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Science and Technology News, Science Articles | Discover Magazine

Science news, articles, current events and future views on technology, space, environment, health, and medicine.

Rediscovered USS Indianapolis Embodies Pacific Victory  

The sinking of the USS Indianapolis by an Japanese submarine in the closing days of World War II marked one of the U.S. Navy's greatest maritime tragedies. But the recent rediscovery of the lost warship's wreck on the bottom of the Pacific also represents a chance to remember how its wartime career paralleled the U.S. road to victory in the Pacific theater of war—a victory built upon industrial might and the ability to wage a long war. Much remembrance of the USS Indianapolis focus...

2017-08-21 14:46:56

"R-Factor" Unlikely To Fix Science  

A new tool called the R-factor could help ensure that science is reproducible and valid, according to a preprint posted on biorxiv: Science with no fiction. The authors, led by Peter Grabitz, are so confident in their idea that they've created a company called Verum Analytics to promote it. But how useful is this new metric going to be? Not very useful, in my view. The R-factor (which stands for "reproducibility, reputation, responsibility, and robustness") strikes me as a flawed idea.

2017-08-21 09:15:59

Livestream: The Great American Eclipse  

Today, I walked into the Discover magazine offices and found myself in a ghost town—I may have even seen a tumbleweed or two drift by as I made my way down the hall to hunker down in front of my computer screen for the day. Indeed, most of mu colleagues (who put their vacation requests in early) are by now somewhere near the path of totality, savoring one of the most awe-inspiring cosmic events we Earthlings can ask for. Me, well, I'm back here keeping the lights on. If you happen to...

2017-08-21 04:59:22

The Brain of Ben Barres  

A neurobiologist’s legacy: rewriting how cells operate — and how they go rogue.

2017-08-21 01:59:35

Here's what tomorrow's total eclipse would look like if you could watch it from a million miles away in space  

Millions of people across the United States will cast their gaze upward to watch tomorrow's total solar eclipse as it passes across the breadth of the nation. But what would it look like if you could gaze down on it from a million miles away in space? For an answer, check out the animation above. It consists of 13 images acquired by the EPIC camera aboard NASA's DSCOVR spacecraft during a total solar eclipse on March 9, 2016. Watch for the dark shadow that progresses across the Pacific...

2017-08-20 18:05:54

Israeli Military Veterans Built a Sniper Drone  

In 2015, Israeli Special Forces likely made history by using a sniper rifle mounted on a commercial drone to take out a target. The robotic solution that achieved such pinpoint accuracy came from Duke Robotics, a startup founded by veterans of the Israel Defense Forces. That startup has since developed a multi-rotor sniper drone capable of accurately firing a wide array of weapons such as military assault rifles and grenade launchers. This is not like the usual military drones flying...

2017-08-18 07:27:18

What Time Is the Total Solar Eclipse?  

We're now counting down the time until the Great American eclipse in hours, not days. Are you ready? If you aren't, don't worry, we have you covered with the Eclipse 2017 Widget from our partners at Astronomy magazine. Powered by SkySafari 5, this interactive widget well let you know exactly when the show will begin, and when you'll reach maximum eclipse in your area. If you click "view" on the time readouts in the event column, you can also get a rough preview of what you can expect ...

2017-08-18 04:50:45

Yes, Scotch Whiskey Is Better With a Splash of Water  

A true Scotch drinker doesn't pour an aged Macallan in order to, as less refined revelers might say, "get the party started." Quite the contrary, the seasoned aficionado attends to certain norms and customs before imbibing, not unlike a traditional tea ceremony, in a nod to enlightenment, restraint and discernment—the finer things. The experts recommend pouring Scotch into a tulip-shaped glass to swirl the matured flavors. Sip, but never gulp, as that would be heresy to the histor...

2017-08-17 18:27:42

Roman Pipes Delivered Water — And Toxic Antimony  

The elaborate system of pipes that carried water to Roman households was an engineering marvel—for its time. Unfortunately, their sophisticated water utility may have been poisoning everyone. An analysis of a pipe fragment from Pompeii revealed the presence of high levels of antimony, an element that can cause vomiting, diarrhea and even organ damage at high enough concentrations. It was probably included to harden the soft lead pipes, which were a luxury for Roman citizens at the tim...

2017-08-17 15:37:56

Do We Manage Online and Offline Friendships the Same?  

Social media has been a boon to social science. Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and other platforms serve as online laboratories that reveal all kinds of stuff about the users, researchers say. The rise of these platforms has sparked a flurry of scientific papers describing people's social network interactions. A lot of the conclusions of the studies can engender the response, "Well, no kidding." But offering validation for intuitive or common sense knowledge isn't such a bad thing. ...

2017-08-16 18:06:56

On the Shores of Lake Erie, Endangered Birds Catch a Lucky Break  

Protecting species in peril doesn't happen overnight. Rather, it's all about stringing together small wins that, in the long-term, make all the difference. A little luck can also go far. When waves surged on the Pennsylvania coast of Lake Erie early this summer, it could easily have been the end for a nest of piping plover eggs caught in the water's path. Fortunately, a dynamic team of biologists, zookeepers and volunteers swooped into action, rescuing the eggs and rearing them at a qui...

2017-08-16 14:32:41

More on "Behavior Priming" and Unconscious Influences  

Last year, psychologists B. Keith Payne and colleagues breathed new life into the debate over 'social priming' with a paper called Replicable effects of primes on human behavior. Behavioral or social priming - the idea that subtle cues can exert large, unconscious influences on our behaviour - was a major topic of research for many years, but it's since been largely discredited. The field's reputation suffered when Diederik Stapel, a leader in the field, was exposed as a fraud. Many res...

