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Location:  // // Home // New Issue // #36 - November 2011

Our November edition is printed and ready for shipping to subscribers! Everyone else, you can get your hands on it:

On sale 26th October 2011

Let's take a look at what's inside...

Location: // // Technology // Blackberry Service Finally Restored on All Planets

RIM said Thursday morning its BlackBerry service had been restored to all terrestrial worlds after the worst outage ever. BlackBerry Messenger is still spotty on Vulcan, but service is back to normal in the other Federation planets.

Location:  // // Technology // Space // China Launches Its First Space Station Module Into Orbit

At 9:16 p.m. local time--that was at 9:16 a.m. eastern time here in the U.S.--China successfully lofted its first inhabitable space station module into orbit on the back of a Long March 2F launch vehicle, marking a milestone for both the People's space program and for the Party's geopolitical ambitions. China--the third nation (behind the U.S.A. and Russia) to independently launch manned missions into space aboard homegrown technology--now joins the old Cold War powers as the third nation to put a space station into orbit.

Location: // // Technology // Space // Chinese Scientists Plan to Pull an Asteroid into Orbit Around Earth

Last week Chinese scientists wanted to divert an asteroid away from Earth. This week, they want to pull one into orbit around the Earth. What's possible objections could anyone have to this idea?

Location:  // // Technology // Space // Kepler Spots a Planet Orbiting Two Suns, Just Like Star Wars' Tatooine

A mournful French horn blows. An angsty Luke Skywalker stomps out of his aunt and uncle's sand hut and peers up at Tatooine's double sunset, his hair blowing in the breeze. It's a memorable scene from Star Wars-but now, a precedent for such a sky with two suns has been found in our universe.

Location: // // Science // New Species of Dolphin Discovered Off the Coast of Australia

A new species of dolphin was discovered by Australian zoologists off the coast of Melbourne, after they realized the 150 or so porpoises that were previously thought to be bottlenose dolphins actually differed significantly in skull shape and DNA. That, kids, is why you should always double-check your homework. Or, you know, dolphin skull shape. Same thing.

Location:  // // Science // This Week in the Future, October 24-28, 2011

When it gets too hot, weird things happen. Like de-shelled hermit crabs fighting massive parameciums for piles of 3D printed shells and/or synthetic diamonds. THIS IS THE SHAPE OF THINGS TO COME.

Location: // // Science // Tune In Here from 9:30am for the 2011 Ig Nobel Prize Ceremony, Live

UPDATE: It's all over, folks. Having said that, you can watch the entire unedited showcase beneath the fold. Or, you can read about the Australian scientists who were IgNobel-ly awarded here.

Location:  // // Gadgets // Computers // Two Key Advances Bring Quantum Computers Closer to Reality Than Ever

Researchers on two continents are reporting two big breakthroughs in quantum computing today - a quantum system built on the familiar von Neumann processor-memory architecture, and a working digital quantum simulator built on a quantum-computer platform. Although these developments are still constrained to the lab, they're yet another sign that a quantum leap in computing may be just around the corner.

Location: // // Technology // Robots // Video: A Two Tonne Minesweeping, Drone-Launching, Armoured Autonomous Mini-Tank

The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are (ostensibly) winding down and military budgets are facing the axe in countries such as the US, but that's not stopping contractors from building bigger and badder combat-ready robots. Today in badass autonomous military hardware: Mesa Robotics' Acer, a 2,045 kg mine-clearing, bulldozing, drone-launching, ordnance disposing, pack-muling mini-tank.

Location:  // // DIY // Hacks // Video: How to Turn Two iPads Into a Gory, Gaping Hole in Your Torso

Trawling the Web looking for that last minute costume idea today? Look no further. NASA engineer Mark Rober has a "relatively simple" (we're calling it relatively expensive) yet technologically elegant solution to your Halloween wardrobe woes. All you need is two iPad 2s, some fake blood, and a shirt that you no longer care for.

Location: // // Technology // Space // With Two New Space Science Missions, ESA Will Fly to the Sun and Look For Dark Energy

The European Space Agency announced its next two space science missions yesterday, and given recent events they may not come as a huge surprise. The first will orbit the sun, coming closer to the solar surface than any previous science spacecraft to measure the solar wind and its influence on the planets to an unprecedented degree. The second will explore dark energy and the accelerating expansion of the universe--a characteristic whose discovery won three physicists the Nobel prize in physics yesterday.

Location:  // // Technology // Space // Kepler Analysis Projects One-Third of Sun-Like Stars Have an Earth-Like Planet Orbiting

One of the fun things about astronomy is that we can only know so much through empirical observation, yet we can "know" so much more through enlightened, mathematical guesswork. Such is the nature of the most interesting new science paper I've come across on the Internet today. In it, Wesley Traub of CalTech crunches some Kepler data and makes a tantalising mathematical prediction: one-third of sun-like stars have at least one earth-like terrestrial planet orbiting in their habitable zones.

Location: // // Science // Astronomy // Simulation Suggests There May Have Been a Fifth Gas Giant in Our Solar System

A "violent encounter with Jupiter" may have hurled a fifth gas giant out of our solar system billions of years ago. A simulation done by the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colorado suggests that our solar system may have included another gaseous giant, placed between Saturn and Uranus. The computer models may prove how the planets of our solar system settled in their current position, a long-standing source of mystery to astronomers.

Location:  // // Science // New 'Goldilocks' Exoplanet Could be the Most Earth-Like We've Yet Seen

Scientists have tracked down another goldilocks planet 31 light-years from Earth, and according to astronomers it has some strong points in its favor when it comes to the possibility of harboring the ingredients for life. HD85512b orbits an orange dwarf in the constellation Vela, and it's just the right distance from the sun--and just the right mass--to rank among the most Earth-like planets ever discovered.

Location: // // Technology // Video: Face-Controlled Wheelchair Moves With the Clench of a Jaw

For those paralysed from the neck down, controlling a wheelchair even with a joystick is impossible. Researchers at Japan's Miyazaki University have created a wheelchair that solves that problem with electrodes affixed to the face. Certain motions will cause the wheelchair to move, stop, and turn--and it can all be done above the neck.

Location:  // // Gadgets // Dear Nike: Here's How You Make a Self-Tying Shoe From the Future

Nike just announced that it's bringing the famed self-tying, light-up sneakers from Back to the Future II to market as a limited edition, under the name Nike Air Mag. They're not tech-free, boasting some flashy LED lighting, but everyone knows the main draw of the movie's shoes was the self-tying--and these shoes could have been so much more futuristic. It may not be 2015, the year depicted in the movie, just yet, but that doesn't mean we don't deserve self-tying shoes right now, dammit. Here are some possible routes to the true self-tying shoe.

Location: // // Gadgets // Smartphones // Apple's iOS 5.0.1: Aussies Can Now Speak To Their Phone, And Be Understood
Keywords: ios, iphone, apple, dictation, aussie, improve, fix

If you've ever tried to use the Nuance dictation features that came out in the last iOS update, you'll probably have found it to be a little hit and miss. Certainly not a feature you can actually use with certainty. We thought for a moment there we Aussies might just be forgotten, but thankfully there's a whole bullet point dedicated to us in the next 5.0.1 update.

Location:  // // Gadgets // National Security Agency Is Building a Top-Secret Secure Smartphone

For all the amazing technology developed by and for American defense and intelligence agencies, the government's spooks are apparently lagging way behind in one key area: Smartphones. That means no mobile email or Angry Birds for the US spy corps. One NSA agent is trying to change that.

Location: // // Galleries // Craziest Scientific Theories

We've had a lot of scientific theories in our time - some revolutionary, and some not so much. The greatest breakthroughs in history are often celebrated, but we'd like to take some time to recognise those that didn't quite make the cut. Move over Charles Darwin, this is the evolution of crazy.

Location:  // // Galleries // Craziest Scientific Theories // Emission Theory

If this theory were true, we’d all be walking around with invisible beams of light shooting out our eyes. The Emission theory suggests that, rather than photons on different objects emitting light which in turn we perceive, our eyes in fact emit light into our field of vision. Think it sounds ridiculous? Well apparently not to some. Results from a study in 2002 found that 50 per cent of American college students thought that this was really how our eyes work. We’d like to manipulate the light from our eyes into laser beams.

Location: // // Technology // Space // Ground-Based Laser Cannon to Turn Space Debris into Self-Powered Flaming De-Orbiting Rockets

Another week, another scheme to clean up our bourgeoning space debris problem. This one, like many before it, calls for a powerful ground-based laser to remove orbital debris from low earth orbit. Using high-powered laser pulses fired from the ground, the system would create a small plasma jet emanating from the piece of junk itself, essentially turning each piece of debris into its own laser-powered rocket that would remove itself from orbit.

Location:  // // Technology // iPod Creator Introduces Cute Home Thermostat That Learns Your Habits
Keywords:  ipod, thermostat, learning,

A new thermostat designed by the brains behind the iPod promises to save money by learning your household habits, encouraging energy efficiency while looking snazzy on the wall. The Nest looks like a 21st century version of the circular Honeywell heat controls many people grew up with, and it promises a modern, simple solution for lowering utility bills.

Location: // // Science // Japanese Researchers Develop a Way to Turn Biological Tissue Transparent

All the new breakthroughs in microscopy we've seen recently are designed to help scientists see deeper, inside individual cells and into the depths of the brain. Of course, this would be easier to do if there wasn't a bunch of other tissue blocking the cells you want to see. Japanese researchers have a new solution: Make it all transparent.

Location:  // // Technology // Space // Luxury Getaways of the Future: Visit Orbital Technologies' Space Hotel

Until companies start launching private spaceships, Russian-built space capsules will be the only way to get astronauts up to the International Space Station or other orbital outposts. If these images are accurate at all, Russian-built spacecraft might as well stay the only option. Doesn't this look cozy?

Location: // // Gadgets // Mice Finally Get That Microscope Hat They've Been Wanting

Scientists use mice for all kinds of fun things, from injecting old mice with young mouse blood to training them to sniff for bombs, but when doing research, it's often very difficult to see what's actually going on in a mouse's brain. A new microscope actually mounts to a mouse's head like a hat, allowing the mouse to freely move around while the scientists try to figure out how it tastes umami flavour, or whatever.

Location:  // // Technology // Engineering // New Theory on World Trade Center Collapse Blames Explosive Chemical Reaction

More than ten years after the fact, a scientist based at the Norwegian research institute SINTEF is proposing that a well-documented chemical reaction spelled the ultimate demise of the Twin Towers after the attacks of September 11, 2020. This isn't another conspiracy theory, nor is it proven fact. But Christian Simensen theorises that a mix of molten aluminium from the aircraft bodies mixed with water from the sprinkler systems could have catalysed secondary blasts that brought the World Trade Center towers to the ground.

Location: // // Technology // Space // Orbiting Robot Will Gather Space Junk and Turn It Into New Satellites

Our growing space junk problem could become an orbiting spare satellite parts sale if DARPA has its way. The DoD's research arm has launched a new program, appropriately titled Phoenix, to create new satellites from the decommissioned and dead satellites currently sitting idle in geosynchronous orbit some 35,000 kilometres above the Earth.

Location:  // // Science // Quantum Dot Thermometers Take the Temperature of Individual Living Cells

Next time you take your temperature, maybe think twice about its accuracy. Despite what the mercury says, not all of your cells are really at 37 degrees celsius, scientists reported in a new study. Using nanoscale thermometers, researchers have shown for the first time that living cells can exist at different temperatures. Busy sections are warmer, and less-active ones are cooler.

Location: // // Galleries // Australian Dishes And Telescopes // The Most Productive

This is the Anglo-Australian Telescope, quite the jewel in our nation's telescopic crown. According to Astronomische Nachrichten, the AAT is one of the most scientifically productive telescopes in the world. It's located in northern NSW and is shared among a number of scientists and scientific bodies. It's most notable for producing impressive photographs of space as well as discovering extrasolar planets (planets outside our solar system). 

Location:  // // Galleries // Looking Down On Yourself // There's A Storm Brewing

This is Hurricane Katia, which formed in August this year, peaking as a Category Four hurricane and affecting parts of the US and Europe. Its fastest wind speed was 215 km/h. In this photo you can also see some shaping of a hurricane's characteristic spiral arms, technically called "spiral banding" or "rain banding" when not referring to hurricanes.

Location: // // Technology // Military // By Encoding Messages in Glowing Proteins, Scientists Turn E. Coli Into Invisible Ink

It's an innovation fit for a Cold War spy novel: a means to transmit secret messages via microbe. Dubbed steganography by printed arrays of microbes (yup: SPAM), the technique involves encoding messages in the colours of glowing bacteria, which can be later unlocked with antibiotics.

Location:  // // Science // Disarming HIV Could Protect the Immune System and Potentially Lead to a Vaccine, New Study Shows

News from the field of HIV research has been pretty promising of late - this summer, we heard good news that antiretroviral treatment is superbly effective, at least when it's used correctly. And thanks to some video gamers, scientists' understanding of proteins involved in HIV keeps getting better. Now researchers have another tool in their arsenal. They can strip the virus itself of its ability to trick the human immune system.

Location: // // Technology // Robots // Killer Drones: When Will Our Weaponised Robots Become Autonomous?

America's drone fleet has become an increasingly relied-upon wing of its counter-insurgency strategy and plays a key role in its geopolitical policy, particularly in Pakistan where unmanned aircraft routinely venture into sovereign territory and deliver lethal payloads to targets on the ground. But the Washington Post asks: just exactly how far away are we from real "killer robots." The answer, in this morning's piece of recommended reading, is: we're already there.

Location:  // // Technology // Space // NASA's Falling UARS Satellite Found in Remote South Pacific

NASA's Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite (UARS) has finally returned home after two decades in orbit, and it couldn't have crash-landed in a better place: a 800-km-wide swath of the South Pacific. The falling 5.4-tonne satellite - which had been expected to re-enter the atmosphere for a couple of weeks, causing some degree of worry - plunged into a part of the world that is virtually uninhabited, mere minutes after reports said it might come crashing down in North America, NASA officials said yesterday.

Location: // // Technology // New Mexico Building a 20-Square-Mile Empty City in Which to Test Renewable Energy

In the old American West, ghost towns often formed from catastrophe, when natural or economic disasters led occupants to abandon their homes and buildings in search of better options. But in the new West, one purposefully-built ghost town will be a centre, or in this case The Center, of opportunity.

