Australian Popular Science News news from, 30 Aug 2015 09:29:20 +100010No, North Dakota Isn't Outfitting Police Drones With TasersJudging by headlines flying around the internet, it'd be easy to think that North Dakota is a futuristic cyberpunk wild west, where deputized police robots shoot first and ask questions later. Stories like the Daily Beast's &#8220;<a href=";dom=pscau&amp;src=syndication">First State Legalizes Taser Drones for Cops, Thanks to a Lobbyist</a>,&#8221; the Verge's &#8220;<a href=";dom=pscau&amp;src=syndication">Police in North Dakota can now use drones armed with tasers</a>,&#8221; and Reason's &#8220;<a href=";dom=pscau&amp;src=syndication">Watch Out for Drones with Pepper Spray in North Dakota</a>&#8221; all allude to a dark, dismal world of legally-sanctioned robot assault. That's especially strange, because since 2012, any drone use in North Dakota has had to go through an ethics review board at the University of North Dakota.,408533Fri, 28 Aug 2015 09:23:58 +1000How To Understand What Your Teenage Space Agency Is SayingOMG NASA, SRSLY? The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (aka, NASA) has fittingly named their latest mission OMG, or Oceans Melting Greenland. It's a funny name for <a href=";dom=pscau&amp;src=syndication">a very serious project</a> mapping the seafloor around the 27,000 miles of Greenland's coastline. The researchers hope to document ice loss and predict future sea level rise with the data from a repurposed fishing boat and airplane flyovers. OMG, indeed.,408532Fri, 28 Aug 2015 09:23:55 +1000It's Finally Here: Apple's iPhone 6s Event Is Now OfficialApple has confirmed the iPhone 6s announcement event for September 9 at 10am PST at San Francisco's Bill Graham Civic Auditorium. Although the company isn't saying what will be featured at the event, it has left several hints in the iPhone's voice assistant Siri. When you say to Siri "Give me a hint," the voice assistant replies with a cryptic message.,408531Fri, 28 Aug 2015 09:23:49 +1000Self-Driving Trucks Coming Soon To Florida RoadsSelf-driving trucks from Pennsylvania firm Royal Truck and Equipment will be on Florida roads by the end of the year.,408530Fri, 28 Aug 2015 09:23:45 +1000Format Wars: Instagram Adds Portrait And Landscape Modes To Your FeedInstagram now supports portrait and landscape photos in its app. Meaning it's more than squares who can take part in the filter fun.,408529Fri, 28 Aug 2015 09:23:43 +1000Dank Indica? Your Drug Dealer Might Be Ripping You OffCannabis is one of the oldest domesticated plants, but we know surprisingly little about it. That's because, given marijuana's status as an illicit substance in most of the world, gaining permission to conduct research into its medicinal properties or genetic heritage has been notoriously difficult. Now a team of Canadian researchers has peered into the plant's genome to understand the different species that may account for marijuana's famous variations, and lend some insight into the plant's ancestry. <a href=";id=10.1371/journal.pone.0133292">The study was published</a> yesterday in <em>PLOS One</em>.,408528Fri, 28 Aug 2015 09:23:39 +1000Of 100 Published Psychology Studies, Less Than Half Could Be Reproduced SuccessfullyOne of the pillars of scientific research--perhaps the one that makes science as definitive as it is--is that any study should be capable of being repeated under the same methods and conditions and if the research holds true, the same result will be found every time the experiment is performed--something known as a study's reproducibility.,408527Fri, 28 Aug 2015 09:23:35 +1000Software Automatically Takes Out Distracting Items From Your PhotosThe internet is flooded with photos&#8212;of your brunch, of your cat, of your estranged elementary school friend's cousin's wedding. 