Australian Popular Science News news from, 31 Aug 2014 12:14:27 +100010Google's Secret Project Wing Testing Delivery Drones In Aussie OutbackAfter Amazon teased us with potential aerial deliveries, the skies remained free of pizza winging its way to hungry mouths. But now Google's Project Wing has been outed - a secretive test by the Google X team into the feasibility of drone deliveries. Suddenly the future of package delivery is looking a whole lot brighter.,391531Fri, 29 Aug 2014 10:25:00 +1000China's Future Submarine Could Go The Speed Of SoundThe submarine of the future may come to America in a super fast bubble, traveling under water. Researchers at China's Harbin Institute of Technology developed a new concept for submarine &#8220;supercavitation,&#8221; where an underwater vessel creates a&#160;pocket of air around itself. Inside this bubble, the submarine can travel much faster without friction of water creating drag and slowing it down. Theoretically, a supercavitated vessel using rocket engines could travel inside that air pocket at <a href="">almost the speed of sound</a>.,391524Fri, 29 Aug 2014 09:27:51 +1000Found: The Part Of The Mouse Brain That Motivates ExerciseA team of researchers has found a part of the brain that controls how motivated mice are to exercise, according to a new study.,391523Fri, 29 Aug 2014 09:27:49 +1000Man 3-D Prints A Concrete Castle In His BackyardThis is a castle that a man 3-D printed from concrete, using a <a href="">printer he built himself</a>. We like how variations in the concrete's color stretch perfectly across the castle&#8212;the product of care and engineering on the part of the maker, Andrey Rudenko. As he <a href="">wrote on his website</a>:,391522Fri, 29 Aug 2014 09:27:47 +1000This Weird Tumbleweed Robot Might Change Planetary ExplorationThis <a href="">"Super Ball Bot"</a> is the vision of NASA roboticist <a href="">Vytas SunSpiral</a> &#8212; yes, that's his <a href="">real</a> name &#8212; along with Adrian Agogino and their colleagues, who plan to have a full prototype by mid-September. In the process of developing this droid, they may have helped pioneer a revolutionary new class of robots.,391521Fri, 29 Aug 2014 09:26:11 +1000If A Fish Grows Up On Land, Will It Learn To Walk?The old idiom about &#8220;being a fish out of water&#8221; just lost some of its luster. Researchers from <a href="" target="_blank">McGill University</a> in Canada successfully trained a group of fish to live on land and strut around.,391520Fri, 29 Aug 2014 09:25:09 +1000Evolution Video Game Tests Your Ability To Spot Camouflaged Bird EggsCall it a case of virtual selection. Testing out <a href="" target="_blank">Project Nightjar's experimental video game</a>, I peered through the world in mongoose-tinted glasses, looking for the eggs of a nesting nightjar -- a nocturnal bird in the family <em>Caprimulgidae</em>. The clock ticked as I made my selection, and then I found the nesting mother. While I played the game, the researchers behind the project&#160;gained a little more insight into just how well natural camouflage works.,391519Fri, 29 Aug 2014 09:25:06 +1000Supersize Your DIY Computing With Tiny TitanOak Ridge National Laboratory is most famously home to the Titan supercomputer, capable of performing more than 20 quadrillion calculations every second. But the lab also houses the lesser known &#8220;Tiny Titan,&#8221; whose nine processing units, or &#8220;cores,&#8221; are made from Raspberry Pis. Making a small-scale supercomputer is relatively simple&#8212;just yoke together microelectronics to run in parallel. The hard part, explains Titan support specialist Adam Simpson, is writing the code for it.