Australian Popular Science News news from, 9 Oct 2015 21:29:31 +100010Israeli Xprize Team Becomes First To Book A Ticket To The MoonA privately funded spacecraft is officially scheduled to launch to the moon in late 2017. The Google Lunar Xprize competition announced this morning that a team from Israel is the first to verify a launch contract to leave Earth. <a href=";src=syn">SpaceIL</a>'s spacecraft will ride to the moon on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.,410227Thu, 8 Oct 2015 10:25:35 +1000China Reveals Flying Robot CarAVIC, the leading Chinese aviation conglomerate, unveiled a flying robot car during the September 2015 Third China Helicopter Exposition in Tianjin. The Swift Gazelle (Sai Ling in Mandarin Chinese) currently weighs 100 kg, and uses its six side mounted, digitally controlled rotors to vertically takeoff and land, hover and fly, just like a helicopter. On land, the Swift Gazelle can speed off in pursuit of enemies. At its current small size, the Swift Gazelle is unmanned, which means that it can drive autonomously on the ground (and much cheaper for scouting missions), at least until a bigger Gazelle comes along for human use.,410226Thu, 8 Oct 2015 10:25:30 +1000Nobel Prize In Chemistry Goes To 3 Scientists Who Uncovered DNA RepairThe wait is over for chemistry enthusiasts: today the <a href=";src=syn">2015 Nobel Prize in Chemistry</a> prize was awarded to a trio of researchers, Tomas Lindahl of the Francis Crick Institute, Paul Modrich of Duke University and Aziz Sancar of the University of North Carolina School of Medicine, Chapel Hill, for their mechanistic studies of of DNA repair.,410225Thu, 8 Oct 2015 10:25:25 +1000The World's First Fully Robotic Farm Opens In 2017Robots will be the farmers of the future. A company in Japan is building an indoor lettuce farm that will be completely tended by robots and computers. The company, named Spread, expects the factory to open in 2017, and the fully automated farming process could make the lettuce cheaper and better for the environment.,410224Thu, 8 Oct 2015 10:25:18 +1000A 'Bacterial Condom' Could Help Prevent HIVThe vaginal microbiome is complex and mysterious; the bacteria that make it up <a href="">vary widely</a> between women, and change over time. One of the vaginal microbiome's functions, researchers have learned, is to stave off disease. But some are better than others at trapping pathogens. Now researchers may have discovered a particular bacterium that can stop HIV pathogens from infecting the body, which could lead to &#8220;bacterial condoms,&#8221; according to a <a href=";src=syn">study published yesterday</a> in <em>mBio</em>, the journal of the American Society for Microbiology.,410223Thu, 8 Oct 2015 10:25:13 +1000Volvo On Self-Driving Car Liability: I VolunteerEver wondered who would be responsible if you were struck by a self-driving car? As of today, Volvo says it's their problem. <a href=";src=syn"> reports</a> that if the car is a Volvo and it's running autonomously, the Swedish automaker has pledged to take on full liability for crashes in the future.,410222Thu, 8 Oct 2015 10:25:08 +1000We Test-Flew Icon's A5, The Affordable-ish Personal Aeroplane For EveryoneI've never piloted an aeroplane before. I've never even so much as sat in the cockpit of a moving aircraft. So I'm naturally a bit nervous when Kirk Hawkins, founder and CEO of Icon Aircraft, asks me if I want the stick. We're roughly 1,000 feet above New York's Hudson River in Icon's new A5 airplane, the Manhattan skyline rolling past on our left, the Statue of Liberty dead ahead.,410221Thu, 8 Oct 2015 10:25:00 +1000In Painkiller Trials, Placebo Effect Is Becoming More PowerfulPainkiller manufacturers are confused. Their drugs have maintained the same efficacy at relieving symptoms for the past 25 years, but the placebo effect has gotten stronger in drug trials conducted in the U.S., according to <a href=";issue=00000&amp;article=99737&amp;type=abstract&amp;year=9000&amp;issue=00000&amp;article=99737&amp;type=abstract">an analysis</a> of 35 experiments published online ahead of print in the journal <em>Pain</em>. In 1996, a painkiller relieved symptoms in 27 percent more patients than a placebo; in