1.8 billion photos are <a href=";dom=pscau&amp;src=syndication">uploaded daily</a>, and most of them are objectively pretty terrible. Now a team of computer scientists from Princeton University and software company Adobe have created a program to make those photos just a little better, by identifying and eliminating distracting elements, according to <a href=";dom=pscau&amp;src=syndication">a paper</a> presented recently at this year's Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition Conference in Boston.,408526Fri, 28 Aug 2015 09:23:31 +1000Scientists Find A Double Black Hole Inside A 'Nearby' QuasarThe brightest objects in the universe have massive black holes at their hearts.,408525Fri, 28 Aug 2015 09:23:26 +1000Where To Place Wind Turbines Without Killing Eagles Renewable energy generated by solar panels and wind turbines is great for humans, but not so awesome for flying creatures. There have been reports of solar farms <a href=";dom=pscau&amp;src=syndication">vaporizing birds</a> and wind turbines smashing bats who confuse the turbines for trees. US States are now required to start incorporating more clean energy (and low carbon) solutions into their power supply, but no one wants cleaner air to come at the expense of wildlife populations. So what's to be done?,408524Fri, 28 Aug 2015 09:23:22 +1000CT Scans Can Help Classify Even The Tiniest CreaturesSure, it might look like the <a href=";dom=pscau&amp;src=syndication">Tick</a>, but the blue bug pictured above is more creepy-crawly than dramatic superhero. It's a new species of millipede, identified using a novel high-tech scanning technique and described today in a <a href=";dom=pscau&amp;src=syndication">study</a> in <em>PLOS ONE</em>.,408514Fri, 28 Aug 2015 00:51:36 +1000New Sugar Substitute: Nanoparticles Of Sand Coated In SugarSugar is dietary enemy number one at the moment. The delicious compound can be found in many foods and beverages (even those that don't taste sweet) and has been <a href=";dom=pscau&amp;src=syndication">blamed for the obesity epidemic</a> in the U.S. and beyond. Now an Israeli startup, <a href=";dom=pscau&amp;src=syndication">DouxMatok</a>, has devised a way to deliver sugar so that your tongue tastes the same amount of sweetness, but you're ingesting only half the sugar, according to <a href=";dom=pscau&amp;src=syndication">an article from <em>Fast Company</em></a>.,408513Fri, 28 Aug 2015 00:51:33 +1000Bugatti Builds a Car for PlayStation's Gran TurismoBugatti doesn't build cars for just anybody. Its most recent supercar, the Bugatti Veyron, was limited to a run of just 450 cars, and when they were gone, they were gone. Of course, with a $2 million-plus price tag, it did take a while for those 450 Veyrons to find homes.,408512Fri, 28 Aug 2015 00:51:28 +1000This Is The Vehicle That Will Replace The HumveeThis side of a tank, there is no more iconic U.S. Army vehicle that the High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle (HMMVV), or as it's better known, the Humvee. Design on them started in the late 1970s, with the Jeep-like vehicles first delivered in the <a href=";dom=pscau&amp;src=syndication">mid-1980s</a>. Humvees invaded Iraq twice, carrying soldiers and marines rapidly over desert. A wide range of <a href=";dom=pscau&amp;src=syndication">equipment configurations</a> made the HMMVV at times a troop carrier, an ambulance, and anti-tank tool, and an artillery pack mule. As useful as the vehicle was fighting against Saddam Hussein's Iraqi military during the Iraq War, it suffered on counterinsurgency patrols, as its light weight left it vulnerable to powerful roadside bombs. Yesterday, the Army announced the contract for the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle program: Oshkosh's Light Combat Tactical All-Terrain Vehicle, or L-ATV.,408511Fri, 28 Aug 2015 00:51:24 +1000People With Schizophrenia Have Different Throat BacteriaThe colonies of bacteria living in our throats could indicate whether or not a person has schizophrenia, according to <a href=";dom=pscau&amp;src=syndication">a study published yesterday</a> in the journal <em>Peer J</em>.,408510Fri, 28 Aug 2015 00:51:19 +1000US Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz Explains The Science Of The Iran Deal In July, the U.S. and other nations drew up <a href=";dom=pscau&amp;src=syndication">an agreement with Iran</a> to limit the country's nuclear program, with a goal of preventing Iran from developing nuclear weapons. As a Congressional vote on the deal draws near, the White House is using science to sell the accord. In