Australian Popular Science News news from, 24 Jul 2017 14:48:57 +100010Chemicals lurking in household dust may prime cells to store fatWe know that dust can make us sneeze, but can the scourge of clean homes everywhere also make us gain weight? Possibly, according to a recent study in Environmental Science and Technology. In a manner of speaking, anyway.,469091Mon, 24 Jul 2017 11:38:18 +1000What's actually in that Viagra coffee you keep hearing about (and why it's dangerous)Erectile dysfunction can be hard. No, this is not a joke, even though that pun was absolutely intended. The simple fact is that ED can have psychologically devastating effects that we shouldn't make light of. If folks are too ashamed to talk about these issues, they're more likely to turn to things like male enhancement coffee.,469089Mon, 24 Jul 2017 11:38:18 +1000Guess how many giant patches of garbage there are in the ocean now?&#8220;We are living in a plastic age,&#8221; Captain Charles Moore tells PopSci. &#8220;We're ignorant of its dangers, and we haven't learned properly to fear or to respect it.&#8221;,469087Mon, 24 Jul 2017 11:38:17 +1000Spot faked photos using digital forensic techniquesWe see hundreds or even thousands of images a day, and almost all of them have been digitally manipulated in some way. Some have gotten basic color corrections or simple Instagram filter effects, while others have received full on Photoshop jobs to completely transform the subject. It turns out humans aren't very good at recognizing when an image has been manipulated, even if the change is fairly substantial. Hany Farid is a professor of computer science at Dartmouth College who specializes in photo forensics, and while he can't share all of his fancy software tools for detecting editing trickery, he has shared a few tips for authenticating images on your own.,469086Mon, 24 Jul 2017 11:38:14 +1000Your stinky feet can reveal who you're living with Turns out bacteria cells might not actually outnumber your own, but there's still a heck of a lot of the little buggers living all over you. And since you're already sharing the rest of yourself with your partner&#8212;your bed, your shower, your saliva&#8212;it makes sense that you'd share bacterial colonies too.,469085Mon, 24 Jul 2017 11:38:14 +1000Sniffing insulin might help people eat lessLots of people rely on insulin injections to manage their blood sugar. But after nearly a century of helping diabetics, the hormone is starting to look appealing for other uses as well.,469083Mon, 24 Jul 2017 11:38:12 +1000NASA's newly released video archives contain a skyfull of goodiesNASA is forever linked to space, a plucky government agency bravely hurtling people and robots into the great beyond. Yet the agency has always had as much of an earth-bound mission as an outer space one. The &#8220;Aeronautics&#8221; at NASA may get short shrift, but with 300 videos of archival aviation tests released online this week, there's plenty of airborne excitement waiting for viewers.,469090Mon, 24 Jul 2017 11:38:00 +1000When we finally go to Mars, we might end up living in giant metal cansIf humans are ever really going to make it to Mars, we're going to need a bigger boat. Today's spaceships are built for short hauls to and from the International Space Station, a mere six or so hours away. These ships, like the Russian Soyuz, SpaceX's Dragon, NASA's upcoming Orion capsule, are small, cramped, and they don't have bathrooms or sleeping quarters.,469088Mon, 24 Jul 2017 11:38:00 +1000How fentanyl is making deadly drugs even deadlierIt's relatively new to America's drug scene, but in the last few years, its victims have included everyone from musician Prince to a 10-year-old boy in Miami. The culprit is fentanyl, a lesser-known&#8212;but incredibly lethal&#8212;opioid that has become increasingly prevalent in the United States.,469084Mon, 24 Jul 2017 11:38:00 +1000NASA just caught a glimpse of the mysterious object New Horizons will reach in 2019In an effort so astronomically full of cooperation and enthusiasm it could have been <a href=";src=syn" target="_blank">scripted</a>, last Sunday, some of the streets near Comodoro Rivadavia, Argentina went dark.,468825Thu, 20 Jul 2017 12:11:26 +1000Plant-inspired soft robot grows to reach difficult placesRobots often imitate life. We are used to bots mimicking humans, and animals, but there is plenty of life beyond the constraints of legged bodies that can inspire useful machines. Researchers at the