a similar trial in 2013, it was only 9 percent, <a href=";src=syn">as Nature News reports</a>. As a result, the drugs are appearing less effective during clinical trials, which means that fewer of them have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration; over the past 10 years, more than 90 percent of drugs designed to treat pain have failed in late stages of testing.,410220Thu, 8 Oct 2015 10:24:54 +1000uBiome Teams Up With Apple To Study Your GutFrom asthma and acne to obesity and schizophrenia, the microbiome&#8212;the billions of bacteria that take up residence in and on our body&#8212;plays a crucial role in human health. However scientists are only just beginning to understand the influence that this powerful &#8220;organ&#8221; has on our bodies. The California biotech company, <a href=";src=syn">uBiome</a>, has been working for several years to better understand the relationship between how much we weigh and the types of bacteria that reside inside our guts-- and is enlisting citizen scientists to help.,410219Thu, 8 Oct 2015 10:24:48 +1000Text Messaging May Be Increasing Your AnxietyPeople tend to interpret ambiguous text messages negatively, especially if they're sent from a female friend, says a study in September's <em>Computers in Human Behavior</em>.,410218Thu, 8 Oct 2015 10:24:40 +1000Portable Power for Electric CarsOne of the factors that keeps electric vehicles from wide adoption is range anxiety. Though battery technologies have come a long way in the last decade, with 100 miles on a charge being common and Teslas easily topping 200 miles, people still want to know they can take off on a family vacation or a weekend away. Road trip!,410217Thu, 8 Oct 2015 10:24:37 +1000Better Know A Plague: Nobel Prize EditionIt's <a href=";src=syn">Nobel week</a>, when the world watches as Swedes and Norwegians bestow medals and sizeable cash rewards upon scientists, writers, and promoters of peace.,410216Thu, 8 Oct 2015 10:24:33 +1000With Gene Editing, Pigs Could Be The Perfect Organ DonorFor years, scientists have been trying to manipulate pig organs so that they could be transplanted into the 8,000 humans waiting for a life saving transplant. So far, that hasn't worked. But George Church, a geneticist at Harvard Medical School and co-founder of the biotech company <a href=";src=syn">eGenesis</a>, hopes to change that; earlier this week he announced that he and his colleagues had used the gene editing tool CRISPR to modify an unprecedented number of genes in pig embryos in order to make them easier to transplant into humans. Church announced his team's work this week at a meeting of the National Academy of Sciences, which was <a href=";src=syn">reported by Nature News</a>.,410215Thu, 8 Oct 2015 10:24:28 +1000Genetic Tests Don't Help Treat Mental Illness More patients are receiving genetic tests for mental illness to help their doctors identify which medications will be most effective. But the tests may not be all they're cracked up to be; <a href=";src=syn">an investigation by the New England Center for Investigative Reporting</a>, <a href=";src=syn">published yesterday</a> in the Boston Globe, found questionable evidence and rife conflicts of interest in an industry unregulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The result, as one researcher wrote in an <a href=";src=syn">editorial in the New England Journal of Medicine</a> earlier this year, are &#8220;claims [that] are not harmless and may be quite dangerous.&#8221;,410155Wed, 7 Oct 2015 11:42:08 +1000Facebook Will Beam Internet From Satellites To Africa In 2016Until now, Facebook's mission to beam internet connectivity to the world through its <a href=";src=syn"></a> philanthropic organization has been largely limited to piggy-backing on existing wireless networks on the ground. Sure, Facebook has tested <a href=";src=syn">Aquila, its experimental laser internet drone</a>. But a huge announcement today by <a href=";src=syn">Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg</a> marks the first real piece of hardware that will bring internet to previously unconnected regions: a new satellite. That's right, Facebook is going to space.,410154Wed, 7 Oct 2015 11:42:03 +1000Hormone-Blocking 