a video released today, Ernest Moniz&#8212;the Secretary of Energy and a bona fide nuclear physicist&#8212;explains the agreement's limits on uranium and centrifuges, and how they would restrict Iran's ability to build a bomb.,408509Fri, 28 Aug 2015 00:51:12 +1000Why Twitch Shouldn't Worry About YouTube's New Game Streaming Network, YetA year after Twitch slipped through Google's fingers, the empire has launched its own competitor to the billion-views-a-year live gaming market with <a href=";dom=pscau&amp;src=syndication">Youtube Gaming</a>.,408508Fri, 28 Aug 2015 00:51:08 +1000Smaller Twin Panda Cub Dies At The Smithsonian's National ZooNature is cruel. Just days after giant panda Mei Xiang gave birth to twin cubs at Smithsonian's National Zoo, the smaller of the two cubs passed away.,408507Fri, 28 Aug 2015 00:51:02 +1000Stephen Hawking Aims To 'Get Under The Hood' Of A Black Hole ParadoxWhat would happen if you fell into a black hole? This question is not only entertaining (you might turn into spaghetti, according to some theories), but it's also important to theoretical physicists. Unfortunately, they're not even sure what happens when a single particle falls in, and it's been a big problem in physics for 40 years.,408506Fri, 28 Aug 2015 00:50:57 +1000Biohackers Are Now Using CRISPRThe advent of enzyme complex CRISPR/Cas9 has ushered in a new age of genetic manipulation&#8212;it could help us cure diseases or resuscitate extinct species. One of CRISPR's big advantages is that it's much easier to use than its predecessors. So easy, in fact, that amateur biohackers are using it in their experiments, according to <a href=";dom=pscau&amp;src=syndication">a report from <em>Nature News</em></a>.,408505Fri, 28 Aug 2015 00:50:51 +1000Facebook's New Personal Assistant, M, Is a Mix Of Man And MachineFacebook did something strange last year: it <a href=";dom=pscau&amp;src=syndication">turned off</a> the ability to send Facebook messages from inside the Facebook apps for Android and iPhone, forcing users who wanted to use this feature to download the separate Facebook Messenger app. That move <a href=";dom=pscau&amp;src=syndication">was puzzling for a long time</a>, but with the introduction of a new digital assistant into Messenger, it's starting to make a lot more sense.,408504Fri, 28 Aug 2015 00:50:46 +10003D Printed Fish Can Detect And Remove Toxins From LiquidWe all know that eating fish is good for your health, but what about fish shaped robots?,408503Fri, 28 Aug 2015 00:50:42 +1000Caged Wetlands Could Show The Future Impacts Of Climate ChangeClimate change is changing the environment. Studies have shown that higher levels of greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide (CO<sub>2</sub>) are warming the planet. But it isn't easy to predict how those changes will affect life in the future. To fix that, some researchers are bringing the future to life, today, no time machines involved.,408502Fri, 28 Aug 2015 00:50:38 +1000NASA Crashed Another Plane TodayEarlier this afternoon, another NASA plane crashed into the ground. On purpose. It's been a big (northern) summer of NASA hurtling objects into the earth, with NASA flying machine destruction footage. A &#8220;greatest hits&#8221;, if you will. Today, NASA sent another plane into the dirt:,408501Fri, 28 Aug 2015 00:50:32 +1000Everything You Need to Know About Precision MedicineTania Swain got bad news: her ovarian cancer had come back. This was in November 2013; almost three years before, Swain, who is herself a physician, had been surprised by the initial diagnosis. And despite the surgery that removed 30 pounds of liquid and tissue from her ovaries, spleen, and appendix, and the chemo drugs that were swished around the space they left, the cancer was back. She feared that this time the diagnosis was truly the &#8220;kiss of death.