2017-08-16 11:19:09

Mount Marilyn: A Name That Will Stick...Finally  

In 1968, Jim Lovell became the first human to pilot a spacecraft — Apollo 8 — around another world. And two years later, his Apollo 13 heroics earned him an eternal place in spaceflight history. But those feats also left Lovell as the only person to visit the moon twice but never walk its surface. In July, Lovell got his chance to leave a lasting mark on our satellite. Explorers have always named newly discovered landmarks. But things didn't work out that way for Apollo astronauts ...

2017-08-16 06:12:15

Ulcer-fighting Robots Swim Through Stomachs to Deliver a Cure  

Tiny robots powered by bubbles have successfully treated an infection in mice. The achievement is another step forward in a field that has long shown promise, and is only now beginning to deliver. The therapeutic robots in this case were tiny spheres of magnesium and titanium coated with an antibacterial agent and about the width of a human hair. They were released into the stomach, where they swam around and delivered a drug to the target before dissolving. Robots In the Stomach Resear

2017-08-16 05:56:01

Marijuana: An Environmental Buzzkill  

Pot growers have turned public lands into industrial agricultural sites. And the ecosystem effects are alarming.

2017-08-16 05:39:49

Despite an unusually chilly Arctic, and El Niño's absence, July 2017 tied for warmest such month on record  

That makes last month one of the warmest our planet has experienced since record-keeping began in 1880 Up in the high north, it was unusually cool last month. And unlike last year, there was no El Niño to help amp up temperatures for the globe overall. Yet July 2017 was in a statistical tie for warmest such month in 137 months of record keeping, according to the monthly climate, according to a monthly analysis of global temperatures by scientists at NASA's Goddard Institute for Spa...

2017-08-16 04:55:55

Why Are Oddly Satisfying Videos So...Satisfying?  

If you've never seen a master lathe operator at work, I highly recommend it. Deft movements and practiced flourishes turn a block of spinning wood into a bedpost, top, bowl or some other circular object, each motion peeling away curls of wood to uncover the beauty hidden inside. It's hard to explain why the motions feel so right, but there is an undeniable allure to the work, as if it scratches an itch you didn't know you had. As it will, the internet discovered lathe turners — and ...

2017-08-15 15:19:27

New Evidence for That Huge Dinosaur Family Tree Rewrite  

Remember that paper that dropped a few months ago completely rewriting the dinosaur family tree? Well, the researchers are back, this time using one of the odder dinos out there as evidence for their explosive claim. Is it legit or just hype? Back in March, researchers argued for a total takedown of the long-established dinosaur family tree. Today, Matthew Baron and Paul Barrett, two of the three authors of that previous Nature paper, try to bolster their case with a new look at Chi...

2017-08-15 13:34:05

Nearly 100 Volcanoes Discovered Beneath Antarctica's Ice  

You could say Antarctica sings a song of fire and ice. The continent's frigid reputation is well known, but researchers from the University of Edinburgh analyzed radar scans of the West Antarctic Rift System and found 138 volcanoes hiding under the thick ice sheet. Of those, 91 were previously unidentified, they say, and the discovery could change our understanding of how the overlaying ice layer grows and shrinks. Hidden Volcanoes The West Antarctic Rift is bounded by the Transantarct...

2017-08-14 21:38:15

In Paris, a Glimpse of Public Transportation's Driverless Future  

France may be famous for its cheese and wine, but it's also a longtime leader in driverless transit. Paris boasted one of the earliest models of automatic trains in 1983, when two metro lines ran without a conductor onboard. And the push toward driverless transportation continues in this city, with several planned upgrades before it plays host to the summer Olympics in 2024. So it was with high expectations and a sense of history that I boarded the driverless Line 1 to the bustling busi...

2017-08-14 09:05:07

Call of MRI: Action Video Games And The Brain  

No sooner had I published my last post, on the much-discussed "women's brains are more active than men's" study, than another neuroscience paper triggered a fresh media storm. This time, the subject was videogames, and the headlines were alarming: Playing shooter video games damages the brain, study suggests Violent shooter video games really DO rot your brain Playing these video games could lead to brain disease Here's the paper, published in Molecular Psychiatry by University of M

2017-08-14 08:06:20

System of Super-Earths Discovered Around A Nearby Star  

If you look up at Earth's night sky and find the constellation Cetus — it looks something like a sea monster — you might also notice a rather average looking star called Tau Ceti. It's slightly smaller than our sun and sits just 12 light years from Earth. Now, a new study suggests that the system has at least four planets, and two of them orbit on the edge of their habitable zones — the region where liquid surface water might exist. All four are likely super-Earths, and some cou...

2017-08-11 08:49:31

Wait, What Happened in Cuba?  

U.S.-Cuban relations have taken an unusual turn after several U.S. diplomats, and at least one Canadian diplomat, experienced hearing damage after being targeted by a covert "sonic device" in Havana. Huh? A what? On Wednesday, U.S. officials who spoke to the Washington Post on the condition of anonymity revealed that in the fall on 2016, at least five U.S. diplomats began experiencing unexplainable hearing loss and other physical symptoms while serving at the embassy in Havana—so...

2017-08-11 06:57:59

The record global warming streak of 2014-2016: a snowball's chance in hell that this was natural  

Okay, I admit that I don't really know the odds of a snowball surviving in hell. But a new study suggests that's an apt way of describing the chances that 2014 through 2016's record-setting heat was natural. The study finds that there was a 1 in 3,000 chance that natural causes alone were to blame for the sequence of three consecutive global warming records set in 2014, 2015 and 2016. When humankind's influence on the climate is taken into account, the odds rise dramatically. In...

