Australian Popular Science News news from, 27 Jun 2017 06:38:58 +100010Some clouds are full of little lollipop-shaped ice crystals This chart shows (a) the formation of an ice-lolly, (b) ice-lollies with spikes, and (c) representations of ice-lollies observed at different temperatures.,466193Fri, 23 Jun 2017 12:34:33 +1000To ease lower back pain, yoga might be just as good as physical therapyAmericans are spending $200 billion a year to treat their back pain, and most aren't even happy with the treatment they're getting. They're often stuck relying on addictive pain meds or spending a fortune on physical therapy.,466192Fri, 23 Jun 2017 12:34:32 +1000Birds' ability to fly could determine the shape of their eggsWe all know what an egg looks like, right? Well, we might know less than we think&#8212;bird eggs can be spheres, teardrops, oblong, and anything in between. An interdisciplinary group of scientists may have made progress in cracking the mystery behind how these different shapes emerged.,466191Fri, 23 Jun 2017 12:34:32 +1000The lone star tick can make you allergic to meat, and that's not even the worst of itTicks are horrifying, plain and simple. Even if they weren't vectors for nasty infections, the fact that they swell up like tiny blood balloons and then burst if you don't remove them properly is enough to make you never want to set foot in the woods again. And guess what: they can also make you allergic to hot dogs and hamburgers, which is pretty darn unpatriotic for a tick named <em>Amblyomma americanum</em>.,466190Fri, 23 Jun 2017 12:34:32 +1000You're probably not allergic to penicillin anymore"Are you allergic to any medications?" I've answered that query dozens of times since a childhood incident when penicillin, taken to treat a minor infection, instead gave me an itchy rash all over my body. So I respond automatically, and call out the common antibiotic. But I recently learned that this diagnosis could be wrong. Penicillin sensitivity can disappear over time, a fact researchers have known for years. So why hasn't my doctor told me to go get an official test? It could be because she doesn't actually know the allergy can fade.,466189Fri, 23 Jun 2017 12:34:31 +1000What is sickle cell disease?On Wednesday, rapper Albert Johnson&#8212;better known by his stage name Prodigy&#8212;<a href=";src=syn" target="_blank">passed away</a> at the age of 42 from complications of sickle cell disease, an inherited blood disorder he'd had since birth. Though some medications can help those with sickle cell manage their condition, no cure or real treatment exists to combat the disease. And while better care in the United States has extended the lifespan of those with the disease, they often face a lifelong battle with pain, infections, and extreme fatigue.,466188Fri, 23 Jun 2017 12:34:31 +1000Why go to Mars when you can telecommute there instead?Every few weeks, a telepresence robot rolls by my desk. It's usually a co-worker in a distant office on her way to a meeting, or checking in on the progress of physical things in the office from the comfort of her home.,466187Fri, 23 Jun 2017 12:34:30 +1000The world's art is under attack&#8212;by microbes A stone statue from Queluz National Palace in Portugal that has been colonized by lichens and algae.,466186Fri, 23 Jun 2017 12:34:30 +1000This river ecosystem hinges on thousands of drowned, rotting wildebeest<em>When we die, our bodies become the grass, and the antelope eat the grass. And so we are all connected in the great Circle of Life.</em> Everyone knows that classic line from Disney's "The Lion King". Kids and parents might have been slightly less charmed by this variation: The wildebeest must cross the river to eat, and a whole bunch of them die in the process. And then everything <em>in</em> the river gets to feast on their rotting remains. Oh, and their bones continue to leech nutrients into the water even after fish and insects have devoured their flesh. Other organisms also eats the algae that grows on the bones. Basically, some wildebeest need to die, Simba.,466185Fri, 23 Jun 2017 12:34:29 +1000Mountain Lions are so scared of humans that the sound of talk radio sends them runningTalk radio can be scary for humans, but for mountain lions, it's enough to put them off their dinner.,466184Fri, 23 Jun 2017 12:34:29 +1000Phoenix is too hot for planes to takeoffIt is almost always hot in Phoenix, but today temperatures are expected to peak at 120 degrees fahrenheit, which has prompted some airlines to cancel flights out of Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport. The high temperatures alone aren't necessarily the culprit, but the environmental conditions that come with them