Australian Popular Science News news from, 1 May 2017 06:35:55 +100010The US Navy is designing safer batteries, because no one wants a fire at sea Our smartphones and other gadgets are powered by lithium-ion batteries, but as companies like Samsung know all too well, those charge-holders can be flammable under the wrong conditions. The hazards of lithium-ion batteries are also a concern for another group, one with a strong incentive to keep fires at bay: the U.S. Navy. Now chemists at the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory (NLR) have announced a new battery technology that they say is both safe and rechargeable, and could make its way into electric vehicles, bikes, or ships.,459842Fri, 28 Apr 2017 10:50:32 +1000Scientist discover: it take 12 seconds to poopIt's not clear why dogs look at us when they poop, but it's possible they're trying to make sure you're on the lookout while they're in a vulnerable position. So stop watching them poop and keep guard!,459841Fri, 28 Apr 2017 10:50:31 +1000This ancient predator stalked the seas with can-opener shaped clawsA little over 508 million years ago, long before some brilliant mind came up with the idea of cramming food into metal cans, a creature was cruising the ocean floor with claws like can openers.,459840Fri, 28 Apr 2017 10:50:31 +1000A spacecraft just flew between Saturn and its rings for the first time ever&#8212;and there are picturesNASA's 20-year Cassini mission is finally coming to a close. After years of orbiting around the Saturn system and collecting some stellar scientific data, the spacecraft is on a path of certain destruction: on Sunday, the probe officially began the last leg of its mission, which will eventually bring it so close to Saturn that the planet's gravity will drag it down and burn it to vapour.,459839Fri, 28 Apr 2017 10:50:31 +1000China's new aircraft carrier suggests a powerful navy in the worksThe Type 001A aircraft carrier, maneuvered to pierside by tugboats, will be fitted for the next or so with electronics and self defense systems, before being commissioned, followed by embarking an air group, to get up to speed in order to enter service.,459838Fri, 28 Apr 2017 10:50:31 +1000Bricks made from fake Martian soil are surprisingly strongIf you think building a house on Earth is hard, try building one on Mars. Every pound of material that we ship to the red planet will cost thousands of dollars, so scientists want to construct our future martian colonies out of locally sourced materials&#8212;namely, martian dirt. But that's more difficult than it sounds.,459837Fri, 28 Apr 2017 10:50:31 +1000Why big animals can't take a little rain Melting from glaciers and permafrost was not kind to the large animals of the last Ice Age. The persistent moisture turned grasslands into peatlands and bogs, a less than ideal habitat for huge grazers. As their world grew wetter, many of these megafaunal animals across Eurasia and the Americas became extinct.,459836Fri, 28 Apr 2017 10:50:30 +1000A placebo really can mend a broken heartA pill to lift you out of your post-breakup doldrums sounds too good to be true. Come on, one pill to feel better almost instantly about your broken heart? And you're right&#8212;it's actually a nasal spray.,459835Fri, 28 Apr 2017 10:50:29 +1000Amazon Echo Look uses a camera and AI to judge your outfit, sell you stuffJust last month, Amazon introduced a Prime feature called Outfit Compare which let users upload a pair of selfies showing different outfits to be evaluated by style experts. Today, Amazon has doubled down on its push to guide the style of everyday users with its home assistant and fashion guru, the $200 Echo Look, which can currently only be ordered by invitation.,459691Thu, 27 Apr 2017 09:25:30 +1000Scientists are puzzling out how butterflies assemble their brightly colored scales From the danger-sign orange of Monarch butterflies, to the regal blues of the Blue Morpho, butterflies come in a veritable rainbow of colors. The insects display those incredible hues thanks to scales on their wings. Those scales are made up of crystals, which are made up of a sugar molecule called chitin (the same stuff that makes up insect exoskeletons and mushrooms). The tiny crystals on butterflies' scales are called gyroids. They're of interest to biologists, but also to materials scientists. Butterflies' gyroids are for more tiny