University of California, Santa Barbara and Stanford University have made a machine with long tendrils that can perform dangerous tasks like reaching through rubble to pump air to a trapped earthquake survivor.,468824Thu, 20 Jul 2017 12:11:26 +1000Discarded oyster shells can help us grow food, make cement, and fight climate changeAfter that oyster slides into your mouth, and you've tossed another empty shell onto your plate, do you ever think about where those shells end up?,468823Thu, 20 Jul 2017 12:11:25 +1000Humans have created 9.1 billion tons of plastic. Here's how you can help stop the madness.No matter how many times I tell my local Thai restaurant that I don't want plastic forks with my take-out, I open the bag to find handfuls of unnecessary eating utensils in there, every time. Roland Geyer, an industrial ecologist at the University of California at Santa Barbara, has similar problems. &#8220;Sometimes at the supermarket I have to fight to not get plastic bags,&#8221; he says.,468822Thu, 20 Jul 2017 12:11:18 +1000We still don't really know where dogs came fromDogs are too pure for this world. This fact is known. If supernatural explanations were sufficient, we could safely say that dogs descended from the heavens to bring us joy.,468821Thu, 20 Jul 2017 12:11:16 +1000How worried should I really be about carcinogens?News articles over the past few years have implicated everything from sunlight's ultraviolet radiation to burnt toast as potential carcinogens, or cancer-causing substances. So, should you be rushing to cut these everyday exposures out of your life? Well, it depends on the material you are talking about, and how much and how often you are in contact with it.,468820Thu, 20 Jul 2017 12:11:16 +1000It's not your imagination: 2017 has been abnormally hot so farA famous 1936 image shows the people of Nebraska sprawled on the capitol lawn to escape record-breaking temps that had turned their AC-free homes into slow roasters. These vintage photos can make modern summer heat seem cool in comparison. But it isn't. Average temperatures today are warmer than they were a century ago. And this week, the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) declared the first six months of 2017 the second warmest on record. First place went to 2016.,468819Thu, 20 Jul 2017 12:11:16 +1000You might be able to outrun a T. rex, but only in a sprintIt seems like a lady as large as a Tyrannosaurus rex should be able to outrun you. She may have a big head and little arms, but she's still got massive gams to propel her through the jungle. Alas, her quads are no match for the average human's&#8212;at least in the short term.,468818Thu, 20 Jul 2017 12:11:16 +1000Charles Dickens' belief in spontaneous combustion sparked Victorian London's hottest debate<a href=";src=syn" target="_blank"><em>CAESAR'S LAST BREATH: Decoding the Secrets of the Air Around Us</em></a> by Sam Kean is available now.,468817Thu, 20 Jul 2017 12:11:16 +1000You're probably terrible at spotting faked photosA widely-shared, altered image of President Trump's sons, Donald Jr. and Eric. The photo on the left is the real photograph. The one on the right has been altered to be (even) less flattering.,468816Thu, 20 Jul 2017 12:11:16 +1000Doctors are wearing the new Google Glass while seeing patientsYou could be forgiven for assuming that Glass, Google's head-mounted augmented-reality device, had been effectively dead since 2015. But as Google's sister company X, the Moonshot Factory, announced on Tuesday, the project has been pivoting to a business-to-business model over the past two years. The new, updated version of the device is known as Glass Enterprise Edition, and it's been put to use at companies like Boeing, DHL&#8212;and in physician's office.,468826Thu, 20 Jul 2017 12:11:00 +1000SpaceX is changing up its plans for landing a spaceship on MarsOn Wednesday, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk announced that the company is switching up its plans for landing on Mars.,468828Thu, 20 Jul 2017 12:11:00 +1000Some invasive species actually help their new habitats thriveThe invasive species didn't mean to be bad. <a href=";src=syn" target="_blank">Not really</a>. Often introduced to solve uniquely human problems like pests or <a href=";src=syn" target="_blank">erosion</a>, plants and animals that find themselves in a new place, far from their native habitat, aren't <em>actually</em> making an effort to destroy everything they nibble on or colonize. They're