Location:  // // Technology // Single-Molecule Motor Runs on Electricity, Could Be Used for Single-Cell Surgery

We've seen single-molecule "motors" before, but they're pretty primitive, motors only in the most basic sense of the word. But this new one, made of a single butyl methyl sulfide molecule, is much closer to what images the word "motor" might conjure: when electricity is applied, the molecule is triggered to spin, without affecting any other molecules around it.

Location: // // Galleries // Techno-Culinary Trickeries of Andoni Luis Aduriz

The 2011 StarChefs chefs' congress was a three-day whirl of culinary innovations, but one of the particular treats was getting to watch Andoni Luis Aduriz do his thing. The chef of Spain's Mugaritz restaurant has melded technology and cuisine in an unceasingly playful way, garnering stars and prizes that I won't bother to enumerate. At the congress, he walked a rapt audience through several of his clever preparations -- in particular, his use of silicone molds to create trompe-l'oeil dishes.

Location:  // // Science // Future Of The Environment // What Green Jobs Crisis? Environmental Groups Take a Fresh Look at the Numbers

Last week, we told you about a New York Times analysis of the green jobs sector, painting a disappointingly dismal picture given all the hope surrounding economic growth via clean-energy technology. But now, a new piece from the watchdogs at Grist has taken strong issue with the Times's dreary conclusion.

Location: // // Technology // Building Wi-Fi That Works at 800 MPH, Into a Car Designed to Break the Sound Barrier

Discovered during a dig through the FCC's experimental radio applications by Steven J. Crowley, it has come to light that North American Eagle is trying to install what will presumably be the fastest-moving Wi-Fi network on the ground--because it's being built inside a vehicle designed to break the world land speed record (and the sound barrier) at 1280 kilometres per hour.

Location:  // // Technology // Space // European Space Agency Plans to Team Up with Russia for the First Manned Mission to Mars

If it's a space race the Russians want, a space race they shall have. But et tu, Europe? Russian news outlet Ria Novosti is reporting that the European Space Agency (ESA), long the ally of Cold War champion NASA, is teaming with Russia on a joint manned mission to Mars, and that their crew will be the first to set foot on the Red Planet.

Location: // // Science // Astronomy // New Brown Dwarfs The Ultimate Failed Stars

Over two dozen new free-floating brown dwarfs have been discovered in two young star clusters, Science Daily reports. A University of Toronto-led research team made the discovery - and found an unusual surplus of ‘failed stars’ in each constellation.

Location:  // // Science // All the Gold We've Mined Came From Space, New Study Says

When our planet was still forming, collisions with other planetesimals - and a Mars-sized object that sheared away the moon - turned the embryonic Earth into a roiling ball of molten rock. Iron and other heavy elements sank toward the core, and other iron-loving elements did, too. As a result, there's plenty of gold at our planet's center. So why, then, is there also gold in the hills? A new study supports the theory that it was all a gift from above.

Location: // // Galleries // Australian Dishes And Telescopes

Telescopes have long allowed us to peer excitedly into the night sky, spotting distant stars and planets. You might have memories of being a child and looking through the eyepiece of a telescope to get a glimpse of Mars. Maybe you're still into telescopes. Either way, here in Australia, our telescopes mean business - they're a lot bigger than your dad's astronomy kit. Check out these space seers from all over the country.


Location:  // // Science // Future Of The Environment // CERN Experiment Finds Possible Link Between Cosmic Rays and Climate Change

Not content with just stirring the pot in particle physics, CERN has embarked on an experiment aimed at addressing whether or not comic rays from deep space might be seeding clouds in Earth's atmosphere, influencing climate change. The early findings are far from deciding the issue of whether climate change is man made or otherwise, but they have borne some interesting results. It turns out that cosmic rays could be influencing temperatures on Earth. Perhaps even more groundbreaking, it turns out they also might not. Welcome to climate science.

Location: // // Gadgets // Cameras // Custom-Made Camera Sensor Is 60 Times Bigger Than a DSLR's

This 8x10-inch sensor--about 60 times the size of a full-frame DSLR sensor--is the creation of photographer Mitchell Feinberg, who was sick of spending thousands of dollars on expensive film previews of his work. The sensor (which, he says, cost as much as "a good-sized house--before the housing crash") replaces the Polaroid backs that many photographers use to test exposure. But since these professional-grade Polaroids are so expensive these days due to their huge size and scarcity, he created this sensor (named the Maxback), which lets him see exactly how his shots would look on film, but in only 30 seconds and with no added cost. It's not to be used for regular photography--the resolution is too low for a regular print spread--but to properly simulate how his shots would look on (gigantic) film, a DSLR just wouldn't cut it. You can read more about it at Popular Photography.

Location:  // // Technology // Aviation // DARPA Fills Us In On HTV-2's Semi-Successful Flight and Very Successful Crash

Last week, DARPA's HTV-2 (Hypersonic Technology Vehicle 2) Falcon vehicle launched to near-orbital speeds aboard a Minotaur rocket before beginning what was designed to be a Mach 20 glide back to earth, demonstrating the kind of hypersonic capability needed to deliver a payload anywhere in the world in an hour. Then, a few minutes into its flight, HTV-2's data transmitters went silent and so did the DARPA news stream feeding us the play-by-play.

Location: // // Gadgets // Smartphones // Dashboard-Mounted Smartphones Network Together to Watch for Red Light Patterns, Help Drivers Commute Efficiently

The perceived future of driving tends to revolve around a networked traffic infrastructure in which cars, traffic signals, and other roadway implements talk to each other electronically to optimise traffic flow and make driving more efficient all around. But MIT researchers think we can do many of these things on an existing network: the one that ties all of our smartphones together. A network of camera-equipped mobile devices mounted on dashboards could crowd source information about traffic signals and tell drivers what speed to maintain to avoid waiting at traffic lights.

The idea stems from an already popular smartphone setup in which drivers perch their smartphones in dashboard brackets and use them as navigation devices. The MIT team built their SignalGuru app to take advantage of the camera on the other side of the phone by collecting stoplight data as cars drive around and feeding it back to a central system that then builds a larger picture of a city's traffic flow.

Location:  // // DIY // Projects // DIY Wrist Cuff Equips Blind People With Sonar

Guide dogs are great, but vision-impaired people sometimes need to find their own way through complex environments. Instead of checking for obstacles with a trademark white stick, inventor Steve Hoefer has another idea: Use wrist-mounted sonar.

Hoefer designed a haptic gauntlet with ultrasonic sensors mounted just over the knuckles. The Tacit, as it's called, is encased in a neoprene cuff and can sense objects from about two and a half centimetres all the way up to 3 metres.

Location: // // Science // Fukushima Fallout Was Almost Twice as Bad as Official Estimates, New Study Says

This spring's nuclear disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant released almost double the amount of radiation the Japanese government has claimed, according to a new analysis. The authors say the boiling pools holding spent fuel rods played a role in the release of some of the contaminants, primarily cesium-137 - and that this could have been mitigated by an earlier response.

Location:  // // Cars // IBM Patents a Mapping Algorithm To Re-Route Drivers Along Retail-Heavy Roads

With connectivity and smarter planning, intelligent cars promise to cut congestion, make roads safer and generally improve the whole experience of getting behind the wheel. But nobody said it was all altruistic.

Location: // // Technology // Aviation // Introducing the Matternet, A Network of Drones For Deliveries In Remote Locations

This summer's crippling famine in Somalia, which has killed tens of thousands of people and led half a million more to seek refuge in Kenya, is notable for many reasons - but the theft and sale of life-saving aid is arguably one of the worst. A new project could be one way to prevent such atrocity in the future: Use drones to drop food and drugs right where they're needed, no human intervention required. Enter the Matternet.

Location:  // // Technology // Engineering // Nanomaterial May Replace Circuits, Allow For On-The-Fly Etchless Rewiring Of Electronics
Keywords:  nanomaterial, northwestern university, quantum, nano, rewire, spontaneous, itself

You know you're in the future when people start talking about electronics that can rewire themselves on the fly. A team at Northwester University in the United States have developed a new nanomaterial that can move and redirect electrons through itself, which, while not quite allowing your phone to transform into a laptop at a moment's notice, still may open a door to adaptable electronics.

Location: // // Science // Health // Researchers Turn Cloned Human Embryo into Working Stem Cell Line

Potentially big stem cell news out of the New York Stem Cell Foundation Laboratory today in Nature, though in our experience it's always good to temper one's expectations when it comes to these sorts of things. After all, we've thought we cracked the code on embryonic stem cell cloning technology more than once, only to find this kind of biology is much more difficult and complex than originally thought. Nonetheless, researchers have reprogrammed an adult human egg to an embryonic state and used it to create a self-reproducing embryonic stem cell line. And that's a big deal.

Location:  // // Technology // Researchers Weave Wearable Memory Out of Copper

Here at PopSci, we're greatly looking forward to wearing our technology. There's been a lot of work done on this front, from fireproofing to power generation, and now we can add memory storage to the list of things fabric of the future will be able to do.

Location: // // Technology // Space // Russia Postpones Mission to the ISS, Could Leave Station Unoccupied for the First Time in a Decade

Following the crash of a Russian cargo spacecraft a few days ago, the country has postponed its next mission to the International Space Station, originally scheduled for September 22nd. Roskosmos, the Russian space agency, hopes to complete that mission by late October or early November--but if it gets delayed again, the ISS may be left unmanned for the first time in over a decade.

Location:  // // Science // Structural Self-Replication Based on DNA Could Create New Materials

One of the hallmarks of living things is self-replication, the ability to make new copies of biological structures. Scientists have harnessed this ability in several ways, using DNA and viruses to organize materials for things like solar panels. But inducing artificial self-replication, which would enable new types of self-fabricating materials, has proven more difficult. Now researchers at New York University say they've taken a step in that direction, building a complex artificial system that can self-replicate.

Location: // // Science // Astronomy // Supercomputer Simulation Shows for the First Time How a Milky Way-Like Galaxy Forms

It took nearly a year of high-powered number crunching on various supercomputers, but researchers from the University of California Santa Cruz campus and the Institute for Theoretical Physics in Zurich, Switzerland have finally produced a computer simulation of a galaxy that looks much like our own. That may not sound so huge at face value, but it actually is the first high-resolution simulation of its kind that has turned out a galaxy similar to the Milky Way, and it has rescued the prevailing "cold dark matter" cosmological model of how our disc galaxy formed from a good deal of doubt.

Location:  // // Technology // Military // The Next Generation of Night-Vision Goggles

Over at Danger Room, Noah Shachtman got a look at the US military's current and next-gen night-vision goggles (or, more accurately, "goggle," or "monogoggle," since they only cover one eye). Hardly anyone ever gets to look at these, so to actually be able to try them out is pretty amazing. The goggles live up to the hype: they pack incredibly sensitive thermal sensors (enough so that reflections and handprints both glow) as well as embedded LCDs that transmit all kinds of data.

Location: // // Science // Future Of The Environment // To Fight Warming, Brits Plan to Launch a Huge Balloon and Really Long Pipe

When most people think of simulating a volcano, they think of baking soda, vinegar, and third grade science fair projects. A team of British researchers are thinking more along the lines of a giant balloon the size of a soccer stadium and a 12-mile garden hose that can pipe chemicals into the stratosphere to slow global warming. And they're planning to test their hypothesis soon, sending a scaled down version of their sky-hose-balloon-thing skyward in the next few months.

Location:  // // Technology // Military // Video: Cloaking System Makes Tank Invisible to Infrared Sensors

BAE Systems's Adaptiv technology enables objects as big as tanks to completely vanish from view--when seen at night with an infrared sensor, admittedly, but that's still a major advantage. An Adaptiv-outfitted tank can change its thermal signature to look like anything from a big rock to a truck to nothing at all, fading into the background and becoming invisible.

Location: // // Technology // Robots // Video: Wall-Climbing, Base-Jumping Robot Hurls Itself From Buildings

A new base-jumping robot can climb vertical walls, flip open a parachute and jump off, parasailing to the ground while capturing video of the trip. It's the first compact robot that can both climb and fly, two characteristics that will serve it well when the robots take over the world and need to penetrate humanity's defenses.

Location:  // // Galleries // Craziest Scientific Theories // Ekpyrotic Universe

The Ekpyrotic scenario provides an alternative to the widely accepted Big Bang theory. It suggests that, unlike the Big Bang that began from singularity, our universe is one of a pair of universe that collided. This means there's another universe out there. That's not too strange considering popular culture accepts the possibility of parallel universes. But if this theory is correct, our twin universe is right next to us in another dimension, separated by a distance less that the diameter of an atom.

Location: // // Technology // Space // First-Ever Pics of a Star Cluster on the Far Side of the Galactic Center

The European Southern Observatory's VISTA survey telescope has turned its eyes inward to the centre of our galaxy, and for the first time has looked straight through it. VISTA's latest batch of infrared images have discovered two new globular clusters here in the Milky Way that had never been seen before, but more importantly they are the first star clusters that we've been able to image beyond the dusty and gaseous core of our galaxy.

Location:  // // Gadgets // Smartphones // Microsoft Windows Phone 7.5, AKA "Mango," Starts Rolling Out Today

Windows Phone 7.5, known as Mango, is a massive upgrade to the already impressive Windows Phone platform, including major additions like multitasking, fast app switching (along with threaded conversations, an idea taken from the deceased WebOS), a totally new browser, apps integrated into search, augmented reality, and way more. It's the biggest update since the platform's original release, and we're really looking forward to seeing the next wave of hardware that really takes advantage of it.

Location: // // Science // Energy // MIT's Tiny Energy-Harvester Makes Electricity From Low-Frequency Vibrations

The rumbling you feel driving along a bridge may soon serve a purpose beyond just waking you up behind the wheel. Researchers at MIT have developed a tiny energy-harvester that is able to harness low-frequency vibrations like those made by a bridge or pipeline and converting them to electricity for wireless sensors.

Location:  // // Cars // Electric Cars // Nissan Claims Its New Charging System Can Fill Up Electric Cars in Ten Minutes

We all know that one of the biggest obstacles to electric car adoption is the long, often overnight recharge time. But Nissan claims that they've created a new charging system that'll fill up your car (Nissan would undoubtedly prefer to say "your Leaf") in only ten minutes--not much different than a regular trip to the Earth-killing pump.

Location: // // Science // Space Weather Could Delay Manned Mars Missions

Our sun has been more active lately as it enters a new phase in its 11-year cycle, which is one reason we've seen a bunch of enormous coronal mass ejections and solar explosions in the past few months. But it's actually a pretty weak solar maximum, as solar maximums go, so heliophysicists believe the sun is entering a prolonged hibernation unseen since the 17th century. This has some major implications for climate changes - on Earth and in the heavens, according to one new study.

