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  • New Mars Rover Will Have Lasers, X-Ray Vision, And More

    New Mars Rover Does Cool Tricks

    The Curiosity rover (or Mars Science Laboratory, as NASA wonks call it) has been an immensely successful mission so far. But now NASA is planning the next mission to Mars, and today the agency ... More >
  • Milky Way Has The Mass Of 800 Billion Suns, Study Finds

    How Much Does The Milky Way?

    Astronomers have performed yet another checkup on our home galaxy, this time asking it to step on a scale. The Milky Way has a mass equal to 800 billion suns, according to the team of ... More >
  • How Did The Deadliest Strain Of Ebola Travel From Central To West Africa?

    How Ebola Continues to Spread

    Of all the strains of the Ebola virus, the Zaire strain (Zaire ebolavirus) is the deadliest. That's the species now infecting people in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia; in the ... More >
  • The Whole Brilliant Enterprise: NASA’s First 50 Years In One Interactive Graphic

    50 Years of NASA in One Infographic

    Ever since NASA established its history program in 1959, the agency has periodically compiled the world’s aeronautics advances into a single report. Assembled mostly from ... More >
  • What Sort Of Weapon Shot Down Flight MH-17?

    Which Weapon Shot Down Flight MH-17?

    Earlier today, Malaysia Airlines flight MH-17, flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, was shot down over Eastern Ukraine, killing all 295 people on board. Following Ukraine's ouster ... More >
Kelsey D. Atherton
at 07:41 AM Aug 2 2014
Robert N. Dennis collection of stereoscopic views, via Wikimedia Commons
Drones // 

Here's a roundup of the week's top drone news: the military, commercial, non-profit, and recreational applications of unmanned aircraft.

Loren Grush
at 07:41 AM Aug 2 2014
NASA/Scott Andrews

Whenever NASA’s space shuttle was launched into orbit, it made the trip with the help of a very important tagalong: the external tank. Acting as the shuttle’s “gas tank,” the massive orange chamber housed all of the liquid hydrogen fuel—and oxygen to burn it—that powered the ship’s main engines.

Jessie Geoffray
at 07:41 AM Aug 2 2014
Photograph by Kyle Cothern
Make // 

Dutch designer Anouk Wipprecht has taken fashion to a shocking new level: She recently donned a custom-built metallic dress and zapped herself with nearly half a million volts of electricity. The stunt came about when she met ArcAttack, a band that makes music with giant Tesla coils. Together they decided to craft a shockproof costume for an upcoming show. Wipprecht built a spiked helmet and plate-metal dress and secured them over a head-to-toe suit of chain mail. For extra flair, she hacked toy plasma balls into shoulder ornaments. “Normally I work with fashion models,” Wipprecht says. “But this time, nobody else wanted to wear it.” When she walked between Arc-Attack’s Tesla coils at Maker Faire this May, Wipprecht remained unscathed. Her garment safely conducted the coils’ electrical bursts around her body and into the ground while lighting up her shoulders with tendrils of purple plasma. 

Douglas Main
at 07:41 AM Aug 2 2014
Ecoflight
Nature // 

Hydraulic fracturing has increased seven-fold across the United States since 2007. Over that time period, scientists' knowledge of the environmental impacts of fracking has not progressed nearly this much. Startlingly little research has looked at biological effects of this process on the environment and wildlife. But what we do know is alarming enough that more research is urgently needed, according to a new study, and the lack of knowledge quite stunning.

Lindsay Handmer
at 10:57 AM Aug 1 2014
Charlie Surbey
Make // 

Holding a steak up on a really long metal fork during a storm is one option, but there is an easier way. Kind of. The mildly crazy folks over at Bompas & Parr teamed up with scientists at the University of Southampton’s Tony Davies High Voltage Laboratory to cook some food with man made lightning. But how did it taste?

at 08:43 AM Aug 1 2014
IceXperience
Hacks // 

At first, it’s a delightful shade of periwinkle blue.  Then, it turns into a lilac purple before settling on a vibrant magenta.

Douglas Main
at 08:43 AM Aug 1 2014
Lawrence Gilbert / Science
Nature // 

There are not many creatures that can stand up to fire ants, nor their famously painful sting. Besides causing discomfort in mammals like humans (I've been stung, and it doesn't feel great), this venom has potent insect-killing powers, with the ability to knock out many of its ant rivals and other six-legged prey. But the venom is not effective against tawny crazy ants, a new invader spreading in areas of the U.S. Gulf Coast that can outcompete fire ants (Solenopsis invicta).

Sarah Fecht
at 08:43 AM Aug 1 2014
NASA

The Curiosity rover (or Mars Science Laboratory, as NASA wonks call it) has been an immensely successful mission so far. But now NASA is planning the next mission to Mars, and today the agency announced the gadgets that will be riding on a new rover that launches in 2020.

Francie Diep
at 08:43 AM Aug 1 2014
Bev Sykes on Flickr

Of all the strains of the Ebola virus, the Zaire strain (Zaire ebolavirus) is the deadliest. That's the species now infecting people in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia; in the ongoing outbreak, it's killed more than half of the people who contracted it.

Francie Diep
at 08:43 AM Aug 1 2014
Science@NASA, Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) and NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center

Astronomers have performed yet another checkup on our home galaxy, this time asking it to step on a scale. The Milky Way has a mass equal to 800 billion suns, according to the team of researchers from Europe, Canada and the U.S. The team also found there's a 95 percent chance that the Milky Way is smaller than Andromeda, which is the closest spiral galaxy to our own whorled home, and a sky-watchers' favorite. (You can spot Andromeda with your naked eye.)

Lindsay Handmer
at 08:56 AM Jul 31 2014
Dan Granett
Make // 

The boffin in question, Dan Granett, doesn't want to juggle just any cars - the robot will be a BugJuggler. The 21 meter tall bot would use powerful hydraulics controlled by a human pilot to toss entire VW Beetles into the air, juggling three at a time. Of course this is a bit of a tall order, so Dan wants to first built a smaller proof of concept.

Francie Diep
at 07:32 AM Jul 31 2014
Max J. Kory et al., "Gram-scale synthesis of two-dimensional polymer crystals and their structure analysis by X-ray diffraction," Nature Chemistry, 2014
Tech // 

In spite of its looks, this is not the lovechild of an accordion and an earthworm. It is actually a whole new material photographed in the middle of its creation process.

Emily Gertz
at 07:32 AM Jul 31 2014
via BitcoinTalk

Is there a deity out there who hates cryptocurrency? To the list of disasters that have befallen the bitcoin economy in 2014, including the bankruptcy of the enormous Mt. Gox exchange as well as the theft of about $2.7 million in bitcoins from Silk Road 2.0 (both in February), add this morsel of bad luck: A lightning strike has taken out the only bitcoin ATM in all of Arizona, less than a month after it was installed.

Loren Grush
at 07:31 AM Jul 31 2014
Gavin Woodruff
Nature // 

But not all of these colorful couples result in a happy ending – especially if you’re differing species of worm.  For female nematodes, hooking up outside the genetic family tree can end in a pretty grisly demise.

Francie Diep
at 07:31 AM Jul 31 2014
SubtleGuest on Wikimedia Commons

A number of experimental stem cell treatments have shown promise in patients recently. Facelifts, breast augmentations, and vaginal rejuvenation procedures (!!!) using stem cells, however, are not among the promising techniques. Nevertheless, unscrupulous clinics are selling these cosmetic "stem cell" procedures, a team of doctors and stem cell researchers found.

 
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