2017-08-11 04:03:37

Chimps Understand Rock-Paper-Scissors as Well as Preschoolers  

Rock smashes scissors. Scissors cut paper. Paper covers rock. The rules behind the favorite game of schoolyard kids and adults deciding who takes out the trash are pretty simple. But they also represent a kind of logic problem. Four-year-olds can learn the rules, and so can chimpanzees—but the differences in how kids and apes become proficient reveal a little about how their minds work. The relationship between the three items in rock-paper-scissors is circular. There isn't a straightf...

2017-08-11 01:13:57

Canadians Are First to Sample Genetically Modified Salmon  

After a protracted fight, salmon have become the first genetically modified animal to be sold in stores. The salmon, implanted with genes that boost their growth, come from the U.S.-based biotech firm AquaBounty Technologies, which has been attempting to gain regulatory approval for their product for some 25 years. Last week, AquaBounty announced it had indeed sold salmon fillets to customers in Canada after receiving regulatory approval in 2016, though it isn't clear where they were so...

2017-08-10 19:30:50

CubeSats Have 1 Major Shortcoming, But Not for Long  

Over the past decade and a half, satellites the size of a toaster have opened up new possibilities for using space. Called CubeSats, these diminutive spacecraft offer several appealing virtues for scientific and national security missions and one major handicap—but a fix is on the way. Built to a standard size of roughly 10 centimeters on each side, the featherweight CubeSats can be quickly developed and inexpensively launched, because they piggyback on rockets hauling bigger payloads i...

2017-08-10 16:06:18

Were Modern Humans in Indonesia 73,000 Years Ago?  

The conventional timeline of human evolution and migration continues to crumble in the face of new research. The latest finding puts anatomically modern humans deep in Indonesia up to 73,000 years ago — tens of thousands of years before once thought possible. The old school timeline, still widely taught, went something like this: Homo sapiens evolved into a distinct species from earlier hominins about 200,000 years ago in Africa and became anatomically modern humans (AMHs) about ...

2017-08-10 03:08:18

Everything Worth Knowing About ... When We Left Water  

How our tetrapod ancestors first came ashore.

2017-08-10 02:07:54

Oldest Gliding Mammals Shed Light on the History of Flight  

The oldest gliding mammals ever discovered are strengthening the case for taking to the skies. Well, they couldn't exactly soar like the eagles, but the two new species, discovered in China, at least sampled the aerial life. Both date to around 160 million years ago during the Jurassic Period, when mammals as a lineage were first getting off the ground — both metaphorically and literally. They're not directly related to the gliders of today, however. Gliding instead seems to be advantag...

2017-08-10 01:02:42

Everything Worth Knowing About ... How We Decide  

Make up your mind already!

2017-08-09 03:28:53

Female Brains Are More Active?  

Another day, another over-hyped sex differences neuroscience study. The headlines this time around are especially cringeworthy: Study Finds Women's Brains Are Far More Active Than Men's Women Are Using A LOT More Of Their Brains Than Men. Surprise, surprise 😏 Women really DO overthink things! Scans reveal they have 'more active brains than men' The paper in question was published in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease and it comes from a group led by Dr. Daniel Amen. A...

2017-08-08 18:10:15

A New Take on the Biodegradable Car  

A concept car in the Netherlands is constructed almost entirely of materials the grow in the soil. Called "Lina," the biodegradable car is the work of students at Eindhoven University of Technology and is composed mainly of sugar beet resin and flax. It weighs in at under 700 pounds and can reach a top speed of around 50 miles per hour. The four-seater runs on batteries and can go about 60 miles on a single charge, according to the university. The interior is admittedly a bit spare, b...

2017-08-08 15:51:08

Eclipse 2017: Mind Melt  

Eclipses and their unsettling darkness have long inspired fear and awe — the precise reason some seek them out.

2017-08-08 02:22:05

The Ice Tank Shaping Future Coast Guard Icebreakers  

Imagine your childhood bathtub playtime magnified into large model ships plowing through an ice-filled tank with a length that rivals the Statue of Liberty's height. That 300-foot ice tank in the Canadian city of St. John's is currently helping the U.S. Coast Guard conduct tests of different ship designs as the United States plans to end a 40-year lull in building new heavy icebreakers. The U.S. Coast Guard aims to build four heavy polar icebreakers as replacements for its single agi...

2017-08-08 02:11:05

Bronze Age Teens Ate Dogs to Become Men  

Some 4,000 years ago in the Russian steppe, the relationship between man and dog was, you could say, complicated. It seems in that time and place, as a rite of passage into manhood, teenage boys were sent to a ritual site to "transform" into dogs by eating their flesh. This is the new interpretation, presented in an upcoming paper in the Journal of Anthropological Archaeology, of roasted and chopped bones from at least 64 dogs and wolves, found at the Bronze Age site of Krasnosamar...

2017-08-08 02:04:01

Parasitic Worm Treatments Could Soon Be Legal in Germany  

In Germany, treatments for disease may entail adding a vial of parasitic worms to a meal or beverage. The country's food and consumer safety organization is set to weigh in on the relative merits of parasitic worms as a treatment for a range of autoimmune disorders. So called "helminthic therapies" have been slowly gaining ground in the past two decades or so, although the scientific evidence in favor of the treatment is mixed. Wonder Worms If Germany's Federal Office for Consumer Prote

2017-08-07 18:54:58

Everything Worth Knowing About ... Alien Contact  

Hey, it could happen!

2017-08-07 05:03:16

Eclipse 2017: Darkness Is Coming  

Millions of Americans will watch our sun disappear on August 21.

