursday, the compelling evidence for the primitive ocean adds to an emerging picture of Mars as a warm and wet world in its youth, which trickled with streams, winding river deltas, and long-standing lakes, soon after it formed 4.5bn years ago. More
McLaren’s New Hypercar Sounds Absolutely Demonic
Nürburgring times are the yardstick that all new performance cars are measured. A lap under 10 minutes is good.
Anything under eight minutes is astounding. But the new benchmark for the next generation of hybrid hypercars is seven minutes. And the McLaren P1 has officially beat that time.
Unfortunately, McLaren isn’t telling us exactly how long it took to lap the 13-mile, 154-turn Nordschleife. But right now, it doesn’t matter. Just watch the video and bask in the aural insanity that is 903 horsepower delivered by a twin-turbocharged 3.8-liter V8 and an electric motor. More
World’s largest solar plant opens in California
The world's largest solar plant began producing electricity this week in California’s Riverside County desert, as a series of successful, federally-backed utility projects show sunlight becoming an increasingly competitive energy source.
Gov. Jerry Brown has called on California to increase green electricity up to 50 percent by 2030, up from the current goal of 33 percent by 2020. His call came about a month before Monday’s dedication of the Desert Sunlight Solar Farm — which can power up to 160,000 homes.
The majority of state governments now require a significant portion of electricity to come from renewable sources, and President Barack Obama has pledged action to speed a transition to clean energy.
"Solar projects like Desert Sunlight are helping create American jobs, develop domestic renewable energy and cut carbon pollution," U.S. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell said in a statement issued Monday. "I applaud the project proponents for their vision and entrepreneurial spirit to build this solar project, and commend Gov. Brown for implementing policies that take action on climate change and help move our nation toward a renewable energy future." More
Google's Vint Cerf warns of 'digital Dark Age'
Vint Cerf, a "father of the internet", says he is worried that all the images and documents we have been saving on computers will eventually be lost.
Currently a Google vice-president, he believes this could occur as hardware and software become obsolete.
He fears that future generations will have little or no record of the 21st Century as we enter what he describes as a "digital Dark Age". Mr Cerf made his comments at a large science conference in San Jose.
He arrived at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science stylishly dressed in a three-piece suit. This iconic figure, who helped define how data packets move around the net, is possibly the only Google employee who wears a tie. More
Buy a Hyundai, Start Your Car from Your Wrist
Want to pretend you’re a secret agent every time you start your car? Then Hyundai’s new Blue Link smartwatch app is for you.
The app, specially designed for watch screens, lets you do everything from lock and unlock your car to start and stop the engine, all from your wrist, just like a suburban James Bond.
Hyundai’s Blue Link is the company’s proprietary smartphone app that lets you control a variety of aspects of your car from anywhere in the world as long as you have a Wi-Fi or cell signal. It’s available now for smartwatches running Google’s Android Wear software, with a version for the yet-to-be-released Apple Watch coming soon.
So, if you own a smartwatch and a compatible Hyundai, you can do things like check in on your car parked in New York City while you’re standing in San Francisco. More
What will humans look like in 100,000 years?
The future is always unknown, especially the distant future, but that shouldn’t stop us from making educated guesses.
That’s exactly what artist and researcher Nickolay Lamm did with help from Dr. Alan Kwan, who has a doctorate in computational genomics from Washington University. Their starting point was the question: “What do you think the human face might look like in 100,000 years and why?”
From there, they reasoned out how humanity with advanced genetic engineering technology might reshape itself over time, taking over the role played by natural selection so far. Lamm then created a series of images of what he thinks the human face might look like 20,000 years, 60,000 years and 100,000 years in the future (Note: He said that we shouldn’t read too much into the fact that the man and woman are Caucasian because those were just the best models he could find). More
Your Car May Be Programmed to Kill You — and 9 More Fun Facts About Self-Driving Vehicles
Personal jetpacks. Weekend jaunts to the moon. An end to cancer. The 21st century as promised in books and films has largely failed to materialize. Except for one shining exception: driverless cars.
The most famous driverless cars in the world belong to Google. Since 2009, its experiments have clocked more than 750,000 miles on California roads with neither a driver nor an accident. But Google’s cars aren’t alone. Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University’s Navlab built their first experimental autonomous vehicle back in 1984. In 2010, a semi-autonomous van built by researchers at the University of Parma drove from Italy to Shanghai and back, a round trip of more than 8,000 miles.
Much of the technology invented for these cars, like adaptive cruise control that applies the brakes when it detects slow traffic ahead, has found its way into mainstream vehicles. The benefit is clear: In normal driving conditions, a car with cameras, radar, and sophisticated software is probably a better driver than you are. More
The world's deepest hole lies hidden beneath this rusty metal cap
Beneath this rusty old metal cap lies some of our world's deepest mysteries. Though it measures just 9 inches in diameter, the hole beneath the cap extends 40,230 feet under the Earth, or 7.5 miles. That's roughly a third of the way through the Baltic continental crust. It's the deepest borehole in the world.
The Kola Superdeep Borehole was drilled between 1970 and 1994 in a Cold War-era attempt by the Soviets to beat the United States in a race to drill to the center of the Earth — or to get as close to the center as possible. Though the space race stole all the headlines, this less-publicized subterranean quest was equally as competitive. The mysteries that it unearthed are still being analyzed today.
Before the hole was drilled, geologists could only hypothesize about the composition of the Earth's crust. Needless to say, the amount of geological dat produced by the project was unprecedented. Mostly, it revealed just how little we really know about our planet. More
Want to live forever? Tech firm wants to create your 'digital alter ego'
Ever dreamed of being immortal?
A new tech start-up is hoping to turn that fantasy into reality by creating a 3D "digital alter ego" of yourself who will talk to your family and friends after you've died.
Since its launch earlier this year, 25,000 hopefuls have signed up to a website called Eterni.me, lured by its tagline "Simply become immortal".
"Nobody wants to be forgotten," said Marius Ursache, co-founder and chief executive of Eterni.me.
"All that we offer is to aggregate the digital data that every one of us spreads over the internet during his or her lifetime and condense them in a digital alter ego that allows an easy way of accessing this information in a focused manner." More
Mystery of 'Vampire' Burials Solved
The mystery behind several "vampire" burials in Poland has been solved.