'Vaccine' Could Sterilize Animals With Just One ShotScientists have long sought ways to stop animal populations from growing too large, but current methods are often expensive or labor-intensive. Now a team of researchers from the California Institute of Technology has discovered a method that could render animals sterile with a single injection, according to <a href=";src=syn">a study published today</a> in <em>Current Biology</em>.,410153Wed, 7 Oct 2015 11:41:58 +1000An Autonomous Truck Just Zoomed Down The AutobahnWhen driving on Germany's notorious ultra-fast Autobahn, you generally hope that the other drivers have their hands firmly on the wheel. But last Friday, there was at least one giant freight truck on the Autobahn whose driver took a more hands-off approach, allowing the truck itself to take a turn at the wheel. And everything went just fine.,410152Wed, 7 Oct 2015 11:41:50 +1000These Apollo Pictures Show the Crowded Life of Lunar AstronautsThe Apollo spacecraft came in two livable parts, but they were small. The command module was the gumdrop-shaped vehicle that was the crew's main living quarters. 10 feet 7 inches from base to apex and 12 feet 10 inches around at the base, the 210 cubic feet of livable space was crammed with three couches and all the instrumentation and display panels the crew would need to manage the entire lunar mission. This was the vehicle the astronauts launched in and the one fitted with a heat shield that would keep them safe during their fiery return through the Earth's atmosphere. It was their home away from home in space.,410151Wed, 7 Oct 2015 11:41:45 +1000Nobel Prize In Physics Goes To Scientists Who Discovered Neutrinos Have MassThis in morning in Stockholm, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences (Kungl Vetenskaps Akademien) awarded the <a href=";src=syn">2015 Nobel Prize in Physics</a> to Canadian physicist Arthur B. McDonald and Japanese physicist Takaaki Kajita, &#8220;for the discovery of neutrino oscillations, which shows that neutrinos have mass.&#8221; The two scientists will split the nearly $1 million USD (8 million Swedish Krona) prize.,410150Wed, 7 Oct 2015 11:41:39 +1000Billionaire Peter Thiel Invests In The War On Aging, Detecting Spoiled Food, And MoreEarlier this year, Breakout Labs, the subsidiary organization created by PayPal co-and billionaire-investor Peter Thiel, announced a <a href=";src=syn">few select biotechnology startups</a> that would receiving funding to further their ideas. Breakout Labs' mission is to invest in companies that are looking to make "radical scientific advances" mainstream, essentially boosting the best underfunded inventions to the tune of up to $350,000 (<a href=";src=syn#section-program">plus consultation help from Breakout Labs</a>).,410148Wed, 7 Oct 2015 11:41:29 +1000Microsoft Unveils New Band Wearable At Windows 10 EventMicrosoft introduced its newest version of the Microsoft Band wearable at the company's Windows 10 press event in New York City today. In addition to revealing the HoloLens developer price and release window, the new Band&#8212;not called <a href=";src=syn">Band 2</a>, as was previously rumored&#8212; brings barometer features to enable elevation tracking and a curved screen.,410147Wed, 7 Oct 2015 11:41:24 +1000Microsoft's Augmented Reality HoloLens Will Be Available In Early 2016At the beginning of 2015, Microsoft showed off the <a href=";src=syn">HoloLens</a>, an ambitious headset that displays digital images over the world around you, using a technology commonly referred to as augmented reality. Today at a big press event in New York City, the company announced that HoloLens will be available in the first quarter of 2016 starting at a price of $3,000 &#8212; but only for software developers.,410146Wed, 7 Oct 2015 11:41:21 +1000Microsoft Unveils Three New Smartphones At Windows 10 EventMicrosoft unveiled three new smartphones at its Windows 10 event today in New York City: the Lumia 950, 950 XL, and 550.,410145Wed, 7 Oct 2015 11:41:16 +1000Microsoft Announces New Surface Pro 4 Hybrid Tablet PCMicrosoft announced the new Surface Pro 4 at its Windows 10 event today, building on its line of hybrid computers aimed to bridge