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  • Why the Soviet space shuttle was left to rot

    Why the Soviet space shuttle was left to rot

    Just before dawn on the morning of November 15, 1988, the Energiya rocket stood fueled and ready on the launch pad at Baikonur, the Soviet Union's launch site. Mated to the booster was the Buran ... More >
  • The Looming 8th Pandemic – Climate Change and Cholera

    The Looming 8th Pandemic

    Throughout history, only a few pathogens have made historical impacts on human health. One of these is cholera. Caused by the bacterium Vibrio cholerae this potentially fatal disease has ... More >
  • First Ever Glass Deposits Found On Martian Surface

    First Ever Glass Deposits Found On Martian Surface

    It seems like Mars has just about everything:auroras, water, and now... glass? More >
  • Apple Set To Take On Spotify With New Music Streaming Service

    Apple Set To Take On Spotify

    Apple just made itself relevant to music lovers—again. At its annual World Wide Developer Conference (WWDC) on Monday, the company announced a new streaming music service for the iPhone, ... More >
  • One-Armed Robot Beats Samurai In Sword Competition

    One-Armed Robot Beats Samurai

    For thousands of years, nothing on Earth was deadlier with a sword than a human. People have since largely moved on from slicing weapons to firearms and explosives, but the art of swordsmanship ... More >
Ted Burnham
at 09:52 AM Jun 30 2015
Ted Burnham/PopSci

The challenge of the Autonomous Vehicle Competition, hosted by hobbyist electronics vendor SparkFun at its Boulder, Colorado, headquarters, seems simple enough: Build a robot that can navigate itself around the company's parking lot. Though the AVC course is dotted with small obstacles, it's really just one lap — a distance of less than 900 feet. But for the majority of competitors, it feels more like the path into Mordor.

Mary Beth Griggs
at 09:52 AM Jun 30 2015
Robots // 

AMC's latest Sci-Fi show Humans takes us into another world. A world, that....actually, looks incredibly familiar. The streets, the cars, the landscape, the computers, all seem pretty close to our world today. Except for, you know, the eerily humanoid robots that are there to serve humanity's every whim.

Levi Sharpe
at 09:52 AM Jun 30 2015
Angel Giuffria/ Instagram
Robots // 

Hunger Games actress and self-proclaimed “cyborg,” Angel Giuffria, just upgraded to one of the most advanced prosthetic arms on the market.

Mary Beth Griggs
at 09:52 AM Jun 30 2015
Solar Impulse

The Solar Impulse 2 is finally on its way from Japan to Hawaii. The third time seems to be the charm for this solar plane, after its first two attempts to make this perilous flight were called off due to bad weather. Now, with the pilot nearly finished with his first day of flying over the Pacific, there's no choice but to continue to Hawaii.

Alexandra Ossola
at 09:52 AM Jun 30 2015

The neurons in your brain are exquisitely designed to transmit signals—as many as 1 trillion bits per second, according to some estimates. The cells use chemical neurotransmitters to pass the signal from one to the next. To treat neurological disorders, scientists have only been able to hack this signal with electric stimulation or imprecise chemical changes from medications. Now a team of Swedish researchers has developed a synthetic neuron that is able to communicate chemically with organic neurons, which could change the neural pathways and better treat neurological disorders, according to a study published in the journal Biosensors and Bioelectronics.

Chandra Clarke
at 09:52 AM Jun 30 2015
Photo Credit: NOAA via Wikimedia Commons

Climatology is a fiendishly difficult field of study. There are so many factors to consider, and in many cases, we don't have a lot of historical data to help us refine and improve our models. Complicating matters further is the question of climate change. If we don't have a solid grasp on how certain events used to happen, how can we have a clear understanding how of they will work in the future?

Mary Beth Griggs
at 09:52 AM Jun 30 2015
Nature // 

Today, we're talking bees. Yep. Those bees. Sure, some people might have had a bad encounter or two with the wrong end of a bee's stinger, and might be on guard around the little insects. For the most part though, bees get a bad rap. In addition to creating delicious honey, they also help pollinate crops. Without their help we wouldn't have food.