People who were buried with sickles (curved, sharp farming knives) around their necks, or rocks at their jaws, to prevent their corpses from reanimating were natives to the area in which they were buried, according to a new study.
The fact that all the people buried as vampires were local suggests they may have been felled by a cholera epidemic that swept through the region, said study co-author Lesley Gregoricka, a bioarchaeologist at the University of South Alabama. More
Eating insects is better than eating meat, but is it any more ethical?
Not all vegans refuse to eat honey, but many do. They see interfering with the lives of insects (in this case, bees) to be as problematic as eating other animals or animal products. (And just so there's no confusion, insects are animals. Those who work for animal rights and advocate for insects are correctly including them in their definitions.) So, many vegans are starting to question the heavily hyped — and seemingly growing — act of consuming insects as food.
Plenty of people (especially environmentalists) want to expand the number of people who eat bugs. The United Nations even recently called bugs the "food of the future." Those who keep an eye on the health of the planet have weighed an ever-increasing human population against the growing number of people in developing countries who eat meat (or who consume much more of it than they did previously). They've compared that information to how livestock practices overuse freshwater resources and fossil fuels and have concluded that replacing meat with insect protein needs to happen. After all, insects have a much (much) smaller environmental footprint and still provide plenty of protein. More
Guy Racks Up $1.2K In-Flight WiFi Bill
When Jeremy Gutsche signed up for a WiFi plan on a Singapore Airlines flight, he knew he was getting 30 megabytes for $28.99 and would be responsible for any additional data he used. What he apparently did not know was that by "checking email and uploading a PowerPoint document," as the Wall Street Journal puts it, he would end up viewing 155 pages ... and getting charged $1,171. The airline talked to OnAir, the Switzerland-based WiFi provider, on Gutsche's behalf, but the Canadian CEO is out of luck: He has to pay the whole bill.
"I wish I could blame an addiction to Netflix or some intellectual documentary that made me $1200 smarter," he writes on his blog. More
Dwarf Planet Pluto: Facts About the Icy Former Planet
Pluto is the only dwarf planet to once have been considered a major planet. Once thought of as the ninth planet and the one most distant from the sun, Pluto is now seen as one of the largest known members of the Kuiper Belt, a shadowy disk-like zone beyond the orbit of Neptune populated by a trillion or more comets.
Pluto was reclassified as a dwarf planet in 2006, a change widely thought of as a demotion that has attracted controversy and debate that has continued in scientific communities for the last eight years.
American astronomer Percival Lowell first caught hints of Pluto's existence in 1905 from odd deviations he observed in the orbits of Neptune and Uranus, suggesting that another world's gravity was tugging at them from beyond. He predicted its location in 1915, but died without finding it. Its discovery came in 1930 from Clyde Tombaugh at the Lowell Observatory, based on predictions from Lowell and other astronomers. More
Implant means end of reading glasses is in sight
Reading glasses could be banished for ever after scientists developed a technique to reverse vision problems in ageing eyes.
As some people age, their ability to switch focus between near and distant objects diminishes, a condition known as presbyopia.
It can skew the perception of depth and makes reading in poor light impossible.
Now scientists have developed a tiny implant, no bigger than a pinhead, which sits inside the cornea and slightly increases its curvature, to allow the eye to focus again.
Known as a Raindrop corneal inlay, the technique was invented in America but the first operations have now been carried out at a clinic in Leamington Spa, Warwickshire. More
Rosetta: Waiting game after comet lander glitch
A European robot probe has made the first, historic landing on a comet, but its status is uncertain after harpoons failed to anchor it to the surface.
Officials said the craft may have lifted off the comet after touchdown before returning to the surface.
Lander project manager Stephan Ulamec said: "Maybe we didn't just land once, we landed twice."
The European Space Agency's director general described the landing as "a big step for human civilisation". Further analysis is needed to fully understand the status of the probe, known as Philae. More
Why Did Top Scientific Journals Reject This Dr. Bronner's Ad?
David Bronner, CEO of Dr. Bronner's Magic Soaps, presides over a company with famously wacky product labels. Sample sentence, from the 18-in-1 Hemp PEPPERMINT soap bottle: "Each swallow works hard to be perfect pilot-provider-teacher-lover-mate, no half-true hate!" But Bronner himself, grandson of the founder (the one with the elaborate prose style), has emerged as a serious, though fun-loving, activist, particularly around pesticides and genetically modified crops, as Josh Harkinson's recent Mother Jones profile shows.
But apparently, Bronner's writing on GMOs is too hot for the advertising pages of the English-speaking world's two most renowned science journals, Science and Nature—even though a slew of magazines, including Scientific American, The New Yorker, Harper's, The Nation, Harvard, and, yes, Mother Jones, accepted the Bronner ad. It consists of a short essay, known in publishing as an advertorial, that's nothing like the wild-eyed rants on his company's soap bottles. Bronner's ad focuses on how GMO crops have led to a net increase in pesticide use in the United States, citing an analysis by Ramon Seidler, a retired senior staff scientist at the Environmental Protection Agency. More
Plants Can Tell When They’re Being Eaten
We’ve been hearing for decades about the complex intelligence of plants; last year’s excellent New Yorker piece is a good place to start, if you want to learn more about the subject. But a new study, conducted by researchers at the University of Missouri, managed to figure out one new important element: plants can tell when they’re being eaten, and they don’t like it.
The word “intelligence,” when applied to any non-human animal or plant, is imprecise and sort of meaningless; research done to determine “intelligence” mostly just aims to learn how similar the inner workings of another organism is to a human thought process. There’s certainly nothing evolutionarily important about these sorts of intelligence studies; a chimp is not superior to a chicken just because chimps can use tools the same way humans do. But these studies are fascinating, and do give us insight into how other organisms think and behave, whatever “think” might mean. More
Scientists Make Cheap, Fast Self-Assembling Robots
WASHINGTON (AP) -- In what may be the birth of cheap, easy-to-make robots, researchers have created complex machines that transform themselves from little more than a sheet of paper and plastic into walking automatons.