the gap between laptops and tablets. The new device has a 12.3-inch screen, with 267 pixels per inch. Microsoft claims that the Surface Pro 4 is 30 percent faster than the Pro 3, and 50 percent faster than the Macbook Air. It is also thinner than the Pro 3, at 8.4 mm.,410144Wed, 7 Oct 2015 11:41:12 +1000Microsoft Unveils Surface Book At Its Windows 10 2015 EventMicrosoft unveiled its first laptop ever, the Surface Book, today at the Windows 10 devices event. The 13.5 inch laptop will join the Surface 4 in Microsoft's hardware offering. Microsoft claims the notebook will be twice as powerful as Apple's MacBook Pro.,410143Wed, 7 Oct 2015 11:41:08 +1000These Are The Real-Life Settings Of Scenes From 'The Martian'<em>The Martian</em> is easily <a href=";src=syn">one of the best</a> sci-fi films out there, and part of what makes it so incredible was the intense attention to detail. The story has a pedigree of accuracy, as Andy Weir, author of the book that the movie was based on, took a lot of care in getting the science right. Even though both film and book are completely fictitious, a lot of the science is real, including the setting.,410142Wed, 7 Oct 2015 11:41:02 +1000America Might Get Its First New Marine Sanctuaries In 15 Years As the world becomes increasingly connected by trains, planes, automobiles, and massive boats, governments and activists are increasingly looking to create pockets of peace and quiet, even in the deep blue sea.,410141Wed, 7 Oct 2015 11:40:54 +1000Happy Fifth Birthday, InstagramMy, how Instagram has grown. Launched five years ago today, the photo- and video-sharing platform has quickly become one of the world's top ten social media sites, after giants like its parent company, Facebook, as well as Twitter, Pinterest and Tumblr. Valued at a whopping <a href=";src=syn">$35 billion</a>, the platform has <a href=";src=syn">400 million</a> monthly active users who share 80 million photos and generate 3.5 billion likes each day. In honor of Instagram's big five, we've gathered five of our favorite posts from <a href=";src=syn"><em>Popular Science</em>'s Instagram</a>:,410140Wed, 7 Oct 2015 11:40:48 +1000Watch This Machine Create The Largest Human-Made Waves In The WorldWhen a big storm comes, whipping up the surf into a frenzy of waves, people have to hope that all their storm preparations will hold. But what if they knew for certain whether the levee/dam/barrier halting the waves was strong enough? That's the idea behind the Netherland's new wave generator, the largest in the world, which officially opened yesterday.,410139Wed, 7 Oct 2015 11:40:43 +1000The US National Science Foundation Wants Robots To Read To KidsThe National Science Foundation awarded a <a href=";HistoricalAwards=false&amp;AWD_ID=1523118&amp;HistoricalAwards=false">$440,885 grant</a> to researchers at <a href=";src=syn">MIT</a> to develop social robots specifically to be reading companions for children. The investigation is led by Cynthia Breazeal, who's been in headlines during the past few years with her consumer personal robot named Jibo.,410138Wed, 7 Oct 2015 11:40:38 +1000This Heat Shield Could Help Us Get To MarsIn synchrony with <em>The Martian</em>'s debut last weekend, NASA is pulling out all the stops to promote its Mars research. Today the agency released this image, taken during the testing of a heat shield that could one day help large spacecraft land on Mars.,410134Wed, 7 Oct 2015 11:20:30 +1000Five Possible Long-Range Effects Of The VW Emissions ScandalThus far, it's a been a quiet start to the third week of the Volkswagen diesel-emission cheating scandal.,410133Wed, 7 Oct 2015 11:20:24 +1000US May Continue Riding Russian Rockets To SpaceFor years, the United Launch Alliance&#8212;a joint venture between Boeing and Lockheed Martin&#8212;provided the U.S. Air Force's only way of getting satellites into orbit. After a lot of contention, SpaceX broke up that monopoly in <a href=";src=syn">May of this year</a>, when the company got permission to start launching national security payloads. Now, it seems ULA can't compete with SpaceX.,410132Wed, 7 Oct 2015 11:20:17 +1000Coloring Books Come To Life In Disney's Augmented RealityKids these days. They've got all these