&#160;,391518Fri, 29 Aug 2014 09:25:03 +1000Louisiana's Disappearing Coastline Threatens Entire U.S. EconomyAn unholy trinity of forces &#8211; levees along the Mississippi River, sea level rise due to climate change, and fossil fuel extraction &#8211; have caused about 2,000 square miles of southeastern Louisiana to disappear into the Gulf of Mexico over the past eight decades. That's according to Losing Ground, a multimedia journalism collaboration between ProPublica and The Lens, offers an interactive, thorough, and thoroughly sobering look at it, with layered maps and satellite images, impressive photographs and first-person audio.,391517Fri, 29 Aug 2014 09:25:02 +1000SkySaver Lets You Jump Safely From A Building During EmergenciesIn today's high-rise cities, emergencies such as fires can leave people trapped in buildings with no way out. Enter SkySaver - a portable escape route that lets you jump safely from a window and be lowered gently to the ground. Self contained in a backpack, the life saving devices can operate from up to 35 stories up.,391495Thu, 28 Aug 2014 11:48:00 +1000Where Does The Moon's Smell Come From?In 1969, mankind got its first few whiffs of the lunar surface after astronauts tracked moon dust into <a href="">the Apollo lander</a>.,391474Thu, 28 Aug 2014 07:37:25 +1000What Could Cause A Nationwide Internet Outage?Some Americans who looked at the news or Twitter this morning -- or perhaps couldn't, because the Internet was malfunctioning -- might have heard: Time Warner <a href="">suffered a major outage</a> in its Internet service at about 4:30 a.m. Eastern. The outage, affecting much of the U.S., lasted two hours, <a href="">Reuters reported</a>. Maps created by the outage-tracker <a href="">DownDetector</a>&#160;showed problems throughout the country. So how exactly&#160;could this happen?,391472Thu, 28 Aug 2014 07:37:16 +1000Sneaky Panda Fakes Pregnancy For Extra Treats And AttentionAi Hin was all set to be a star.&#160;The 6-year-old giant panda had shown signs of pregnancy last month, and staff at the Chengdu Breeding Research Centre in China had planned to film her labor in the first ever live broadcast of a panda giving birth.,391471Thu, 28 Aug 2014 07:37:14 +1000Watch The Iron Dome Shoot Down 15 Qassam RocketsThe Iron Dome is a mobile all weather air defense system deployed in Israel. In operation since 2011, it has already shot down hundreds of missiles. The amazing technology in action reminds us of Atari Missile Command, but check out the video for yourself.,391430Wed, 27 Aug 2014 10:28:00 +1000Emergency Fund Will Bankroll Ebola Research To Help In The Current OutbreakPublic and private donors in the U.K. have launched an emergency fund for researchers studying Ebola. They want a quick turnaround time for the research they bankroll. <a href="">Applications for the fund</a>&#160;are due September 8 and funders are hoping studies will finish within two months, the <a href=""><em>Guardian</em> reports</a>. The tight timeline is designed to make a difference in the current outbreak in West Africa, which Doctors Without Borders expects to last <a href="">longer&#160;than six months</a>.,391373Wed, 27 Aug 2014 07:14:43 +1000Boy Given A 3-D Printed Spine ImplantDoctors at <a href="" target="_blank">Peking University Third Hospital</a> have successfully implanted the first ever 3-D-printed section of vertebra into the young patient. The boy, named Minghao, had developed a malignant tumor on his spinal cord, and some of his bones needed to be removed. So, during many hours of spinal cord surgery, surgeons at the hospital replaced part of the cancerous vertebra in his neck with the implant.,391423Wed, 27 Aug 2014 07:14:41 +1000Could This Camera Prevent Police Brutality?Surveillance cameras permeate modern life. Mounted in convenience stores, retail outlets, bars, clubs, ATMs and elsewhere, silent observers record everything from the mundane to the criminal. The cameras serve a dual function as both deterrent and instant legal record. In light of the police shooting of unarmed Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, national attention has focused on wearable cameras for police officers. For the (less&#160;lethal) weapon manufacturer Taser, there is opportunity in this civic need.,391422Wed, 27 Aug 2014 07:14:39 +1000The Swine Flu You Can Get From American County FairsBefore 2012, outbreaks of so-called "influenza A variant" infections in the U.S. only popped up once in a while in the medical literature. The strain normally infected pigs and was rarely seen in humans. Then, in 2012, healthcare workers across the