2017-08-07 01:44:39

Spreadsheet Risks in Science  

Errors in the use of spreadsheets such as Microsoft Excel could pose risks for science. That's according to a preprint posted on arXiv from Ghada AlTarawneh and Simon Thorne of Cardiff Metropolitan University. AlTarawneh and Thorne conducted a survey of 17 researchers from the University of Newcastle neuroscience research centre, ranging from PhD students to senior researchers. None of the respondants had any formal, certified training in spreadsheet use, with most (71%) being self-tau

2017-08-06 13:21:46

How Big is the Biggest Possible Planet?  

Last week, a team of astronomers reported the first potential discovery of an exomoon--a satellite orbiting a planet around another star. Part of what is so striking about the report is the scale of this possible planet-moon system. In this case, the "moon" appears to be about the size of Neptune; the planet it orbits is some 10 times the mass of Jupiter, or about 3,000 times the mass of Earth! The system pushes at the limits of how we normally categorize objects in space and invites question

2017-08-04 05:42:54

As the Northwest bakes in a potentially historic heat wave, the region is also choking on thick smoke from wildfires  

The Pacific Northwest is sitting under a massive heat dome and a horrible pall of thick smoke from raging wildfires in British Columbia and Washington. You can see the grayish smoke clearly in the image above from the GOES-16 weather satellite. Make sure to click on it to view it full-sized. Also click on the thumbnail at right for a labeled version so you can get your geographic bearings. Air quality across some localized parts of western Washington reached unhealthy levels for ...

2017-08-02 13:17:35

In a First, Scientists Edit Human Embryos In a US Lab  

Researchers used CRISPR to prevent an embryo from inheriting a fatal heart condition. Earth is now one step closer to a future with genetically modified humans. On Wednesday, scientists working at a lab in Oregon announced they've successfully used the gene-editing technique CRISPR to modify viable human embryos. Researchers in China have already edited human embryos several times using CRISPR in recent years. But this is the first such effort in the United States. And their resea...

2017-08-02 03:54:11

Images from space reveal the beauty and potentially deadly nature of Typhoon Noru, Earth's strongest storm of 2017  

After a very long and strange trip, powerful Typhoon Noru has turned toward Japan. As of Wednesday afternoon in the U.S., the storm's maximum sustained winds were pegged at about 115 miles per hour, putting it in Category 3 territory. It now looks like Noru will come ashore on Saturday in the northern reaches of the Ryukyu Islands, which stretch to the south of Japan's main islands in a gentle arc. The forecast from the Joint Typhoon Warning Center, which is reflected in the graphic b...

2017-08-02 02:32:33

Under The Surf Turf War: Watch Male Lionfish Duke It Out  

Understanding animal behavior can be tough, as observing individuals for hours can be incredibly boring and our mere presence can affect how they act. Things get even harder when those animals happen to live in the ocean; our inability to breathe water makes quietly sitting and watching creatures significantly more difficult. So it was lucky to say the least that Alex Fogg captured a clear video of two large male lionfish exhibiting a behavior rarely caught on film: battling for domina...

2017-08-01 09:19:34

Everything Worth Knowing About ... Catching a Criminal  

Getting an edge with high tech and lowly microbes.

2017-08-01 04:10:58

First Look At The First Flower, Ancestral To All Others  

About 90 percent of all terrestrial plants today are angiosperms, or flowering plants. Yet finding the flower ancestral to them all has been a, ahem, fruitless search. Until now. Although plants do turn up in the fossil record — such as the stunning 52-million-year-old tomatillos revealed earlier this year — some of the most important, evolutionarily speaking, remain elusive. Such is the case with the first angiosperm, which researchers estimate evolved between 140 million and 25...

2017-08-01 03:01:20

Can PhD Students Write Review Papers?  

In a post earlier this month, I discussed a new Journal of Neuroscience paper on statistical power in neuroscience. That paper was a response to and reanalysis of a previous article, and in my post I noted my surprise that the new paper hadn't appeared in Nature Reviews: Neuroscience (NRN), where the original paper had been published. It turns out there's a bit of a backstory here. According to the senior author of the new paper, Jon Roiser, his group did want to submit to NRN, but th

2017-07-31 20:34:02

Almost without warning, Tropical Storm Emily formed off the Florida coast and made landfall just south of Tampa Bay  

Where the heck did this storm come from?! Seemingly out of the blue, Tropical Storm Emily has spun up off Florida's Gulf Coast and made landfall just south of Tamp this morning. Where the heck did this storm come from? At 2 p.m. EDT on Sunday, the National Hurricane Center's Tropical Weather Outlook noted that something was brewing in the Gulf of Mexico. But the outlook also noted that upper-level winds were not conducive to anything significant developing: A tropical wave located sev...

2017-07-31 11:17:01

Noru transforms from a wandering weakling into a roaring typhoon that is now churning towards Japan  

But forecast tracks for Noru are literally all over the map, so it's too soon to tell whether the storm will make landfall there For ten days, Noru meandered aimlessly in the Pacific at no more than Category 1 strength, doing a big lazy do-si-do with a tropical storm but otherwise seemingly going nowhere. By Sunday, Noru had weakened into a tropical storm. But as it wandered southward, it entered an environment with low wind shear plus very warm surface waters at close to 30°C (...

2017-07-31 06:30:41

WATCH: Satellite imagery shows hurricane-like whirlpools swirling in the atmosphere along the California coast  

These intriguing features form regularly in the summer. They may look like mini-hurricanes — but looks are deceiving. From an airplane, they can look like all the world like mini-hurricanes swirling the clouds above the ocean off the California coast — whirlpools with eye-like features in the center. Check it out: But these vortices are actually eddies in the atmosphere, not hurricanes. They often form as winds interact...