&#8221;,408500Fri, 28 Aug 2015 00:50:28 +1000A Microbial Villain's Secret EscapeIt's a common staple at the end of many action and police thrillers. Just when it looks like the evil organization is doomed to be destroyed and the villains are surrounded, they reveal some secret tunnel, car, or helicopter to make their escape. The heroes are left scratching their heads as the antagonists head off to demonize another day.,408383Wed, 26 Aug 2015 10:07:05 +1000New Art Exhibit Will Let You See The Wireless Signals All Around YouThe beauty of wireless communication is that it is wire-less. There are no visible, bulky cables tethering us to screens or phones. But just because something is invisible, doesn't mean it isn't there.,408382Wed, 26 Aug 2015 10:07:02 +1000NORAD Tests System For Tracking GyrocoptersOn April 15th, 2015, a strange vehicle came from the sky and landed outside the Capitol of the United States in the heart of Washington, DC. Pilot Doug Hughes, who drove his <a href=";dom=pscau&amp;src=syndication">gyrocopter</a> up from Florida before flying it onto the Capitol lawn, wanted to call attention to corruption in politics. The stunning flight and arrival of the novel ultralight helicopter-like plane also caught the attention of the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD), the people tasked with guarding the skies of America from hostile threats. Their challenge: can radar accurately detect a plane as small and slow as the gyrocopter flown by Hughes?,408381Wed, 26 Aug 2015 10:06:56 +1000Here's How A Mother Panda Cares For Her Newborn Cubs It may take a village to raise a child, but it takes a team of expert zookeepers and a patient panda to raise two giant panda cubs.,408380Wed, 26 Aug 2015 10:06:52 +1000What Is A Red Sprite?Two mysterious red hazes hovered over Earth on August 10. Astronauts onboard the International Space Station snapped a picture of the first one as it passed over the Midwest--either Illinois or Missouri. And yesterday NASA's Earth Observatory <a href=";dom=pscau&amp;src=syndication">announced</a> that a second one was spotted just <a href=";id=86463">minutes later</a> over Mexico.,408379Wed, 26 Aug 2015 10:06:48 +1000Dawn Spacecraft Snaps A Closeup Of Mysterious Pyramid On CeresNASA's Dawn spacecraft has moved in for a closer look at the dwarf planet Ceres. Since descending to an altitude of 900 miles in mid-August, its view has gotten three times sharper. That has allowed scientists to zoom in on a 4-mile-high mountain in Ceres' southern hemisphere.,408378Wed, 26 Aug 2015 10:06:44 +1000iPhone 6s Rumors Suggest Faster Processor and Better CameraThe iPhone 6S release date is still unconfirmed, but several reports indicate that Apple will host a media event on <a href=";dom=pscau&amp;src=syndication">September 9</a>, and given Apple's regular annual update cycle, a new iPhone announcement &#8212; presumably including both the iPhone 6S and iPhone 6S Plus &#8212; seems all but guaranteed. Though it's hard to say exactly what will be included in the next-generation iPhone, purportedly leaked information about its hardware, software, and more have been passed around Apple rumor blogs in recent weeks. We've reviewed the information to identify realistic new features from the unlikely ones, and based on our observations, here's what we think you can expect from the next iPhone:,408377Wed, 26 Aug 2015 10:06:41 +1000Watch NASA Crash, Splash, And Obliterate Flying Machines Just call it NASA's greatest hits. Apparently everyone so enjoyed watching NASA crash an airplane into the ground last month that the folks at NASA Langley decided to put together an incredible clip showing some of the amazing crash and splash tests that the agency has performed over the years. (NASA likes to crash stuff on other planets too. We think they might have a problem.),408376Wed, 26 Aug 2015 10:06:37 +1000Look At This Photograph NASA Took Of ShockwavesTo see the future of flight, NASA is borrowing a technique from photography's past. Planes going at supersonic speeds generate shockwaves. Depending on how that plane sends off the waves, it can be loud and unpleasant for people on the ground. To create quieter supersonic planes, NASA wanted to see the shockwaves coming off the vehicle itself.,408375Wed, 26 Aug 2015 10:06:32 +1000Samsung Galaxy Note 5 Design Flaw Found In Stylus HolderEarlier this month, Samsung unveiled the Galaxy Note 5 at a special media event in New York City. During the event, executives touted Samsung's commitment to styluses made for touchscreens, emphasizing