Australian Popular Science News news from, 22 Nov 2014 23:48:42 +100010How Women's Bra Sizes Weirdly Correlate To Their Spending HabitsIf you want to make billions in 2014, you have to understand <a href="">big data</a>. Chinese web sales giant Alibaba understands this concept better than most, as it utilizes comprehensive data analytics to predict how consumers are going to spend their money. And while the company's number crunchers were hard at work hunting trends, they stumbled across this correlation: women who spent big bucks also tended to have, ahem, bigger busts.,398102Sat, 22 Nov 2014 10:27:33 +1000BMW's i8 Is Where Every Car Manufacturer Needs to GoIt wasn't that long ago that every major sports car manufacturer scoffed at the idea of inserting hybrid-electric powertrains into their track-tuned road-rockets. They reasoned electric motors simply don't light anybody's fire. Even if you don't particularly like that argument, it's a fair one. There really isn't anything like the sensation of unleashing a howling V8 on the open road, or near a gaggle of awestruck teens in the neighborhood. Performance cars exist to arouse a multitude of senses. Their engines sound <em>amazing</em>.,398101Sat, 22 Nov 2014 10:27:29 +1000Worm Living In Human Brain Gets Its Genome MappedFor many years, a Chinese man in the U.K. experienced a range of debilitating neurological symptoms with no understood origin--including headaches, memory loss, and seizures. A biopsy found inflammation in the man's brain, but they were unable to pinpoint the exact cause of his symptoms.,398100Sat, 22 Nov 2014 10:27:25 +1000Scientists Make Gecko-Inspired Wall Climbing AdhesiveGeckos, when not shilling for insurance companies, are most known for their climbing abilities that let them scale walls effortlessly. Thanks to their biology, geckos have one major advantages over humans who want to move vertically: they are small, and their bodies are light, so their natural adhesive just has to be good, not great. But a team of scientists from Stanford University's Department of Mechanical Engineering have now one-upped the gecko, creating a hand-sized adhesive surface that allows humans to vertically scale glass walls.,398099Sat, 22 Nov 2014 10:27:22 +1000Beautiful Map Reveals The Evolution Of The Protoplanet VestaMore than a million miles away from Earth, Vesta sits cold and dark in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. Depending on what naming scheme you use, Vesta is either the largest asteroid in the solar system, or a very small planet.,398098Sat, 22 Nov 2014 10:27:19 +1000NASA's (Un)Censored MoonwalkersA big part of going to the Moon was selling the program to the public. Not only was it important for NASA to gain support for the Apollo program, the agency stood to gain nothing by misrepresenting its missions to the taxpayers who were footing the bill. Part of this marketing strategy was transparency, including public release of unedited mission transcripts, a transparency for which we can thank Paul Haney.,398097Sat, 22 Nov 2014 10:27:00 +1000Blame This Arctic Superstorm For Brutal US Winter WeatherParts of the US got a lot of snow last week&#8212;or yesterday. They can blame this guy, above. The satellite image, taken November 8, shows a superstorm over the Bering Sea. The storm was one of the most intense ever recorded in the region, creating hurricane-force winds and 26-foot-tall waves. The storm was also a part of a series of meteorological events that eventually led to the <a href="">recent cold snap</a> in the American Midwest and northern New York State.,398062Fri, 21 Nov 2014 06:57:42 +1000These Adaptable, Self-Replicating Robots Surely Won't Tear The World Apart ... Right?Watching the University of Oslo&#8217;s three-limbed robot squirm across the floor like a dismembered starfish brings to mind shudder-inducing flashbacks of Stargate SG-1. More particularly, visions of SG-1&#8217;s creepy-crawly nemesis, the <a href="">Replicators</a>, spider-like robots capable of well...replicating themselves...but also able to learn from their surroundings, adapt and generally tear apart entire worlds (<a href=";cmpid=pscau">or spaceships</a>).,398061Fri, 21 Nov 2014 06:57:31 +1000Super Teeny 3D Printed Livers Go On SaleYou can now buy your own, tiny, 3D printed livers. Haven't you always wanted