Most of war is about not dying. For every new development in ways to make people dead, there are other, elaborate ways to keep squishy vulnerable humans intact, in good health, and well rested enough to do their jobs. It is this second science, the science of staying alive in conditions built for death, that forms the whole of science journalist Mary Roach's latest work, Grunt: the Curious Science of Humans at War. For everything other than the killing, it's a masterful, digestible look a the science of war.
A robotic ship fired a torpedo into the ocean without any humans aboard. Naval battles, for so long the domain of sailors fighting each other and the elements all at once, can now be in part delegated to machines. The vessel responsible is the Seagull Unmanned Surface Vessel, made by Israel's Elbit Systems. With a splash and a blast, it is leading oceanic warfare into the future.
Many urban trains - and in this study, specifically the New York subways - are crowded--and not just with people. Sharing your commute are trillions of invisible microbes. They're on the seats, poles, ticket kiosks; pretty much on anything people hold, lean against, sneeze on, swipe, or bump into. "We're constantly shedding bugs into our environment," says Curtis Huttenhower, an associate professor at Harvard's School of Public Health.
As the Zika virus continues to infect people in many parts of Brazil and South America, health officials remain concerned about rising rates of Zika-related birth defects like microcephaly. Babies are still being born with microcephaly (a condition that includes abnormally small skull size and associated brain defects), and the babies born when the outbreak first began are now turning one.
Things travel faster through air than they do through water. This would be irrelevant information for sea-bound submarines, were it not for the phenomena of supercavitation, where a submerged vessel creates a bubble around itself and then speeds through the sea. A Russian torpedo that released bubbles traveled as fast as 230 mph. Now, a team of researchers at Penn State are working on adapting the same science to a submarine.
Some 35 years ago, researchers were facing a herpesvirus dilemma. They had begun to see resistance to the most common antiviral at the time, acyclovir, and were hoping to find a new drug to keep the arsenals stocked. They came across a rather interesting chemical that seemed to work better than the original drug. It was originally known as DHPG - meaning (9-(1,3-dihydroxy-2-propoxymethyl)guanine - but was eventually named to the much easier-to-say ganciclovir.