Did Earth Collide with a Long Lost Twin?Our beloved Moon, often the staple of a peaceful and tranquil nighttime scene, has a pretty violent origin story. In 1970, researchers proposed the “giant impact” hypothesis, which ... More >
Shark Attacks Are So Unlikely, But So FascinatingSharks are incredibly unlikely to bite you. They're even less likely to kill you. However, we remain fascinated with their ability--and occasional proclivity--to do just that. With so many things ... More >
Don't Let This TERN Poop On YouDARPA's latest drone program just took a turn for the better. The Tactically Exploited Reconnaissance Node (TERN) is designed as a Medium Altitude Long Endurance (MALE) flyer for the US Navy. Like ... More >
Warming Climate Could Change How Food TastesThere might be some very tangible, selfish reasons for foodies to care about climate change. It turns out that warming temperatures could not only impact our food supply, but they might also ... More >
Did The Future Begin In 1610?Time is a valuable commodity for humans. We like our news up to the minute and our technology up-to-date. But when it comes to some temporal boundaries scientists are still trying to figure out ... More >
Homeopathy--an alternative theory of medicine founded on the notion that “like cures like”--has so far gotten a free pass in the U.S. Although studies suggest homeopathic treatments don't work, the FDA allows them to be sold without testing and without approval from regulators. This week, the agency is re-evaluating that stance. Over two days of hearings, the FDA will listen to public comment as to whether homeopathic remedies should be tested with the same rigorousness as regular over-the-counter drugs.
Whether it's the outbreak of an infectious disease or news of a terrorist attack, social media is a powerful tool to spread information. But exactly how information gets transmitted, and how clearly, isn't well understood. In order to better comprehend and predict public understanding of risk, team of German researchers conducted the first study, published today in PNAS, to test social transmission's effect on our understanding of risk
Losing a shipment of over 160 bottles champagne in the Baltic Sea must have been a huge blow to European importers back in the early 1800's. But their loss is definitely our gain. Discovered on the seafloor in 2010, the shipwrecked cargo has become a treasure trove of information to scientists interested in how alcohol was made in the past.
Our obsession with marijuana's mystifying powers goes back a long time; though its first documented use was in 2727 BC, there's some indication that our ancestors cultivated cannabis plants in the earliest days of agriculture. Since then, marijuana has spread around the world, used for medicine, religious purposes, or recreation by almost every culture. Clearly, pot does something for us. But until recently, scientists didn't have the technology to really figure out how pot makes us feel the way it does (other than testing it anecdotally, of course).
Foul smells are generally good indications of food gone bad, and now MIT chemists have developed a new sensor that does all that nasty smelling work for you. The portable and inexpensive device detects gases from meat, looking for chemical signatures associated with decaying meat products.
Our eyes are such elegant, complex, specialized organs that their existence seems almost hard to believe--Darwin himself called their evolution “absurd.” But that doesn't mean they're perfect; eyes sometimes don't focus correctly, they break down over time, and they can be extremely painful if infected, irritated, or exposed to light that's too bright. Italian biotech startup MHOX is embarking on an ambitious project: to improve human eyes by making synthetic replacements.
NASA's Multi-Utility Technology Testbed (MUTT) looks like a kid's cartoon drawing of an airplane crossed with a stingray, and it comes with the appropriately pet-esque moniker “Buckeye.” The remotely operated flying wing drone will test how wobbly parts work on aircraft. Last Thursday, it flew for the first time at NASA's Armstrong Flight Research Center, in Edwards, California.
When a missile has been launched, the safest place to be is not in its path. But if one must be where a missile is flying, then the next-best course of action to be far enough underground that the impact is completely absorbed by the dirt above. This isn't so much practical advice--digging underground bunkers is a slow process and not actually advised in response to an incoming missile--but an actual limitation of how missiles work. Published under the innocuous name of “Nonlinear Force Propagation During Granular Impact” in Physical Review Letters last week, the study shows how granular materials like dirt and soil get stronger when impacted.
Much like Darth Vader after his fateful fight against Obi Wan on Mustafar, Star Wars fans have been burnt before. The last time new live-action Star Wars films came back to theaters, they brought with them a legion of unlikeable characters and a plot full of Sorkin-esque walks down corridors explaining trade policy. With the J.J. Abrams-directed Episode VII: The Force Awakens set to debut this December, fan expectations and fears have been running equally high. Yesterday, at the Star Wars Celebration in Anaheim, California, a new trailer seemed to put many of those fears to rest. It opens with a crashed Star Destroyer:
Deep in the Amazonian rainforest, the remote villages of the Yanomami represent some of the final holdouts against Western culture. Though the villagers spot helicopters flying overhead every now and then, some groups have never had contact with Westerners or our modern comforts. By studying one such group, a new paper reveals just how much those modern comforts may be changing the make-up of our bodies.
The Hugo Awards are one of the most prestigious prizes in science fiction and fantasy literature. They are career-defining honors for those authors skilled and lucky enough to win one, and a lifetime goal for the rest. But this week, for the first time in the 62-year history of the awards, two nominees have withdrawn their work from consideration in response to a controversy that has embroiled the entire industry. Fans are calling the controversy “Puppygate,” and despite the silly name, it has the potential to tear the foundations of science fiction fandom apart.