Kelsey D. Atherton
at 09:51 AM Jun 30 2015
Screenshot by author, from YouTube

There are some strange relatives in the helicopter family. Small quadrotor drones are the most popular recent addition, but there have been human-carrying cousins for decades. These aborted hoverbikes took the unusual step of putting an exposed pilot safely above the craft's spinning blades. Not content with those flying human blenders, some human-carrying multicopters aim to sit the pilot almost level with the rotors. Check out this project man-carrying multi-copter from Quadro UAS:

Alexandra Ossola
at 09:51 AM Jun 30 2015

Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) is on the rise. Since it was first discovered in 2012 in Saudi Arabia, it has infected over 1,000 people, killing more than 30 in the most recent outbreak in South Korea. Since the disease is so new, researchers still have a lot of questions about how it works and there are no specific vaccines or treatments for it, in part because the animal models that researchers often use to answer some of the preliminary questions don't work for this particular disease. Now researchers have found a workaround, according to a study published today in PNAS, which will hopefully help them find better treatments for MERS more quickly.

Alexandra Ossola
at 09:51 AM Jun 30 2015

On June 17, the House of Representatives Appropriations Committee released a bill that outlines the funding for the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for 2016. But the bill has an unusual caveat: if it passes as it currently stands, it would bar the agency from spending any money to assess research or clinical applications for products that manipulate the human genome. It would also require the agency to set up a committee to review a forthcoming report that considers the ethics of editing human embryos.

Kelsey D. Atherton
at 09:51 AM Jun 30 2015
Mac Byers, via Internet Archive

Luxury airships are confined to the dust-bin of history--beautiful, slow-moving machines best remembered for a fiery crash. We are now more than ever in an age of airship revival. Google bought a pair of old Navy airship hangars. An abandoned army dirigible found a second life in the United Kingdom, attracting public funders this past May in the hope that it will work as a powerful cargo hauler. Modern airship designs promise powerful carrying ability and efficiency, but they could also promise us something rare and lost: unimaginable luxury, through tours among the clouds. Here's one such vision for an airship as premium sky cruise vessel.

Mary Beth Griggs
at 09:51 AM Jun 30 2015
Mobile // 

Last year in the United States, 270 people died in collisions between cars and trains. Today, the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) announced a measure that they hope will lower that number of fatalities in the future. The only catch? They need Google's help to make it happen.

Dave Gershgorn
at 09:51 AM Jun 30 2015
Uber
Cars // 

Even though Google's driverless car only hit public roads last week (and reportedly already had a close call), another tech giant is already angling to pose as a competitor. Uber, the often-sued not-a-taxi app, just acquired 100 engineers and unknown “assets” from Microsoft Bing, Google's mapping competitor, according to TechCrunch.

Kelsey D. Atherton
at 09:51 AM Jun 30 2015
Kwangmo, via Wikimedia Commons CC BY-SA 4.0
Drones // 

When it comes to drone law, some opinions are more equal than others. A bill sitting on the Illinois Governor's desk would create an “Unmanned Aerial System Oversight Task Force”, with 22 set-aside seats for representatives from different groups who might reasonably have opinions on drone use. So long as the public is included, it's a good idea, but there's something strange about the list: it completely omits any group concerned with civil liberties, and it also leaves out the media.

Kelsey D. Atherton
at 13:03 PM Jun 27 2015
Screenshot by author, from YouTube

We've seen robots designed to move inside bodies before. Carefully shaped magnetic objects, these miniature robots are moved by external magnetic forces, like those found in MRI machines. Last month, researchers from Boston Children's Hospital and the University of Houston demonstrated a system of small magnetic "millirobots" designed not only to swim through a person's bloodstream and spinal fluid, but assemble into an electromagnetic gun once inside.

 
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