2017-07-30 07:21:47

XPRIZE Enlists Science Fiction Advisors to Dream Bigger  

The world of 20 years ago would probably seem unrecognizable to many who have grown with Internet and mobile services enabling an always-connected, everything-on-demand lifestyle. Now imagine hitting fast forward and teleporting 20 years into the future to consider how science and technology may have shaped society in the world of 2037. That's the premise for an XPRIZE competition backed by some of the finest storytellers turned science fiction advisors. The XPRIZE Foundation is more kn...

2017-07-30 01:24:53

Are Underpowered Studies Ever Justified?  

Is a small scientific study better than none at all? A provocative piece in Frontiers in Psychology raises the question of whether we should ever do under-powered studies. The authors are Dutch researchers Rik Crutzen and Gjalt-Jorn Y. Peters. Crutzen and Peters begin by questioning the idea that even a little evidence is always valuable. Taking the example of a study that only manages to recruit a handful of patients because it's studying a rare disease, the authors say that: Underp

2017-07-29 09:11:38

Three Kinds of Human Smiles  

There are three basic types of human smile: "reward", "affiliative" and "dominance" smiles. That's according to a new paper by psychologists Magdalena Rychlowska and colleagues. Here's the authors' illustration of the types, as posed by actors: Reward smiles, the authors say, are used to signal enjoyment: Reward smiles are displayed to reward the self or other people and to communicate positive experiences or intentions... the reward smile may have evolved from the play face of primat

2017-07-28 17:55:13

Centuries Ago, New Zealand's Giant Black Swans Were Repealed and Replaced  

The all-black swans that glide across New Zealand's wetlands today are only a lame replacement for the bulky beasts that lived there in the past, scientists have discovered. When humans first arrived in New Zealand in the thirteenth century, they found it swimming in black swans. But quickly, it seems, they hunted the birds to extinction. By the time Europeans arrived in the late eighteenth century, the swans were gone. But black swans had lived in Australia all along, and these bi...

2017-07-28 07:48:11

Here's what the Great Red Spot would look like if you could fly to Jupiter to see the monster hurricane yourself  

A image acquired by the Juno spacecraft and processed by a citizen scientist reveals the Red Spot in subtly beautiful natural color Back on July 10th, NASA's Juno spacecraft swooped low over Jupiter's Great Red Spot for the seventh time. Since then we've been treated to some spectacular imagery — almost all of it enhanced to bring out various features in the persistent 10,000-mile-wide storm. But what would it look like to human eyes if a person could have been aboard Juno? The ima...

2017-07-28 04:36:42

Dancing Balls Lead to a Physics Discovery  

Toss a few droplets of water in a hot pan and they seem to come alive, skittering to and fro as if trying to escape. Try the same thing with balls of hydrogel, and they actually could break free. The spheres bounce animatedly about a hot pan, emitting a piercing, shrieking noise as they do so. Both tricks are due to something called the Leidenfrost effect, which describes the instantaneous vaporization that occurs when water touches a hot surface. If enough steam is produced, it can be en

2017-07-26 19:54:48

Come again? NASA's Cassini spacecraft traveled 750 million miles to Saturn only to find a 'noodle'?  

Okay, to be more accurate, Cassini produced a noodle. Well, actually, it's a noddle-shaped movie. Sort of... Yes, my tongue is poking into my cheek — but only part way. NASA's just come out with a Cassini spacecraft movie that takes us on a swooping journey low over Saturn's cloud tops. And, in fact, the video pans across something the agency's imaging wizards really are calling a "noodle." I happen to think it looks more like a nematode than a noodle, or maybe a hookworm....

2017-07-26 16:49:52

Dance of death: a Pacific Ocean typhoon does the do-si-do with a tropical storm — and then mostly cannibalizes it  

It has been expected for awhile, and now it has finally happened: Two tropical systems in the Northeast Pacific spun around each other in a kind of cyclonic do-si-do — and then the bigger one ate most of the smaller one. As of Tuesday evening (in the U.S.), the cannibal cyclone, Typhoon Noru, has continued on with Category-1-strength winds of about 70 knots, according to the Joint Typhoon Warning Center. Meanwhile, a remnant of the victim, Tropical Storm Kulap, has spun off as a puny ...

2017-07-25 19:18:48

Crucial Steps Ahead for Flying Cars  

Flying cars are up against a wall — literally. Turning aircraft into street-safe machines requires manufacturers to prove their safety standards in crash tests. So at least one expensive prototype needs to get smashed to smithereens, while its dummy passengers survive. This is no small financial hurdle, and for a decade the industry has been just a few years away from getting models street-certified. Flying Cars, or Driveable Planes? Farthest along, perhaps, are the MIT-graduate founders...

2017-07-25 09:14:55

Free Microchip Implants, the New Employee Perk?  

A Wisconsin company will be the first in the United States to implant microchips beneath the skin of its employees. Three Squared Market (32M), a break-room kiosk company, has offered to give its workers subdermal RFID tags, tiny rice-grain-sized pellets that can hold information like credit card numbers and passwords. With their "handy" chips, they'll be able to unlock doors, log in to computers, and, of course, buy snacks from the company vending machines—all with a wave of their hand...

2017-07-25 05:13:22

There's Nothing Squirrely about a Squirrel's Memory for Puzzles  

While you're writing down yet another password on the notepad hidden in your desk drawer, a squirrel is retrieving nuts it buried months earlier. It's no secret these animals have good memories. But they don't only remember where they stuck stuff: squirrels can remember how to solve a puzzle almost two years after they last saw it. And they can use that knowledge to tackle a problem they haven't seen before. In a lab at the University of Exeter, Pizza Ka Yee Chow studies gray squirrels...