Borrowing from the ancient Japanese art of origami, children's toys and even a touch of the "Transformers" movies, scientists and engineers at Harvard and MIT created self-assembling, paper robots. They are made out of hobby shop materials that cost about $100. After the installation of tiny batteries and motors, a paper robot rises on four stumpy legs and starts scooting in a herky-jerky manner. It transforms from flat paper to jitterbugging four-legged robot in just four minutes.
This small lightweight type of robot could explore outer space and other dangerous environments, and get into cramped places for search-and-rescue missions, researchers said. But that's just the start of what may be a long-envisioned robotic revolution. More
Wait, what? Pluto a planet again?
Here we go again.
Pluto, a celestial snowball with a surface of methane ice 3.6 billion miles from the sun, might be making its way back into the solar system fraternity.
First discovered and classified as planet in 1930, Pluto was relegated to "dwarf-planet" status by the International Astronomical Union in 2006.
They booted it out because there appeared to be a bunch of other big rocks just like Pluto out beyond the eighth planet (Neptune), all considered too puny to be called a planet. Now, some scientists say that Pluto should be back.
Harvard science historian Owen Gingerich, who chairs the IAU planet definition committee, argued at a forum last month that "a planet is a culturally defined word that changes over time," and that Pluto is a planet. More
The Reading Brain in the Digital Age: The Science of Paper versus Screens
In a viral YouTube video from October 2011 a one-year-old girl sweeps her fingers across an iPad's touchscreen, shuffling groups of icons. In the following scenes she appears to pinch, swipe and prod the pages of paper magazines as though they too were screens. When nothing happens, she pushes against her leg, confirming that her finger works just fine—or so a title card would have us believe.
The girl's father, Jean-Louis Constanza, presents "A Magazine Is an iPad That Does Not Work" as naturalistic observation—a Jane Goodall among the chimps moment—that reveals a generational transition.
"Technology codes our minds," he writes in the video's description. "Magazines are now useless and impossible to understand, for digital natives"—that is, for people who have been interacting with digital technologies from a very early age. More
Meet Dreadnoughtus, the Mesozoic monster that patrolled Argentina 80 million years ago
Some species of dinosaur were astoundingly enormous compared to anything alive on land today, which becomes obvious the moment you stand in the shadow of their skeletons in a museum. This remains one reason why we remain fascinated with these long-extinct beasts.
The colossal size of the long-necked species like Brachiosaurus stretches the limits of our imaginations, and exhausts our vocabulary. And nothing quite gets the hyperbole flowing like the discovery of a gigantic new dinosaur.
So, meet Dreadnoughtus, the 65-ton, 26-metre long plant-eating behemoth from the latest Cretaceous – 84-66 million years ago – found in Argentina. It is named after the World War I British battleship Dreadnought. More
Library without books debuts at Florida’s newest college
TAMPA Fla. - The library opening with the first day of classes on Monday at Florida's newest college features a sunlit arched roof and cozy reading chairs - but not a single book.
A fully digital library is among the futuristic features of Florida Polytechnic University's striking dome-shaped building, designed by Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava.
"It's a boldly relevant decision to go forward without books," said Kathryn Miller, the university's director of libraries. The inaugural class of 550 students, offered scholarships covering tuition to attend a public university so new it's not yet accredited, can access more than 135,000 ebooks on their choice of reader, tablet or laptop. More
Moon May Hold Clues to Earth's Ancient Past
Signs of ancient life could be littered across the moon, just waiting for an intrepid explorer to find them. That's according to physicists who tested what would happen if a chunk of rock containing microscopic fossils from Earth were to be launched into space and smash into the lunar surface. Finding one could give us a pristine glimpse into past life on Earth.
Meteorites found on Earth that were created by impacts on the moon and Mars suggest that cosmic bodies regularly chuck rocks at each other. A few researchers have claimed that some of these meteorites show signs of fossilised bacteria, the most famous being Mars rock ALH 84001. However, the evidence is shaky – and misses a more fundamental question, says Mark Burchell at the University of Kent, UK.
"No one ever seems to have asked, even if the fossils did exist in a rock, would they survive?" he says. To find out, Burchell and his colleagues tried to simulate the conditions that fossilised diatoms – microscopic algae with detailed shells – would face on a trip from here to the moon. More
Is Burning Man Now Just a Tech Conference in the Sand?
The past few days — and no doubt increasingly in the coming week — some are bemoaning the fact that Burning Man is too much of a tech hotspot, that it has become big business, that there’s money flowing. This year, the event is installing a second runway for private planes, because one is not enough anymore.
The trouble with these complaints and arguments is: Burning Man was designed to become this. It isn’t about getting off the grid — it’s always been about making a new grid. It isn’t about living without infrastructure or society — it’s about building a better infrastructure, and an even more tightly entwined society.
The annual weeklong festival in Nevada’s Black Rock Desert is not some egalitarian commune world, and it’s not a camping trip — it’s a new city, built on the same isolationist and silly and sometimes visionary impulses that have made Silicon Valley. It’s easy to romanticize that and talk about what’s lost, when it’s not really romantic at all, but a city that is evolving. More
Lift-Off! US Air Force Launches GPS Satellite to Orbit
The United States Air Force launched a new, advanced GPS satellite into orbit from Florida on Friday.
The GPS 2F-7 satellite was propelled into space atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket yesterday (Aug. 1) at 11:23 p.m. EDT (0323 Aug. 2 GMT).
Once operational, the new satellite will help increase the capabilities of the Air Force's GPS satellite constellation — a fleet of spacecraft designed to allow military personnel and civilians map their locations, time and velocity around the world.
"Congratulations to the U.S. Air Force and all of our mission partners on the successful launch of the Atlas 5 arrying the GPS IIF-7 satellite," Jim Sponnick, ULA vice president, Atlas and Delta Programs, said in a statement after launch.
"ULA launch vehicles have delivered all of the current generation of GPS satellites, which are providing ever-improving capabilities for users around the world." More
Who’s your daddy? Study on genetic testing says parents don’t need to know
As more research is done on the human genome and more people seek genetic testing, researchers, physicians, genetic counselors and ethicists are struggling with the issues of how to present the new information to patients and whether certain findings should be presented at all.
A paper published Monday in the leading journal Pediatrics tackles a controversial discovery that can come out of genetic testing: when a child’s biological parent turns out to be someone else.