and precise than anything made by humans today.,459690Thu, 27 Apr 2017 09:25:30 +1000Smartphone-controlled cells release insulin on demand in diabetic micePeople with diabetes often need to inject themselves with insulin on a daily or weekly basis. But a new device, tested in mice, might one day eliminate the need for needles.,459689Thu, 27 Apr 2017 09:25:29 +1000We now have the power to make bones nearly invisibleJust to be clear, scientists are still very far from re-creating The Invisible Man. But recently they've learned to make see-through brains and ghostly rat bodies, and now they've even created transparent bones.,459688Thu, 27 Apr 2017 09:25:29 +1000This 'artificial womb' is like science fiction&#8212;but uteruses aren't out of a job yetImagine walking into a hospital nursery full of pre-term babies and seeing not incubators, but bags full of fluid with infants tucked securely inside. It's not a far-off science fiction fantasy: on Tuesday, researchers announced unprecedented success in keeping sheep fetuses alive within an "artificial womb" apparatus. The results are incredible. But what do they mean for humans?,459687Thu, 27 Apr 2017 09:25:28 +1000A mastodon carcass could totally rewrite American history&#8212;but there's reason to be skepticalA new research letter <a href=";src=syn" target="_blank">published today in the journal <em>Nature</em></a> makes a startling claim that, if correct, will rewrite everything we know about how North America was populated.,459686Thu, 27 Apr 2017 09:25:28 +1000How hot peppers and marijuana could help cure gut problems Your gut is something of an immunological mystery. Unlike the rest of the body, which tends to treat foreign invaders with a singular purpose&#8212;seek and destroy&#8212;the stomach cannot afford to be so indiscriminate. It exists to help fuel the body, and that means routinely welcoming foreign bodies in the form food.,459685Thu, 27 Apr 2017 09:25:28 +1000New study asks how your favorite doggos came to be Dogs: We love them. Like, a lot. In fact, humans have been hanging out with doggos for at least 15,000 years or so, and likely a lot longer. Over the course of that long, mutually beneficial friendship, we've done a lot of strange things to our four-legged companions, controlling their reproduction to coax them into breeds that suit our (sometimes absurd) needs.,459525Wed, 26 Apr 2017 10:19:46 +1000Apparently the end of the world is going to make us all work out moreHere's the tiniest silver lining to the abysmally black cloud that is climate change: it might finally get Americans to exercise, according to a study released today in the journal Nature Climate Change. When researchers looked at the relationship between weather and workouts, they found that as temperatures increased, so too did physical activity.,459523Wed, 26 Apr 2017 10:19:45 +1000What it would actually take to get to Mars by 2020Today, during a phone call with astronaut Peggy Whitson on the International Space Station, President Trump joked that he hoped NASA would land astronauts on Mars by the end of his first term in 2020.,459522Wed, 26 Apr 2017 10:19:44 +1000What's the best way to crack an egg? Physics has the answer. Learning to crack an egg is a culinary rite of passage. Do it correctly, and the shell swiftly breaks, spilling the liquid contents out in one fell swoop. Do it wrong, and you end up with yolk on your hands and shell in your bowl. Luckily, science has hatched a formula that is nearly infallible. All it requires is knowledge of a few basic physics principles.,459521Wed, 26 Apr 2017 10:19:44 +1000These caterpillars chow down on plastic bags Plastic bags are nothing if not persistent&#8212;even when we want them to disappear. We've tried banning plastic bags in some cities, or taxing their in others. We've come up with replacements made from shrimp shells or biodegradable plastics, which have failed to seize the marketplace. We've even tried distilling them into fuel and cooking them into nanotubes.,459520Wed, 26 Apr 2017 10:19:44 +1000The 5 most amazing things we've learned from NASA's Cassini missionAfter 20 years, thousands of gorgeous photos, and a whole lot of science, the Cassini spacecraft is finally ready to retire. But there'll be no relaxing days on the beach for this old spacecraft; instead, it will go out in a blaze of glory. More specifically, NASA's planning to crash it