Australian Popular Science News news from, 26 Apr 2015 19:42:46 +100010The World Is Throwing Out Billions Of Dollars Along With Its Electronic WasteIn 2014, the world got rid of <a href=";dom=pscau&amp;src=syndication">92 billion pounds</a> of electronic waste, and nearly $50 billion worth of recyclable materials. That's a hefty amount of lamps, laptops and air conditioners that get tossed every year, and it's only getting worse.,403164Fri, 24 Apr 2015 12:45:52 +1000Mysterious Radio Bursts Are Indeed Coming From A Galaxy Far, Far AwayIn 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 <a href=";dom=pscau&amp;src=syndication">last May</a>. Based on these observations, the FRBs seem to be coming from more than 3 billion light years away, far beyond the Milky Way.,403163Fri, 24 Apr 2015 12:45:48 +1000The Environmental Benefits Of Eating Crickets Vs. Chicken: It's ComplicatedIn 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&#8212;specifically, feed, land, and water&#8212;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.,403162Fri, 24 Apr 2015 12:45:44 +1000Drone Bombs Crops With Beneficial BugsA 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 href=";dom=pscau&amp;src=syndication">a drone</a>.,403161Fri, 24 Apr 2015 12:45:40 +1000Device Automatically Tests Different Drugs In An Actual Tumor To Find The BestIn the past, cancer drugs have been indiscriminate killing machines&#8212;they would kill the cancerous cells, but take healthy cells too, sometimes making the patient even sicker. Precision medicine, or <a href=";dom=pscau&amp;src=syndication">personalized medicine</a>, 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 <a href=";dom=pscau&amp;src=syndication">need to understand</a> 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 <a href=";dom=pscau&amp;src=syndication">can't account for</a> how the cells interact with one another, changing how the treatment would work.,403160Fri, 24 Apr 2015 12:45:34 +1000Augmented Reality Glasses Are Coming To The Battlefield<em>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.</em>,403159Fri, 24 Apr 2015 12:45:31 +1000Check Your Vitals With Wi-FiTo feed our need for health-related data, engineers have created <a href=";dom=pscau&amp;src=syndication">specialized wearable gadgets</a> or have added capabilities to the <a href=";dom=pscau&amp;src=syndication">devices already integrated</a> 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 <a href=";dom=pscau&amp;src=syndication">research</a> this week at the annual CHI conference, focused on human-computer interaction, in Seoul, South Korea.,403158Fri, 24 Apr 2015 12:45:28 +1000This Security Flaw Can Cause Your iPhone To Reboot EndlesslyWhile 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 <a href=";dom=pscau&amp;src=syndication">RSA security conference</a>, researchers demonstrated a flaw that <a href=";dom=pscau&amp;src=syndication">allows a maliciously configured Wi-Fi access point to crash an iPhone</a>--without the phone even joining that network.,403157Fri, 24 Apr 2015 12:45:23 +1000For The First Time, Researchers Edit The Genes Of Human EmbryosRumors 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 <em>Protein &amp; Cell</em>, 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.,403156Fri, 24 Apr 2015 12:45:20 +10008 Disgusting Diseases You Can Catch From Your PetBetween 2012 and 2014, 160 people became infected by <em>Salmonella</em> Cotham, a rare strain of bacteria that causes vomiting, diarrhea, and fever. Sixty-one people were hospitalized. The culprit? <a href=";dom=pscau&amp;src=syndication">Bearded dragon lizards</a> bought from pet stores across 36 states. <em>Salmonella</em> 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.,403155Fri, 24 Apr 2015 12:45:17 +1000Google Wants To Be Your Wireless CarrierGoogle's been many things to many people: search engine, email service, social network. Now the folks from Mountain View are branching out into a brand-new arena by launching a mobile phone carrier, <a href=";dom=pscau&amp;src=syndication">Project Fi</a>.,403154Fri, 24 Apr 2015 12:45:15 +1000Blue Train Dramatically Cuts Down On PollutionThe 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.,403153Fri, 24 Apr 2015 12:45:10 +1000Robobarista Can Learn How To Operate Your Coffee MachineWhen you get a new coffee machine, you can probably figure out how to use it. But how does your robot know? (You know, that one you have lying around.) The <a href=";dom=pscau&amp;src=syndication">Robot Learning Lab</a> at Cornell University has a solution: a robot that can learn how to operate new machines.,403152Fri, 24 Apr 2015 12:45:02 +1000Drones Make Good Jogging Companions, Research FindsHaving 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,403151Fri, 24 Apr 2015 12:45:00 +1000MIT Invention Turns Salt Water Into Drinking Water Using Solar PowerFrom 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 <a href=";dom=pscau&amp;src=syndication">water restrictions</a>. 