Whether that occurs through a switch at the hospital, a swap of embryos or sexual infidelity, genetic testing can bring such previously unknown facts to light. No matter the cause, it presents an ethical dilemma for medical professionals and one likely to become more common as genetic testing more more widespread. It has triggered a fierce and complex debate about whether parents — or those who might find out they are not true parents — have a right to know such information. More
Here's NASA's New Design for a Warp Drive Ship
It seems like something out of Star Trek, but a team at NASA is hard at work on developing real warp drive (or faster-than-light travel), and artist renderings of the proposed ship look stunning.
In 2010, Dr. Harold “Sonny” White revealed that he, along with a team at NASA’s Johnson Space Center, are hard at work on developing a functional warp drive. After collaborating with artist Mark Rademaker, White was able to show what a possible warp drive ship may look like (Rademaker’s images are viewable here), and fans of Star Trek will not be disappointed, as i09 reports.
The ship, affectionately named the IXS Enterprise for the drawings, looks like a vessel straight out of the cult science fiction show, which popularized the concept of travel between the stars. A subtle saucer section, which is an intentional nod to the show, sits cradled between two gigantic rings. More
NASA’S BRUIE May Be the Next Step in Discovering Extraterrestrial Life
Over the last hundred years or so, the notion of possible life on other planets has spawned massive interest and speculation from scientists, conspiracy theorists and adventure-seekers alike. This week NASA took a giant step or, rather, drive in the direction of extraterrestrial discovery with the debut of the BRUIE, a satellite-controlled rover designed to drive on the underside of ice.
In the search for extraterrestrial life on other planets, astrobiologists naturally presume that the existence of water is necessary to foster a habitable environment – that’s scientific hypothesizing at its most basic. Based on that idea, the next logical mode of exploration for NASA was a robot or rover that could traverse celestial oceans. Well world, that rover is here - meet BRUIE (Buoyant Rover for Under-Ice Exploration), the first-ever machine built to explore extraterrestrial aquatic bodies; a rover that will literally take science where no other space robot has gone before. More
Teleportation Is Closer to Moving Data, But Not People
Humanity is one step nearer to quicker computers, but still very far away from Harry Potter-like apparating.
Dutch physicists have successfully transported data from one electron to another three meters away, rendering previous doubts about quantum physics unfounded. The discovery — which took place at the Kavli Institute of Nanoscience, a branch of Delft University of Technology — was announced in a research paper released in Science, a journal published by the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
While quantum teleportation has been achieved in the past, this is the first time all of the data has transferred successfully, according to an report on CNET.
If this new technology proves to be as groundbreaking as the data suggests, scientists could be looking at faster data transportation and therefore, faster computing. Quantum computing is still a theory at this point, but this new find could present opportunities for further research into the subject. More
Massive 'ocean' discovered towards Earth's core
A reservoir of water three times the volume of all the oceans has been discovered deep beneath the Earth's surface. The finding could help explain where Earth's seas came from.
The water is hidden inside a blue rock called ringwoodite that lies 700 kilometres underground in the mantle, the layer of hot rock between Earth's surface and its core.
The huge size of the reservoir throws new light on the origin of Earth's water. Some geologists think water arrived in comets as they struck the planet, but the new discovery supports an alternative idea that the oceans gradually oozed out of the interior of the early Earth. More
Tesla Goes Open Source: Elon Musk Releases Patents To 'Good Faith' Use
Elon Musk has always been a rebel. Now he’s an open source rebel. While many in Silicon Valley have railed against patent wars in recent years, and some have lobbied Washington to reform patent law, Tesla’s taking an unprecedented step of opening all its electric car patents to outside use.
In a blog post on Thusday, Musk said Tesla has removed the patents decorating the wall of the company’s Palo Alto headquarters — a symbolic move to coincide with this announcement. Tesla’s billionaire cofounder and CEO writes that the company “will not initiate patent lawsuits against anyone who, in good faith, wants to use our technology.” More
'Star Wars'-like robot arm wins FDA approval; still more work to be done
Soldiers who have lost arms in the line of duty are one step closer to obtaining a highly-advanced prosthetic arm that can perform complex tasks like using chopsticks, opening doors and handling eggs.
Last month, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the prosthetic, bionic arm made by New Hampshire-based DEKA Research and Development Corp., a company led by inventor Dean Kamen.
But there's still a lot of work to do before the " Luke Arm" (named after Luke Skywalker in "Star Wars") is mass-produced and becomes available for wounded servicemen and women, said Kamen, who studied engineering at Worcester Polytechnic Institute and is perhaps most well-known for inventing the Segway. More
Did vitamin B3 come from space?
Ancient Earth might have had an extraterrestrial supply of vitamin B3 delivered by carbon-rich meteorites, according to a new analysis by NASA-funded researchers. The result supports a theory that the origin of life may have been assisted by a supply of key molecules created in space and brought to Earth by comet and meteor impacts.
“It is always difficult to put a value on the connection between meteorites and the origin of life; for example, earlier work has shown that vitamin B3 could have been produced non-biologically on ancient Earth, but it’s possible that an added source of vitamin B3 could have been helpful,” said Karen Smith of Pennsylvania State University in University Park, Pa. “Vitamin B3, also called nicotinic acid or niacin, is a precursor to NAD (nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide), which is essential to metabolism and likely very ancient in origin.” Smith is lead author of a paper on this research, along with co-authors from NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., now available online in the journal Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta.
This is not the first time vitamin B3 has been found in meteorites. In 2001 a team led by Sandra Pizzarello of Arizona State University, in Tempe discovered it along with related molecules called pyridine carboxylic acids in the Tagish Lake meteorite. More
Why Asimov's Three Laws Of Robotics Can't Protect Us
It's been 50 years since Isaac Asimov devised his famous Three Laws of Robotics — a set of rules designed to ensure friendly robot behavior. Though intended as a literary device, these laws are heralded by some as a ready-made prescription for avoiding the robopocalypse. We spoke to the experts to find out if Asimov's safeguards have stood the test of time — and they haven't.