can stifle attempts to get airborne. Mix in other variables like the type of plane, the length of the runway, and the conditions on the ground, and we're left with a complex situation that will only get worse as global temperatures rise.,466183Fri, 23 Jun 2017 12:34:29 +1000People are apparently injecting themselves with blood to get high now?This vial is filled with human blood and a cocktail of drugs, including a full dose of methamphetamine. The man who was carrying it intended to inject himself with it.,466182Fri, 23 Jun 2017 12:34:28 +1000NASA found a bunch more potentially habitable planets It might seem like NASA is announcing a brand-spanking-new "Earth-like" exoplanet<em>constantly</em>&#8212;some far-away world that <em>might possibly maybe</em> have the basic requirements for life as we know it. And it seems that way because, well, that's pretty accurate: it's all thanks to NASA's wildly successful Kepler Space Telescope, which uses the blinking and dimming of distant alien stars to spot planets that might orbit around them. But the latest Kepler finds (219 new planetary candidates, 10 of which are Earth-size and the right distance from their host star to hold liquid water) mark something of an end: this represents the final official planetary search results from Kepler's mission data.,466181Fri, 23 Jun 2017 12:34:28 +1000More people than ever are taking way too much vitamin DVitamins seem something you can't have too much of. Like too much ice cream on a sticky summer day&#8212;sure, you can technically go overboard, but the limit is <em>so high</em>, and what's the worst thing that happens anyway? And unlike ice cream, we know that vitamins help keep us healthy.,466180Fri, 23 Jun 2017 12:34:28 +1000DNA from Egyptian mummies and Viking graves reveals how cats conquered the worldBefore cats conquered the internet, they conquered the world&#8212;with a little help from their human serfs.,465671Tue, 20 Jun 2017 09:56:24 +1000The Australian Eastern Abyss is a treasure trove of strange, often penis-shaped animalsThe abyss is back, and this time it spat up a penis (worm). At the end of May, we brought you a roundup of the strangest creatures dragged from the depths of the Australian abyssal zone, and you probably thought nature couldn't get any weirder. But then over the weekend, Twitter got itself all in a tizzy over this:,465670Tue, 20 Jun 2017 09:56:23 +1000Three-quarters of the planet could face deadly heatwaves by 2100It killed 739 people in Chicago 1995. In Europe in 2003, it claimed another 70,000 lives. Just seven years later, it would take down 55,000 more in Russia. Extreme heat can and does kill. And while those heatwaves garnered global attention, according to a study released today in the journal Nature, they're more common than we think. The study's authors note that worldwide, some 30 percent of people are exposed to life-threatening extreme heat for at least 20 days of each year. If we do nothing to reduce climate changing emissions that are helping to push the mercury higher, they write, 74 percent of people will experience routine extreme heat events by 2100. And as is already the case today, at least some of those people will die.,465669Tue, 20 Jun 2017 09:56:22 +1000Don't believe the hype about Russia's hypersonic missileEvery missile is a carefully packaged bad day traveling at high speeds. Hypersonic missiles are a modern development in the long-running military arms race to figure out just how certain that bad end is for the humans on the receiving end. Russia's Zircon missile could enter arsenals as early as 2018. Despite headlines to the contrary, not enough about the missile is known yet to definitely claim that it poses an uncounterable threats ships in the sea.,465668Tue, 20 Jun 2017 09:56:22 +1000Female elk are practically bulletproof by age 9Fortune doesn't always favor the bold. Whereas male elk tend to live fast and die by age 5, some female elk have been known to live to the ripe old age of 20.,465667Tue, 20 Jun 2017 09:56:21 +1000Spooky action at a record-breaking distanceFrom a Chinese satellite drifting through suborbital space, a laser beamed pairs of entangled photons to two separate locations on the ground. Although 746 miles separated each member of the pair, the light particles remained mysteriously connected. The experiment, the results of which were published today in the journal <a href=";src=syn" target="_blank"><em>Science</em></a>, smashed the previous distance record for a phenomenon called entanglement. It may sound esoteric, but it could pave the way for breakthroughs, most specifically a super-secure global communications network with uncrackable quantum encryption that protects