into Saturn's atmosphere, where it will melt and vaporize.,459365Mon, 24 Apr 2017 11:54:50 +1000Of course, all our plastic crap ends up in the Arctic The Arctic, in our popular imagination, is a frozen expanse teetering figuratively and literally on the edges of human culture. It remains primal and wild and unsullied by human contagions. It's a nice idea, but one that doesn't match reality.,459364Mon, 24 Apr 2017 11:54:50 +1000Do mobile phones cause cancer? Evidence still says 'no' despite what random people on an Italian jury thinkAbout <a href=";src=syn" target="_blank">one in five Americans</a> believes that the Sun revolves around the Earth. And if you happened to collect 12 of those people on a jury in which the orbiting properties of our solar system were up for debate, the headlines about the verdict would probably read &#8220;Earth revolves around Sun, declares American jury.&#8221; But that wouldn't make it true.,459363Mon, 24 Apr 2017 11:54:50 +1000Language is training artificial intelligence to replicate human biasLanguage is all about repetition. Every word you're reading was created by humans, and then used by other humans, creating and reinforcing context, meaning, the very nature of language. As humans train machines to understand language, they're teaching machines to replicate human bias.,459362Mon, 24 Apr 2017 11:54:50 +1000New research on eyeballs just might lead to a jet lag cure Your biological clock is probably the most reliable machinery in your body: it runs 24-7 to regulate vital functions from sleep to metabolism and remains stubbornly steadfast when you fly across time zones. Scientists still don't know exactly how this this internal clock works. But now researchers have identified a missing gear that could offer a cure for jet lag.,459361Mon, 24 Apr 2017 11:54:49 +1000Viryl's new record presses are the first in 30 yearsJust over two years ago, Rob Brown was transfixed by an eBay auction. He and colleagues Chad Brown (no relation) and James Hashmi were bidding on a record pressing machine. It was the only one the new entrepreneurs could find, and it was in the middle of nowhere&#8212;in Russia. No one knew if it worked, or could even be refurbished back into working order. Yet, the bidding was feverish: Brown's team walked away, but the press ultimately sold for some $60,000.,459360Mon, 24 Apr 2017 11:54:49 +1000Why are the measles coming back?We eliminated measles in the U.S. in 2000. Somebody should tell the measles. Because even though the virus has no permanent home stateside, it keeps getting in&#8212;more and more, it seems.,459359Mon, 24 Apr 2017 11:54:49 +1000China's first robot cargo spaceship just went into orbitAt 7:41 p.m. local time, the Tianzhou 1 robotic cargo ship blasted off on a Long March 7 rocket from the Wenchang Space Launch Center on Hainan Island. Now in orbit, it will soon rendezvous with the Tiangong 2 space station, in yet another first for the Chinese space program.,459358Mon, 24 Apr 2017 11:54:48 +1000Google Home can now recognize individual users by the sound of their voiceOn Thursday, Google announced that its Home smart hub device can now recognize and identify up to six different users by the sound of their voice. It's an inevitable&#8212;but crucial&#8212;step in the development of smart home virtual assistants. The new skill means that different people in a household will be able to ask the Google Assistant questions about what's on their calendar, or what their commute looks like, and the Home device will know who is speaking to it and give tailored responses. It'll make it a more streamlined experience for families sharing a smart home speaker hub.,459357Mon, 24 Apr 2017 11:54:48 +1000A warp in space-time just gave us four views of one exploding starAlthough the night sky often seems so peaceful and still, a closer look reveals constant movement and change. The Intermediate Palomar Transient Factory (iPTF) in California looks for ephemeral phenomena in the heavens, like stars that fluctuate in brightness, or planets passing in front of their stars.,459356Mon, 24 Apr 2017 11:54:48 +1000What's the healthiest way to eat a vegetable?Vegetables are an incredibly healthy source of fuel&#8212;nutrient-packed and light on the calories. There's no question about that. And they're jam-packed with essential vitamins. But like any food, there's perhaps a million ways one can