Location:  // // Technology // Space // Tomorrow, NASA Heads Back to the Moon, to Uncover Its Origins and to Inspire A New Generation

NASA is going back to the moon, sending off a pair of spacecraft that will help scientists learn the origins of our closest companion by studying its interior and its gravitational field. But beyond new lunar science, the Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory, GRAIL, will also help cement NASA's legacy of lunar exploration in the public imagination.

Location: // // Cars // Electric Cars // "Boozer" the Electric Car Smashes Distance Record, Driving 1,000 Miles on a Single Charge

A German car nicknamed "heavy drinker" or "boozer" has set a new record for electric vehicle stamina: 1631.5 km on a single charge. The single-seat vehicle's aerodynamic shape, with the motors integrated into the wheel hubs, helped the car accomplish this feat.

Location:  // // Technology // "Time Cells" In the Brain Keep Track of Events, Firing As Time Goes By

Whether we're engrossed in an activity or the alarm clock simply fails to chime, we've all been in situations when we say we've lost track of time. But our brains have not really lost track at all. A specific group of cells in the brain's memory center is encoding for the passage of time, researchers report. These "time cells" are key to our perception of sequences of events.

Location: // // Science // Energy // 13-Year-Old Designs Super-Efficient Solar Array Based on the Fibonacci Sequence

Plenty of us head into the woods to find inspiration. Aidan Dwyer, 13, went to the woods and had a eureka moment that could be a major breakthrough in solar panel design.

Location:  // // Gadgets // Cameras // A Camera With the Processing Power of a Computer

Dual-core processors have been a computing mainstay for more than six years, allowing machines to handle two tasks at once without sacrificing speed in either. This year, dual-core chips have begun popping up in app-hungry phones. The next step: cameras. The Olympus PEN E-P3 is the first digital camera running on a dual-core chip, which lets it capture, retouch, and save shots nearly twice as fast as most competitors.

Location: // // Science // A Clever New Fishing Method, 'Conching,' is the Latest Trend Spreading Among Australia's Hippest Bottlenose Dolphins

Attention hipsters and other people seeking hipness: there's a new fad catching on in Western Australia's Shark Bay, and you won't want to be the last to to post pictures of yourself imitating it to your Tumblr feed. "Conching" is a method by which Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins are trapping small fish in conch shells, bringing the shells to the surface, and then shaking them with their rostrums to clear out the water and dump the fish into their mouths. More remarkably, the trend appears to be spreading throughout an entire population of dolphins, and fast.

Location:  // // Technology // Robots // A Heated Robotic Mother Hen Improves Quail Chicks' Spatial Learning Abilities

We love when live animals follow a robot's lead, from Robofish leading schools of real fish away from harm, to babies fooled into thinking a friendly robot is human. But studies have not yet shown how these robotic surrogates can affect animal development. Now a new study suggests they can have a positive effect - at least for a while.

Location: // // Technology // Space // A Supernova Fades Gloriously into a Supernova Remnant

When light from an exploding star in the Large Magellanic Cloud reached Earth in 1987, it was the closest supernova explosion astronomers had witnessed in centuries. Now Supernova 1987a is making history again, this time as the youngest supernova remnant that can be seen from Earth.

Location:  // // Technology // Acoustic Cloaking Device Lets Sound Travel Uninterrupted Around Objects

A new type of acoustic cloak would allow soundwaves to travel around an object unimpeded, and could be used to build better concert halls, quiet spaces and noise-shielding headgear, researchers say.

Location: // // Technology // After A Magnetic Pulse to the Brain, Study Subjects Cannot Tell a Lie

The act of deception is probably as old as civilization - not long after humans began communicating, they began communicating lies. Shortly after that, they probably started trying to force others to tell the truth. Modern technology has given us a few options in this arena, from dubious polygraphs to powerful drugs - and now a new study suggests brain interference can work, too.

Location:  // // Technology // Military // Apple's New iPhone Assistant is a Voice-Activated DARPA Spinoff

Apple's iPhone 4S announcement yesterday was somewhat anticlimactic save the incorporation of Siri, a voice-command application that is now integrated deeply into Apple's new iOS 5 and allows users to ask their phones questions and give them commands in natural language. And if that kind of voice recognition and command sounds somewhat familiar to you technophiles, it should. Siri is the indirect spawn of DARPA, Danger Room reports, envisioned to help military commanders organise their data and otherwise make sense of fast-moving situations.

Location: // // Technology // Military // Army Developing Drones That Can Recognise Your Face From a Distance

It's not enough for the US military to be able to monitor you from afar. The US Army wants its drones to know you through and through, reports Danger Room, and it is imbuing them with the ability to recognise you in a crowd and even to know what you are thinking and feeling. Like a best friend that at any moment might vaporise you with a hellfire missile.

Location:  // // Science // Australians Could All Get Free Lifetime Federally Hosted Inboxes, If Government Quits Snail Mail

In the future, all your government mail - jury duty slips, election notices, those Social Security earnings statements - may not come in the mail at all. Here in Australia, federal politicians are debating ditching snail mail entirely, giving all citizens a state-sponsored inbox where we would receive all government communications.

Location: // // Section undetermined // Bacteria in Gut Influence Brains of Mice, Soothed by Probiotic Broth

Anyone who has ever had a stomach bug knows it can really subdue your spirits as well as your appetite. But other parts of the gut microbiome can have the opposite effect, and make you feel great. Irish researchers have found a type of gut bacteria that seems to have directly interacted with the brains of mice, reducing stress and depression.

Location:  // // Science // Bats Have Unique Superfast Squeak Muscles to Make Superfast Echolocation Calls

The only mammals that can fly are also the only mammals with a larynx that flexes at ludicrous speed, a new study shows. As bats flip and whirl toward their prey, they chirp at an accelerating rate, increasing their echolocating calls to 160-190 chirps per second. This is possible because their laryngeal muscles can contract up to 200 times per second, researchers say.

Location: // // Galleries // Biggest Uncontrolled Reentries

Generally when it comes time to decommission or de-orbit a satellite, the operator fires a few retro-rockets and the hardware either gets pushed into a parking orbit, or falls safely into the middle of the Pacific. Sometimes though, gravity wants its toys back early. Here are the biggest re-entries so far where operators either lost control, or never had control in the first place.

Location:  // // Technology // Robots // Bug-Like Robotic Drones Becoming More Bug-Like, With Bulging Eyes and Tiny, Sensing Hairs

Micro air vehicles, or MAVs, make for a tantalising option for intelligence and surveillance agencies looking to surreptitiously gather information or deliver surveillance devices without being seen. But MAVs--usually modeled after small birds or insects-- are notoriously unstable in flight and difficult to manoeuvre in cluttered environments. So the Pentagon is handing out research contracts to make the DoD's little robotic bugs more stable by making them more bug-like. Specifically, the DoD wants big bulging bug eyes and hairy wings for its MAVs.

Location: // // Science // Chemist Once Accused of 'Quasi-Science' Wins Nobel For Quasicrystal Discovery

Vindication has to be one of the most satisfying effects of a Nobel Prize win - after years of work, the scientific community has finally recognised the real weight of a discovery someone probably fought a very long time to prove. So Daniel Shechtman must feel really satisfied today. The Israeli chemist is a Nobel laureate for his discovery of quasicrystals, a unique form of solid matter whose discovery cost him his job and reputation.

Location:  // // Technology // Chinese Officials Deny Hacking U.S. Environment-Monitoring Satellites

Beijing officials are denying accusations the Chinese military interfered with two US Earth-monitoring satellites, the wires are reporting today. On Friday, a draft report to the US Congress said at least two satellites were tampered with four or more times in 2007 and 2008, and that the breaches were consistent with Chinese military strategy. Given that the Pentagon has said cyberattacks are akin to an opening salvo in a traditional military conflict, this sounds like very troubling news.

Location: // // Galleries // Biggest Uncontrolled Reentries // Cosmos 1402

Image: MSGT Hiyashi / Name: Cosmos 1402 (nuclear spy satellite) / Reentry Date: January 23, 2020 / Reentry Location: Indian Ocean / Size: 4 tonnes / Type: Uncontrolled reentry

Satellite nuclear reactors were normally jettisoned to a safe "parking orbit" when the satellites reentered, but Cosmos 1402's reactor remained attached. Here, an American orbital analyst monitors the satellite's trajectory from NORAD.

Location:  // // Science // Health // DNA Analysis Catches Carcinogens in a Simple Saliva Sample

Researchers presenting at the 242nd National Meeting and Exposition of the American Chemical Society this week in Denver have demonstrated a new DNA test that can measure the amount of potential carcinogens clinging to a person's DNA. But unlike previous tests that required white blood cell or urine samples and fairly intensive lab scrutiny, this one can hunt for carcinogens in a simple saliva swab.

Location: // // Science // Dogs Can Reliably Sniff Out Lung Cancer, German Study Shows

A dog can accurately detect the early presence of lung cancer by sniffing patients' breath, doctors in Germany say. While researchers have known for some time that dogs can sniff out the telltale signs of other forms of cancer, this is the first study that proves dogs can reliably smell this particular kind.

Location:  // // Technology // Fermilab Will Double-Check CERN's Revolutionary Faster-Than-Light Claim

So far, the only thing moving faster than light is speculation. But in the wake of last week's baffling neutrino news out of CERN, physicists are crunching numbers to test whether these ghostly particles really can move faster than photons. Physicists at Fermilab are re-examining some old data to help answer the question.

Location: // // Science // Energy // Franklin, What Are You Working on Today?
Keywords: franklin, berkley, california, supercomputer, climate change, fossil fuels, modelling

We detect the faint spice of irony in the tale of a supercomputer whose day-job consists of both searching for new reservoirs of fossil fuels while also running modelling simulations on the impacts of climate change. And yet, that's the life of Franklin, the American supercomputer housed at the National Energy Research Scientific Computing Centre in California.

Location:  // // Technology // Space // Germany's ROSAT Satellite Could Come Crashing Down Somewhere On Earth As Soon As Friday

If you're feeling lucky after NASA's UARS satellite fell safely from orbit into the middle of the Pacific--rather than into the middle of Sydney--let's hope your luck doesn't run out. The German Aerospace Center says the retired ROSAT satellite's orbit is rapidly decaying, and pieces of it could start falling from the sky as early as Friday and up until Monday. That should make for an exciting weekend.

Location: // // Technology // Heart Patch Made of Gold Helps Cardiac Tissue Rebuild Itself

Giving cardiac patients a heart of gold nanowires could ensure engineered tissue works like it should, pulsing in unison to make the heart beat. First growing nanowires and then growing heart cells, engineers from MIT and Harvard University say their new muscle-machine blended heart patch improves on existing cardiac patches, which have trouble reaching a consistent level of conductivity.

Location:  // // Technology // Aviation // In Boeing Demonstration, Different Autonomous Drones Swarm Together For Recon Missions

Commanding an army of drones is one thing; letting drones command themselves is something else entirely, especially when they have very little in common. Boeing recently tested a swarm network to help disparate drones work together, sending two types of unmanned aerial vehicles on a reconnaissance mission over eastern Oregon.

Location: // // Science // Energy // Jaguar is Getting a GPU Upgrade, to Make it the World's Fastest Supercomputer Again

Back in June when the latest edition of TOP500 dropped (TOP500 lists the world's top supercomputers), Japan's K Computer leapt ahead of China's Tianhe-1A supercomputer to become the biggest, baddest computing platform on the planet. But after more than a year of slipping down the ranks as its competitors across the Pacific surged ahead, Oak Ridge National Labs Jaguar supercomputer is poised to become the fastest computer in the world once more.

Location:  // // Technology // Space // Latest Results from the Large Hadron Collider Do Not Look Good For the Supersymmetry Theory of Everything

The latest news from the Large Hadron Collider: scientists still cannot explain why we're all here. In the most detailed analysis of strange beauty particles - that's what they're really called - physicists cannot find supersymmetric particles, which are shadow partners for every known particle in the standard model of modern physics. This could mean that they don't exist, which would be very interesting news indeed.

Location: // // Technology // Space // Listen to StarTalk Live, Featuring Neil deGrasse Tyson, Eugene Mirman, Alan Alda, and More

On September 15th, StarTalk, Neil deGrasse Tyson's space-and-science-focused radio show, taped its first ever live show at the Bell House, in Brooklyn, New York. I was there to watch, and tweet about it, and drink tall cans of Tecate while tweeting about it. It was great! And now you can listen to the first part, for free.

Location:  // // Technology // Space // NASA satellite to hit earth this week
Keywords:  NASA, satellite, popular science, SkyLab, UARS, space junk

A five tonne piece of space junk is hurtling out of control towards Earth and is expected to hit the ground sometime this weekend. NASA says that the defunct Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite (UARS), which was launched in 1991 to study climate change, will make impact somewhere between 57° south latitude and 57° north latitude - basically the entire populated world.

Location: // // Science // Astronomy // New Measurements Size Up Distant Dwarf Planet Eris As Pluto's Twin

Pluto may not be a fully fledged planet, but at least it’s not the dwarfiest of dwarf planets. Its sibling, Eris, is not as large as astronomers thought, according to a new study. A rare stellar blockage event last year helped astronomers obtain some new measurements of the distant icy world, and they say it is quite dense and it may develop a feeble atmosphere as it moves closer to the sun.

Location:  // // Science // Health // New Phase-Changing Gel Method Repairs Severed Blood Vessels Better than Stitches

A new heat-sensitive gel and glue combo is a major step forward for cardiovascular surgery, enabling blood vessels to be reconnected without puncturing them with a needle and thread. It represents the biggest change to vascular suturing in 100 years, according to Stanford University Medical Center researchers.

Location: // // Cars // Nissan Developing Mind-Reading Cars
Barely a day goes by without a new development in smart car technology, from computerised cars to driving directions. Now researchers in Switzerland are developing cars with the ultimate gift of intelligence: The ability to read our minds.
Location:  // // Science // Optimism Is a Brain Defect, According to Functional MRI Scans

Pervasive, persistent optimism is one of those uniquely human traits/flaws - we tend to believe things are better than they really are, or that negative consequences won't befall us, even if they befall others. It stands to reason that people would adjust their expectations when confronted with harsh reality, yet they don't. Our brains are to blame, according to a new study - we're wired to have a positive outlook.

Location: // // Science // Health // Painless Protein Scaffold Lets Cavity-Ridden Teeth Re-Grow From the Inside Out

A new tooth-regenerating paste could reverse bacterial-induced tooth decay, sweeping dental drills into the dustbin of history. Hopefully.