U.S. reported 309 human cases of influenza A (H3N2) variant, also known as H3N2v. Sixteen people were hospitalized, and <a href="">one woman in Ohio died</a>. Researchers think there were likely thousands of cases of H3N2v that year that went unreported or unconfirmed.,391421Wed, 27 Aug 2014 07:14:37 +1000Army's Hypersonic Missile Explodes During TestingThe art of the war is&#160;complicated, but the science of war is often just a matter of shooting&#160;something pain-inducing at the other guy faster and from further away. The Army&#8217;s Advanced Hypersonic Weapon program wants to do just that, by creating a missile that moves faster than Mach 5, or almost 3,800 miles per hour. That hypersonic future may be just a little further away than expected. During testing of the weapon in Alaska early Monday morning, the rockets propelling the missile <a href="">exploded four seconds</a> after liftoff. No one was injured, but the cause of the failure has yet to be determined.&#160;,391420Wed, 27 Aug 2014 07:14:35 +1000Passive Exoskeleton Makes Handling Heavy Tools EasyBig powered exoskeleton suits are great and all, but Lockheed Martin has built a passive model. Dubbed the FORTIS, the system doesn't use any power at all yet still aids the users strength. In fact, it allows you to wield a 16KG tool with almost no effort. But how is that possible without any motors?,391379Tue, 26 Aug 2014 09:40:00 +1000Abrasive Organic Herbicide Method Blasts Weeds To DeathOne U.S. Department of Agriculture researcher is experimenting with a sandblasting-style method of killing weeds that could be certified organic, Minneapolis' <a href=";c=y">Star Tribune reports</a>. Agronomist Frank Forcella is blasting weeds with a spray of ground-up corncobs, walnut shells, corn gluten meal and other plant material. Sounds like he's <a href="">exfoliating the weeds</a>&#160;to death.,391377Tue, 26 Aug 2014 09:26:00 +1000Watch A Robot Ride A HovercycleA white plastic robot zooms a hoverbike over the English countryside, grains blowing beneath the bike's four fans. The robot's 3-D printed body is lightweight, and where its face would be there&#8217;s a GoPro camera instead, filming the flight. This isn't a scene from a dystopian science fiction movie; The bike is less than four feet long, and combined robot and bike weighs a maximum of 15.4 pounds. Created by <a href="" target="_blank">Malloy Aeronautics</a>, the Drone 3 hoverbike is a 1/3rd scale model of the version ultimately intended for human pilots and passengers.,391376Tue, 26 Aug 2014 09:25:58 +1000Sensorized 'Skin' Could Help Aircraft Detect DamageIf the engineers succeed in bringing the idea to fruition, the aircraft coating will be able to sense changes and report back to a remote operator&#8212;similar to how human skin provides feedback to help the brain to make decisions. The hope is that by sensing anomalies, the coating could prevent small problems from turning into big disasters.&#160;,391375Tue, 26 Aug 2014 09:25:56 +1000The Weird Ways Of Superfluid HeliumWith a temperature below -268 degrees Celsius, liquid helium keeps MRI machines and particle accelerators properly cooled (yay!). Take liquid helium's temperature even lower than that, however, and things start to get a little less practical -- and a lot more weird.,391374Tue, 26 Aug 2014 09:25:54 +1000Dandruff Fungus Found In Deep Sea Vents, Lobster Guts, And Other Random PlacesWhat do human scalps, deep sea vents, and Antarctic soil have in common? As it turns out, all of these places are home to&#160;one weird<span>&#160;group of fungi.