just growing and flourishing the way living things do.,468610Tue, 18 Jul 2017 10:07:13 +1000Vegetarian and vegan diets aren't necessarily more healthyEliminating meat from a terrible diet doesn't really make it any healthier, according to a study released today in the <a href=";src=syn" target="_blank"><em>Journal of the American College of Cardiology</em></a>. In fact, the study found that participants whose mostly-plant-based diets (think vegetarian or vegan) included a lot of processed foods, such as sugary beverages and French fries, were more likely to develop heart disease or die during the study period than people who avoided processed food&#8212;even if that meant eating a little meat.,468609Tue, 18 Jul 2017 10:07:11 +1000Why doctors are still studying JFK's chronic back painJohn F. Kennedy was known for his youth and energy, but in the decades since his death we've realized that there was more to the story: The 35th President of the United States actually battled an impressive collection of medical problems. Among these was agonizing back pain that led Kennedy to undertake four surgeries.,468608Tue, 18 Jul 2017 10:07:11 +1000Sorry, but artificial sweeteners won't help you lose weightIf you're gonna call something &#8220;diet,&#8221; it should have to actually help you lose weight. But like dieting itself, diet foods don't work as well in practice as they do in theory.,468607Tue, 18 Jul 2017 10:07:11 +1000Mac-n-cheese probably isn't more toxic than other foodsIf there's one meal guaranteed to meet the needs of picky toddlers, harried parents, and broke college students alike, it's mac-n-cheese. Whether you prefer the classic stuff in the blue box or the organic brand famous for its pasta bunnies, you probably realize that mac-n-cheese isn't healthy, exactly. But given the fast food alternatives, we tell ourselves, it's isn't that bad. And yet, because everything we love is secretly conspiring to kill us, a recent report suggests that each serving of America's favorite processed cheese food also serves up a hefty dose of phthalates, a class of chemicals increasingly thought to interfere with the body's hormones. But does this mean that you should give up eating that orange goo?,468606Tue, 18 Jul 2017 10:07:11 +1000This ancient one-ton crocodile had steak knives for teeth Move over Tyrannosaurus rex: There's a new prehistoric carnivore in town. Meet the Razanandrongobe sakalavae, an ancient crocodile from Madagascar measuring as much as 20 feet long by 5 feet wide. Razana's name comes from the native Malagasy for &#8220;giant lizard ancestor from Sakalava.&#8221; This croc had steak knives for teeth, and was the first of its subfamily to live mostly on land.,468605Tue, 18 Jul 2017 10:07:10 +1000DJI Spark drone review: A powerful little flying machine for the average personThis carrying case is part of the $699 Fly More Combo, which comes with extra propellers (shown), an extra battery, propeller guards, a dedicated battery charger, and the $150 remote.,468507Mon, 17 Jul 2017 09:31:16 +1000Here's how we were able to see that giant chunk of ice break off of AntarcticaAs big as the state of Delaware. Twice as big as Luxembourg. When Larsen C, a Western Antarctic ice shelf&#8212;otherwise known as a floating mass of ice attached to land&#8212;finally separated itself from the mother shelf earlier this week, the news didn't just send waves rippling across the Wendell Sea. It also launched a thousand size analogies (it's twice the volume of Lake Erie, in case you were still having a hard time visualizing it).,468506Mon, 17 Jul 2017 09:31:16 +1000Tardigrades could probably survive the otherwise complete annihilation of life on Earth Not everyone is familiar with the tardigrade (also known as the water bear, also known as the moss piglet, previously known as "animalcules"), and that's a damn shame. They're less than a millimeter long, sure, but they're almost certainly the most indestructible animals on the planet. You can expose them to the unforgiving vacuum of space, starve them for decades, dehydrate them for literally-who-knows-how-long, boil them, mash them, stick them in a stew, whatever, and as soon as you return them to normal conditions they'll perk right back up and go on their merry way. Their abilities are so obscenely awesome that some scientists are convinced they contain an unprecedented ratio of DNA that's "stolen" from other organisms by way of horizontal gene transfer, though these results proved