every message from prying eyes.,465424Sat, 17 Jun 2017 09:30:35 +1000Buying Whole Foods could complete an Amazon ecosystem a decade in the makingAmazon has unveiled the second generation of its <a href=";src=syn" target="_blank">Dash Wand</a>, an Alexa-enabled home barcode scanner that adds grocery items to an AmazonFresh cart. Yesterday, the Dash was a promotional tool, a way for Prime members in five urban markets (New York, Philadelphia, Seattle, and Northern and Southern California) to get back-doored into the $15/month AmazonFresh grocery delivery service.,465423Sat, 17 Jun 2017 09:30:34 +1000American and Chinese aircraft could be flying 6500 km/h by 2030American and Chinese defense giants are moving quickly to reach the edge of space, aiming to launch hypersonic aircraft that can cross continents in under an hour. What exactly does hypersonic mean? Speeds of over Mach 5, or more than 3,835 miles per hour.,465422Sat, 17 Jun 2017 09:30:34 +1000A Texas-size chunk of Antarctica partially melted last yearEl Ni&#241;o has given us a preview of West Antarctica's future, and things do not look good. For two weeks in January of 2016, unusually warm weather caused a 300,000 square mile patch of the Ross Ice Shelf to partially melt. The roughly Texas-sized area, blanketed in a slushy mixture of ice and water, represents one of the first times scientists have been able to catch such widespread Antarctic melting in action. The findings were published this week in Nature Communications.,465421Sat, 17 Jun 2017 09:30:33 +1000A 99 million-year-old baby bird, Mario's high-flying odyssey, and other amazing images of the weekThe week, the science, the images, the technology, the future, the vibe - it's all here in convenient consumable form!,465420Sat, 17 Jun 2017 09:30:33 +1000Tuning a golf club's signature "thwack" sound costs millionsIn 2007, Nike introduced a driver called the Sumo. It was immediately identifiable because of its square head shape as well as the signature sound it made when impacting the ball. The noise in question was a loud &#8220;clank&#8221; that many players found annoying. &#8220;The Sumo had a very strong frequency content around 2,000-3,000 hertz,&#8221; says Daniel A. Russell, a professor of acoustics at Pennsylvania State University's College of Engineering. &#8220;That's right where the human ear is most responsive to sound.&#8221;,465419Sat, 17 Jun 2017 09:30:33 +1000Toxic mercury levels are actually declining in Alaskan polar bears&#8212;but that's not as great as it soundsImagine: vast expanses of frozen sea, stretching from the northern coast of Alaska into the Arctic horizon. Welcome to the Southern Beaufort Sea&#8212;or at least, the Southern Beaufort Sea as it used to be. This icy Arctic ecosystem is dominated by the majestic polar bear, but warmer temperatures are changing both the landscape and its inhabitants.,465418Sat, 17 Jun 2017 09:30:33 +1000How a 93-year-old war vet (and his sneakers) are helping NASA track pollutionOn a recent Sunday morning, 93-year-old Bernie Fowler laced up his white sneakers and waded into Maryland's Patuxent River, a tributary of the Chesapeake Bay, just as he has done every June for the past 30 years. He was conducting his annual test of water clarity by seeing how deep he could go and still see the tops of his shoes.,465417Sat, 17 Jun 2017 09:30:32 +1000Rain and snow help stress out earthquake faults Natural forces shape every inch of our globe, but in California, the two big players are water falling out of the sky (or the lack thereof) and earthquakes.,465416Sat, 17 Jun 2017 09:30:32 +1000Fancy wine descriptions can make you feel more emotional when you drinkI think we can all admit to getting a little emotional after a few too many glasses of wine. But according to a <a href=";src=syn" target="_blank">study</a> done at the University of Adelaide, our emotional response to wine actually begins much earlier. They found that wine descriptions could make study subjects feel more emotional about booze, perhaps making them more likely to buy it as a result.,465415Sat, 17 Jun 2017 09:30:31 +1000Lettuce tell you why sexy produce sells betterLentil soup may be the mental fruit and ginger root might be good for the youth, to paraphrase an old hip-hop song, but hearing about how nutritious a food is will only make Americans pass on the peas. According to a research letter published earlier this week in the <a href=";src=syn" target="_blank"><em>Journal of American Medical Association Internal Medicine</em></a>, to actually get Americans to eat their fruits and veggies we need to give up on the health labels&#8212;and instead market them as indulgences. The researchers found giving