&#160;</span><span>A study&#160;published today in the journal </span><a href="" target="_blank"><em>PLOS Pathogens</em></a><span> found that fungi of the genus&#160;</span><em>Malassezia</em><span>&#160;are just about everywhere. And we do mean everywhere. &#160;</span>,391319Sun, 24 Aug 2014 19:29:11 +1000How Droughts Are Drying Up US BreakfastsSome parts of America's complete breakfast are about to get pricier. Or, at the very least, they&#8217;re about to get pricier than they already are. With droughts raging in agricultural powerhouses like California and Brazil, the dreaded water conflicts of the future are starting to make their presence known right now. Because of the severity and long-term nature of these droughts, food prices are starting to rise for consumers -- in America and beyond.,391318Sun, 24 Aug 2014 19:29:09 +1000The Future Of Urban Planning: Zoning For DronesA century ago, as cars first emerged into the world, cities and laws that were designed for horses suddenly had to adapt to a whole new presence in their space. Cities didn&#8217;t know how to handle these fast machines, and fatal accidents in the early age of cars led to <a href="" target="_blank">legal battles</a>&#160;between pedestrians and cars over who had the right to the road. Now,&#160; commercial drones are approaching their Model-T moment, and planners can get ahead of this by plotting out&#160;their cities in color-coded three-dimensional blocks of sky.,391317Sun, 24 Aug 2014 19:29:07 +1000Ask Anything: Why Don&#8217;t Woodpeckers Get Brain Damage?May started his research with a pair of pickled woodpeckers borrowed from a zoologist. In studying their cranial anatomy, he and his collaborators found a patch of <a href="">spongy bone</a> at the front of the skull, which they thought might act like a shock absorber. Woodpeckers also have a bone called the hyoid, which supports the tongue and then winds all the way around the bird&#8217;s head. A researcher later argued that the hyoid could function as a sort of cerebral safety belt.,391315Sun, 24 Aug 2014 19:29:00 +1000US Copyright Office Denies Monkeys Rights To Their SelfiesIn 2011, British <a href="">wildlife photographer David Slater</a> was traveling through the jungle in Indonesian when a crested black macaque grabbed his camera and started snapping selfies. Somebody posted the images in Wikipedia Commons, meaning anybody could use them for free. A legal battle ensued, with Slater claiming the images belong to him, and Wikipedia countering that the images belong to the public since they weren't created by a human.,391314Sun, 24 Aug 2014 19:28:57 +1000The Week In Numbers: Crunchy Crickets, Food Poison Twitter Bots, And A Whole Lotta Ice<strong>6</strong><span>: the number of weeks it takes to&#160;</span><a href="">raise&#160;your own edible crickets</a><span>. The cost:&#160;</span><strong>$22</strong><span>.</span>,391313Sun, 24 Aug 2014 19:28:54 +1000This is What Curiosity Looks Like After Two Years On MarsWhile the Mars rovers&#8217; drivers&#160;<a href="" target="_blank">sit in relative comfort</a>&#160;here on Earth, the rovers themselves do get beat up a bit. In honor of&#160;<a href="" target="_blank">Curiosity</a>&#8217;s second anniversary on Mars, <em>The Verge</em> put together&#160;<a href="" target="_blank">a cool story</a>&#160;showing the before and after pics of the toll the harsh environment has exacted on the rover.&#160;Scroll through for yourself to see some of the dents, scratches and holes that Curiosity has accumulated over the years. Oh, and all the dust it picked up. There&#8217;s a lot of dust.&#160;,391274Fri, 22 Aug 2014 07:02:05 +1000Players Build Working Hard Drive Inside MinecraftOver the hills, across the stone bridge, past the giant pony, around the lake of questionable test, and beyond the giant rainbow barrier sits a work of great artifice on a grey plain. Far larger than any single inhabitant of this virtual world, the contraption is a complete, working computer, run entirely within the rules and universe of Minecraft. The hard drive stores up to 4 kilobytes of data, and it is covered in torches to keep zombies from attacking it at night.,391273Fri, 22 Aug 2014 07:02:03 +1000Scientists Have No Idea Why U.S. Teens Are Having Fewer Babies Than EverThe U.S. National Center for Health Statistics released today its <a href="">latest report</a>&#160;on American teenagers having babies. The results are both happy and strange. American teens are having babies at their lowest rate ever -- and that rate is falling fast. Yet, as <a href="">Vox discovered</a>, nobody knows why this is happening. One of the steadiest trends in American life is inexplicable.,391272Fri, 22 Aug 2014 07:02:00 +1000Russian Cosmonauts Report Sea Plankton On The Outside Of The ISSCosmonauts have apparently discovered plankton and other microorganisms on the outside of the International Space Station&#8217;s windows, according to <a href="">an announcement</a> from a Russian official.