First, a quick overview of the Three Laws. As stated by Asimov in his 1942 short story "Runaround":
In Asimov's fictional universe, these laws were incorporated into nearly all of his "positronic" robots. They were not mere suggestions or guidelines — they were embedded into the software that governs their behavior. What's more, the rules could not be bypassed, over-written, or revised. More
Star next door may host a 'superhabitable' world
Earth may be our home, but another planet even cosier for life could be orbiting the star next door. A detailed analysis of what might make planets suitable for life says that Alpha Centauri B, the star closest to our sun, would be the perfect star to host a "superhabitable" planet – a world of islands, shallow seas and gentle slopes, where the conditions needed to support a diverse array of life forms would persist for up to 10 billion years. But the near-paradise would come at a cost to visitors from Earth: the pull of gravity would be about one-quarter stronger than on our home turf.
We normally assume that the best places to look for alien life are Earth-sized planets orbiting sun-like stars. But our best models for habitability consider only a few criteria, such as the planet's size and distance from its star, seeking rocky worlds like Earth in similar orbits to our own.
"But no one had ever touched the question of whether other places may be even more benign environments than Earth provides," says René Heller of McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. So he and his colleagues analysed at a host of additional criteria, including a hypothetical planet's gravity, age and internal structure, to explore the possibilities. More
New roots from DNA
Oprah is a Zulu. Never mind that she was born and raised in Mississippi and her great grandparents hailed from no further away than Georgia and North Carolina, Ms Winfrey, the queen of the televised confessional, is not just suggesting her lineage might stretch back thousands of years to a specific African tribe. She is asserting it as a definitive fact. "I always wondered what it would be like if it turned out I am a South African. I feel so at home here ... Do you know that I actually am one?" she told an audience of 3,200 in Johannesburg last year. "I went in search of my roots and had my DNA tested, and I am a Zulu."
This month in the US, Oprah has been joined by eight other African-American luminaries, including Quincy Jones and Whoopi Goldberg, in tracing their genealogy. Thirty years after Alex Haley famously traced the oral history passed down through his family back to Gambia to find his African ancestor, Kunta Kinte, who had been sold into slavery these celebrities will undertake a similar journey alongside Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr in a television series called African-American Lives.
But unlike Haley's Roots, few have been able to turn to family historians in search of their genealogical narrative. More
Ocean discovered on Enceladus may be best place to look for alien life
Researchers have discovered a deep saltwater ocean on one of the many small moons that orbit Saturn, leading scientists to conclude it is the most likely place in the solar system for extraterrestrial life to be found.
Gravitational field measurements taken by Nasa's Cassini space probe revealed that a 10km-deep ocean of water, larger than Lake Superior, lurks beneath the icy surface of Enceladus at the moon's south pole.
David Stevenson, a planetary scientist at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, said the body of water was so large it "may extend halfway or more towards the equator in every direction. It might even extend all the way to the north."
The presence of a saltwater ocean a billion kilometres from Earth more than satisfies Nasa's long-held mantra of "follow the water" to find signs of alien life, but water is not the only factor that makes Enceladus such a promising habitat. The water is in contact with the moon's rocky core, so elements useful for life, such as phosphorus, sulfur and potassium, will leach into the ocean. More
Vertical farms sprouting all over the world
URBAN warehouses, derelict buildings and high-rises are the last places you'd expect to find the seeds of a green revolution.
But from Singapore to Scranton, Pennsylvania, "vertical farms" are promising a new, environmentally friendly way to feed the rapidly swelling populations of cities worldwide.
In March, the world's largest vertical farm is set to open up shop in Scranton. Built by Green Spirit Farms (GSF) of New Buffalo, Michigan, it will only be a single storey covering 3.25 hectares, but with racks stacked six high it will house 17 million plants. And it is just one of a growing number.
Vertical farms aim to avoid the problems inherent in growing food crops in drought-and-disease-prone fields many hundreds of kilometres from the population centres in which they will be consumed. Instead, Dickson Despommier – an ecologist at Columbia University in New York City who has championed vertical farms since 1999 – suggests that food should be grown year-round in high-rise urban buildings, reducing the need for the carbon-emitting transport of fruit and vegetables. More
Outernet project aims to provide global WiFi coverage via satellite
CONNECTING THE ENTIRE world to the web for free is always going to be an ambitious task, but one New York-based company plans to make it a reality by using miniature satellites.
The Outernet project aims to create a network of miniature satellites in low Earth orbit that will beam WiFi to everyone around the world.
Each satellite receives data from a network of ground stations and will transmit that data in a continuous loop until new content is received.
Describing the project as the “modern version of shortwave radio or BitTorrent from space,” it will offer users a one-way web connection that allows WiFi-enabled devices to access a basic version of the web. The main draw of the project is that it would allow those who wouldn’t usually have a web connection a way to access it. More
Paramount Pictures Cuts Film, Goes All-Digital in U.S.
The Los Angeles Times reports that Paramount Pictures is the first major Hollywood studio to ditch 35mm film and go all-digital for United States theater releases, with The Wolf of Wall Street being shipped to theaters in digital format only. Sorry film fans, it sounds like that's a wrap.
The L.A. Times' report credits unnamed inside sources with the scoop, saying that Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues was the last movie Paramount shipped to theaters in both film and digital formats. So far, the studio has not confirmed the report, which says that traditional film will still be used in export markets like Latin America.
While 35mm film has been the cinema standard for over a century, industry watchers have known since at least 2011 that the jump to digital was inevitable. The digital format allows high-tech 3D effects (and the boosted ticket prices that go with them), and at under $100 a piece, digital copies are much cheaper to provide to theaters compared to as much as $2,000 per film print. The digital switch is also necessary to enable distributors to beam movies directly to theaters via satellite. More
3D Printing Aims to Deliver Organs on Demand
Dying patients could someday receive a 3D-printed organ made from their own cells rather than wait on long lists for the short supply of organ transplants. Such a futuristic dream remains far from reality, but university labs and private companies have already taken the first careful steps by using 3D-printing technology to build tiny chunks of organs.