that &#8212; at least according to Samsung's device sales &#8212; there was a clear demand for them.,408374Wed, 26 Aug 2015 10:06:28 +1000In Just Three Years All Dutch Trains Will Run On Wind Power What if on your next rail journey, the train not only sped along the countryside fast as the wind, it was actually powered by the breeze? If you travel on a train in the Netherlands in 2018, that might just be your reality.,408373Wed, 26 Aug 2015 10:06:24 +1000A California Company Thinks The Secret To Fusion Is A Long TubeFor the blink of an eye, nuclear fusion appears possible. Nuclear reactors today are fission reactors, where decaying nuclear material heats water to power generators. Fusion reactors, in theory, create a sustained reaction, like at the heart of <em><a href=";dom=pscau&amp;src=syndication">actual stars</a></em>. Humans have attempted to create fusion reactors since the 1950s. This decade, Lockheed notably announced a <a href=";dom=pscau&amp;src=syndication">secretive reactor</a> in <a href=";dom=pscau&amp;src=syndication">development in 2013</a>. The typical way to get to the point of fusion is by superheating a ball of gas and then sustaining that heat. Earlier this week, Tri Alpha Energy, located in southern California, announced that they've created a superheated gas ball that lasts <a href=";dom=pscau&amp;src=syndication">longer than expected</a>, a crucial step on the road to fusion. Like Lockheed, instead of using a <a href=";dom=pscau&amp;src=syndication">giant donut-shaped reactor</a>, Tri Alpha is working with a <a href=";dom=pscau&amp;src=syndication">cylindrical device</a>.,408372Wed, 26 Aug 2015 10:06:20 +1000Drug Can Stop Radiation Poisoning Up To 24 Hours After ExposureEven at low levels, radiation can make people sick over time. But brief periods of intense exposure, like after the destruction of the Fukushima reactor in 2011, can cause more immediate health threats, especially on the gastrointestinal tract, or even death. Now researchers have developed a drug that can stop damage to the intestines as long as it's administered up to 24 hours after a patient is exposed, according to <a href=";dom=pscau&amp;src=syndication">a study published recently</a> in the journal <em>Laboratory Investigation</em>.,408338Tue, 25 Aug 2015 12:44:23 +1000MIT's New 3D Printer Can Print 10 Materials SimultaneouslyRight now, the typical 3D printer is a tool for making plastic objects. Assembling them in layers according to a pre-programmed plan, the printers can quickly make weirdly shaped parts, but they're often limited to working with just one material at a time. Additive manufacturing, as 3D printing is also known, offers so much more. A new printer, created by MIT's Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL), can print up to 10 materials into a single object &#8212;and incorporate other, finished parts directly into the design&#8212; all at a fraction of the cost of complex industrial 3D printers,408337Tue, 25 Aug 2015 12:44:20 +1000Cooper Tire Plans To Make A Tyre From A Desert Shrub In 2017Sometimes, lowering the environmental impact of a car can be done by changing the materials its components are made from.,408336Tue, 25 Aug 2015 12:44:17 +1000Carbon Nanotube Implants Could Help Diagnose Medical ConditionsScientists have long been on the lookout for more efficient ways to identify particular molecules in the body, because their levels can be indicative of dozens of different health conditions. Now a team of researchers has developed implantable carbon nanotubes that light up in the presences of specific molecules, as the scientists announced last week at the meeting of the American Chemical Society and <a href=";dom=pscau&amp;src=syndication#/b1">reported in <em>Nature News</em></a>. That could lead to faster&#8212;or even automated&#8212;diagnoses of diseases that currently take several days.,408335Tue, 25 Aug 2015 12:44:13 +1000Sony's New Drone Is A Helicopter In A Plane's BodyFor decades, aircraft design has focused on a central compromise: if an aerial vehicle wants to fly fast, it needs a plane-like body that cuts through the air and generates lift, but if it wants to take off and land