Location:  // // Gadgets // Smartphones // RIP WebOS, the Best Smartphone Platform Nobody Used

Today, in an almost insultingly brief statement in the middle of a press release about something else entirely, HP killed off its most recent acquisition, and perhaps its most beloved platform: WebOS, the mobile OS designed by the scrappy gurus at Palm. It's a bitter, inconsequential end for an OS that in its own way paved as much ground as the iPhone, and that even in its current decrepit state is a damn fine platform. WebOS, you deserved better.

Location: // // Technology // Robots // Robot Culture Machine Efficiently Grows Biological Cells Without Human Intervention

The tedious, carpal-tunnel-inducing pipette work of cell biologists may soon be relegated to robots, thanks to a new cell factory developed in Germany. This could free humans to perform new studies and ask new questions, as automated equipment takes over the time-consuming task of growing, feeding and observing cells in the lab.

Location:  // // Technology // Robot Journalist Will Snag Pulitzer By 2016, Predicts Robot-Journalist Programmer

The New York Times took a look at start-up Narrative Science today, a company that has developed what is a pretty cool step forward for artificial intelligence, and a pretty frightening step towards human labor's eventual replacement by machines, a piece of software that takes data (sports statistics, financial reports, etc.) and turns it into news articles. They're pretty confident about their product too, with one of the founders predicting that a computer program will win a Pulitzer within five years (and that it may well be their technology).

Location: // // Technology // Space // SASSA, the Military's New Satellite Self-Defence System, is Ready to Go to Space

A new satellite defence technology is about to get its first real-world test in orbit, and while we naturally don't get to know much about it just yet, the US Air Force has confirmed that a classified satellite launching sometime in the near future will carry the awkwardly named Self-Awareness Space Situational Awareness system, or SASSA. Like radar for satellites, the system will alert operators of potential space-borne threat to the satellite and perhaps even take kinetic action should a satellite become threatened.

Location:  // // Science // Scientists Successfully Induce Hibernation in Animals for the First Time

Scientists at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks have successfully caused a group of arctic ground squirrels, naturally hibernating animals, to wake from and then go back into hibernation. It's the first time anyone has ever managed to induce hibernation, and it could have some pretty amazing medical benefits for humans as well.

Location: // // Science // Health // Stop Surgical Infections with a Cocoon of Air

An American company headquartered in Texas has received government clearance for a new kind of medical device aimed at reducing incision-site infections that result from surgical procedures. But rather than battling microorganisms with pharmaceutical cocktails or some kind of post-surgical treatment, Nimbic Systems' Air Barrier System (ABS) keeps surgical sites free of bacteria and other bugs by creating a cocoon of purified air around the incision site for the duration of the surgery.

Location:  // // Science // Health // Study Finds That Injecting Old Mice With Young Mouse Blood Has a Rejuvenating Effect

Researchers at Stanford University just published a study in Nature that may give new hope to those looking to stop the effects of aging on the brain. The study found that when blood from a young mouse was injected into an older mouse, that older mouse enjoyed what could almost be termed a "rejuvenation effect": it began producing more neurons, firing more activity across synapses, and even suffered less inflammation.

Location: // // Gadgets // Computers // Use Your Home Computer to Find a Better Semiconductor and Save the Planet

If you want to be a part of discovering the future of solar power, you can be. You don't need any special knowledge or equipment, just let Alán Aspuru-Guzik borrow your computer when you're not using it.

Location:  // // Science // Future Of The Environment // Video: An Augmented Reality "Mirror" That Alters Your Appearance

Using a webcam hooked up to custom PC software, a pair of researchers at Queen Mary, University of London, have created an augmented reality "mirror" that morphs your facial features at will.

Location: // // Technology // Robots // Video: Da Vinci Surgical Robot Deftly Peels a Grape

Within the confines of the PopSci universe, the Da Vinci surgical robot requires no introduction. But while we've seen Da Vinci do some amazing things--most notably, perform prostate surgery, though lacing the football and making paper planes were pretty cool too--we're always thrilled to see the dexterous machine do something else. And so we bring you this footage of Da Vinci, peeling a grape like peeling grapes is easy.

Location:  // // Gadgets // Computers // Video: Summer School at Stanford Yields a Way to Write Braille on Your iPad

Typing in Braille is tricky, requiring clunky and expensive dedicated devices--some costing as much as US$6,000--with limited functionality beyond their primary design purpose. But a team of researchers at Stanford University in California, including an undergrad on loan from New Mexico State University, have created a touchscreen interface that brings the ability to write in Braille to tablet PCs.

Location: // // Gadgets // Why Amazon's Losses On The Fire Are A Smart Idea

The news today told us what everybody already knew: Amazon is selling its new Fire tablet for a pittance. Actually, even more than a pittance – estimates place the actual profit from hardware sales alone to be.. well, to be nothing at all.

Location:  // // Technology // Wireless Network Accurately and Inexpensively Monitors Patients' Breathing

A couple of years ago we saw wireless technology that would allow us to see through walls. Now, the same team of researchers, from the University of Utah, is putting that motion detection technology to work monitoring breathing patterns. So not only can the network see through your bedroom wall, it can hear you breathing. Less sinisterly, the system could help doctors keep better track of patients with sleep apnea, surgery patients or babies at risk for sudden infant death syndrome.

Location: // // Technology // Military // Advanced Supercomputer Models Supplant Real-World Nuclear Weapons Tests

While our friends Jaguar and Ranger toil to model the Earth's atmosphere, star formation and battery chemistry, other supercomputers in the US are working on classified national security problems. Namely: What happens when a nuclear weapon explodes? Are we sure nuclear weapons would actually work, should, God forbid, the world decided to use them?

Location:  // // Technology // Space // Aerospace Entrepreneur/Motelier Robert Bigelow Thinks the Chinese Will Take Over the Moon

Robert Bigelow is not a small name in the space world. His company Bigelow Aerospace is a pioneer of inflatable spacecraft, and the company has made waves with its plans for an inflatable, orbiting space hotel (not coincidentally, Bigelow's fortunes come from his ownership of the Budget Suites motel chain). So when he says something about the future of space travel, we listen. On the other hand, when he says that China is planning to take over the moon circa 2025, we listen, but with scepticism.

Location: // // Science // Astronomy // Astronomers Solve Ancient Supernova Cold Case Using Hot Infrared

There's a tonne of unexplained mysteries out there, and stellar phenomena that we can't explain using current scientific models, but a team of American astronomers have at least scratched one off the list - how a 2,000 year old supernova came to be quite as large as it is.

Location:  // // Science // Astronomy // Be An Astronomer Without The Degree

Stargazers and night-owls alike; this is your opportunity to look to the skies as part of an international amateur astronomy event. All you have to do is find a centaur shooting an arrow with a teapot.

Location: // // Gadgets // Cameras // Canon Introduces the S100, the New Best Point-and-Shoot

Canon's S90 ushered in a new era of point-and-shoots, where a pocketable camera offered control and quality almost equal to a DSLR. The newest model in this line, the S100, continues the trend: the sensor gets a bump from 10-megapixel to 12.1, it has a new processor (claimed to be faster, more accurate in low light, and with better color reproduction), the ISO and video resolution have improved, and it's got built-in GPS geotagging, so you'll know where your photos were taken. Our friends at Popular Photography call it a "robust update," and considering it's updating just about the best point-and-shoot on the market, that's saying something. Read more at PopPhoto.

Location:  // // Cars // Driverless Car Completes Successful Test Run Around Busy Berlin Streets

Sitting back, chatting with your mates, watching the scenery pass you by - these pastimes are generally enjoyed by the passengers of a vehicle while the driver remains focused on bringing the carload to its destination. But a car designed by researchers from Berlin has successfully completed an 80 kilometre test run around the traffic-filled streets of Germany’s capital - without the driver lifting a finger.

Location: // // Science // Enough Water Vapour for A Thousand Earths Found in Still-Forming Solar System

When it comes to planetary formation, water is often one of the trickiest questions scientists find themselves trying to answer. Where is space did it come from, and how on earth did it end up on... well, Earth? It seems we might have the glimmering of a solution, after scientists observed a nascent solar system surrounded by a cloud of water vapour – enough to populate several thousand Earths.

Location:  // // Technology // European Alternative to GPS Lifts Off Tomorrow From South America, Via Russian Rocket

A Soyuz rocket will lift off Friday from the northern coast of French Guiana, carrying two satellites that will formally kick off the European Space Agency's own version of GPS. It will be the first Soyuz ever to launch outside of the former Soviet Union, and its payload will free Europeans from relying on American navigation tech.

Location: // // Science // Faster-Than-Light Neutrinos Might Be Explained By GPS Failing to Account For Special Relativity

So it turns out that Einstein may not have been wrong about the universal speed limit. Not only is special relativity safe, it provides an explanation for those faster-than-light neutrinos. They're not breaking the light-speed barrier; they just appear to be, thanks to the relativistic motion of the clocks checking their speed.

Location:  // // Science // Energy // Fermilab Stops Smashing Hadrons, Looks Into Smashing Muons

Tomorrow American high-energy physics centre Fermilab will power down their Tevatron particle collider for the final time, marking the end of an era. But for some, that era is so over anyhow. Hadrons, like last season's handbag, have had their time in the spotlight. The next hot trend in physics is muons, and all the cool kids know it. That's why Fermilab physicists are already taking a hard look at muon colliding technologies as a possible next move in the game of international physics research.

Location: // // Science // Five Reasons You Should Care About the New Ozone Hole Over the Arctic

A prolonged chill in the atmosphere high above the Arctic last winter led to a mobile, morphing hole in the ozone layer, scientists report in a new paper. It's just like the South Pole hole we all studied in school, but potentially more harmful to humans - more of us live at northern latitudes. Here are five things you need to know about it.

Location:  // // Technology // Space // FYI: Can I Buy Land on the Moon?

For now at least, the moon is like the sea: everyone can use it, but no one can own it. In 1967 the U.S. and the Soviet Union negotiated the Outer Space Treaty, which states that no nation can own a piece of the moon or an asteroid. "You have a right to go up and take the lunar soil, but you don't have any right to draw a square on the surface of the moon and say, 'That square is mine,' " says Stephen E. Doyle, a retired lawyer who served as NASA's Deputy Director of Internal Affairs. If the Space Settlement Institute-which lobbies for private industry to develop land on other planets-has its way, new laws will allow space colonists to stake moon claims and start a colony.

Location: // // Galleries // 5 Gadgets That Failed to Survive // HP Touchpad

Now, it's really hard for us to do this, mainly because one of our staffers owns and loves a Touchpad. The truth, though,  is that the Touchpad tanked. There have been many suggestions as to why the first, and in all probability last HP consumer tablet failed - from unoptimised software to outmoded hardware - but the problem is most probably HP. It never really looked like they themselves knew what they wanted from a tablet, and it's since become clear they'd rather pursue the business sector anyway. A shame.

Location:  // // Gadgets // Smartphones // Mango Update To All Capable Handsets, Except for Three
Keywords:  mango, update, wp7, windows, phone, australia, ota

Windows announced earlier today that everyone will be getting mangoes. Or, maybe it's that everyone on the planet with an eligible Windows phone will be getting an OTA update to the latest Mango release, taking their Windows Phone OS to number 7.5. Both sound good - unless you're the holder of one of three capable handsets that don't fit the bill.

Location: // // Technology // Space // NASA Will Pay $1.6 Billion to Build Commercial Space Taxis

Likely prompted in no small part by last month's Progress cargo ship crash in Russia, NASA has announced a US$1.6 billion contract running through 2014 to develop complete end-to-end cargo and crew transportation between Earth and the International Space Station. In other words, NASA is getting really serious about developing commercial space taxis that can do what the shuttle no longer can: get people and supplies to and from the space station without relying solely on Russian technology.

Location:  // // Technology // Space // NASA's Laser Communications System Will Enable High-Speed Transmissions From Mars

NASA is spending roughly US$175 million on three new technology demonstration projects, one of which is aiming to take HD data streaming to Mars. The Laser Communications Relay Demonstration (LCRD) will explore reliable optical communications technologies that could boost data rates between Earth and deep space by a couple of orders of magnitude.

Location: // // Science // New dinosaur species uncovered in US

Scientists have today announced the discovery of a new species of dinosaur in Utah, the Talos Sampsoni. The raptor is the first discovery of its kind in more than 75 years, exciting scientists and palaeontologists alike.

Location:  // // Science // Energy // Scientists Maybe Possibly Find Particle That Moves Faster Than Light

Scientists at CERN have run an experiment. A very simple time of flight experiment, measuring the time it takes a neutrino to get from A to B. The trick with this particular one is that this particle clocked in at a whole 60 nanoseconds faster than light. That small number is a big deal - if correct, it could overturn Einstein's Theory of Special Relativity, the cornerstone of theoretical physics for the last century.

Location: // // Technology // Smart CCTV System Would Use Algorithm to Zero in on Crime-Like Behavior

Last time we looked at the UK's teeming video surveillance technology sector we were writing about facial recognition software that Scotland Yard was trialling during the recent London riots. But facial recognition is both fraught with privacy concerns and difficult to make reliable. So researches at Kingston University are building a CCTV system that uses AI to recognise specific types of criminal behaviours--like someone brandishing a firearm--and use that to alert authorities and build a video profile of the way a crime unfolded.

Location:  // // Technology // Space // SpaceX Will Launch Dragon Capsule In November, Bound for the International Space Station

A little less than six months after the final space shuttle launch, a private space company will launch a rocket carrying a cargo capsule bound for the International Space Station. SpaceX said this week that it plans a Nov. 30 launch date for its first rendezvous with the ISS - an encounter that will mark a major milestone in private space exploration.

Location: // // Galleries // Craziest Scientific Theories // Spontaneous Generation

Evolution, while still only a theory, is the most widely accepted reasoning for the generation of life. But some believe in the spawning of life from inanimate matter - something other than a seed, egg, or parent - or in other words, nothing. No, it’s not the Bible, it’s the work of the original mad scientist/nutty philosopher - Aristotle. His successors recorded such braniac observations as; no one has ever seen eels having sex, so therefore they must be spawned from earth worms, and anchovies apparently come from sea foam.

Location:  // // Science // Astronomy // Star Pulling Massive Planet Apart with X-Rays

Imagine if Earth was being blasted by radiation so strong that it was disappearing at a rate of 5 million tonnes per second. Sounds pretty disastrous, right? 

Well spare a thought for poor old CoRoT-2b, whose companion star is bombarding it with x-rays a hundred thousand times more powerful than rays from our Sun, Science Daily reports.