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.,403150Fri, 24 Apr 2015 12:44:57 +1000How Much Mosquitoes Like Your Taste Depends On Your GenesFor many people, warmer weather means more days spent in the sun and long evenings outdoors. It also means mosquito bites. Even if you're one of the lucky people that receives relatively few, you've probably noticed that not all people get bitten with the same frequency. And while frequent bites might simply be a nuisance for some, it could mean a much higher incidence of nasty diseases such as malaria, dengue and <a href=";dom=pscau&amp;src=syndication">chikungunya</a> in some parts of the world. According to a new <a href=";id=10.1371/journal.pone.0122716">study</a> published in <em>PLOS One</em>, your genes have a lot to do with that.,403149Fri, 24 Apr 2015 12:44:53 +1000Chile's Calbuco Volcano Erupts SpectacularlyChile's Calbuco volcano has been sleeping since 1972--and yesterday, it woke up with a start. The peak finally erupted, sending a huge ash plume into the air <a href=";dom=pscau&amp;src=syndication">followed by lava</a> pouring out of the mountain's vents shortly afterwards.,403148Fri, 24 Apr 2015 12:38:21 +1000To Get Rid Of Mitochondrial Diseases, Just Edit Them Out Of DNAWhile mitochondrial DNA transfers, or &#8220;three-parent babies,&#8221; are <a href=";dom=pscau&amp;src=syndication">now legal in the United Kingdom</a>, the debate (largely an ethical one) is <a href=";dom=pscau&amp;src=syndication">still ongoing</a> in the United States. According to a <a href=";_returnURL=http%3A//">study</a> published today in <em>Cell</em>, researchers at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in California have developed a new technique that could skirt some of the ethical issues involved with three-person IVF while still giving people the health benefits of mitochondrial DNA transfers.,403147Fri, 24 Apr 2015 12:38:18 +1000Tesla's Next Product: A Battery To Run Your House?On March 30, Elon Musk sent out this tweet:,403146Fri, 24 Apr 2015 12:38:16 +1000See Inside A Guy's Head As He Sings From 'The Wizard Of Oz' [Video]The longest half-hour of my life was spent in an MRI machine, getting my knee scanned after an athletic injury. If you don't lie perfectly still, the image could blur and you might have to do it all over again. Of course, the more you concentrate on not moving, the more you want to move. Then the magnets make your muscles twitch and it feels even more like torture.,403145Fri, 24 Apr 2015 12:38:11 +1000Homemade Iron Man Glove Fires LasersPatrick Priebe isn't Iron Man, but he's getting pretty close. In a video uploaded to YouTube earlier this week, the Priebe shows off his homemade Iron Man gauntlet, which has not one but two lasers--one on top and one in the palm--as well as an ejectable piece of metal for that ultra-realistic &#8220;empty shells falling onto the ground&#8221; sound effect.,403144Fri, 24 Apr 2015 12:38:08 +1000Computer Program Diagnoses CancerIn recent years, researchers have figured out that the constellation of diseases known as cancer is in fact hundreds of distinct diseases. Though each one may manifest itself a little differently, diagnosing the type of cancer is extremely difficult, and makes a huge difference in how doctors treat the disease. Now researchers from MIT's Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory have teamed up with doctors from Massachusetts General Hospital to develop a computer model that can pull in a patient's data to suggest diagnoses to their physicians. The researchers <a href=";dom=pscau&amp;src=syndication">published their work</a> earlier this month in the <em>Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association</em>.,403143Fri, 24 Apr 2015 12:38:05 +1000For The First Time, Visible Light From An Exoplanet DetectedOne does not simply look at an exoplanet. In order to learn more about these space rocks lurking many light years away, researchers have various indirect methods for deciphering their