amazing options for recreation, from high-tech tablets to the more traditional arts and crafts. And now, Disney wants to combine those two things, letting children's coloring creations on paper, spring to 3D animated life on the tablet.,410131Wed, 7 Oct 2015 11:20:13 +1000The USDA Is Launching Hordes Of Irradiated Moths From Drones Keeping moths away from cotton is typically seen as a good thing. But the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has other ideas. In a pilot program, they're using drones to drop thousands of lab-grown pink bollworm moths directly onto the cotton fields.,410130Wed, 7 Oct 2015 11:20:06 +1000This 3D Printed Robot Can Pick Up Even Your Most Fragile MessRobotic hands aren't typically known for being delicate or spontaneous. They're more likely to be part of an assembly line, or specifically designed to do one task perfectly, over and over. But those days may be waning. A new robotic hand printed out of silicone by MIT's Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab (CSAIL) can pick up just about any object, no matter how delicate or strangely sized. The results were <a href=";dom=pscau&amp;src=syndication">released today</a>, and really, it can pick up any small object:,409999Fri, 2 Oct 2015 10:01:40 +1000Realism Makes 'The Martian' One Of The Greatest Sci-Fi Films Of All TimeIt almost feels wrong to label <em>The Martian</em> as science fiction. Based on the book that computer programmer Andy Weir researched for three years, the movie feels like it could happen in real life any day now. You'll find no suspended animation, jump drives, or wormholes in this flick&#8212;just technologies that NASA is already using or could develop in the near future.,409998Fri, 2 Oct 2015 10:01:31 +1000Nexus 6P vs. Nexus 5X: How Do Google's Two New Flagship Phones Stack Up?The Nexus line -- Google's ideal of a modern Android phone -- was originally meant to provide developers with a clean version of the Android mobile operating system and official Google apps, without the extraneous bloatware added by device manufacturers and wireless carriers. But consumers quickly caught on that Nexus devices provided some of the best experiences in the Android world. At its <a href=";dom=pscau&amp;src=syndication">Fall 2015 event</a>, Google announced the latest additions to its flagship smartphone lineup: The <a href=";dom=pscau&amp;src=syndication">LG Nexus 5X</a> and the <a href=";dom=pscau&amp;src=syndication">Huawei Nexus 6P</a>, giving Android fans two new compelling options to choose between for their next phone. But which one is better? Here's the rundown when it comes to raw specs:,409997Fri, 2 Oct 2015 10:01:25 +1000Mealworms Can Happily And Safely Eat StyrofoamMealworms are those squirmy guys you took care of in science class or fed to a particularly hungry pet chicken or reptile. And new studies from Stanford suggest that these creepy crawlers could be incredibly good for the environment.,409996Fri, 2 Oct 2015 10:01:18 +1000Drones Could Bring Better Medical Care To Rural PatientsNo matter what country they're in, people living in rural places often don't have access to high-quality medical care. Everything from emergency facilities, to pharmacies, to sophisticated labs for tests are often farther away. But according to <a href=";dom=pscau&amp;src=syndication">a study</a> published recently in the free-to-read journal <em>PLOS One</em>, drones could help bring better medical care to rural communities all over the world.,409995Fri, 2 Oct 2015 10:01:14 +1000Your Facebook Profile Picture Can Now Be A Short VideoFacebook has placed increasing importance on video lately. With muted, autoplaying video the social network has cracked the code to increasing their online video impressions&#8212;skyrocketing from one billion to four times that, <a href=";dom=pscau&amp;src=syndication">according to</a>. Last week, <a href=";dom=pscau&amp;src=syndication">Facebook introduced 360-degree videos</a> that let you spin around and control what you're looking at while a video clip plays. Now, the world's largest social networking website will <a href=";dom=pscau&amp;src=syndication">let you use a short video as your Facebook profile picture</a>.,409994Fri, 2 