Regenerative medicine has already implanted lab-grown skin, tracheas and bladders into patients — body parts grown slowly through a combination of artificial scaffolds and living human cells. By comparison, 3D-printing technology offers both greater speed and computer-guided precision in printing living cells layer by layer to make replacement skin, body parts and perhaps eventually organs such as hearts, livers and kidneys. More
LED there be light: We pick the best bulb upgrades for your buck
Incandescents have enjoyed a good century as the light bulb of choice, but times are changing. So too are efficiency standards, which are set to jump to a new, even higher threshold starting January 1st. Once that happens, it'll be time to bid adieu to 60- and 40-watt incandescents. Don't be too quick to mourn, though. Recent advancements in LED technology have brought prices down on these highly efficient, long-lasting bulbs even faster than anticipated, with some creeping down below the $10 mark. What's more, there's an increasing number of choices when it comes to color quality, brightness, and bulb design. Consumers willing to pay a little extra will find a wealth of new smart features, too.
With all of these new options, the lighting aisle can be a little bit intimidating if you haven't changed out your bulbs in a while -- but fear not! Aside from our handy Light bulb buying guide, we've put together a list of some of our favorite LED upgrades to help give you an idea of what to expect. More
Some Dude Hacks Microwave, Puts Manufacturers to Shame
With all this talk about smart appliances and the “internet of things,” you’d think we’d have a microwave smart enough to follow elaborate cooking commands—or, at the very least, keep accurate time.
Nokia recently unveiled a nifty “smart” microwave with a touchscreen and...eye-tracking technology? That’s all well and good, but it doesn’t address the basic problems of most microwaves, such as the fact that so many foods require several stages of cooking, cooling, and sitting. Not to mention, few—if any—offer voice command or mobile control.
Enter: Nathan Broadbent, a young software engineer from New Zealand who recently took this matter upon himself. Nathan was inspired by a Reddit post fittingly titled, “Food items should have QR codes that instruct the microwave exactly what to do...” More
Young dolphins deliberately chew puffer fish to get high with each other
Experts have found evidence that young dolphins purposefully and carefully chew puffer fish to get high.
The behavior was captured by filmmakers during the creation of the BBC One documentary series Dolphins: Spy in the Pod, which used spy cameras hidden in fake turtles, fish and squid to film more than 900 hours of the aquatic mammals in their natural habitat.
Puffer fish release a toxin that can be deadly in larger amounts, but it can produce a narcotic effect in smaller doses.
Scientists found that dolphins apparently had learned just how much of the toxin would safely intoxicate them, and they carefully chewed the fish and then passed it among themselves. More
Mad Scientist Designing Organs That Could Give You Superpowers
Acquiring a superpower usually requires a bite from a radioactive insect, an uncomfortable dose of cosmic radiation, or the discovery of extraterrestrial parentage, but scientist Michael McAlpine hopes to make the process as simple as purchasing aspirin at the pharmacy. So far, he’s invented a “tattoo” for teeth that can detect cavities—not exactly the stuff of Hollywood blockbusters—although his latest project, a 3-D printed bionic ear that enables superhuman hearing, could be.
McAlpine earned his Ph.D. in chemistry at Harvard and now is an assistant professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at Princeton, where he leads a nine-person research group. “I was corrupted to being more of an engineer than a scientist,” says McAlpine. “I like to do stuff that’s a little more applied.”
His first papers in 2003 focused on putting silicon nanowires on flexible substrates. It was an astonishing technical achievement for his time, but unfortunately it came at a point when iPods could only be controlled through a click wheel and Mark Zuckerberg was getting ready for his senior prom.
Despite its scientific importance, the market wasn’t ready and McAlpine started looking for other research topics, when he asked, “Instead of trying to put nanowires on plastic substrates, why not put them on the body?” More
Truckdriver builds world's largest amateur telescope
Mike Clements has taken a lifelong passion and turned it into a record-setting astronomical achievement.
The long-haul trucker from West Jordan, Utah, has single-handedly built a 70-inch telescope — the largest one on record to be crafted by an amateur astronomer, enabling users to see constellations previously visible only through the $2.5 billion Hubble Space Telescope. While the primary mirror is 70 inches, the black metal structure itself stands about 35 feet tall, supporting a secondary mirror that is 29 inches.
Clements bought the 900-pound mirror — which was originally destined to go into space as part of a spy satellite until the edge of it was chipped during its manufacture — after it was auctioned off. More
Earthlings are really Martians, says new theory
Life on Earth was kick-started thanks to a key mineral deposited by a meteorite from Mars, according to a novel theory aired on Thursday.
The vital ingredient was an oxidised mineral form of the element molybdenum, which helped prevent carbon molecules – the building blocks of life – from degrading into a tar-like goo.
The idea comes from Steven Benner, a professor at the Westheimer Institute for Science and Technology in Gainesville, Florida, who was to present it at an international conference of geochemists in Florence, Italy. "It's only when molybdenum becomes highly oxidized that it is able to influence how early life formed," Benner said in a press release. More
Solar Power Is Finally Getting Closer To Battery Storage Technology
HONOLULU - Major advances in battery storage technology, not to mention sharp cost reductions, could help light the way for Hawaii’s troubled solar industry. The path forward could, it seems increasingly plausible, involve do-it-yourself solar users disconnecting themselves from the power grid altogether, and still flourishing.
And while major questions remain about the cost, the technology and the pace of adaptation of off-the-grid solar, it is significant that there is a possible pathway forward.
The industry has created thousands of new jobs across Hawaii and helped the state meet its renewable energy goals, but it is suffering a period of sudden retrenchment after years of historic growth.
Solar sales began to decline for the first time just this year. More
Tuberculosis followed humans out of Africa
PARIS — One of the largest genetic investigations into the microbe which causes TB shows the germ followed early humans out of Africa at least 70,000 years ago, scientists said on Sunday. In a parallel probe, investigators also said they had identified 39 new genes that drive dangerous drug resistance in this germ, Mycobacterium tuberculosis.
TB is one of the deadliest diseases in the medical lexicon. Untreated, it kills roughly half the people it infects. Even today, in the era of advanced antibiotics, it causes between a million and two million deaths each year, mainly in developing countries. Drug designers are embroiled in an arms race with the germ, hoping to outflank it with new treatments before it develops resistance to existing ones.
Writing in the journal Nature Genetics, researchers led by Sebastien Gagneux of the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute compared the DNA of 259 TB strains from around the world. They used this to build a "family tree" of the germ, using genetic mutations as a kind of molecular clock to show its pace of evolution. The comparison shows that the bacterium originated in Africa over 70,000 years ago, coinciding with the migration of anatomically modern humans from their homeland. More
Hempcrete, Made From Hemp, Used To Build Houses
Imagine you had a building material that was energy-efficient, non-toxic and resistant to mold, insects and fire. The material may even have a higher R-value, or thermal resistance, than concrete, a claim that is still being investigated.