eat them: raw, steamed, baked, and even fried. But some enthusiasts claim that the process of cooking vegetables causes them to lose a portion of their nutritious value. Is this true? What's the most nutritious way to eat your veggies?,458624Tue, 18 Apr 2017 11:12:45 +1000Researchers drag horrifying new species of nightmare monster from lagoonIn watching the giant shipworm Kuphus polythalamia ooze out of its shell like Tim Burton's idea of cake frosting, a few words might spring into your mind. "Science fiction plague," perhaps, or "dear god, why have you forsaken us," or "put that thing back where it came from, so help me." But Margo Haygood, a research professor in medicinal chemistry at the University of Utah College of Pharmacy, gushes that the worm is "the prize, the unicorn" of the shipworm world.,458623Tue, 18 Apr 2017 11:12:45 +1000Deep sea (not)tourism could become a thing soonStockton Rush wants to take explorers into the deep sea. Not just scientific researchers or military personnel, but regular (well, wealthy) travelers on a quest of discovery. But don't call them tourists.,458622Tue, 18 Apr 2017 11:12:44 +1000The bunker-busting nuclear bomb that almost was So, the Pentagon used a massive bomb against caves in eastern Afghanistan that currently house ISIS fighters, and previously housed insurgents fighting against British rule in the 19th century and mujahadeen fighting against Soviet control in the 20th century. For centuries, the caves of Afghanistan have made it difficult for outsiders to control the country. But in the early 21st century, the United States considered developing a brand new weapon to nullify these ancient defenses. The &#8220;Robust Nuclear Earth Penetrator&#8221; was an earthquake in a can, a nuclear bomb designed to seal the caves once and for all.,458621Tue, 18 Apr 2017 11:12:44 +1000Google is using AI to help humans and computers communicate through artGoogle went big on art this week. The company launched a platform to help people who are terrible at art communicate visually. It also published research about teaching art to another terrible stick-figure drawer: a neural network.,458620Tue, 18 Apr 2017 11:12:43 +1000US rivers and lakes contain a scary number of pesticides and pharmaceuticalsFrom pesticides to caffeine, chemicals that affect living organisms are making their way into the nation's rivers and streams. That's the conclusion reached by a pair of complimentary studies by the US Geological Survey (USGS) and the US EPA, both published today in the journal <a href=";src=syn" target="_blank"><em>Environmental Science and Technology</em></a>.,458254Thu, 13 Apr 2017 12:22:38 +1000There's a treasure trove on the seafloor&#8212;and that could be a bad thingRare minerals might not sound as exciting as sunken treasure to you, but to the mining industry those materials could be literally more valuable than gold. And there are few regulations in place yet to stop deep sea mining from destroying the seafloor.,458253Thu, 13 Apr 2017 12:22:38 +1000Adobe is using AI to make your selfies look like actual photography Smartphone cameras aren't very good at taking flattering selfies. The wide angle lenses introduce unpleasant distortion, and the small camera sensors can't produce those blurry backgrounds we see in higher-end portraits. Of course, that doesn't stop people from shooting tons of them. Roughly 24 billion selfies were added to the Google Photos service in 2016, according to the company. Most of them, we're not ashamed to say, were garbage.,458252Thu, 13 Apr 2017 12:22:37 +1000Ants perfected farming 30 million years ago in the desertAnts are good at lots of stuff. Carrying food, cutting leaves, biting people, and perhaps least well known: farming fungus. They're so good at farming, in fact, that they had unintentionally domesticated their fungus varietals long before humans got wind of farming. Or existed, for that matter.,458251Thu, 13 Apr 2017 12:22:37 +1000Why won't my shoes stay tied? Scientists are trying to figure it out.Forget SpaceX. Oliver O'Reilly has a dilemma that actually affects our daily lives. &#8220;I have a chronic problem with my shoelaces&#8212;they keep untying,&#8221; he told PopSci. &#8220;I never understood quite why that happened.