&#160; NASA has not yet confirmed or denied the findings.&#160;,391271Fri, 22 Aug 2014 07:01:59 +1000Weird Microbes Thrive In Asphalt Lake And Sunless Glacial WaterOver the past week, scientists have published the results of studies analyzing&#160;two very strange -- and very different -- lakes. One is Pitch Lake, a lake made of asphalt and filled with hydrocarbon gases on the Caribbean island of Trinidad. The other is Lake Whillans, a freshwater body located 800 meters under the surface of a glacier in West Antarctica. You might say the lakes seem unearthly, although they're located right on our home planet. Titan, Saturn's moon, has hydrocarbon lakes like Pitch Lake, and several moons in our solar system are thought to host liquid water underneath a thick layer of ice.,391270Fri, 22 Aug 2014 07:01:56 +1000Weapons Can Be Carried Easily Through The TSA's Full-Body "Naked" ScannersAs it turns out, the scanners are actually pretty easy to fool.,391269Fri, 22 Aug 2014 07:01:55 +1000Fighter Pilot Films First Person View Of Flight Over FjordsFortunately for everyone who isn't a fighter pilot,&#160;John Kristensen, a Danish Air Force pilot who <a href="" target="_blank">flew missions in Afghanistan</a> between 2002 and 2003, brought along his GoPro for a flight in an F-16 Fighting Falcon over Greenland. The resulting video is stunning, as he races past icebergs, glaciers, ice floes, snow-covered plains, and fjords. There's a lot that's frozen&#160;on the Greenland ice sheet, it turns out. He also flies in formation with other pilots from <a href="" target="_blank">Fighter Wing Skrydstrup</a>.&#160;,391268Fri, 22 Aug 2014 07:01:52 +1000Stunning Photo Of Cygnus Orbital-2 Burning Up During Re-entryWith its re-supply mission to the International Space Station complete, the Cygnus Orbital-2 spacecraft Janice Voss burns up as it re-enters Earth's atmosphere. Fortunately for us German Astronaut Alexander Gerst managed to snap this amazing picture of the resulting fireball.,391246Thu, 21 Aug 2014 10:59:00 +1000A Volcanic Asteroid Roamed Our Solar System Billions Of Years AgoThe objects that dominated the Solar System early in its history may have been small&#8230;but they didn't lack flair. A new study has found that at least one early Solar System object -- likely hundreds of kilometers or smaller in diameter -- hosted volcanic activity.,391239Thu, 21 Aug 2014 09:31:16 +1000Turning Old Lead Batteries Into New Solar EnergyUsed car batteries can leech chemicals and create lead pollution when they're incorrectly trashed. A team at MIT believes that this lead can be cut out of the waste stream entirely -- and put to good use creating emissions-free energy.,391238Thu, 21 Aug 2014 09:31:05 +1000When NASA Launched Stardust, They Had No Way To Retrieve Its SamplesOn August 14, researchers from University California, Berkeley, <a href="" target="_blank">announced an amazing discovery</a> from NASA&#8217;s <a href="" target="_blank">Stardust probe</a>: During its deep space voyage, the ship had captured seven tiny pieces of interstellar rocks, making them the first confirmed samples of intact dust from beyond the Solar System.,391237Thu, 21 Aug 2014 09:30:59 +1000What Happens When A Volcano Erupts Under A Glacier?Now Iceland is warning airlines that another volcano named B&#225;r&#240;arbunga may be about to blow. On Monday scientists registered the area&#8217;s largest earthquake since 1996, and they&#8217;ve spotted magma welling beneath the ground, causing Iceland&#8217;s Met office to issue a code orange risk level to the aviation industry, <a href="">Reuters reports</a>. On the scale, which comes from the International Civil Aviation Organization, the only thing riskier than orange is red. Now, the <a href="" target="_blank">Iceland&#160;Review</a> reports that areas north of the volcano are being evacuated.