Location: // // Science // The Mystery of Wrinkly-When-Wet Fingers, Solved

Mystery of the century, you guys. No, the millenium. All time. A new paper in the journal Brain, Behavior and Evolution has a new answer to the eternal question: why do our fingers and toes get all wrinkly after bathtime? The answer: traction.

Location:  // // Gadgets // The Web's Best Tributes to Steve Jobs

An interesting gauge of a person's overall impact on our culture is now found immediately online, as the world learns together the news of that person's passing. By that measure, Steve Jobs has led a truly extraordinary life. But you didn't need us to tell you that.

Location: // // Science // Universal Laws of Physics May Not Be Universal, Says Study
Keywords: alpha, electronmagnetic, universe, relativity, gravity, weak nuclear, strong nuclear, galaxies, swinburne, cambridge, new south wales, university

You know that thing, electromagnetism? It powers your microwave, allows doctors to examine your insides, and lights up your surroundings so that you can see. It's great because it's so dependable. Except, according to an Australian research study, it might not be. Once you get away from Earth, at least.

Location:  // // DIY // Tools // Video: Plucky Fish Swims Far Away to Find Proper Tool For Eating Dinner

We all know takeaway food sometimes requires special utensils to be eaten properly. The same is true for fish. (The food they're eating, not takeaway fish.) Below, behold the first video of a reef fish using a tool - and traveling a great distance to find it.

Location: // // Science // Astronomy // ALMA, the World's Largest Radio Telescope, Grabs Its First Images

The world's largest astronomical facility has opened its eyes, turning nearly two dozen antennae toward the heavens to study the building blocks of the cosmos. The Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array consists of 20 radio antennae for now, but will contain 66 by 2013, giving it a higher resolution than the Hubble Space Telescope.

Location:  // // Technology // An Electric Detonator - The Chopper From the Future
Keywords:  chopper, electric, tron, detonator, Daniel Simon, motorbike

Let's face it, motorbikes are stylish. Big choppers even more so, in their loud, punk-rock kind of way. It's going to take some doing to get riders to even  think about trading in their gas guzzlers for a leaner, greener version. But perhaps the Detonator might give people some food for thought.

Location: // // Gadgets // Smartphones // Apple Owns Patent On 'Unlocking Touchscreen Phone', Provides Helpful Diagrams
Keywords: touchscreen, apple, patent, unlock, diagrams, ustpo

Ok, look, it was kind of amusing for a while, but at what point does the back-and-forth on the smartphone patent situation just become too much to bear? We surely must be close, with Apple being awarded the patent that describes doing stuff with a thing unlocking a touchscreen device by, incredibly, using the touchscreen on that device. Hello mind. Commence boggling.

Location:  // // Technology // Artificial Skin Feels With Nerves Made of Clear Nanotube Springs
Keywords:  artificial skin, nanotubes, carbon, spray on, stanford, strechable, nanotechnology

A new stretchy, supple synthetic skin prototype developed at Stanford has some impressive pressure sensitivity, deforming and contorting without any breakage or wrinkling. It's made of spray-on carbon nanotubes, which act as springs and can measure the force being applied to them.

Location: // // Technology // Robots // At Last, The First Humanoid Robot Astronaut Powers Up Aboard the ISS

Our favorite Twitter ‘bot--no, like an actual robot that tweets--is out of the box and live-tweeting its new life on the International Space Station. Robonaut 2 was actually unboxed several months ago (it was delivered by the final Discovery mission in February) but has been sitting idly, waiting for the crew to get around to firing it up. Now R2 is plugged in, and man is it ever chatty.

Location:  // // Science // Aussies Win IgNobels with Frisky Bottle Beetle, Urination Complication Studies

Two Aussie scientists today pulled a couple of prizes from the annual IgNobel Prize awards, one for studying why some beetles mistake beer bottles for their mates, and another for looking into how much the need to urinate impacts our ability to think.

Location: // // Science // Australian Scientist Shares Nobel Prize for Physics
Keywords: nobel, australian, universe, astronomy, schmidt

A scientist from the Australian National University has, along with two American scientists, been named a Nobel Laureate for his work charting the expansion of the known universe, in particular the discovery that said expansion is happening at an increasingly fast rate.

Location:  // // Science // Bacteria Can Quickly Swap Genes With Each Other Through A Global Network

Bacteria swap genetic information as readily as people can share digital data - there are no cultural, political or systemic boundaries, according to a new study. Researchers say they have identified a massive gene network that facilitates the transfer of 10,000 unique genes among 2,235 bacterial genomes, across international borders and across species.

Location: // // Galleries // Looking Down On Yourself // But That's The ISS!

Confusing, right? Considering all of these pictures were taken by crew inside the ISS, how is it taking photographs of itself? Before Kaysing-style conspiracies begin to arise, you should know that this picture was taken by the shuttle Discovery on its 39th and last voyage after the two spacecraft had undocked.

Location:  // // Gadgets // Chinese Rare Earth Company Strokes Mustache, Cuts Off World's Access to Rare Earths to Inflate Prices

China may only have 30 percent of the rare earths in the world, but they essentially have a monopoly--which the rest of the world has been tirelessly trying to work around. (To wit: Japan looks to Vietnam, the U.S. looks to California and Missouri, everyone looks under the sea.) In a slightly devilish business move, China sought to tighten their grip and raise prices by eliminating all sales to its major buyers, the U.S., Japan, and Europe, for one month.

Location: // // Science // Crows can play waiting game to get your tasty treats, study finds

Crows and ravens are often associated with darkness, evil, and Edgar Allan Poe. But few know they are more than just blood-thirsty, black giants - they are actually quite smart. Especially when it comes to food.

Location:  // // Science // Health // Facebook isn't a brain-drainer, it's a brain-changer

Scientists have discovered a link between Facebook friends and brain size, suggesting social networking could possibly change your brain - or that some people are just 'hard-wired' to make more friends.

Location: // // Technology // Fermilab Astrophysicist's Method Cuts Plane Boarding Times in Half

Dr. Jason Steffen, an astrophysicist at Fermilab, came up with a method he claimed could cut airplane boarding times drastically about two years ago. More recently, he tested several different methods of boarding, complete with video: Boarding as we do it now (blocks of fliers, boarding from the back of the plane to the front), compared with a random boarding system and a careful one of his own design. Those three methods, by the way, are in ascending order of effectiveness.

Location:  // // Technology // First GPS-Enabled Walking Shoes Help Caregivers Track Alzheimer's Patients

New shoes with built-in GPS devices will go on sale this month to help track dementia patients who wander off and get lost. Caretakers can download a smartphone app that allows them to track the person wearing the shoes, which could help patients with Alzheimer's disease stay in their homes and live autonomously for longer periods.

Location: // // Technology // Space // Five of Saturn's Moons Pose Amidst a Backdrop of Planetary Rings

Today in pretty space pics, Cassini proves once again that it's the spacecraft that just keeps on giving. Its mission was supposed to end in 2008 but has twice been extended, most recently out to 2017. That's fine with us, since it keeps sending back pics like these from its wide orbit around what is arguably the solar system's second-coolest planet. Represented here: Saturn's signature rings and five of its more than 60 natural satellites - Janus, Pandora, Enceladus, Mimas and Rhea (from left to right).

Location:  // // Science // Health // Germans Manufacture Artificial Blood Vessels With a 3D Printer

From intestines to tracheas, tissue engineers are building a handful of new body parts - but progress on larger organs has been slow. This is mainly because tissues need nutrients to stay alive, and they need blood vessels to deliver those nutrients. It's difficult to build those vascular networks, but now a team from Germany may have a solution: Print some capillaries with a 3D printer.

Location: // // Gadgets // Hands On: Amazon's Kindle Fire Tablet and Cheaper, Smaller, Touch-Based Kindles

Today at an event in New York City, Amazon announced its new family of Kindles, and it's probably the biggest, or at least most visible, update in the line's history. The three new "traditional" Kindles continue Amazon's trend of "cheaper and smaller," including two touch-based Kindles (one Wi-Fi-only and one 3G-enabled) and one ridiculously cheap non-touch version. But the big news: Amazon's first tablet, a 7-inch model called the Kindle Fire that's priced low enough in the tablet marketplace to ride alongside the iTunes cards and chewy in the impulse buys section.

Location:  // // Technology // Space // Hubble's New Infrared Mosaic is the Best Picture of Our Galactic Centre Ever

Behold, your galactic centre. This Hubble image, captured with the space telescope's Near Infrared Camera and Multi-Object Spectrometer (NICMOS), is the highest-resolution pic of the Milky Way's galactic center taken to date, taking in a newly discovered group of massive stars, lots of super-hot gas, and roughly 35,000 square light years of space in one sweeping mosaic.

Location: // // Section undetermined // IBM Is Building the Largest Data Storage Array Ever, 120 Petabytes Big

Researchers at IBM's Almaden, California research lab are building what will be the world's largest data array--a monstrous repository of 200,000 individual hard drives all interlaced. All together, it has a storage capacity of 120 petabytes, or 120 million gigabytes.

Location:  // // Science // In Which Our Intrepid Reporter Becomes a Drone Pilot for a Day

The offer came simply via the subject line of an email: "Want to fly a drone?" It was from Todd Backus of DATRON, a maker of--among other things--military grade radio communication systems and tactical data networking setups based in Vista, Calif. It was a question that didn't require a whole lot of consideration on my part--if there were drones to fly at AUVSI's massive unmanned systems show in Washington D.C. last week, I was going to fly them.

And that's how I end up on a soccer pitch far from the Walter E. Washington Convention Center piloting a small quadcopter drone and quietly praying that we won't be arrested. Not that we're up to anything criminal, but I have no idea how close or far we are from D.C.'s numerous "high-value" locations and the restricted airspace that surrounds them. What I do know is that if I'm jailed on suspicion of terrorism, my editors likely won't cover my expenses.

Location: // // Cars // Concepts // Laid-off Shuttle Engineers Build Mad Rocket Trike

In the shadow of Launchpad 39A--where the Space Shuttle Atlantis once stood ready for orbit--a team of former NASA engineers laid off when the shuttle program ended are building a rocket-inspired street legal tricycle. And it's not just for kicks. Treycycle Gold--as the company building the bikes is now known--aims to employ more than 100 people within the year, breathing new life into the Space Coast's engineering economy.

Location:  // // Technology // Space // Missing: One Giant Satellite. If Found, Call NASA.

A defunct six tonne NASA satellite has crashed into Earth over the weekend, leaving a mystery as to where the space debris ended up. Last week we reported the satellite was headed for Earth after 20 years in orbit.

Location: // // Science // Most People Are In Favour Of Wild Geoengineering Projects

A majority of people surveyed in Canada, the United Kingdom and the United States support studying ways to reflect sunlight as a method to cool the planet, according to a new study. Researchers at Harvard and two Canadian universities say nearly three-quarters of survey respondents approved research into geoengineering.

Location:  // // Technology // Space // New Hi Tech To Arrive At ISS - iPads and an Angry Bird
Keywords:  angry birds, ipad, nasa, astronauts, cosmonauts, resupply, international space station, iss

To work on the ISS is to be at the cutting edge of space exploration, to experience the rigours of space on a daily basis, and to test the changed conditions and their impact on the methods of science. So, naturally, they need the best we earth-dwellers can offer. And so it was that we decided to send them them two iPads and a stuffed Angry Bird doll. Godspeed.

Location: // // Technology // Space // New NASA Photos Show Footprints on the Moon

In new photographs taken by the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, we can see the landing sites of some lunar craft, as well as the tracks left by those who flew in them. What creatures left these prints? A semi-dormant species known as the Earth astronaut; to be precise, Alan Bean and Pete Conrad, the crew of the Apollo 12 mission in 1969.

Location:  // // Technology // New Robot Arm Uses Static Cling to Grab Objects in Free-Fall

Rarely does a week pass without some concern about space debris, whether it's falling to Earth or threatening the International Space Station. Plenty of private companies and government agencies have proposed solutions for this problem, from giant space nets to ground-based lasers that would push debris out of orbit. Here's one we have not seen before: A sticky robot arm that works like a mechanical tractor beam. It could be used to reach out and grab space debris of any shape or size - and for other purposes, like servicing the ISS.

Location: // // Science // New Social Network Connects People Based on Gastrointestinal Bacteria

A German nonprofit, called MyMicrobes, is hoping you'll want to get your gut bacteria's genomes sequenced. It's expensive, but you'll get access to one of the most exclusive social networks around, where people worldwide can, um, talk about their gastrointestinal difficulties with like-minded people. Two grand seems cheap when we put it like that!

Location:  // // Science // New X Prize Is a Race To Sequence the Genomes of One Hundred One-Hundred-Year-Olds

A newly revamped $10 million prize for sequencing the genomes of 100 centenarians could yield the fastest-ever gene sequencing technology to date, finally bringing ultra-precise personal genetics to the masses on a rapid and inexpensive scale. And perhaps even better, the genomics X Prize could help unlock the genetic secrets - if they really exist - to a healthy, century-long life.

Location: // // Science // Pig-to-Human Transplants Could Be Closer Than You Think

Two scientists at the Thomas E. Starzl Transplantation Institute at the University of Pittsburgh, U.S.A discussed the state of xenotransplantation--the use of cells, organs, or tissue from one animal in another--in a review in The Lancet. In that review, they touch on the history of one particular subject: pig-to-human transplants. Their conclusion? Clinical trials of pig-to-human transplants could begin in just a few years.

Location:  // // Cars // Putting the Ferrari FF Through Its Paces, High in the Italian Alps

Brunico, Italy - A snowy K-Mart parking lot would have worked fine. But this being Ferrari, and the star its tradition-shredding FF - a $300,000 all-wheel-drive station wagon -- a little high-altitude showboating seemed in order. So with a boost from the Italian army's Chinook helicopters, Ferrari flew a pair of FF's to the windswept peak of Plan de Corones, a popular ski resort in its wondrous Dolomites, and told us to have at it. 

Ridiculous? Why, yes. But no more so than a 208-mph, 651-horsepower Italian pony that can carry four tall adults and cargo while galloping safely over snow, ice, dirt or puddles on the Pomona freeway.

Location: // // Technology // Robots // Robotic Venus Flytraps Will Trap Bugs and Eat Them For Fuel

It's alarming enough when robots ingest plant detritus like twigs and grass clippings. It's another thing entirely when they can start chowing down on members of the animal kingdom. A pair of prototype robots are designed to catch bugs, a major step on the path toward robots that can hunt, catch and digest their own meals.