features. Astronomers can examine how the planet's host star wobbles in relation to the globe, to pinpoint the planet's position and mass. Or they can examine the dimming of the star as the planet passes in front, a method known as transit photometry that helps to determine the planet's radius.,403142Fri, 24 Apr 2015 12:38:02 +1000 Maine Search And Rescue Company Gets FAA Approval To Use DronesDrones are well known for their ability to search. Now, an emergency rescue service in Maine is going to see how well drones can do rescue too. <a href=";dom=pscau&amp;src=syndication">Down East Emergency Medical Institute</a>, a Maine-based non-profit focused on improving medical evacuation techniques in New England, was granted an <a href=";dom=pscau&amp;src=syndication">exemption from the FAA</a> earlier this month, allowing them to fly drones for search and rescue missions.,403141Fri, 24 Apr 2015 12:37:59 +1000Scientists Can Trick You Into Thinking You're InvisibleIt looks like Muggles have finally caught up with the wizarding world. Neuroscientists from Sweden's Karolinska Institutet gave 125 study participants the illusion of <a href=";dom=pscau&amp;src=syndication">being invisible</a>.,403140Fri, 24 Apr 2015 12:37:55 +1000Saudis Use Chinese-made Cannons in YemenThe PLZ-45 is the artillery workhorse of the Saudi Army, it can a range of nearly 40km and can fire American and Chinese made smart munitions guided by lasers and satellite navigation, as well as cluster munitions.,403083Thu, 23 Apr 2015 16:37:06 +10003D-Printed Bottle Used In Murder TrialIn the wee hours of June 6th, 2014, two men lined up to summon a taxi. One was a 42-year-old father of three named Lee Dent, who ran a used tire shop and had been out drinking. The other was 17-year-old youth soccer player Alex Peguero Sosa, who was planning to attend university. An altercation ensued, a bottle broken, and at the end of it, Peguero Sosa was dead, stabbed in the neck by the broken bottle.,403082Thu, 23 Apr 2015 16:37:03 +1000A Possible Probiotic For BatsBats in North America have a real problem. It's a fungus called <em>Pseudogymnoascus destructans</em> although it's more commonly known by the disease it causes, <a href=";dom=pscau&amp;src=syndication">white-nose syndrome</a>. Millions of bats have died over the last decade leaving the <a href=";dom=pscau&amp;src=syndication">National Wildlife Health Center</a> no option but to consider this disease an ecological threat.,403081Thu, 23 Apr 2015 16:37:00 +1000Fungal DNA Can Be Used To Track Where A Speck Of Dust Came FromIn the Northern Hemisphere, spring has sprung, and as those folks begin to shed their fur...sorry, I mean, start spring cleaning, you might be wondering where all this dust came from. If you live in the United States, science may have an answer.,403080Thu, 23 Apr 2015 16:36:56 +1000Supervoid May Explain Gargantuan Cold Spot Lurking In Distant UniverseIf you're wondering what the biggest structure in the universe is, astronomers have said <a href=";dom=pscau&amp;src=syndication">it's nothing</a>, really.,403079Thu, 23 Apr 2015 16:36:53 +1000Marine V-22 Osprey Shoots Kamikaze Drones Out Its BacksideWhatever comes out the back-end of the V-22 Osprey is a guaranteed load of unpleasantness, whether it's a troop of Marines or a Jeep-like <a href=";dom=pscau&amp;src=syndication">Phantom Badger</a>. As a tiltrotor, the V-22 can take-off and land vertically like a helicopter, then switch to flying fast like a plane in mid-air. That versatility makes the V-22 an excellent transport, but now the Marines want it to work as a gunship too--by firing weapons from its rear unloading ramp.,403078Thu, 23 Apr 2015 16:36:50 +1000Male And Female Stegosaurus May Have Had Different Plates T. rex has its big head and tiny arms, triceratops has horns, and brontosaurus (yes, <a href=";dom=pscau&amp;src=syndication">brontosaurus</a>) has its super long neck. The stegosaurus, on the other hand, has a tiny brain and the equivalent of a set of China plates set in long lines running down its back. It turns out that the size and shape of the plates of these <a href=";dom=pscau&amp;src=syndication">fearsome fighters</a> might actually give paleontologists a clue as to whether stegosaurus fossils were male or female.,403077Thu, 23 Apr 2015 16:36:47 +1000Creepy Robot That Imitates Facial Expressions May Soon Greet You At HotelsHumanoid robots like <em>Star Trek</em>'s data have long been the stuff of science-fiction, but if Hanson Robotics's latest foray into