vertically, it needs rotors and a much slower body. Vertical Take-Off and Landing (VTOL) is the kind of ability that usually comes with a pricetag of billions of dollars, like in the <a href=";dom=pscau&amp;src=syndication">F-35B</a> or the <a href=";dom=pscau&amp;src=syndication">V-22</a>. New drones can offer that ability at a fraction of the cost, like this new one from Sony's drone wing Aerosense.,408334Tue, 25 Aug 2015 12:44:08 +1000A New Energy Plant In Hawaii Generates Power From Ocean Temperature ExtremesThere's a big difference between the warm, shallow seawater lapping up against a beach and the icy depths of the ocean. Now, researchers are turning that temperature difference into energy at energy plants all over the world. The newest one opened up in Hawaii last Friday, where it expects to generate enough energy to power 120 homes per year.,408333Tue, 25 Aug 2015 12:44:05 +1000This Electric Sports Car Will Soon Sound Like A SpaceshipNo cinematic car chase is complete without the classic revving sound of a speeding car. That sound happens when you accelerate in most cars, but not in electric cars, which can feel strange and make driving one less fun. Now Japanese electric car company GLM is <a href=";dom=pscau&amp;src=syndication">teaming up</a> with digital audio company Roland to create a sound system that brings that revving sound&#8212;along with several others&#8212;to the electric sports car.,408332Tue, 25 Aug 2015 12:43:57 +1000Michigan Researchers Create Virtual Reality 'Matrix' With Unreal EngineOne of the key revelations of the seminal 1999 sci-film <em>The Matrix</em> was (spoiler alert) that most of humanity was trapped inside an elaborate virtual world. At the time, the scenario seemed far-fetched, if not wholly outside the realm of possibility. But 16 years later, scientists are getting much closer to replicating reality with an increasingly indistinguishable computer-generated copy. Just take a look at the latest advances from <a href=";dom=pscau&amp;src=syndication">the University of Michigan's UM3D Lab</a>, which focuses on research into virtual reality, 3D modeling/printing, motion capture, and other emerging technologies.,408331Tue, 25 Aug 2015 12:43:53 +1000San Jose Considers License Plate Readers To Go On Garbage TrucksSan Jose, California, has a problem. The city, with a population of over one million, is haemorrhaging police officers, with an expectation that they'll only have about 800 duty-ready cops by 2016. To supplement that force, the city is considering enlisting robots, and attaching them to garbage trucks. More specifically, to combat automobile theft, San Jose is looking at purchasing more license plate readers, and attaching them to non-police vehicles which already drive routes in the city.,408330Tue, 25 Aug 2015 12:43:49 +1000At A Loss For Words? Tell Science About It!When you're on a roll, there are few things more annoying than suddenly being tripped up by an inability to remember a specific word. That's possibly because the sensation is almost always accompanied by the feeling that the word is "right there" or "on the tip of your tongue" and that if you could just clear away whatever murky haze was in the way, you'd have it.,408329Tue, 25 Aug 2015 12:43:45 +1000Long March 5 Space Rocket Stretches Its LegsOn August 17th, China successfully test fired the second stage of the Long March 5 space launch rocket. This was the last of pre systems integration testing and thus a key milestone to ensure the LM-5's timely maiden flight in 2016.,408258Mon, 24 Aug 2015 10:47:13 +1000Alphabet Launches Life Sciences Company To Make Smart Contact LensesSince Google's announcement to restructure into Alphabet by the end of the year, we haven't heard a lot from the inside. Presumably, there were a lot of moving pieces to be sorted internally, and press weren't invited to those conversations.,408257Mon, 24 Aug 2015 10:47:09 +1000Scientists Pull Carbon Nanofibers Out Of Thin AirRumpelstiltskin may have been able to spin straw into gold, but even he couldn't pull carbon fibers from thin air. Yet that's exactly what researchers at George Washington University have managed to do.,408256Mon, 24 Aug 2015 10:47:07 +1000