&#160;,391236Thu, 21 Aug 2014 09:30:54 +1000New Painkiller Soothes The Nerves That Sense Hot Chile PeppersIt's a chemical compound so new, it doesn't have a name.<strong>*</strong> In a paper, its creators call it either V116517 or Compound 37. (Like Chanel's No. 5 perfume! Except a drug.),391235Thu, 21 Aug 2014 09:30:48 +1000How The Panama Canal Changed The Shape Of WarOne hundred years ago, the Panama Canal opened for the first time. A triumph of turn-of-the-century engineering, it connected Pacific and Atlantic, expanding the worlds of maritime commerce and&#160;re-writing the sea lanes of the Western Hemisphere.,391234Thu, 21 Aug 2014 09:30:42 +1000An Electronic Camouflage Cloak Inspired By Color-Changing Octopus SkinThis camouflage trick is a trait shared by all cephalopods &#8211; squids and cuttlefish included -- but now humans are getting in on the color-changing action too.,391232Thu, 21 Aug 2014 09:30:08 +1000Welcome To Mars. Here's Where You'll Be StayingNASA has plans to put humans on Mars in the 2030s or 2040s, and the private company Mars One is already interviewing applicants for its one-way trip to the Red Planet. But a couple of crucial questions remain. One is, How do we get there? And another is, How the heck will we survive once we&#8217;re there?,391233Thu, 21 Aug 2014 09:30:00 +1000Cooking With LavaBritish art and design duo Bompas and Parr love crazy cooking projects and lava seemed like the ideal way to give their steak a unique flavour. Teaming up with Professor Robert Wysocki from Syracuse University, they successfully cooked what they described as the best steak they have ever had. But how do you create lava, let alone control it enough to cook with it?,391209Wed, 20 Aug 2014 10:52:00 +1000Epigenetics News Articles Put Too Much Pressure On MumsMaybe you've heard of King Henry VIII's tendency to blame his wives for giving birth to baby girls&#160;instead of male heirs. That the sex of a baby is somehow a mum's fault is a belief that's cropped up in a number of pre-scientific societies. It's total bull, of course. The sex of babies is random. For those conceiving in the old&#160;fashioned manner, there's no way to control the outcome.,391204Wed, 20 Aug 2014 09:31:59 +1000Lessons From The Panama Canal, 100 Years Ago<em>When it opened&#160;in August&#160;1914, the 48-mile Panama Canal provided a vital shortcut between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, transforming trade, transportation, and even wartime strategy. France began construction on the canal&#160;in the 1880s, but failed in part because malaria, yellow fever, dysentery,&#160;and other diseases&#160;claimed the lives of approximately 20,000 workers. The U.S. took over the project in 1904 and implemented some sanitation practices -- including draining wetlands and dumping oil into lakes,&#160;puddles,&#160;and streams to keep mosquitoes from breeding. Such practices would&#160;be frowned upon today, but apparently these methods&#160;saved thousands of lives in the early 1900s. In this essay from the September 1913 issue of </em>Popular Science<em>, Dr. John Silas Lankford from the University of Texas&#160;describes how "the&#160;country where death with grim terror reigned as king, queen and&#160;prime minister has yielded to modern methods of sanitation and has&#160;become the home of health and happiness."&#160;</em><em>You can read it in its original format <a href=";pg=294">here</a>.</em>,391203Wed, 20 Aug 2014 09:31:59 +1000DARPA Thinks Less Armor Could Make Tanks SaferThe heavy, treaded, gun-swinging battlefield behemoths know as tanks haven't changed much since their invention a century ago. Using a crapload of&#160;armor, the tank is meant to keep&#160;soldiers&#160;inside safe from bullets and other projectiles, while shooting a cannon at anything that poses a threat. But the problem with all this armor is that it&#160;makes vehicles slow and therefore&#160;more vulnerable. DARPA wants to change that. Their new&#160;<a href="" target="_blank">Ground X-Vehicle Technology</a> (GXV-T) initiative aims to get vehicles beyond armor, figuring out new ways to keep the people inside safe&#160;without sacrificing mobility.,391202Wed, 20 Aug 2014 09:31:57 +1000