controversial.,468505Mon, 17 Jul 2017 09:31:16 +1000A new view of twisted proteins could help scientists understand Alzheimer'sA new study published this month in Nature marks a key milestone in Alzheimer's research. It demonstrates the first complete model of a tau filament, a protein structure found in the brain cells of Alzheimer's patients and thought to be the cause of the neurodegenerative disease.,468503Mon, 17 Jul 2017 09:31:14 +1000Grandma's insomnia might be a product of evolutionIf your sleep is getting worse with age, evolution might be to blame.,468502Mon, 17 Jul 2017 09:31:14 +1000Trampolines are more dangerous than you thinkKids have no fun anymore, amiright? Back in the day we used to play in the streets! We chased cars! We climbed trees and we fell and sometimes we got hurt&#8212;but that was okay! If only we could go back to those days. Life was so great when we didn't really understand the risks involved in cherished childhood activities.,468501Mon, 17 Jul 2017 09:31:14 +1000Sexy sounds lure invasive cane toads into trapsAs the sun starts to set on the <a href=";src=syn" target="_blank">'jungle paradise'</a> of Australia's Orpheus Island, a sweet song fills the air. But instead of leading a beloved wife out of the underworld, this melody leads cane toads to their doom.,468500Mon, 17 Jul 2017 09:31:13 +1000Tesla is building the world's biggest battery. Here's how it will work.By the end of the year, South Australia will be home to the world's biggest battery, if Elon Musk and Tesla make good on an ambitious commitment. The battery installation will be hooked up to a 99-turbine wind farm (which is still being built) and serve as an energy reservoir to ensure that the region has enough power, even during times when power demand peaks.,468499Mon, 17 Jul 2017 09:31:12 +1000Moon Express 'lunar outpost' looks gorgeous, but don't get too excited yetA lander like this will fly in Moon Express's first launch, slated for later this year. It can carry up to 66 pounds of equipment and scientific instruments to the lunar surface. Or it can stay in orbit or travel deeper into space.,468498Mon, 17 Jul 2017 09:31:12 +1000Here's the closest ever view of Jupiter's Great Red SpotThis week, NASA's Juno spacecraft got an up-close look at that planet's most iconic feature: the Great Red Spot.,468497Mon, 17 Jul 2017 09:31:12 +1000Ravens are so smart it's actually kind of disconcerting, new study findsA flock of ravens ravaging a carcass may technically be called an unkindness, but the real unkindness is using that term. Everyone is always hating on the smarty pants, but ravens are not terrifying. Do they have sharp, curved beaks that they use to tear dead animals to pieces? Yes. Are their calls reminiscent of a creepy laugh? Most definitely. But just because they're masterminds doesn't make them evil&#8212;it just makes them awesome.,468504Mon, 17 Jul 2017 09:31:00 +1000Philips Hue Wellness and Wellner lamp review: They're (kinda) lit Alongside its Hue smart light bulbs, Philips has been quietly selling stand-alone lamps for a few years now. The Wellness and Wellner are two of the company's latest tabletop offerings. Both come with White Ambiance LED bulbs, which can mimic a range of natural daylight color temperatures and are meant to help you wake up, concentrate, relax, and fall asleep.,467579Wed, 5 Jul 2017 10:39:54 +1000You probably abuse your ice cream. Here's how to stop. The first time I tried to make ice cream, I forgot to add the cold. Friends had just given me a free ice cream machine and I was hyped up on the thrill of being able to make ice cream in my own kitchen. I read the recipe over and over, but neglected to read the directions to the brand-new appliance quite as carefully. After 40 minutes spinning in the machine, my cream contained no ice, and was just a well-stirred, soupy mess.,467576Wed, 5 Jul 2017 10:32:14 +1000Do probiotic deodorants really work? Summer is finally here. That means lots of sunshine, beaches, hiking, and (for me, at least) armpit stains. I'm tired of ruining my white shirts with nasty yellow-brown sweat blotches. So this spring, I decided to look into alternatives. Believe it or not, it isn't your sweat that causes those noxious stains&#8212;it's the aluminum salts in your antiperspirant. That's why I was intrigued by the new wave of probiotic deodorants; underarm salves that supposedly use a healthy mix of bacteria to combat body odor without the chemicals that cause armpit stains. So myself