a person-like artificial being is any indication, that day may be...well, still pretty far off.,403076Thu, 23 Apr 2015 16:36:41 +1000The International Space Station Is Open For BusinessAside from its monumental rocket landing attempt, <a href=";dom=pscau&amp;src=syndication">last week's SpaceX launch</a> made headlines for another reason: It jettisoned an espresso machine into space for the first time ever. Called the ISSpresso, the coffee maker is about the size of a microwave, and all it needs is a pouch of water and a capsule of espresso to make a great pick-me-up for sleepy astronauts.,403075Thu, 23 Apr 2015 16:36:36 +1000Drone-Proofing The Boston MarathonTo protect this year's Boston Marathon runners and spectators from drone-borne threats, a Washington, D.C.-based company patrolled the event with drone-detecting sensors and net guns.,403074Thu, 23 Apr 2015 16:36:31 +1000Forget Text Messages--Send Emotions Over The AirIt used to be the case that if you wanted to reach out and touch someone, you had to use your hands. But thanks to <a href=";dom=pscau&amp;src=syndication">scientists in the U.K.</a>, you might some day be able to use technology--and no, we're not talking the telephone--to transmit the emotions you experience to someone else via touch.,403073Thu, 23 Apr 2015 16:36:27 +1000Watch This Robot Hydra Race Across The WaterAt first glance it looks like a rogue jet ski speeding through the water, rider nowhere to be found. Al Seer Marine's Hydra unmanned surface vessel (or sea drone) is a small craft, made for patrolling harbors or <a href=";dom=pscau&amp;src=syndication">protecting mega-yachts</a>. In March, it underwent its first sea trials at the United Arab Emirates International Defense Expo. Now the video of those trials is online, and we can see just what a robot boat looks like when it's showing off. Watch it do donuts on the surface of the sea below:,403072Thu, 23 Apr 2015 16:36:21 +1000FDA May Start Regulating Homeopathy<a href=";dom=pscau&amp;src=syndication">Homeopathy</a>--an alternative theory of medicine founded on the notion that &#8220;like cures like&#8221;--has so far gotten a free pass in the U.S. Although studies suggest homeopathic treatments don't work, the FDA allows them to be sold without testing and without approval from regulators. This week, the agency is re-evaluating that stance. Over <a href=";dom=pscau&amp;src=syndication">two days of hearings</a>, the FDA will listen to public comment as to whether homeopathic remedies should be tested with the same rigorousness as regular over-the-counter drugs.,402946Tue, 21 Apr 2015 09:56:47 +1000Learning About Health On Social Media Makes Risks Seem RiskierWhether it's the <a href=";dom=pscau&amp;src=syndication">outbreak of an infectious disease</a> or news of a terrorist attack, social media is a powerful tool to spread information. But exactly how information gets transmitted, and how clearly, isn't well understood. In order to better comprehend and predict public understanding of risk, team of German researchers conducted <a href=";dom=pscau&amp;src=syndication">the first study</a>, published today in <em>PNAS</em>, to test social transmission's effect on our understanding of risk,402945Tue, 21 Apr 2015 09:56:44 +1000Popping The Cork On 170-Year-Old Shipwrecked Champagne Losing a shipment of over 160 bottles champagne in the Baltic Sea must have been a huge blow to European importers back in the early 1800's. But their loss is definitely our gain. Discovered on the seafloor in 2010, the shipwrecked cargo has become a treasure trove of information to scientists interested in how alcohol was made in the past.,402944Tue, 21 Apr 2015 09:56:42 +1000'Star Talk': A Sneak Peek At Neil deGrasse Tyson's New Late Night ShowIt's not often that I'm waiting to order a drink at the bar next to Bill Nye. But on the rare occasion that this does happen, as it did this past Thursday evening, I knew we were on the verge of something big.,402943Tue, 21 Apr 2015 09:56:37 +1000Here's How Mull Affects Your BodyOur obsession with marijuana's mystifying powers goes back a long time; though its first documented use was in <a href=";dom=pscau&amp;src=syndication">2727 BC</a>, there's <a href=";dom=pscau&amp;src=syndication">some indication</a> that our ancestors cultivated cannabis plants in the earliest days of agriculture. Since then, marijuana has spread around the world, used for medicine, religious purposes, or recreation by almost every culture. Clearly, pot does