2017-07-25 04:51:06

Study Uncovers the Universal Language of Arousal  

Chilled out or worked up? Most of us can pick up pretty quickly on another human's state of emotional arousal. But Charles Darwin hypothesized that understanding emotional expression across species went way, way back, all the way to the earliest terrestrial vertebrates (that's 350 million years, give or take), and that it was crucial for survival. After all, it's kinda helpful to know if those monkeys in the trees are just yammering on about nothing or freaking out about the lion they see

2017-07-25 04:29:53

Everything Worth Knowing About ... the Dark Universe  

See the light on dark matter and dark energy.

2017-07-25 04:05:36

Everything Worth Knowing About ... Virtual Reality  

You're almost there.

2017-07-25 01:32:39

Size and Color Saturation, a Perceptual Connection?  

Paint a room in light colors to make it look bigger. Wear black to look slimmer. These are well known facts about how color influences our perception—but it's not all black and white. New research from Boston College is showing that color saturation — how pure a color is — affects how we perceive an objects' size. The more saturated a color is, the bigger something looks, the researchers say, with attendant implications for marketing and design. More than that, however, their findi...

2017-07-25 01:24:54

A Closer Look at 'Rogue Planets' Adrift in the Universe  

Not all stars are good parents to their budding planets — some get downright nasty and kick their children into interstellar space. We've found a handful of these free orphaned planets before, and their called "rogue planets." But a study today in Nature Astronomy suggests that the type we've seen so far, which are all gas giant sized, are the exception, not the norm. "Basically, it is much easier to eject an Earth-mass planet than a Jupiter-mass planet," Przemek Mróz, l...

2017-07-24 07:14:44

Toyota Wants Cars to Predict Heart Attacks  

A heart attack or diabetic blackout can have especially deadly consequences for drivers when they cause car crashes. Toyota researchers hope to change that grim equation by studying how wearable devices could help smart cars possibly save lives by predicting medical emergencies ahead of time. The day when smart cars—either manually driven or self-driven—will watch out for the health of their drivers remains some ways off into the future. But Toyota's Collaborative Safety Research Ce...

2017-07-23 21:21:47

Watch as a lonely sunspot grows larger than our planet, turns toward Earth, and gets ready to blast hot stuff at us  

Actually, it's a sunspot group, and the active region it is tied too let loose an aurora-causing eruption of hot plasma I guess I just can't get enough of time-lapse animations. A couple of days ago, I was mesmerized by an animation of satellite images showing not just smoke billowing from a California wildfire but also the blaze itself. And yesterday, I was smitten by an animation showing the tiny Martian moon Phobos zinging around the Red Planet. SEE ALSO: This is just really c...

2017-07-22 14:35:02

Predatory Journals Hit By 'Star Wars' Sting  

A number of so-called scientific journals have accepted a Star Wars-themed spoof paper. The manuscript is an absurd mess of factual errors, plagiarism and movie quotes. I know because I wrote it. Inspired by previous publishing "stings", I wanted to test whether 'predatory' journals would publish an obviously absurd paper. So I created a spoof manuscript about "midi-chlorians" - the fictional entities which live inside cells and give Jedi their powers in Star Wars. I filled it with other refe

2017-07-22 13:18:27

California's dangerous Detwiler fire: The amazing GOES-16 satellite sees the blaze itself, not just the billowing smoke  

With its vastly improved capabilities, the new satellite has the potential to save the lives of firefighters For decades, satellites have been helping fire managers identify and monitor blazes, based on their smoke plumes and the hot spots they create in infrared imagery. But as the animation above shows in spectacular fashion, the new GOES-16 weather satellite has taken things to a new level. With higher resolution imagery, and nearly real-time imaging capabilities, it is already help...

2017-07-21 13:43:48

Inflatable, Vine-like Robot Can Do It All  

A new soft robot grows like a creeping vine to weave its way around obstacles and nose into tiny spaces. From researchers at Stanford University, the robot consists mostly of an inflatable tube that's been folded in on itself and coiled up. To move, a pneumatic pump fills the tube with air, pushing it forward by drawing material from the inside. In initial tests, the robot stretched as far as 72 meters from an initial length of 28 centimeters and reached speeds of over 20 mph. Grow Robot

2017-07-21 12:21:07

What's Going On With the World's Most Destructive Mud Volcano?  

The world's most destructive mud volcano was born near the town of Sidoarjo, on the island of Java, Indonesia, just over 11 years ago - and to this day it has not stopped erupting. The mud volcano known as Lusi started on May 29, 2006, and at its peak disgorged a staggering 180,000 cubic meters of mud every day, burying villages in mud up to 40 meters thick. The worst event of its kind in recorded history, the eruption took 13 lives and destroyed the homes of 60,000 people. But alth...

2017-07-21 11:12:26

This is just really cool – a time-lapse animation from the Hubble telescope showing a tiny moon zinging around Mars  

On May 12, 2016, when Mars was 50 million miles from Earth, the Hubble Space Telescope turned its incredibly sharp eye toward the Red Planet. The time-lapse animation above reveals what it saw. That little white speck zinging around Mars is Phobos, a football-shaped moon just 16.5 miles by 13.5 miles by 11 miles. You're seeing it in an animation consisting of 13 separate exposures by Hubble. Phobos looks like it is speeding along at an unbelievably rapid clip. In reality, Hubble acq...

2017-07-21 09:48:47

Shark Survives Over A Year With A Hole Between Its Stomach And The Sea  

Sharks are pretty incredible animals. They've lived on this planet for more than 400 million years, and in that time, come to dominate the oceans they inhabit. That kind of survival when so many other lineages have gone extinct requires serious resilience. Now, a lemon shark off Florida has shown off just how tough these animals can be: he survived for at least 435 days with a hole in his body created as he shoved a swallowed fishing implement out of him through his flesh. The shark wa...

