In 2001, the Parkes Radio Telescope picked up an extremely energetic burst of radio waves that lasted a mere five-thousandths of a second. Since then, astronomers have found several more so-called fast radio bursts, or FRBs, and even observed one of these pulses in real time last May. Based on these observations, the FRBs seem to be coming from more than 3 billion light years away, far beyond the Milky Way.
In recent years, foodies and earth-conscious eaters alike have grown increasingly interested in entomophagy (for the uninitiated, that's the practice of eating insects). There are several reasons why, but a big one is that we're facing a looming global food crisis. According to entomophagy proponents, insects could be one answer to this crisis because the critters require fewer resources—specifically, feed, land, and water—than other popular sources of protein such as poultry, pigs, and cattle. Part of the reasoning behind this hinges on the idea that insects are better at converting feed to protein compared to larger livestock.
A lot of agriculture is bug herding. Predators and pesticides keep the bad bugs off, while strategically placed plants attract the good bugs. It's a lot of work, but a student at the University of Queensland has figured out a way to get beneficial bugs right where crops need them, by dropping them from a drone.
In the past, cancer drugs have been indiscriminate killing machines—they would kill the cancerous cells, but take healthy cells too, sometimes making the patient even sicker. Precision medicine, or personalized medicine, is changing all that. Now oncologists can sequence the genome of the cancer cells and used drugs to target the specific mutations. All of this is advancing very quickly, but oncologists are wary about combining these specialized drugs. Each patient might need a different drug cocktail, but researchers need to understand how these drugs interact with one another and how they affect the patient as a result. Though drug companies have been doing tests on tumor samples outside the body, these experiments can't account for how the cells interact with one another, changing how the treatment would work.
Using a pair of augmented reality glasses, a Marine signals intelligence (SIGINT) specialist monitors web traffic while he lies on the ground, his assault rifle trained on a nearby building. Amid the cacophony of cyber-noise in the city -- the thousands of simultaneous, harmless Skype sessions, movie streams, and Internet searches -- the Marine has zeroed in on a possible insurgent, who is currently flipping through financial data on a spreadsheet. Perhaps the suspect will make a mistake, and open up a mapping application that will show where he's planning to meet an arms dealer to buy plastique.
To feed our need for health-related data, engineers have created specialized wearable gadgets or have added capabilities to the devices already integrated into our lives. But a team of researchers from MIT wants to gather data even more seamlessly by enabling our Wi-Fi to monitor our heart and breathing rates, no gadgets required. The team presented their research this week at the annual CHI conference, focused on human-computer interaction, in Seoul, South Korea.
While iOS devices may generally suffer less from malware than competing smartphone platforms, that doesn't mean there aren't security risks. At this week's RSA security conference, researchers demonstrated a flaw that allows a maliciously configured Wi-Fi access point to crash an iPhone--without the phone even joining that network.
Rumors have been buzzing for months that a team of Chinese researchers was intending to edit the genes of a human embryo. According to a study published this week in Protein & Cell, the rumors are true. And though the researchers took pains, there's no doubt that they've opened an ethical can of worms that will pit scientists against one another for years to come.
Between 2012 and 2014, 160 people became infected by Salmonella Cotham, a rare strain of bacteria that causes vomiting, diarrhea, and fever. Sixty-one people were hospitalized. The culprit? Bearded dragon lizards bought from pet stores across 36 states. Salmonella is relatively common on reptile skin, and it's likely this rare strain accidentally spread from lizard to lizard by the breeders who supplied the animals to the pet stores.
The Little Engine That Could was a bright, friendly blue locomotive who managed to overcome impossible odds through sheer force of will--I think therefore I can. GE's new locomotive engine is a similar shade of blue, but it took more engineering than determination for it to achieve its goal of dramatically reducing air pollution.
Having trouble getting motivated to jog? What if, to help you along your way, there was a flying robot always a few steps ahead of you, its mechanical hovering body an exercise in technologically advanced mockery? Researchers Floyd Mueller and Matthew Muirhead at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology in Australia designed and built a system that lets joggers run with a quadcopter flying along for encouragement
From plants to people, every living thing on this planet needs water. But getting enough to survive, and survive comfortably, that can be a little tricky. Just look at the furor around California's new water restrictions. If a state as wealthy as California is having to get creative in order to start saving water, you can bet that governments and municipalities with less money and clout are having to turn to even more inventive methods to get clean water without breaking the bank.