veggies labels like "twisted citrus-glazed carrots," "sweet sizzilin' green beans and crispy shallots,&#8221; and &#8220;dynamite chili and tangy lime-seasoned beets&#8221; made us more likely to put them on our plate.,465414Sat, 17 Jun 2017 09:30:30 +1000China just flew a 130-foot solar-powered drone designed to stay in the air for monthsMeet China's huge solar-powered drone, a 130-foot-wide machine designed to fly at more than 65,000 feet, for days on end. How? A super lightweight body and renewable energy tech that can power all eight of its electrical propellers.,464394Wed, 7 Jun 2017 09:08:10 +1000Even moderate drinking might be bad for your brainBinge and excessive drinking almost always get a bad rap&#8212;and for good reason. Heavy alcohol consumption is known to lead to a multitude of problems, including poor brain health. But the effects of moderate drinking on a person's cognitive abilities have gotten less attention. In a study out this week in the <a href=";src=syn" target="_blank">British Medical Journal (BMJ)</a>, researchers following the brain health of 550 individuals found that subjects who were considered moderate drinkers&#8212;those who drank five glasses of wine or four pints of beer a week&#8212;showed a reduction in the volume of their hippocampi, an area of the brain associated with memory and learning.,464393Wed, 7 Jun 2017 09:08:09 +1000Scientists have a fascinating new way to determine the age of skeletal remainsWhat started with a trip to the pediatrician has now led North Carolina State University researchers to develop new ways of figuring out the age of young human skeletal remains. The new technique uses X-rays of the frontal sinus, a large cavity behind the forehead which fills with mucus that drains into the nose, to determine the age of developing skulls.,464392Wed, 7 Jun 2017 09:08:09 +1000How to not get deadly flesh-eating bacteria in your new tattooTattoos are, to use a scientific term, flippin' sweet. And they're increasingly popular: more than a third of U.S. adults ages 18 to 40 <a href=";src=syn" target="_blank">have at least one</a>. But side-eye from your old-school boss isn't the only thing you risk when you get new ink: these living pieces of art are open wounds as they heal, which leaves you vulnerable to all sorts of discomfort&#8212;and infection.,464391Wed, 7 Jun 2017 09:08:09 +1000Is whole wheat bread better than white? That may depend on your gut bacteria.One size fits all nutrition may be a thing of the past. For instance, whole-wheat bread is better for you than white bread, right? Maybe. According to a study published today in the journal Cell Metabolism, the answer depends on the bacteria in your gut.,464390Wed, 7 Jun 2017 09:08:07 +1000Bonding with a partner could have unexpected rewards&#8212;in your brain, that isYou might not expect it, but the prairie vole has something to teach you about relationships. A recent study of these rodents, <a href=";src=syn" target="_blank">published last week in <em>Nature</em></a>, helps unveil what happens when love (or at least something like it) is on the brain.,464389Wed, 7 Jun 2017 09:08:07 +1000'FDA approved' medical devices don't actually have to do what they promise'FDA approval' has a certain glow of authority to it. To be FDA approved is to be safe, effective, and proven. Or at least, it technically is. Technically, FDA approval is a stringent process that requires a degree of proof. You might like to think that you couldn't get away with claiming something went through that process if it never really did. But you'd be wrong. And if you wanted to, say, market an unproven negative ion bracelet as a treatment for 'harmful' electromagnetic fields that aren't actually harmful, you could totally get away with it.,464245Tue, 6 Jun 2017 10:00:25 +1000Awe-inspiring photos of the Earth from space in honor of World Environment DayClose your eyes and picture what the Earth looks like. You're probably picturing a circle, mostly blue thanks to the ocean, with swirls of clouds and the occasional green and brown land mass. The entire sphere is floating in a mass of impossible black. You're picturing Earth in a way that you've never actually seen with your own two eyes. Maybe you're getting the sketch from this famous shot, below, known as the blue marble image. Astronauts aboard the Apollo 17 space mission snapped the picture on December 7th, 1972. Countless other images of our home planet have been taken, which have forever shaped our imagination of it. Still, only a handful of humans have seen it with naked eyes.,464244Tue, 6 Jun 2017 10:00:25 +1000A common sunscreen could help make better solar panels You know it as a white smudge across