something for us. But until recently, scientists didn't have the technology to really figure out how pot makes us feel the way it does (other than testing it anecdotally, of course).,402942Tue, 21 Apr 2015 09:56:32 +1000New Smart Sensor Sniffs Out Decaying Meat Before You CanFoul smells are generally good indications of food gone bad, and now <a href=";dom=pscau&amp;src=syndication">MIT chemists</a> have developed a new sensor that does all that nasty smelling work for you. The portable and inexpensive device detects gases from meat, looking for chemical signatures associated with decaying meat products.,402941Tue, 21 Apr 2015 09:56:29 +1000A Biotech Startup Wants To Replace Your Eyeballs With Synthetic OnesOur eyes are such elegant, complex, specialized organs that their existence seems almost hard to believe--Darwin himself called their evolution &#8220;absurd.&#8221; But that doesn't mean they're perfect; eyes sometimes <a href=";dom=pscau&amp;src=syndication">don't focus correctly</a>, they <a href=";dom=pscau&amp;src=syndication">break down</a> over time, and they can be <a href=";dom=pscau&amp;src=syndication">extremely painful</a> if infected, irritated, or exposed to light that's too bright. Italian biotech startup MHOX is embarking on an ambitious project: to improve human eyes by <a href=";dom=pscau&amp;src=syndication">making synthetic replacements</a>.,402940Tue, 21 Apr 2015 09:56:25 +1000NASA Tests Cartoonish Flying Wing DroneNASA's Multi-Utility Technology Testbed (MUTT) looks like a kid's cartoon drawing of an airplane crossed with a stingray, and it comes with the appropriately pet-esque moniker &#8220;Buckeye.&#8221; The remotely operated <a href=";dom=pscau&amp;src=syndication">flying wing</a> drone will test how wobbly parts work on aircraft. Last Thursday, it <a href=";dom=pscau&amp;src=syndication">flew for the first time</a> at NASA's Armstrong Flight Research Center, in Edwards, California.,402845Mon, 20 Apr 2015 09:16:52 +1000Swedish Brothers Launch First Doughnut Into SpaceLast week will go down in history as the first time a doughnut was ever launched into space.,402896Mon, 20 Apr 2015 09:16:48 +1000Physics Proves Grainy Soil Is Good At Stopping MissilesWhen a missile has been launched, the safest place to be is not in its path. But if one must be where a missile is flying, then the next-best course of action to be far enough underground that the impact is completely absorbed by the dirt above. This isn't so much practical advice--digging underground bunkers is a slow process and not actually advised in response to an incoming missile--but an actual limitation of how missiles work. Published under the innocuous name of &#8220;<a href=";dom=pscau&amp;src=syndication">Nonlinear Force Propagation During Granular Impact</a>&#8221; in <em>Physical Review Letters</em> last week, the study shows how granular materials like dirt and soil get stronger when impacted.,402895Mon, 20 Apr 2015 09:16:44 +1000Odd Sound In Antarctica May Be From New Whale SpeciesApparently no one told a group of whales in Antarctica that they were supposed to be seen and not heard. Instead, what scientists believe is a new whale species is doing the exact opposite.,402894Mon, 20 Apr 2015 09:16:41 +1000Fans Gasp In Awe At New 'Star Wars' TrailerMuch like Darth Vader after his fateful fight against Obi Wan on Mustafar, Star Wars fans have been burnt before. The last time new live-action Star Wars films came back to theaters, they brought with them a legion of unlikeable characters and a plot full of Sorkin-esque walks down corridors explaining trade policy. With the J.J. Abrams-directed <em>Episode VII: The Force Awakens</em> set to debut this December, fan expectations and fears have been running equally high. Yesterday, at the Star Wars Celebration in Anaheim, California, a new trailer seemed to put many of those fears to rest. It opens with a crashed Star Destroyer:,402893Mon, 20 Apr 2015 09:16:36 +1000Our Modern Lifestyle May Be Destroying Microbiome DiversityDeep in the Amazonian rainforest, the remote villages of the Yanomami represent some of the final holdouts against Western culture. Though the villagers spot helicopters flying overhead every now and then, some groups have never had contact with Westerners or our modern comforts. By studying one such group, a <a href=";dom=pscau&amp;src=syndication">new paper</a> reveals just how much those modern comforts may be changing the make-up of our bodies.,402892Mon, 20 Apr 2015 09:16:33 +1000