We all hear about how bad red meat is for both the planet's health and our own. Planet-wise, there's no argument: The detrimental effects of greenhouse gases from livestock production on the earth's atmosphere can't be overlooked. So, for the month of October, members of the PopSci staff are abstaining from all forms of red meat (#NoRedOctober) for the sake of the environment, and, by extension, for our own good. We have to live here, after all. It's in our best interest to minimize the cow farts.
This might sound like sacrilege, but it's not hard to understand why over half of all people in the U.S. avoid getting the flu shot every year. It's a real pain—let's just start there. Lots of people hate needles or are outright afraid of them, and that's reasonable enough. Very few people want a stranger to poke them in the arm with something sharp. Sometimes you even get fatigue, or aches in your muscles. Then, to add insult to injury, you sometimes end up coming down with the flu anyway. What was even the point? And they want you to do this every year? Voluntarily?
If you've got a pulse and a decent memory, you must admit that there are some dreams you had as a pre-teen that you wish you hadn't given up on for practicality's sake. It's the kind of thing you think about rarely, when you read an article about an astronaut or meet a novelist at a party.
With more than 2 billion monthly active users, Facebook can keep tabs on nearly a third of the world's population. Whether you visit the social network daily (as 1.32 billion people do) or only log on to RSVP to events, you should be aware of how much of your personal data you're giving to the site, and the company behind it.
You don't often feel bad for spiders. But when a fuzzy, black-eyed jumping spider raises his green forearms into the air, wiggles his butt, and flashes his orange knees, only to have a lady spider literally turn around in the middle of his dance...what kind of monster doesn't feel a pang of empathy? It doesn't even matter that arachnids are unlikely to experience rejection and angst the way humans do—you feel for the little guy.
A ridesharing service like Uber or Lyft seems like it should help stem drunk driving by offering an easy, cheap option for tipsy customers to get home at the end of the night. And Uber even claims on its website that ride-hailing options like it “are helping to curb drunk driving.” But new research shows that Uber's presence in a city only inconsistently leads to a decline in accidents caused by intoxication behind the wheel, and there's far from being a conclusive answer to the question.
When it comes to space exploration, Don Gurnett has seen it all. He still vividly remembers seeing America's first attempt at a satellite launch, the Vanguard project, blew up on the launch pad from the comfort of his living room. When it comes time to talk of more modern cosmic endeavors, he will wax poetic about hydrocarbon rains falling into pools of methane on Titan. He's been there for everything, and he's not done yet.
The brief lull in the Atlantic Ocean's hurricane activity seems to have come to an end sooner than we'd hoped. A new tropical depression is brewing in the western Caribbean Sea, and it could threaten the United States this weekend and early next week. It's still too soon to know what effects the storm will have, but the threat exists for a potential hurricane to approach the Gulf Coast on Sunday or Monday.
Before the invention of cryo-electron microscopy, which won biochemists Jacques Dubochet, Joachim Frank and Richard Henderson the 2017 Nobel Prize in Chemistry on Wednesday, scientists had to stain or fix cells before they looked at them under an electron microscope. That process often caused fragile biological structures to fall apart, and if they didn't, the radiation from the electron microscope or the vacuum the scientists put the cells into often turned the once-living specimens into mush. Cryo-electron therapy allows scientists to look at the cells as if they were in their natural liquid environment—just like they are in our bodies.