The only problem?
The base of the Hempcrete creation is hemp, which comes from the cannabis sativa plant — the same one that produces marijuana, which is a federally banned substance. Because of this, industrial hemp production is illegal in the United States.
Still, the Hempcrete mixture of hemp, lime and water is being used to some extent for construction jobs across America. One of the companies working with Hempcrete is Hemp Technologies, a construction company based in North Carolina that is adamant about the advantages of building using Hempcrete. They’ve built homes out of hemp in Hawaii, Texas, Idaho and North Carolina, where they are currently working on a project known as “NauHaus.” More
Triceratops never actually existed, scientists say
Brace yourselves. The famous triceratops dinosaur never actually existed as a separate dinosaur species, paleontologists say.
Known for its three horns and the bony, frilled ridge around its head, the triceratops was most likely just a younger version of the rarer torosaurus, say researchers John Scannella and Jack Horner at the Museum of the Rockies in Montana.
The species were very similar. Both had three horns and each had the distinctive head frill that makes the triceratops famous. But in the torosaurus the horns and ridge were shaped differently, with the ridge appearing smoother and thinner. It also had two holes. More
McDonald's orders 7,000 touchscreen kiosks to replace cashiers
McDonald's recently added 64,000 people to its payroll in the United States, but job prospects in Europe for those so inclined to work in the fast food industry are looking pretty grim right about now. That's because the fast food giant is poised to add touchscreen kiosks in more than 7,000 of its restaurants in Europe in effort to replace actual, human cashiers.
McDonald's Europe President Easterbrook told the Financial Times (subscription required), via The Sydney Morning Herald, that the touchscreen kiosks should help speed up customer transactions up to three or four seconds. The European eateries currently serve about 2 million people per day; McDonald's hopes it will get even more people to flock in through their doors. More
Solar boat reaches Paris after crossing Atlantic
PARIS — The world's largest solar-powered boat has docked on the banks of the Seine River, its final port of call after a three-month voyage across the Atlantic Ocean to study how the Gulf Stream and climate change could influence each other.
The 102-foot-long (31-meter-long) Turanor PlanetSolar catamaran looks like one of Darth Vader's TIE Fighters turned on its side.
Starting from Miami in June, University of Geneva scientists sailed up the eastern seaboard of the Unites States, then across the Atlantic, taking water and air measurements that should allow them to better understand the complex interaction between the ocean and the atmosphere. More
Milky Way vs. Andromeda: What Will Happen When They Collide?
NASA astronomers are predicting with certainty that the Andromeda Galaxy and our home galaxy, the Milky Way, will meet in huge merger event which will affect our entire solar system.
But don't pack your bags to leave just yet... it's not scheduled to happen for at least another four billion years.
"Our findings are statistically consistent with a head-on collision between the Andromeda galaxy and our Milky Way galaxy," said Roeland van der Marel of the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) in Baltimore.
Astronomers have long speculated that our galaxy and one of the nearest members of our local group were destined to meet, but they were never sure of just how it might happen. Now, thanks to NASA Hubble Space Telescope measurements of the Andromeda galaxy's motion, the answer has become clear. Although it is some 2.5 million light years away, M31 is most surely feeling the force of gravity and moving towards us. It's only a matter of time before we combine. More
Hackers find ways to hijack car computers and take control
DETROIT — As cars become more like PCs on wheels, what’s to stop a hacker from taking over yours?
In recent demonstrations, hackers have shown they can slam a car’s brakes at freeway speeds, jerk the steering wheel and even shut down the engine — all from their laptop computers.
The hackers are publicizing their work to reveal vulnerabilities present in a growing number of car computers. All cars and trucks contain anywhere from 20 to 70 computers. They control everything from the brakes to acceleration to the windows, and are connected to an internal network. A few hackers have recently managed to find their way into these intricate networks. More
Greek community creates an off-the-grid Internet
In an effort to buck the expensive rates of unreliable corporate telecom companies, a community in Athens, Greece, has created its own private Internet.
Built from a network of wireless rooftop antennas, the Athens Wireless Metropolitan Network (AWMN) now has more than 1,000 members. Data moves “through” the AWMN mesh up to 30 times faster than it does on the telecom-provided Internet.
According to Mother Jones, this off-the-grid community has become so popular in Athens and on nearby islands that it has developed its own Craigslist-esque classifieds service as well as blogs and an internal search engine.
"It's like a whole other Web," AWMN user Joseph Bonicioli told the magazine. "It's our network, but it's also a playground."
The AWMN began in 2002 in response to the poor Internet service provided by traditional telecommunications companies in Athens. However, the past few years have illustrated another use for these citizen-run meshes: preserving the democratic values of the Internet. More
Virgin Galactic's Private Spaceship Offers Enticing Science Opportunities
With all the attention being given to Virgin Galactic's impressive list of future celebritynauts (Ashton! Branson! Beiber!), its spaceship's impressive capabilities for microgravity research have been largely overlooked.
The private space plane, called SpaceShipTwo, is set to begin carrying passengers to the edge of space on suborbital rides in 2014.
Already, 600 people have signed up for flights, including actors Ashton Kutcher and Angelina Jolie, singers Justin Beiber and Katy Perry, and Virgin Galactic's celebrity founder himself, Sir Richard Branson. More
Mega-canyon discovered beneath Greenland ice
Data from a NASA airborne science mission has revealed an immense and previously unknown canyon hidden under a mile of Greenland ice.
“One might assume that the landscape of the Earth has been fully explored and mapped,” said Jonathan Bamber, professor of physical geography at the University of Bristol in the United Kingdom, and lead author of the study published in today’s issue of Science. “Our research shows there’s still a lot left to discover.”
The canyon has the characteristics of a winding river channel and is at least 460 miles (750 kilometers) long, making it longer than the Grand Canyon. In some places, it is as deep as 2,600 feet (800 meters), on scale with segments of the Grand Canyon. This immense feature is thought to predate the ice sheet that has covered Greenland for the last few million years.