&#8221;,458250Thu, 13 Apr 2017 12:22:37 +1000How many hours of sleep do you actually need?Sleep is a time suck. If you multiplied the average recommended number of hours we should sleep in a day&#8212;<a href=";src=syn" target="_blank">eight for a typical adult</a>&#8212;by the number of days in an average lifespan (<a href=";src=syn" target="_blank">78.8 years</a> in the United States), that would amount to about 9,587.3 days. That's one third of your life spent unconscious. From an evolutionary standpoint, sleep is quite literally a waste of your time, yet it's fought its way through countless years of adaptation in nearly every living animal on Earth. So it must be important, right?,458249Thu, 13 Apr 2017 12:22:37 +1000Surprising things you can clean in the dishwasher For most of us, a dishwasher is a magical machine that transforms sauce-crusted plates into clean ones. But if you only use it for tableware, you're wasting this fantastic device. After all, a surprisingly wide range of items can safely sit through a cycle.,458248Thu, 13 Apr 2017 12:22:37 +1000Watch the Soyuz 50 spacecraft land pretty much perfectly If space travel were gymnastics, we'd say that Expedition 50&#8212;which returned early Monday morning from the International Space Station (ISS), stuck the landing.&#160;,458247Thu, 13 Apr 2017 12:22:36 +1000Reebok's new biodegradable sneakers are made from cornThere's a rush right now for clothing companies&#8212;especially those in the outdoor and athletic spaces&#8212;to find renewable materials for their wares. Reebok has chosen corn as its preferred sustainable building block for use in an upcoming sneaker, which is part of its Corn + Cotton initiative.,457509Fri, 7 Apr 2017 11:22:51 +1000How an otherwise harmless virus can trigger celiac diseaseThe Karelia regions of Finland and Russia are remarkably similar. They have unique architecture, they share a common heritage and genes, and speak similar dialects. But if you live on the Finnish side, you'll have around ten times as many neighbors with celiac disease.,457508Fri, 7 Apr 2017 11:22:50 +1000Today's hurricanes kill way fewer Americans, and NOAA's satellites are the reason why&#160; Both vacationers and residents in Galveston, Texas, knew a storm was approaching on September 7, 1900. But there was no evacuation, and most everyone stayed put, not realizing the scale of the coming fury. The next day, surging waters killed 8,000 people.,457507Fri, 7 Apr 2017 11:22:50 +1000Octopuses can basically edit their own genes on the fly You're a complex organism. You socialize with family and friends, you solve puzzles and make choices. Humans may be some of the most cerebral animals on the planet, but we know we're not alone in having this sort of behavioral complexity. Crows use tools. Primates create incredible social structures. Whales congregate.,457506Fri, 7 Apr 2017 11:22:49 +1000This Earth-size virtual telescope could take the first picture of a black holeA supermassive black hole lurks at the center of our galaxy, but we've never seen it. We know it's there, and that it has the mass of about 4 million suns, and that the stars in our galaxy revolve around it. But no one could tell you exactly what it looks like.,457505Fri, 7 Apr 2017 11:22:49 +1000This graphene filter could make it cheaper to drink seawater A new study released earlier this week in the journal Nature Nanotechnology may be a major step towards making desalinated water&#8212;water in which salt is removed to make it safe for drinking&#8212;a viable option for more of the world. Researchers from the University of Manchester modified graphene oxide membranes, a type of selectively permeable membrane that allows some molecules to pass while keeping others behind, to let water through while trapping salt ions. It's essentially a molecular sieve.,457503Fri, 7 Apr 2017 11:22:49 +1000Climate change could make severe turbulence even worse Airplane passengers are in for an increasingly bumpy ride according to a study released today in the journal Advances in Atmospheric Sciences. Climate change is altering the jet stream, making severe turbulence more likely. The study builds on earlier work which found that climate change would lead to bumpier airplane rides. What makes the new research unique is that it quantifies how much different kinds of turbulence will increase&#8212;59 percent in the case of light turbulence, a 94 percent increase in moderate turbulence, and 149 percent increase in severe turbulence.,457502Fri, 7 Apr 2017 11:22:48 +1000