and five other Popular Science staffers put these products to the test. This is what we found.,467465Tue, 4 Jul 2017 12:04:58 +1000Everything you need to know about the explosive science of fireworksIt's an age-old tradition: Millions of Americans, from infants to the elderly, attend fireworks shows for the Fourth of July. There's nothing quite as patriotic as sitting out on a blanket and watching hundreds of explosions light up the sky in honor of your country's birthday. But how do those explosions even happen?,467464Tue, 4 Jul 2017 12:04:58 +1000Measuring the vibrations of runners' strides could help prevent muscle injuriesDespite its worldwide popularity as a form of exercise, running&#8212;whether it's long-distance or sprinting&#8212;is grueling. It not only requires an incredible amount of mental focus and a high pain tolerance, but it's also extremely taxing on the body. Unlike sports such as swimming or cycling, running is a high-impact activity. With each stride, your foot collides with the ground. This impact sends vibrations to every muscle you've got. Over time, that can lead to muscle fatigue and injury.,467463Tue, 4 Jul 2017 12:04:58 +1000This engineer is using old cell phones to stop illegal loggingOn a 2011 hike through the Indonesian rainforest, Topher White stumbled across a rogue logger cutting down a tree. The man was working just a short distance from the ranger station, but the din of chirping birds and buzzing insects obscured the sound of his chainsaw, keeping him hidden in plain sight.,467462Tue, 4 Jul 2017 12:04:57 +1000Paleontologists finally know what this ancient armored reptile looked likeA lot can happen in 241 million years. Dinosaurs can rise and fall, and so can the Earth itself. Take Switzerland: In the past 241 million years it went from being beachfront property to a mountainous skier's heaven dotted with chalets.,467461Tue, 4 Jul 2017 12:04:57 +1000Stop eating your damn placentasChildbirth is scary. A tiny human has to somehow emerge from what you thought was a pretty tight space. Some bits of you might literally tear open in the process. You're also almost certainly going to poop in front of strangers.,467460Tue, 4 Jul 2017 12:04:57 +1000NASA filled the sky with glowing blue and green clouds If at first you don't succeed, try, try again. That should be the motto for a NASA mission that has <em>finally</em> launched after no fewer than 11 scrubbed launch attempts.,467459Tue, 4 Jul 2017 12:04:57 +1000Clear summer skies are making Greenland's ice sheet melt even fasterFor 18 million years, the vast expanses of Earth's largest island (no, Australia doesn't count) have been covered by the aptly-named Greenland Ice Sheet, a colossal mass over two kilometers thick that covers 1.7 million square kilometers. But since 1990, scientists have noticed that the ice&#8212;which usually melts in the summer and refreezes in colder months&#8212;has been melting faster and earlier in the year. In a recent study published in Science Advances, researchers at the University of Bristol have found an unexpected source of this increased melt: sunlight.,467458Tue, 4 Jul 2017 12:04:57 +1000Climate change could kill the Southern US's economyUnion County, Florida is 250 square miles, nestled in the middle of the state's pan&#8212;not the handle&#8212;about an hour southwest of Jacksonville and nearly as far from the state's southern border. Residents depend on four things for their county's survival: farming, trucking, timber, and the state's department of corrections. It is the country's third congressional district, the state's smallest county, and the place in Florida that will take the hardest economic hit from climate change, according to a new study released today in the journal Nature.,467457Tue, 4 Jul 2017 12:04:56 +1000Commercial agriculture is preventing bushfires&#8212;and that's not good newsAround the world, fires are failing to spark, and grasslands are suffering. Over the past two decades, the amount of burned land has plummeted globally by nearly 25 percent, an international team of scientists reported today. Satellite images indicate that the rise of commercial agriculture is preventing fires from catching hold, especially in grasslands. This might sound like a good thing, but grasslands and their animal denizens actually depend on wildfires. Burned terrain will likely continue to shrink in coming decades, endangering grasslands and savannas as we know them.,467456Tue, 4 Jul 2017 12:04:56 +1000