Oct 2015 10:01:04 +1000Why The Deadly Sandstorm In 'The Martian' Is ImpossibleLet's get one thing straight: <em>The Martian</em> is a darn good movie and you should definitely go see it when it comes out. (Or better yet, read the book!) In addition to just being a great tale about man versus nature, the story is a culmination of years of research by the author and computer programmer, Andy Weir, and it's pretty accurate as a result.,409993Fri, 2 Oct 2015 10:01:00 +1000NASA and ESA Will Move A Small Moon By Slamming A Spacecraft Into ItWe've <a href=";dom=pscau&amp;src=syndication">smashed into the moon</a>, and bounced onto a <a href=";dom=pscau&amp;src=syndication">comet</a>, but a whole 17 years after <em>Deep Impact</em> and <em>Armageddon</em> debuted in 1998, we still haven't managed to change the course of an asteroid.,409992Fri, 2 Oct 2015 10:00:56 +1000We Can Now Sequence A Whole Human Genome In 26 Hours Genetic diseases are the leading cause of death for infants in the United States. Many doctors treating these infants rely on whole-genome sequencing to target the exact cause of the illness, and hopefully treat the disease in time. However, even the fastest sequencing technique till now has taken about 50 hours to complete, and many severely ill infants simply can't wait that long.,409991Fri, 2 Oct 2015 10:00:44 +1000Your Full Genome Can Be Sequenced and Analyzed For Just $1,000Yesterday, personal genetics company Veritas Genetics <a href=";dom=pscau&amp;src=syndication">announced</a> that it had reached a milestone: participants in its limited, but steadily expanding <a href=";dom=pscau&amp;src=syndication">Personal Genetics Program</a> can get their entire genome sequenced for just $1,000.,409990Fri, 2 Oct 2015 10:00:38 +1000Automotive Safety Giant Autoliv To Help Develop Autonomous Systems With VolvoAutomotive safety systems giant Autoliv has joined Volvo in the Swedish automaker's&#160;<a href=";src=syn">Drive Me autonomous car research project</a>. The two companies will share their findings in order to accelerate efforts to get the active safety systems fundamental to autonomous driving into production.,409989Fri, 2 Oct 2015 10:00:34 +1000Scientists Capture HIV Spreading Through The Body In Real TimeScientists know a lot about HIV&#8212;how it's transmitted, the virus' life cycle, and where it likes to hang out in the body. But they haven't had a good understanding of how it moves between cells in the body, and they have never been able to actually watch it spread. Now a team of researchers from Yale University led a study that recorded the virus infecting the lymph nodes in a mouse to better understand how it infects the body, with the intention of being able to stop that spread in the future. <a href=";src=syn">Their work</a> was published today in <em>Science</em>.,409988Fri, 2 Oct 2015 10:00:30 +1000Yes, Volcanos Probably Did Contribute To Dinosaur ExtinctionA <a href=";src=syn">study</a> published in <em>Science</em> today finds new evidence that a meteorite impact wasn't the only thing that killed the dinosaurs.,409987Fri, 2 Oct 2015 10:00:26 +1000Fly Over Pluto's Moon In Spectacular New NASA ImagesPluto has gotten a lot of love lately, both from scientists and the unscientific alike, thanks largely to the series of <a href=";src=syn">beautiful close-up images</a> that NASA has published online following the unmanned <a href=";src=syn">New Horizon spacecraft's flyby</a> of the dwarf planet earlier this year. But now Pluto's moon Charon is getting its own chance to shine in the <a href=";src=syn">spectacular new high-res images</a> that NASA released today.,409986Fri, 2 Oct 2015 10:00:22 +1000Protein From Whales Might Make Better Synthetic BloodHave you ever wondered how whales stay underwater for <a href=";key=1009">up to two hours</a> without coming up for air? It's because they use a highly stable protein called myoglobin, which stores oxygen for a long time, to power their muscles. Now researchers from Rice University are working with the protein in order to make synthetic blood for humans, according to <a href=";src=syn">a study</a> published last week in the <em>Journal of Biological Chemistry</em>.,409985Fri, 2 Oct 2015 10:00:15 +1000