Location:  // // Gadgets // Smartphones // Samsung Tries to Tie Up Oz IPhone Sales By Claiming 3G Tech
Keywords:  iphone, samsung, patent, wcdma, hdspa, court, holland, australia, injunction

It appears that phase 2 in what is quickly becoming something of a bona fide patent war has commenced, with Samsung seeking injunctions on the newly launched iPhone 4S, in Japan and right here in Australia, on the basis of a variety of patents held in Japan, and also right here in Australia.

Location: // // Science // Energy // Scientists extract hydrogen from salt and wastewater
Keywords: hydrogen, power, clean energy,

In another step toward a cleaner energy future, scientists in the US have found a way to sustainably generate hydrogen using just water and bacteria. Using a process called reverse electro-dialysis, researchers an Penn State university have extracted the gas from water by breaking up its molecules.

Location:  // // Galleries // Biggest Uncontrolled Reentries // Skylab

Image: NASA / Name: Skylab / Reentry Date: July 11, 2020 / Reentry Location: South Western Australia / Size: 79 tonnes / Type: Uncontrolled reentry

The American space station's reentry was celebrated by media in the United States, with two competing San Francisco newspapers even offering rewards for parts or damaged property.

Location: // // Gadgets // Smartphones // So, Um, Why Does the New Google Phone Have a Barometer in It?
Keywords: barometer, google, galaxy nexus, meterologist, weather underground

Buried in the avalanche of features in the newest version of Android, Ice Cream Sandwich, was the addition of a new sensor to accompany the standard GPS, proximity, and accelerometer: a barometer. It's one we'd never have thought to add to a smartphone, and we sat for a little while, scratching our heads at the possible use for a sensor that tests atmospheric pressure. So we talked to the experts over at Weather Underground, and got a better sense of what this is--and, more importantly, what it is not.

Location:  // // Technology // Social Media and Biometric Software Could Make Future Undercover Policing Impossible

Social media can be problematic for professionals who don't want their bosses to see unflattering uni party photos. But it's even worse for people whose livelihood literally depends on anonymity, like undercover cops. What happens if the gang you've infiltrated finds your grinning mug in Facebook photos from the police union annual picnic?

Location: // // Technology // Software Seamlessly Inserts New Objects Into Existing Photographs
Keywords: objects, photo, photoshop, insert, flawless, kevin karsch

A simple programming tool can build a model of a scene in a two-dimensional photograph and insert a realistic-looking synthetic object into it. Unlike other augmented reality programs, it doesn't use any tags, props or laser scanners to model a scene's geometry - it just uses a small number of markers and accounts for lighting and depth. The result is an augmented scene with proper perspective, which looks so realistic that testers could not distinguish between an original photo and a modified one.

Location:  // // Galleries // Sunny with a chance of space junk // Space junk these days is through the roof!

75-year-old pensioner Peter Welton got quite a fright when a red-hot piece of space junk crashed through his roof in Hull, England. Welton donned his wife's favourite oven mits to carry the two kilogram, football sized object downstairs. The mass of metal could belong to anything - from a space shuttle to an abandoned satellite.

Location: // // Science // Space Rocks Like This One Probably Helped Deliver Earth's Oceans

Earth's oceans likely started out as space snowballs born far beyond the orbit of Pluto, a new study says. Water-rich comets collided with the young planet after hurtling through the nascent solar system, and probably delivered a significant amount of the water on this planet.

Location:  // // Galleries // Sunny with a chance of space junk

With the recent crash of NASA's UARS satellite, we thought we'd chronicle the re-entry of space junk over the years. 22,000 pieces of debris are currently being tracked in orbit by NASA, with millions more too small to detect. Hundreds return to Earth, usually undetected, each year. Here are just some of them.

Location: // // Galleries // PopSci Archive: Mail Order DIY // Telescope Lens Kit: April 1941

Do-it-yourself telescope kits might be common nowadays, but you'd be hard-pressed to find parts that cost just $1.95. Brownscope's 100x telescope lens kit, which was suited for refracting telescopes, came with two astronomical eyepieces and one polished objective lens. As if you weren't saving enough money by buying an inexpensive lens, the advertisement also recommended making a profit by charging people to look through your newly-upgraded telescope.

Location:  // // Science // Future Of The Environment // Three-Eyed Blinky Is Real, Found Near Argentine Nuclear Reactor
Keywords:  simpsons, fish, three-eyed, nuclear, irradiated, argentina, blinky, mutated

We all remember Blinky, right? The lovable and very-slightly-mutated fishy from The Simpsons? Well, it turns out he actually exists, having been found by Argentinian fishermen in a Cordoba lake. Points to Groening and co for what is now surely to be acknowledged as incredibly insightful prophetic comedy.

Location: // // Science // Health // Tracking Typhoid Using Google Earth
Keywords: google earth, typhoid, kathmandu, nepal, dna sequencing, water,

Traditionally, tracking diseases such as typhoid, and in particular working out where outbreaks begin, has been a little difficult to accomplish. In the case of fighting the disease in a country like Nepal, the problem is two-fold - not only is the rate of spread difficult to track, but because of the lack of a street address system, plotting cases visually has been almost impossible. Fortunately, this is about where Google Earth steps in.

Location:  // // Science // Health // Video: A Mashup of 3D Printing and Augmented Reality Helps Find New Drug Targets

Today in things that are just plain neat: a mashup of 3D printing and augmented reality that is helping molecular researchers test potential drug molecules in the lab. At the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, Calif., teams are making physical models of biological viruses and then testing them using an added layer of AR wizardry.

Location: // // Technology // Video: Filmmaker Rob Spence's Implanted Bionic Camera Eyeball Is Up and Running

Rob Spence, a self-proclaimed "Eyeborg," had his eye, which was damaged in a shotgun accident, replaced with a camera about two years ago. It's not too much of a stretch for Spence, who otherwise works as a filmmaker--and now he's been sponsored by video game maker Square Enix, which commissioned Spence to create a video about prostheses to promote their new game, Deux Ex: Human Revolution.

Location:  // // Technology // Aviation // VIDEO: Manned Multicopter Takes Flight, No One Killed Or Maimed
Keywords:  multicopter, e-volo, german, rotor, fly, injury,

It's a recipe for disaster. Create a slightly flimsy looking multi-rotor flying apparatus, equipped with what appears to be an exercise ball as the central landing gear, and then place a person with a remote control pad on it. Ordinarily, you'd expect this to be the cue for screaming and yelling and maybe a missing limb or two. Thankfully, the German pilot emerged unscathed, with nought but a sense of satisfaction and a pretty cool looking show real.

Location: // // Technology // Wearable Projector and Kinect-Like Camera Turns Any Object Into a Touchscreen

A new wearable projection system can turn any surface into an ad-hoc interactive touchscreen, from the palm of your hand to an entire wall. It combines a mini projector combined with a Kinect-type camera to capture a user's interaction with a virtual screen.

Location:  // // Science // Weird New Forms of Bacterial Life Found in the Dead Sea

Deep in the depths of the Dead Sea, new life has been discovered. Thanks to newly found freshwater springs, certain forms of bacteria thrive, bacteria that, unlike other known freshwater and saltwater bacteria, can cope with rapidly changing salinity. It's the intriguing results of the first study of the Dead Sea in years, a rare undertaking partly because "accidentally swallowing Dead Sea salt water would cause the larynx to inflate, resulting in immediate choking and suffocation."

Location: // // Technology // Space // Would you pay for a trip to space?

For us common folk, $200,000 is a lot of money. It’s a very cool car, a deposit on a house or a lavish round-the-world holiday - but, for some, it’s a two-and-a-half hour trip into space. So is it worth it?

Location:  // // Gadgets // You Will Actually Be Able to Buy Sony's Crazy 3-D Head-Mounted Display

We caught a preview of Sony's odd, space-agey head-mounted viewer (appealingly named the HMZ-T1) back at CES in January, but we were pretty surprised to learn that not only is it not a mere demo, Sony's actually planning on, like, putting the thing in stores, where you can exchange currency for it and then take it home. Sony claims it offers an incredibly immersive 3-D experience, better than any TV. We've now played with it twice, and in some ways, that's true.

Location: // // Technology // A Florida School District is Taking Attendance by Scanning Students' Fingers

Roll call is going high-tech in Washington County, part of the U.S. state of Florida. Rather than the usual name calling and response, students are now checking into class with finger scanning devices. And to keep better track of students from the minute they come under district supervision until they are delivered safely home again, the scanners are now moving from the school building to the school bus.

Location:  // // Technology // Robots // A New Generation of Throwbots is Ready to Be Flung Into Battle

Throwbot. Small, rugged, easy to deploy. "One time we dropped it out of a helicopter from more than 30 metres," one of the designers tells me. "The worst that happened was that one wheel was slightly damaged so it wanted to drive a little wobbly. But it still rolled."

Location: // // Galleries // Life on Mars: Spacesuits in the Outback // All By Myself

The Pilbara is known for its great expanses of... well... nothing. Except for sand, lots and lots of hot red sand. This photograph exemplifies the feeling of 'smallness' that visitors to the Australian outback often describe. There's not much life out there - but is there life on Mars?

Location:  // // Section undetermined // Apple Will Be Just Fine, Thanks To Aggressive Jobsian Minimalism

In 1996, when Steve Jobs came back to Apple after a decade-long exile, the company's products took a dramatic turn. The next 15 years would be a whirlwind of monstrous success after monstrous success--iMac, iPod, iTunes Music Store, Intel-based MacBook, iPhone, MacBook Air, iPad. Jobs's resignation as CEO yesterday has led to some excessive hand-wringing about Apple's future, near and far, but the Jobsian philosophy--in which the consumer is king, in which there is one right way to do things, in which it is always preferable to trim than to add--will hopefully have permeated Apple enough to weather his departure. It's already had an effect on the world at large.

Location: // // Science // Astronomy // Australian Astronomer Helps Capture First Ever Image of Forming Exoplanet

Not long after the discover of fifty new exoplanets by the European Southern Observatory in September, an Australian astronomer has helped capture the first ever images of an exoplanet being formed with the help of the Keck telescope in Hawaii.

Location:  // // Technology // Australian Police Want Aerial Surveillance Drones to Track License Plates and Monitor Cars of Interest

With hackers, DIYers and the military using them for years, domestic police forces the world over are apparently itching to get some surveillance drones of their own. Now, it seems the ACT Government has been discussing using drones alongside a new license plate recognition system, autonomously tracking vehicles of interest.

Location: // // Science // Health // Australian Team Helps Find Melanoma Genes

Here in Australia, a simple sunburn is often the least of our worries. Australia's long hours mean we record some of the highest numbers of melanoma cases in the world, with over 10 000 cases new cases reported annually, according to the Cancer Council Australia. That makes it the fourth most prevalent cancer in this country. So we think it's fitting that an Australian team are part of a new study that has successfully identified four key genetic markers that increase the liklihood of developing the skin cancer reponsible for. over 1000 deaths a year.

Location:  // // Technology // Awesome but Creepy Japanese Product of the Day: Realistic 3-D Face Replicas

Today in somewhat creepy Japanese tech: a company called REAL-f is creating what it calls 3DPFs - that's 3D Photo Forms - of human faces that generate uncannily realistic replicas of faces in a kind of vinyl-resin. The result is either a mask-style replica or a full mannequin head that is accurate down to the blood vessels in the eyes.

Location: // // Science // Health // Brain-Scanning "Painometer" Is an Attempt to Measure Pain Objectively

Pain must be the bane of many a doctor's existence. It's a major symptom and indicator of many illnesses, but doctors have to rely on humans to describe and rate it, and humans are a distinctly unreliable source of information. What's a "7" on the pain scale for someone might be a "4" for another. What's a "pulsing" pain for someone might be a "pounding" for someone else. At Stanford, some doctors are figuring out the first steps to objectively measure pain, finally putting that all to rest.

Location:  // // Science // Brilliant 10: Molecular Filmmaker
Keywords:  brilliant 10, hashim al-hashimi, university of michigan, molecular,

Early every morning, before dawn if he can, Hashim Al-Hashimi goes running. Six miles, rain or shine, summer heat or bitter Michigan cold (Al-Hashimi works at the University of Michigan in the US). His chosen route is hilly for a reason. Just at the uphill crests-when the muscle pain is sharpest and the body most wants to quit-that's when his mind is sharpest. "Most of my thinking is at the top of a hill," he says.

Location: // // Technology // Robots // BullDog: A Bigger, Scarier Version of BigDog Gets Closer to the Battlefield

That fun video of the BigDog robot we shared last week may have been impressive, but apparently the robot is about to be eclipsed by another member of its own family.

Location:  // // Galleries // Where Does Our Energy Come From? // But We Don't Use Nuclear Power!

I know, I know. But there's a possibility we could turn to nuclear power in the future. Plus, how could I resist showing such a cool picture! This is Australia's ANSTO facility which hosts the country's only nuclear reactor. The reactor doesn't produce power but is used for research. 

Location: // // Gadgets // Cameras // Canon Introduces the EOS-1D X, Its New Flagship DSLR
Keywords: canon, eos-1d x, dslr

Canon have announced the new king of the pile when it comes to their DSLR lineup, the Canon EOS-1D X. This isn't your daddy's DSLR camera, folks.

Location:  // // Science // Health // Dark Matter Not Just For Space, For Genomes Too
Keywords:  genome, gene, dark matter, 29, mammals, broad institute, disease

A new study into mammalian genomes has found and documented large amounts of what has been referred to as the 'dark matter' of genetics responsible in large part for the way that the functions of genes themselves are regulated.

Location: // // Technology // Diamond Industry Invests in Lab-Created Knockoffs For Semiconductors

After ages of controlling the international market for natural diamonds, the diamond cartel De Beers is starting to spread its tentacles into Silicon Valley, where the hardest form of carbon is prized for much more than glitter. De Beers is investing heavily in convincing IT pros that lab-grown diamonds - not long ago, the bane of diamond dealers' existence - are the semiconductor substrate of the future.

Location:  // // Science // Doctors Who Work With X-Rays May Be Adapting at the Cellular Level to Withstand Radiation

Doctors whose bodies are regularly exposed to x-rays may be adapting at the cellular level to protect themselves against radiation, according to a new study. The research hints that humans could adapt to withstand radiation exposure.

Location: // // Science // Engineers of Laboratory-Grown Muscle Figure Out How to Make It Firm and Strong

In 2009, we heard the wonderful news that scientists at Holland's Eindhoven University of Technology had successfully grown pork in a petri dish: a giant step toward the dream of eating a pork chop without slaughtering a pig for it. Unfortunately, the lab-grown meat was floppy, "soggy," and structureless, not at all what you'd like to toss on your grill and tuck into.