2017-07-21 06:17:08

African Wild Dogs Can't Take The Heat, Face Extinction From Climate Change  

Things aren't looking good for Africa's iconic wildlife. Already, many species are threatened by human activities and habitat loss. Even species once thought to be resilient, like giraffes, are suddenly struggling. Just earlier this week, scientists reported that aardvarks, one of sub-saharan Africa's most successful and adorable insect-eaters and essential ecosystem engineers—face severe declines and even extinction as rising temperatures and declining rainfall dry out the continent. Now...

2017-07-20 07:39:23

If You Could Dig a Hole Through The Earth, Here's Where You'd Pop Out  

Almost every child, shovel in hand, is struck by a tempting thought. What if I just kept digging and popped out on the other side of the world? The imagination conjures a muddy face emerging in the middle of a Shaolin temple or some such, China being the nominal "other side of the world" to Americans. That image is wrong, unfortunately, as a map showing the Earthly antipodes makes clear. Antipodes on a sphere are the pair of points furthest away from each other, and on Earth, most of the...

2017-07-20 05:23:17

People Are Terrible at Spotting Fake Photos  

We exist in a veritable flood of digital images, with at least 350 million a day uploaded to Facebook alone, and odds are significant number of those images are fake. And, given results from a recent study, most people can't tell the difference. Can you identify the part of the top photo that's been altered? Don't worry, we'll tell you later. Psychologist Sophie Nightingale and her colleagues at the University of Warwick used photo-editing software to doctor real-world photos in ways t

2017-07-20 03:04:52

Everything Worth Knowing About ... Ancient DNA  

The lure and limitations of a coded past.

2017-07-20 01:02:38

First half of 2017 was 2nd warmest such period on record  

The month of June by itself was third warmest in records dating back 138 years, according to NOAA The Earth has been cooling somewhat since the epic El Niño of 2015/2016. But even so, conditions are still plenty warm. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration rates January through June of 2017 as the second warmest first half of any year since record-keeping began in 1880, behind the record year of 2016. The year-to-date temperature across global land and ocean surfaces...

2017-07-19 18:20:05

The First Australians Arrived 65,000 Years Ago  

New archaeological evidence supports an idea previously suggested by genetic studies: The first humans arrived in Australia at least 65,000 years ago. This earlier arrival date means humans were present Down Under before its widespread megafauna extinction, an event in which human activity has been debated. The discovery is also at odds with the conventional date for our species leaving Africa, and adds fuel to the growing bonfire of what was the evolutionary timeline for Homo sapiens....

2017-07-19 13:31:50

Is Neuroscience Underpowered? "Power Failure" Revisited  

Back in 2013, a Nature Reviews Neuroscience paper appeared called Power failure: why small sample size undermines the reliability of neuroscience. This paper got a lot of attention at the time and has since been cited a dizzying 1760 times according to Google. 'Power Failure' made waves for its stark message that most neuroscience studies are too small, leaving neuroscience lacking statistical power, the chance of detecting signal in the noise. As the authors Kate Button et al. wrote The

2017-07-19 09:48:48

Here's How Much Plastic Humanity Has Produced  

I want to say just one word to you. Just one word. Are you listening? Plastics. There was indeed a great future in plastics back in 1967 when "The Graduate" came out, and those words ring true even today as plastic production continues to soar. Try imagining toothbrushes, dashboards, pens, video game controllers, the ephemera of our daily lives, made from wood or metal — plastics are indispensable. Our appetite for cheap, durable materials is such that humans have produced 9.1 ...

2017-07-19 06:21:58

Join the Hunt for Planets Around Our Closest Neighboring Stars  

The Pale Red Dot team is coasting off the success of their discovery last year of a planet in the Proxima Centauri system system by casting its net even wider as the Red Dots campaign. Whereas Pale Red Dot focused just on Proxima Centauri, Red Dots is looking toward Barnard's Star and Ross 154 as well. These three stars will be held up to intense scrutiny by the team in the hunt for planets — or in the case of Proxima, additional planets. Barnard's Star has been a popular target sin...

2017-07-18 18:08:10

Artificial Intelligence Experts Respond to Elon Musk's Dire Warning for U.S. Governors  

If you hadn't heard, Elon Musk is worried about the machines. Though that may seem a quixotic stance for the head of multiple tech companies to take, it seems that his proximity to the bleeding edge of technological development has given him the heebie-jeebies when it comes to artificial intelligence. He's shared his fears of AI running amok before, likening it to "summoning the demon," and Musk doubled down on his stance at a meeting of the National Governors Association this weekend, ...

2017-07-18 15:09:39

Adorable, Miniature Drone Joins the International Space Station Crew  

An adorable documentarian has joined the International Space Station crew. The Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) recently shipped its spherical camera drone to the ISS—thank you, SpaceX—to serve as another set of eyes and ears for ground control. It's called the JEM Internal Ball Camera, but everyone's referring to the little feller as "Int-Ball." Last week, JAXA released the first images of Int-Ball on the job. The ...

2017-07-18 12:26:27

Dog Domestication: Is A New Study Barking Up The Wrong Tree?  

Dogs are our first friends — they're the only animal domesticated while we were still a bunch of motley hunter-gatherers. But pinpointing the where and the when of dog domestication has been difficult. With recent advances in ancient DNA (aDNA) extraction and sequencing, it's only natural that researchers would be rushing to answer those questions. A 2016 study offered a striking new theory about dog domestication, and today a different team offers another, which they say is a direct c...