The scientists used thousands of miles of airborne radar data, collected by NASA and researchers from the United Kingdom and Germany over several decades, to piece together the landscape lying beneath the Greenland ice sheet. More
Transparent bubble tent puts campers under the stars
Anybody trying these outdoor gadgets might want to bring a pair of curtains.
For although they look and feel more like giant goldfish bowls, these latest inventions are actually totally see-through inflatable tents.
With incredible panoramic views of the surrounding countryside, the bizarre transparent structures are designed to get people as close to nature as possible.
But they are far from the traditional camping trip - decked out with wardrobes, shelves and electric lights, the bubbles look more like a movable hotel room than a regular tent.
Launched this year, the structures can be now be hired out at sites across France for around £400 pounds a night. More
LA To NYC In Under An Hour, Hyperloop System Will Let You Travel At 4,000 MPH
Commuting is a way of life for most Bay Area residents. Many people are accustomed to an hour commute each way without traffic. Some people even commute to Southern California several times a month, spending several hours each way either in the car or fighting through airports. What if there was an alternative to flights and car rides? If it was up to Tesla CEO Elon Musk and a Colorado company, an answer could come sooner than we think.
Musk, the man behind both Tesla Motors and SpaceX, has spoken about a high-speed transportation system known as the Hyperloop, a tube transport system that would allow passengers to travel at high speeds. The proposed system could reduce trips between San Francisco and Los Angeles to minutes, and reaching the East Coast from California could take under an hour. Crazy as it seems, the company ET3, based out of Longmont, Colorado, has already been hard at work making this a reality, calling their project the Evacuated Tube Transport. More
PayPal Galactic to create new currency for space travelers
Space travel is fun but the little things add up – the astronaut ice-cream at the orbiting hotel café, the moon buggy rides, the anti-radiation jacket.
If the Moon and Mars become tourist destinations as space entrepreneurs like Richard Branson and Elon Musk are hoping they will, travelers will need to be able to pay for stuff there.
Bank transfers won’t work in space and fumbling for coins in zero gravity isn’t so funny after the first few times.
But don’t worry – Internet payment company PayPal, which is owned by Ebay, is on it. The company announced today that it is funding an initiative called PayPal Galactic, to figure out what currency can be used and how commerce should be regulated off Earth. More
World's first brain prosthesis revealed
The world's first brain prosthesis - an artificial hippocampus - is about to be tested in California. Unlike devices like cochlear implants, which merely stimulate brain activity, this silicon chip implant will perform the same processes as the damaged part of the brain it is replacing.
The prosthesis will first be tested on tissue from rats' brains, and then on live animals. If all goes well, it will then be tested as a way to help people who have suffered brain damage due to stroke, epilepsy or Alzheimer's disease.
Any device that mimics the brain clearly raises ethical issues. The brain not only affects memory, but your mood, awareness and consciousness - parts of your fundamental identity, says ethicist Joel Anderson at Washington University in St Louis, Missouri. The researchers developing the brain prosthesis see it as a test case.
"If you can't do it with the hippocampus you can't do it with anything," says team leader Theodore Berger of the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. The hippocampus is the most ordered and structured part of the brain, and one of the most studied. Importantly, it is also relatively easy to test its function. More
Kepler Discovers Smallest 'Habitable Zone' Planets
The planets of the Kepler-62 system orbit a star classified as a K2 dwarf, measuring just two-thirds the size of the sun and only one-fifth as bright. At seven billion years old, the star is somewhat older than the sun. It is about 1,200 light-years from Earth in the constellation Lyra.
Kepler-62f is only 40 percent larger than Earth, making it the exoplanet closest to the size of our planet known in the habitable zone of another star. Kepler-62f is likely to have a rocky composition. Kepler-62e, orbits on the inner edge of the habitable zone and is roughly 60 percent larger than Earth.
The planets of the Kepler-69 orbit a star in the same class as our sun, called G-type. It is 93 percent the size of the sun and 80 percent as luminous and is located approximately 2,700 light-years from Earth in the constellation Cygnus. More
GravityLight - an alternative to kerosene lamps for developing countries
There are currently over 1.5 billion people in the World who have no reliable access to mains electricity. These people rely, instead, on biomass fuels (mostly kerosene) for lighting once the sun goes down. We propose a sustainable lighting solution powered by gravity.
GravityLight is a revolutionary new approach to storing energy and creating illumination. It takes only 3 seconds to lift the weight which powers GravityLight, creating 30 minutes of light on its descent. For free.
Following the initial inspiration of using gravity, and years of perspiration, we have refined the design and it is now ready for production. We need your help to fund the tooling, manufacture and distribution of at least 1000 gravity powered lights. We will gift them to villagers in both Africa and India to use regularly. The follow-up research will tell us how well the lights met their needs, and enable us to refine the design for a more efficient MK2 version. Once we have proved the design, we will be looking to link with NGOs and partners to distribute it as widely as possible. When mass produced the target cost for this light is less than $5. More
We'll be uploading our entire MINDS to computers by 2045 and our bodies will be replaced by machines within 90 years, Google expert claims
The conference was created by Russian multimillionaire Dmitry Itskov and featured visonary talks about how the world will look by 2045.
Kurzweil said: 'Based on conservative estimates of the amount of computation you need to functionally simulate a human brain, we'll be able to expand the scope of our intelligence a billion-fold.'
He referred to Moore's Law that states the power of computing doubles, on average, every two years quoting the developments from genetic sequencing and 3D printing. In Kurweil's book, The Singularity Is Near, he plots this development and journey towards singularity in a graph.
This singularity is also referred to as digital immortality because brains and a person's intelligence will be digitally stored forever, even after they die. More
Mars had an oxygen-rich atmosphere 'more than a billion years before Earth'
Mars had an oxygen-rich atmosphere more than a billion years before the Earth, scientists believe.
An examination of meteorites and rocks on the planet suggests that oxygen was affecting the Martian surface four billion years ago.
On Earth, oxygen did not build up to appreciable quantities in the atmosphere for at least another 1,500 million years.
Scientists compared Martian meteorites that have crashed onto the Earth and data from rocks examined by the American space agency Nasa's Spirit rover.
Differences in their composition can best be explained by an abundance of oxygen early in Martian history. More