the lifeguard's nose, or a soothing cream on your baby's bottom. But someday, the white ointment that protects our skin could generate electricity on your roof or in your car.,464243Tue, 6 Jun 2017 10:00:24 +1000This distant planet is hotter than many stars About 650 light years away, a planet hotter than many stars is hurtling around its sun, leaving a glowing trail of gas in its wake like some sort of superheated comet.,464242Tue, 6 Jun 2017 10:00:23 +1000Vaccines of the future could be as contagious as viruses The vaccines we have today are pretty incredible. They've eradicated <a href=";src=syn" target="_blank">smallpox</a>, purged <a href=";src=syn" target="_blank">rubella</a> from the Americas, and save <a href=";src=syn" target="_blank">millions of people</a> each year from dying of diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough, and measles. When enough people get vaccinated, infectious diseases can't spread easily and everyone benefits from <a href=";language=en&amp;dom=pscau&amp;src=syn#t-278425" target="_blank">herd immunity</a>.,464241Tue, 6 Jun 2017 10:00:22 +1000New heat-resistant ceramic can be squished like a marshmallowIt's light enough to balance on a fuzzy blade of grass, incredibly heat-resistant, and can be squished like a marshmallow. It's also a ceramic.,464101Mon, 5 Jun 2017 09:29:18 +1000Please don't put ground up wasp nests in your vaginaThis should go without saying, but because it apparently doesn't, here goes: don't stick random items into your vagina. Tampons, certified body-safe sex toys, physician-approved devices, and penises should really be the only things that go in there. And honestly be careful with some of the penises because they're not all as clean as they should be.,464100Mon, 5 Jun 2017 09:29:18 +1000Transparent frogs, solar arrays that look like fruit roll-ups, and other amazing images of the weekCome September, NASA will be saying goodbye to one of its best image-churning machines, the Cassini spacecraft. In honor of its impending retirement, we've collected 52 of our favorite Cassini images for your viewing pleasure. The image above is a false color image of Saturn's rings. The purple color indicates that those areas are dominated by particles larger than two inches, while green shows areas where particles are less than two inches across.,464099Mon, 5 Jun 2017 09:29:17 +1000China's new submarine engine is poised to revolutionize underwater warfareIn Tom Clancy's book (and, later, the 1990 film) The Hunt For Red October, a Soviet submarine debuts a revolutionary, ultra-quiet engine that uses pumpjets and electrical propulsion technology to elude its foes. Chinese state media has reported that the nation is fitting its newest nuclear sub with an engine that sounds a lot like Clancy's imaginings in the real world.,464098Mon, 5 Jun 2017 09:29:17 +1000Watch a Navy robot submarine launch a droneOn the water's surface, a robot talks to an underwater robot and tells it to launch a flying robot. Together, the three autonomous machines scouted for the U.S. Navy in a demonstration, showcasing autonomy, communication, and sensors all in mobile, robotic packages. It is a remarkable technological achievement, and one that foreshadows a future of robots working and fighting alongside sailors.,464097Mon, 5 Jun 2017 09:29:17 +1000The bone-yards where airplanes go to die, and be rebornA typical plane flies for 25 years or so before it starts to wear out. When a plane is finally grounded, though, it doesn't have to be the end of the line.,464096Mon, 5 Jun 2017 09:29:16 +1000Scientists are trying to confirm the existence of a giant ringed planetThere's a big eclipse coming up. No, not the total solar eclipse <a href=";src=syn" target="_blank">in August</a> that we're all really excited about. This one will happen in September around a star 1,000 light years away. Sure, it will be much more difficult to observe than our Moon passing in front of the Sun, but it could give us clues about a distant solar system.,464095Mon, 5 Jun 2017 09:29:16 +1000Compression tights might not actually help tired muscles Researchers at Ohio State University's Wexner Medical Center used motion sensing technology to study how compression tights affect vibration and fatigue.,464094Mon, 5 Jun 2017 09:29:16 +1000What you need to know about the missile defense system that just intercepted a practice target in spaceLaunching a missile is easy. Hitting another missile with a missile is one of the hardest challenges of modern military engineering, and has been for decades. Today, the Pentagon successfully fired a ballistic missile interceptor at an ICBM-like target, destroying it in space.,463653Wed, 31 May 2017 15:00:16 +1000