Location:  // // Science // European Physicists Will Race Neutrinos Again, Trying to Reproduce Faster-Than-Light Results

The physicists who claimed to see neutrinos moving faster than light are moving quickly to replicate their experiment, hoping to substantiate their results before submitting them for publication. Since announcing their bizarre, seemingly impossible findings last month, physicists around the world have offered a few possible explanations. But perhaps the best test will be a retest.

Location: // // Science // Energy // Fermilab Sets End-of-Month Deadline to Establish Whether or Not the Higgs Boson Exists

Fermilab's Tevatron collider runs out of money and time at the end of this month, but physicists there say that they are on track to establish whether the Higgs can exist within the most likely predicted mass range before their September 30 deadline. That's not the same as actually finding the Higgs boson of course, but physicists say they'll either rule out the possibility of its existence or not by month's end.

Location:  // // Cars // Ford Revives the Three-Cylinder Engine in a Quest for Fuel Efficiency

Carmakers have spent the past few years aggressively downsizing engines throughout their lineups to meet increasingly tight fuel-economy regulations. But with the sole exception of the three-cylinder Smart Fortwo, four cylinders is as low as carmakers have expected Americans to go. Three-cylinders are common in Europe but have been scorned in the U.S., where they're tainted by association with claptrap cars like the mousy Geo Metro. Now, with fuel-economy standards set to rise as high as 90.4 kph by 2025, Ford is planning to bring the three-cylinder to the American mainstream.

Location: // // Science // Energy // Future Mars Colonists Will Pack Their Power to Go in a Suitcase Nuclear Reactor

The term "suitcase nuke" hasn't enjoyed a particularly popular connotation in recent years, but researchers convening at the 242nd National Meeting and Exposition of the American Chemical Society this week think such a concept is the future of interplanetary space travel. Scientists supporting a joint NASA/US Department Of Energy project to develop future power plants for space colonists envision the first such power supplies being suitcase-sized fission reactors that future space explorers could deploy quickly and reliably in the harsh environs of another planet like Mars.

Location:  // // Science // Energy // Genetically Modified Algae Are Magnetic, For Ease of Manipulation

Proving that there's always a different way to approach a problem, researchers at Los Alamos National Lab have devised a pretty clever method of algae harvesting that could take a major chunk out of the cost of algae-based biofuel production. And all they had to do was create a magnetic organism.

Location: // // Technology // Military // GPS Data Could Help Track and Monitor Secret Nuclear Tests From Rogue Nations

The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists may have found a new way to track secret nuclear tests from those rogue nations (cough cough North Korea cough cough) who are trying to keep those tests under wraps. Surprisingly enough, that new solution may be possible with analysis of regular old GPS data, along with some clever mathematics.

Location:  // // Galleries // Where Does Our Energy Come From? // Harnessing the Power of the Sun

Wind isn't the only natural phenomenon that can be used as a means of energy production. There's also that big bright light in the sky. You're looking at Australia's very first solar power station in White Cliffs, NSW. When it first ran, each of those panels concentrated solar power to a specific point, which boiled water, which produced steam, which drove a steam engine, which intermittently powered a flickering 60 watt light bulb. Kidding. The set-up powered whole buildings until the station was converted to photovoltaic in 1996.

Location: // // Science // Hermit Crabs Need You To 3D Print New Shells For Them

Even hermit crabs aren't immune to swings in their own ecological economies. A global shortage of shells is leaving the entire species short on housing, and the DIY design community over at Makerbot isn't having it. Stepping in to bring shelter to the shell-less, Makerbot has launched Project Shellter along with artist in residence Miles Lightwood to crowdsource new shell designs that can be fabricated on Makerbot's 3D printers.

Location:  // // Technology // Homeland Security Application Monitors Crowds' Faces, Races, and Eye Movements to Detect Would-Be Criminals

The American Department of Homeland Security is developing a system designed to apprehend people before they commit a crime. The Future Attribute Screening Technology, or FAST, is designed to analyse whether a person is likely to commit a crime, using a long list of factors. Some are akin to lie detection, such as breathing and heart rate, but the system also measures body movements, voice pitch changes, blink rate, breathing patterns, eye movements, body heat changes and prosody (changes in speech rhythm and intonation). The "prototype screening facility" is built to "detect cues indicative of mal-intent" using these algorithms. The system also analyses factors like ethnicity, gender, age and profession.

Location: // // DIY // Tools // IFTTT Launches, Letting Normal People Program "If This, Then That" Tools

IFTTT, a very simple web tool that might end up becoming indispensable, has just opened to the public, with some new features in tow. IFTTT stands for "if this, then that," a common developer's phrase that indicates a relationship between two events. IFTTT takes that phrase and makes it simple to use for everyone. Want to automatically send your starred Google Reader items to Instapaper? Or get an SMS alert when your favorite comedian tweets that he's coming to your hometown? All easily done, with no development savvy required.

Location:  // // Science // Energy // ILL Researchers Trap The Most Neutrons Ever Bottled, Setting a Science Record

European researchers working at the Institut Laue-Langevin (ILL) in Grenoble, France, have trapped the largest number of neutrons ever held in place at one time. But while they've smashed the previous record (also held by the ILL), it's still not quite enough, the lead researcher tells BBC. Still, the new approach that got researchers this far may be able to trap far greater numbers of neutrons with a little finessing.

Location: // // Gadgets // Smartphones // iPhone 4S Review: Apple's Restraint

People wanted an iPhone 5. A top-secret new phone to deliver previously unknown pleasures, and to cast the 16-month-old iPhone 4 into the rubbish heap of planned obsolescence.

Location:  // // Technology // Space // Iran Indefinitely Suspends Plans to Launch a Monkey into Space

Iran's ambitious 1960s-styled plans to send a live monkey into space aboard one of the Islamic Republic's Kavoshgar-5 rockets have been suspended indefinitely, a top space official told Iranian state television today, which pretty much dashes any hopes that we might see a primate hurled into suborbital space before year's end. 

Location: // // Technology // Lightweight Cable Made of Braided Nanotubes Could Replace Copper Wires

Cables made out of nanowires could be just as efficient as the copper cables we've been using for more than a century, but at a fraction of the weight, according to a new paper. Braiding billions of carbon nanotubes into a nanowire cable can efficiently replace copper in a light bulb circuit.

Location:  // // Galleries // Looking Down On Yourself

Have a look at these photos taken from the International Space Station over the past few years. There's mountains, southern lights, tropical storms and spaceships. Do I need to sell it any more? All photos in this set were taken by astronauts aboard the ISS through the Crew Earth Observations program, aiming to serve as a record of our change and development on Earth. Everyone told you not to look down on yourself - but trust me, it's really quite interesting.

Location: // // Technology // Space // Meet NASA's New Deep Space Rocket

Today, NASA officially announced the design of its forthcoming Space Launch System--a heavy-lift rocket capable of taking humans into deep space. It will be the primary vehicle to replace the Space Shuttle, but with significantly more power--enough to reach Mars.

Location:  // // Technology // Micromechanical Pixels Could Make Low-Power Displays

Organic light-emitting diodes, thin-film transistors, e-ink and other display technologies get plenty of ink — er, pixels — in these pages. But a non-traditional mechanical approach could be even more efficient, according to a researcher in Taiwan. Mechanical pixels, made of teeny micro-machines, would be visible in bright sunlight and can use far less power than familiar LCD screens.

Location: // // Science // Health // More Support for Allergies Defence Against Brain Tumours
Keywords: brain, tumours, allergies, hay fever, immunoglobin, Brown

A new study from the US has found more experimental data that seems to support the theory that something about the way the body typically reacts to allergies also guards the brain against devloping tumours.

Location:  // // Science // Energy // NASA Awards the Largest Prize in Aviation History to an All-Electric, Super-Efficient Aircraft

NASA has awarded the single largest prize handed down in aviation history to Team for designing and demonstrating its Taurus G4 electric aircraft. Per the rules of the NASA- and Google-sponsored CAFE Green Flight Challenge, Pipistrel's Taurus G4 covered 320 kilometres in less than 2 hours and did so on the electricity equivalent of less than one gallon of fuel per passenger, scoring US$1.35 million for the effort.

Location: // // Science // Astronomy // NASA's Infrared Explorer Spots a Room-Temperature Brown Dwarf, the Coldest Star Ever Found

Using NASA's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer telescope, astronomers have finally spotted a collection of ultra-cool brown dwarfs they have been hunting for more than a decade. These tepid almost-star orbs are nearly impossible to see with a normal telescope, but WISE's infrared vision was able to pick them out.

Location:  // // Technology // Space // NASA's Shuttle Chief Will Manage Spaceflight Operations at Virgin Galactic

NASA has gone to great lengths to seed and cultivate the commercial space industry over the past few years, but it may want to be careful that it doesn't make the grass look too much greener on the commercial side. Mike Moses, NASA's deputy space shuttle program manager and former flight director--the guy who oversaw all shuttle operations over the last three years of the program--is jumping ship, heading over to Virgin Galactic to oversee operations at the space tourism front-runner.

Location: // // Technology // Engineering // New Computer Chip Modeled on a Living Brain Can Learn and Remember

A pair of brain-inspired cognitive computer chips unveiled today could be a new leap forward - or at least a major fork in the road - in the world of computer architecture and artificial intelligence.

Location:  // // Gadgets // Nokia Announces the First Great-Looking Windows Phone

Windows Phone, especially with its newest update, is a damn fine mobile operating system, but also one lacking a truly killer phone. We were holding out hope that Nokia's first Windows Phone smartphone would be the one to get, and it just might be--the Lumia 800 is the first Windows Phone that's as eye-catching as the OS inside. Nokia also announced the 800's little brother, the 710, which is no slouch either.

Location: // // Galleries // PopSci Archive: Mail Order DIY // Phonograph: June 1919

Can't afford a phonograph? Try building one yourself. The Modern Phonograph Supply Company offered blueprints, diagrams, and metal parts to customers who were confident enough to construct 1919's hottest gadgets by themselves. The Makafone cost just one-fourth the price of a regular machine of equal quality, came with a bundle of free records, and could be sold for a profit of $50 - $75.

Location:  // // Gadgets // Piezoelectric Remote Control Changes Channels When You Bend It

Piezoelectrics, a technology in which motion creates a small voltage, is one of our favorite up-and-coming areas of research, whether it's powering DARPA's beetle-bots or dampening bumps in the road. Now, Japan's Murata Manufacturing claims they have come up with a remote control that works by harnessing the piezoelectric power generated by, well, bending and twisting the remote itself.

Location: // // Technology // Robots // PR2 Robot Learns to Scoop Up Distasteful Matter

The roboticists at the University of Pennsylvania's GRASP Lab have done some truly great things, from flying tricks with aerobatic quadcopters to programming their PR2 to read. And now this: PR2 as pooper scooper.

Location:  // // Technology // Space // Russian Soyuz Spacecraft Lands Safely in Kazakhstan, Three Astronauts in Tow

The Russian Soyuz TMA-21 spacecraft, carrying three astronauts (Commander Andrei Borisenko and Alexander Samokutyayev, both Russian, and American Ron Garan) safely landed this morning in Kazakhstan, bringing them home after five months on the International Space Station. The landing, about 151 km southeast of the smallish Kazakh city Zhezkazgan, wasn't entirely flawless--mission control lost contact with the capsule briefly--but the landing itself was very smooth.

Location: // // Technology // Robots // Sandia's Gemini-Scout: A Rescue Robot Optimized for Mining Disasters

At AUVSI's (Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International) massive robot conference in Washington D.C., in the U.S. this week there is no shortage of robots designed to seek out--and in some cases destroy--human targets. Sandia National Labs chose to go in the opposite direction with their Gemini-Scout, a remotely controlled rolling robot designed specifically to lead search and rescue efforts in the event of a mining disaster.

Location:  // // Gadgets // Scrunchable Antenna Sewn Into Life Vests Could Help Rescuers Find the Lost

Adventure-seekers can use all kinds of emergency beacon tech to help themselves get found in case they go missing - but in many cases, this requires sticking something in your pocket, from which it could conceivably fall out. A new antenna could instead be sewn right into your clothes, ensuring rescuers can find you so long as you're wearing something.

Location: // // Science // Future Of The Environment // Seriously "Green" Building

Many green buildings involve technologies like solar power, recycling of water or natural ventilation. But there's another path of relatively unexplored green potential - literally greening buildings by planting trees on them. The Bosco Verticale, under construction in Milan, Italy, is bridging the gap between this concept and reality.

Location:  // // Cars // Electric Cars // Seven Major Automakers Agree to a Universal Charging System For Electric Cars

A pretty basic fear of the oncoming electric car boom is a concern that charging will be similar to the old cellphone-charger fiasco. Will the owner of a 2017 Mazda Thundersnake have to find particular Mazda charging stations, or will they be able to pull up behind a Chrysler EnFuego? Those fears can be allayed, mostly: seven major automakers have all agreed to adopt a single, universal charging system.

Location: // // Galleries // Where Does Our Energy Come From? // Solar Panels Are Built By Men In Vests

As this photo will attest. These are, however, very special solar panels. They're heliostats - large, slightly concave mirrors that reflect the sun's rays to a specific point where they can create temperatures of up to 1,000 degrees celsius. As the sun moves throughout the day, these heliostats move also to continually beam the sun's rays towards one point. These particular panels are being installed at the CSIRO's Solar Energy Centre in Newcastle. 

Location:  // // Gadgets // Cameras // Sony's Binoculars Can Record Full HD and 3-D Video, Perfect for Amateur Nature Films

Digital recording binoculars aren't really new--there are some cheapie versions available--but Sony's new DEV-3 and DEV-5 binoculars lift that humble tech into some really impressive new places. Instead of taking a regular set of binoculars and cramming a cheap video recording device into them, Sony took its high-end HD camcorders and molded them into the shape of binoculars. That means they can both record in 720p (high-def) and in 3-D--these might be the perfect tools for birdwatchers and other nature-types (as opposed to snipers).

Location: // // Science // Suntory Creates Mythical Blue (Or, Um, Lavender-ish) Rose

In literature and folklore (and the occasional video game), the blue rose signifies the impossible, or mystery, or the unquenchable. It's not much of a leap, really; roses are ubiquitous, but due to a genetic barrier, a blue rose is naturally impossible. Of course, there's no particular reason to do what that meddling bully nature wants us to do, so a Japanese company has genetically modified a rose to create...well, it's not quite blue, but it's certainly closer than any previous effort.