2017-07-18 10:43:25

How Disney Tech Can Immerse Park Guests in 'Star Wars'  

Disney tech is getting ready to grant the wish of any Star Wars fan who ever wished to stand inside the cavernous space of a Star Destroyer hanger or help fly the Millennium Falcon during a space battle. The entertainment giant has promised a "revolutionary new vacation experience" at its theme parks that will supposedly include getting visitors dressed up in proper Star Wars attire and even allowing families to stay at a 100-percent immersive Star Wars hotel where everyone is in charact...

2017-07-18 10:41:08

Soar over Pluto's mountains and icy plains in this cool flyover based on data from NASA's New Horizons spacecraft  

While mission scientists were at it, they also produced a spectacular flyover of Charon, Pluto's largest moon The still images of Pluto sent home to Earth by NASA's New Horizons spacecraft in July of 2015 were remarkable enough. The incredible distance to Pluto — 4.67 billion miles! — meant that until then, the dwarf planet was long shrouded in mystery. And then, BOOM! — mind boggling images of jagged mountains, flowing glaciers and icy plains. Now, mission scientists have...

2017-07-18 05:27:34

Everything Worth Knowing About ... the Future of Food  

How we'll serve 10 billion.

2017-07-18 02:35:20

The "Eleven Dimensional" Brain? Topology of Neural Networks  

Last month, a neuroscience paper appeared that triggered a maelstrom of media hype: The Human Brain Can Create Structures in Up to 11 Dimensions The human brain sees the world as an 11-dimensional multiverse Scientists find mysterious shapes and structures in the brain with up to ELEVEN dimensions The paper, published in Frontiers in Computational Neuroscience, comes from the lab of Henry Markram, one of the world's most powerful neuroscientists. As well as being head of the Blue Br

2017-07-17 21:52:28

What Would It Take to Wipe Out All Life on Earth?  

The first exoplanet was spotted in 1988. Since then more than 3,000 planets have been found outside our solar system, and it's thought that around 20 percent of Sun-like stars have an Earth-like planet in their habitable zones. We don't yet know if any of these host life - and we don't know how life begins. But even if life does begin, would it survive? Earth has undergone at least five mass extinctions in its history. It's long been thought that an asteroid impact ended the...

2017-07-17 16:15:01

WATCH: an arresting view from space of powerful Hurricane Fernanda churning in the Pacific as day turns to night  

As of Monday afternoon, winds of about 125 miles per hour continued to swirl within Hurricane Fernanda as it churned westward in the eastern Pacific Ocean. But as the Category 3 storm begins to move over cooler surface waters, it should begin to weaken and eventually peter out, posing no threat to land. And a good thing, too, because Fernanda has been a very powerful storm, reaching Category 4 strength on Friday, July 14th and attaining maximum sustained winds of 145 miles per hour. ...

2017-07-17 15:01:59

Acidifying Oceans Favor Sea Vermin  

Scientists predict that in the next twenty years, the amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) in our atmosphere will rise from the roughly 404 ppm it is now to over 450 ppm—and as a result, ecosystems worldwide will change. Many impacts will be particularly felt in our planet's oceans. As atmospheric CO2 levels rise, more of the gas dissolves into our seas, causing a chemical chain reaction which makes the water more acidic. Acidification can act independently or synergistically with rising te...

2017-07-17 10:26:58

This Spider Really Commits to Its Ant Impression  

It's a good thing field sobriety tests don't exist for bugs, because the jumping spider Myrmarachne formicaria would fail for doing what keeps it alive: walking in a wobbly line. The spider fools predators by imitating an ant. The act is so thorough that it includes how the spider looks, stands and even moves. Many, many types of jumping spiders have evolved to look like ants. Imitating another animal with better defenses is a tried-and-true strategy for avoiding predators. And ants are...

2017-07-16 05:44:14

Researchers Apologize For Writing "Derpy" In A Paper  

It appears that memes and science don't mix well. A pair of researchers have published an apology in a peer-reviewed journal - for using the word "derpy" in an earlier paper. In April 2016, Archives of Sexual Behavior published a piece called Fighting the Derpy Science of Sexuality by Banu Subramaniam and Angela Willey. In this paper, Subramaniam and Willey criticized studies of biological differences between human groups: The various sciences of''difference'' - sex...

2017-07-15 09:36:56

Dark Matter Might Clump to Form Planets  

A new theory suggests dark matter could coalesce into massive structures. Dark stars may not just be for Grateful Dead fans anymore. In a new paper uploaded to arXiv, Rutgers University astrophysics professor Matthew R. Buckley puts forth a truly wild hypothesis: It might be possible to build worlds out of dark matter. But the whole thing came to him from an unusual angle: He wanted to prove that dark matter structures were impossible. In a blog post, Buckley outlined his thinking.

2017-07-14 21:16:23

Everything Worth Knowing About ... Asteroids  

World killers. Life builders. And they could be worth trillions.

2017-07-14 04:30:39

"Brain Training" Doesn't Work?  

Lumosity "brain training" games have no beneficial effects on cognition, according to a paper just published in the Journal of Neuroscience. According to the authors, led by UPenn psychologist Joseph W. Kable, Lumosity "appears to have no benefits in healthy young adults above those of standard video games." In the study, 128 young adults were randomly assigned to either 10 weeks of Lumosity training, or a control condition: 10 weeks of playing normal, non-brain-based online videogames

2017-07-13 20:30:46

The Smallest Star Known to Humankind  

A team of astronomers at the University of Cambridge was on the lookout for new exoplanets when they came across an exciting accidental discovery: They found the smallest star measured to this day. This tiny new star, which is being called EBLM J0555-57Ab, is about 600 light-years from Earth, and has a comparable mass (85 Jupiter masses) to the estimated mass of TRAPPIST-1. The newly discovered star, though, has a radius about 30 percent smaller. Like TRAPPIST-1, EBLM J0555-57Ab is lik...

2017-07-13 10:26:46

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