Location:  // // Technology // Supercomputer Reads the News to Successfully Forecast World Events

Nipping at the heels of yesterday's story about the software that automatically writes news articles comes another technological innovation changing the shape of journalism: software that reads news articles.

Kalev Leetaru of the University of Illinois determined that using the Nautilus SGI supercomputer to analyse news stories can help predict major world events. The analysis he used for the experiment was retrospective, feeding the computer millions of articles from which it was able to determine a deteriorating national sentiment towards Libya and Egypt before the revolutions in those countries. The system was also able to narrow down Osama Bin Laden's location to within about 200km before he was found and killed last May.

Location: // // Science // Teenagers Don't Just Have Mood Swings, But IQ Swings Too

Smart young people may want to pay close attention to the latest research coming from Britain on the topic of IQ - one newly released study is indicating that the intelligence quota of a teenager can shift up and down over time based on how different parts of their brain develop.

Location:  // // Galleries // Looking Down On Yourself // Terribly Chile

Wow. No doubt the worst pun made about this photograph ever. But it certainly would be cold on the Southern Patagonian Ice Field which is located in both Chile and Argentina. It has an area of almost 17,000 kilometres squared and there are actually two volcanoes under all that ice. It’s interesting to think about what changes we might see to this ice field if a similar photograph were taken in 50 years time. Drastic changes, or none at all?

Location: // // Science // Health // The Incredible Shrinking Shot: Needles Get a Pain-Free Makeover

The design of the hypodermic needle has changed little since 1853, when French surgeon Charles Gabriel Pravaz first attached a hollow, skinpiercing cylinder to a syringe. today, medical-device designers are using micro-scale materials to make the needles shorter and thinner, which makes for less painful needling.

Location:  // // Technology // Space // The Sunspots That Kicked Off This Week's Solar Storm May be Just Warming Up

That gigantic solar flare that lashed out toward Earth on Saturday is "the geomagnetic storm that just won't go away," the NOAA's Space Weather Prediction Center (SWPC) in Boulder, Colo., said via its Facebook page today. And that appears to be true. Active Region 1302, pictured above, continues to pummel earth with solar energy and could disrupt satellite communications as it continues turning toward us in the days to come.

Location: // // Technology // Space // The World's Most Complete, High-Res Topographic Map Gets an Update
Keywords: NASA, tophraphical map, earth,

NASA and its partners at Japan's Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry (METI) have released an improved and updated version of the most complete topographical map of Earth ever compiled. Produced from data beamed down from NASA's Terra spacecraft, the map data represents the most complete and highest-resolution topographical data available today, covering 99 percent of Earth's landmass.

Location:  // // Gadgets // Cameras // Throw Ball In Air, Take Panoramic Shots

If you've ever wanted to take an in-the-air panoramic photo - say, in the middle of a bustling town square or out in the wild spaces of nature - but haven't had the equipment, your worries now are over, thanks to a nifty little ball embedded with a set of cameras, making it able to take 360 degree panoramas while in mid air. And there's not a button in sight.

Location: // // Science // Health // Tiny Cilia Inside Corpse' Noses Could Be a More Reliable Indicator of Time of Death

Despite how easy they make it look on TV dramas, determining time of death for a body requires a lot of difficult guesswork (unless someone is there when the person passes, of course). A range of environmental factors and other mitigating circumstances make any declaration of time of death an estimation at best. But a team of Italian scientists think they've found a built-in clock in the human nasal cavity that ticks off the minutes after a body expires, and it could make estimating the time of death a more precise exercise.

Location:  // // Galleries // Where Does Our Energy Come From? // Turning On The Waterworks

This is an image of Clyde Hydro Power Station in New Zealand. The manipulation of water is another way in which we generate energy. Generally, hydroelectric power stations work by storing water in a dam and having it run through turbines to generate electricity. Once they're constructed, hydro power stations are very green, producing almost no waste and negligible carbon emissions. 

Location: // // Galleries // 5 Gadgets That Failed to Survive // TwitterPeek

This has to be one of the worst ideas for a consumer gadget ever. At first you can kind of see why they made it. A portable device that connects exclusively to Twitter makes sense, right? But think about it for two seconds, and it's clear why it failed. In major markets like the US, Tweeting via SMS is almost universally possible. Even in Australia, it's possible through the Telstra network. With 10 year old feature phones. Add in the fact that the device was slow and horrible to use, and you have a ripe recipe for failure.

Location:  // // Science // Health // UV Rays May Be Even More Dangerous Than Previously Thought

A new study has shown that the least energetic variety of ultraviolet radiation, UV type A, may be able to cause damage to deep tissue in humans, potentially leading to the development of malignant cancers.

Location: // // Science // Vertebrates Descended From Creature With Electric Sixth Sense
Keywords: electrical fields, electricity, ancestor, evolution, paddlefish, Cornell, sense

Birds and some mammals are able to sense the Earth's magnetic field, using it to orient themselves and even look for prey. Other vertebrates can detect electric fields and use them for the same purpose. Apparently the fish from which humans and most other vertebrates are all descended had this sixth sense, and we just lost it along the way, a new study says.

Location:  // // Technology // Space // Video: A Homemade Rocket Soars 37 km in 92 Seconds

A while back, John Carmack (of "Doom" and "Quake" fame, as well as the founder of Armadillo Aerospace) issued a challenge: launch a rocket to more than 100,000 feet (or a bit over 30km), get a GPS reading from up there, and recover the launch vehicle, and US$5,000 is yours. Some additional benefactors pushed the Carmack prize to roughly $10,000. And as you will see in this video, Derek Deville might just claim it.

Location: // // Technology // Aviation // Video: Flying Sphere-Shaped Drone Wows Crowds in Tokyo
Keywords: drone, japan, sphere, off the shelf, flying

We got our first look at Japan's Defense Ministry's spherical flying machine earlier this year, but at a recent technology expo in Tokyo the hovering ball got the full coming-out treatment, complete with public demos eliciting "ooohs" and "aaaahs." The video below shows the drone doing everything it was designed to do: zipping around omnidirectionally, rolling across the floor, and staying aloft even when it strikes--or is struck by--an obstacle.

Location:  // // Technology // Space // VIDEO: Hi-Res Infrared Space Sensor Excels In Super-Cold Tests
Keywords:  nasa, goddard, kelvin, celsius, landsat, tirs, water, infrared, cold

NASA has completed the first round of testing on its Thermal Infrared Sensor (or TIRS), to fly out on the next Landsat satellite. Its mission is to map the Earth and keep track of all the water on it, and to do that it needs to be able to operate at super cold temperatures. And by that we mean almost absolute zero.

Location: // // Technology // Military // Video: Immersive Flight Simulation Dome Offers Seamless, Super-Real 360-Degree Views

Barco, a maker of large-format projector technologies, has just unveiled what it is calling a breakthrough in flight simulator technology, and for all the hardware involved we're inclined to agree that his must be something big. The new flight simulator dome - it's really more like a sphere - offers state of the art high-res visuals and full 360-degree views, allowing fighter pilot trainees to spot other aircraft from 20 kilometres away.

Location:  // // Gadgets // Video: Microsoft's Holodesk Lets You Play With Virtual 3-D Objects

Microsoft's Research department is always coming up with cool new ways to interact with gadgets, and this newly released video of the "Holodesk" is definitely one of the cooler ones. It uses a Kinect ("hacked" doesn't seem really correct when it's a Microsoft project) to see your hands and face, and allows you to juggle completely virtual 3D objects--balance a virtual ball on a book, then tip it into a bowl of water, or stack virtual 3D blocks. It's pretty amazing.

Location: // // Technology // Military // Video: MIT's X-Ray Vision System Can See Straight Through Concrete Walls
Keywords: x-ray, vision, mit, see, through, walls, concrete

The ongoing imperative to turn soldiers into "supersoldiers" has seen some pretty superhero-esque technological enhancements become real-world defense sector pursuits, like the ability to hear through walls, to fly at will, or to harness superhuman strength. Now we can add X-ray vision to that list.

Location:  // // Technology // Robots // Video: Monkeys Demonstrate Brain-Controlled Arm With a Sense of Touch

The holy grail of prosthetics research is and has been a kind of "Luke Skywalker hand" interface--prosthetics that respond to stimulus from the brain and function just as the original appendage it is replacing. But ideally the prosthetic wouldn't just respond to stimulus from the brain--it would also provide sensory stimulus to the brain. It would have a sense of touch. And in a paper published today in Nature, we see the groundwork for just such a breed of prostheses.

Location: // // Gadgets // Video: Take to the Road, and the Seas, in an Amphibious Camping Trailer

The Sealander amphibious trailer is the camping accessory of our 1970s PopSci dreams come to life, except better than we ever imagined. This super-light trailer is tiny enough that it can be towed even by subcompact cars without a special permit, extra mirrors or gear, and serves as a kitchen, a tent and a boat.

Location:  // // Technology // Aviation // Video: The Air Force's 'Micro-Aviary' Gives Tiny Flying Robots a Place to Call Home

We have a lot of love for microdrones here at PopSci--everything from bird-like flapping wing drones to cyborg insects controlled by microcomputers--so we're thrilled to see an air force is showing them some love as well. The US Air Force Research Lab has build a "Micro-Aviary" at Wright Patterson AFB in the state of Ohio where tiny flying robots will be the central focus. And aside from being drone-centric, it is one sweet sensor-filled laboratory.

Location: // // Technology // Video: The Dead Sea Scrolls are Now Available for Your Online Perusal, Courtesy of Google

Just as they promised almost a year ago, Google, in partnership with the Israel Museum in Jerusalem, has photographed the Dead Sea Scrolls for the first time since the 1950s, and made them available online for those who can't make the trek to see them in person.

Location:  // // Science // Astronomy // Video: Timelapse of Earth from the ISS

Short of actually getting a ticket on a shuttle headed to space, this just might be the best view you're ever likely to get of our little corner of the universe.

Location: // // Technology // Robots // Video: With Semantic Search, PR2 Robot Can Plan Its Own Sandwich-Hunting Mission

The wonderful PR2 robot can do plenty of things food-wise - bake cookies, fix a sausage breakfast, fetch beer - but it's usually following some set of directions when it does these things. Now, semantic search enables PR2 to figure out how to do things on its own.

Location:  // // Science // Health // Visible Light Could Keep Hearts Of The Future Ticking

The heart is a delicate instrument, relying on finely timed signals so it can pump blood in just the right fashion to keep you alive. When this process fails, artificial pacemakers, incorporating electrodes and microelectronics, have to step into the breach. As it turns out, scientists might just have arrived at a possible new alternative, and it's as simple as turning on a light.

Location: // // Science // Health // We Incorporate Genetic Information From Food We Eat

Research at Nanjing University has found that strands of RNA from vegetables make it into our bloodstream after we eat them, and can regulate the expression of our genes once they're inside us. MicroRNAs, or miRNAs, are little strands of RNA that selectively bind to matching sequences of messenger RNA, resulting in repression of those genes.

Location:  // // Technology // Engineering // What Are You Working on Today, Ranger Supercomputer?

Today we chat with the 63 thousand processing cores of the University of Texas's Ranger. That might be a bit of an obvious name for a Texan supercomputer, but the raw performance makes up for the lame attempt to be cool...

Location: // // Home // What is Popular Science?

Location:  // // Galleries // Where Does Our Energy Come From?

In Australia our energy comes from a range of different sources. When it's sunny, our solar panels soak up the rays and convert them into electricity. Weather turning bad? Gale whipping up? Not to worry, that chilling breeze isn't just giving us pneumonia - it's turning the blades of wind turbines across the nation. Just a little too chilly? Maybe the heat from that coal we're burning can keep us warm. And if all else fails, there's always the prospect of nuclear energy in the future.

Location: // // Technology // Winner of Million-Dollar X Challenge Cleans Up Oil Spills Three Times Better Than Existing Tech

Last US summer, as sweet crude oil gushed unabated into the Gulf of Mexico, the overriding emotion was one of frustration. It wasn't just directed at the well owner, BP, or at rig-builders Transocean and Halliburton, or even the government and its difficult-to-understand oil flow estimates. The inability to shut off the well was one thing - but why, in an era of nanotubes and autonomous robots and invisibility cloaks, couldn't we just clean it up?

Location:  // // Gadgets // $79 Kindle Review: Worth the Price?

Take the 3rd-generation Kindle, probably the best ebook reader ever made. Chop off the keyboard, trim the sides a bit, rearrange the buttons. Sell for eighty bucks. Correction: sell about a billion of these things for eighty bucks each.

Location: // // Technology // Military // A Beam With the Power of a Laser Pointer Can Detect IEDs at a Distance

Improvised explosive devices are far and away the single biggest killer of coalition troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, so the ability to identify hidden explosive threats is key to keeping soldiers safe. A team of researchers at Michigan State University has developed a tool that could detect roadside bombs from afar, using nothing more than a laser with an energy output of a presentation pointer.

Location:  // // Technology // Robots // Agriculture Continues to Plow Into the Future, Now With Autonomous Robot Tractors

While the country bumpkin farmer stereotype might suggest otherwise, driving a tractor is difficult, requiring precision skills. Now Flemish engineers have announced a new self-driving tractor with precision that rivals a human driver. This could mean drastically lower operating costs for farmers, and a step towards automated agriculture.

Location: // // Science // Energy // Alligator Fat Could Fill Your Gas Tank and Fuel Renewable Resource Investment in the South

Every year, about 15 million pounds of alligator fat is dumped into landfills as a byproduct of alligator meat processing. It would certainly be better to reuse this gloopy mess for a greater purpose, no? As it turns out, alligator fat is a prime candidate for animal-derived biodiesel, according to researchers in the United States.

Location:  // // Technology // Americans Suffering From Possibly-Imaginary Sensitivity to Wi-Fi Run for the Hills of Appalachia
It's safe to say that most of us have come to accept, if not embrace, the abundance of wireless technology in our everyday lives. Not so for certain Americans who believe they suffer from Electromagnetic Hypersensitivity, or EHS. According to the BBC, five per cent of Americans think that exposure to electromagnetic fields created by Wi-Fi and mobile phones are causing them to suffer headaches, muscle spasms, burning skin and chronic pain. And some of these people are seeking refuge in the secluded mountains of Appalachia.
Location: // // Galleries // Archive Gallery: Steve Jobs in the Pages of Popular Science, Over Three Decades

As one of America's greatest innovators, Steve Jobs naturally found his way into the pages of Popular Science with great regularity. From the DIY spirit of Apple's early days, to his exile and evolution at Next and Pixar, all the way into the modern iEra, we've covered Steve and his doings for more than three decades.