one?,398033Thu, 20 Nov 2014 10:45:56 +1000Bed Bugs And Chagas Disease: Don't Worry Quite YetScientists have been trying to figure out whether bed bugs can make people sick for more than a century. In the early 1900s, they tested the bugs for everything from leprosy to plague; in the 1970s, it was hepatitis B; and in the 1980s, especially during the height of the AIDs panic, scientists were feeding bed bugs blood laced with HIV to see if the virus could replicate in their tiny bodies. From these tests and others, dozens of pathogens have been detected in the bed bug, but, so far, none have proven capable of spreading from the pest to a human.,398032Thu, 20 Nov 2014 10:45:52 +1000US Senate Fails To Curtail NSA Monitoring Of Its CitizensThe National Security Agency still has the authority to collect wide-ranging metadata about your phone calls, at least for now. A controversial bill aimed at reforming the intelligence agency failed to pass the U.S. Senate on Tuesday, with some arguing that it went too far in curtailing the NSA's powers, and others contending it didn't go far enough.,398031Thu, 20 Nov 2014 10:45:39 +1000Lunar Mission Wants To Bury Your Hair On The MoonMost everyone supports efforts into space exploration, but there&#8217;s always one aspect of space travel that can be a deal breaker: the price tag. Thanks to gravity and our pesky atmosphere, getting off the ground (and back down safely) requires a lot of propulsion and engineering prowess, and that doesn&#8217;t come cheap.,398030Thu, 20 Nov 2014 10:45:27 +1000Philae Discovers Organic Molecules On A Comet After 10 years of chasing down Comet 67P&#8212;and then landing on it&#8212;a robotic space mission has returned a tantalizing discovery: the rubber ducky-shaped rock is home to organic molecules of mysterious composition.,398029Thu, 20 Nov 2014 10:45:22 +1000Non-Profit Wants To Make Encrypting Web Traffic Easy And FreeThe padlock icon is our friend. We've all been trained to look for it in the address bar of our browser, especially when we're shopping online, logging into our webmail, or accessing sensitive information from our bank. But shouldn't secure browsing be the rule, rather than the exception? A project called <a href="">Let's Encrypt</a> wants to encourage just that, starting in mid-2015.,398028Thu, 20 Nov 2014 10:45:18 +1000Salt Prices Skyrocket As Temperatures PlummetTalk about a polar plunge. This week all <a href="">50 states experienced freezing temperatures</a> on the same day. Preparations for the (<a href="">possible</a>) deep freeze of this winter are already hitting cities and states where it hurts: in their wallets.,398027Thu, 20 Nov 2014 10:45:13 +1000NYC's Payphones Will Become Gigabit Wi-Fi Access PointsEven if you've spotted a payphone in the wild recently, it's probably been a while since you've actually reached out and touched one. But that may soon change: New York City is planning on replacing the old public phones with 21st&#160;century equivalents, which will even provide free, superfast&#160;Gigabit Wi-Fi Internet access.,397993Wed, 19 Nov 2014 11:44:15 +1000In Defense Of The Stink BugStink bug. As names go it is a PR disaster, each of the words alone hardly endearing, and, in combination, wholly off-putting. Which is a shame because stink bugs have a perky charm, a distinctive style and, for an insect, a surprising concern for their offspring.,397946Tue, 18 Nov 2014 10:17:59 +1000Are Americans Doomed To Arctic Winters?There's an unwelcome guest on your doorstep, America.,397935Mon, 17 Nov 2014 19:02:49 +1000The Week In Drones: Mushroom Corpses, Parasite Concepts, and Skycraft CarriersHere's a roundup of the week's top drone news: the military, commercial, non-profit, and recreational applications of unmanned aircraft.,397934Mon, 17 Nov 2014 19:02:43 +1000Ask Anything: What's The Hottest Temperature Possible?It&#8217;s easy to understand the <a href="">theoretical minimum</a> temperature: absolute zero. The absolute maximum, on the other hand, is squirrely. &#8220;We just don&#8217;t know whether we can take energy all the way up to infinity,&#8221; says Stephon Alexander, a physicist at Dartmouth University. &#8220;But it&#8217;s theoretically plausible.&#8221;&#160;,397896Sat, 15 Nov 2014 09:37:52 +1000The Ongoing Eruption In Hawaii, In Pictures<a href="">Lava is still</a> approaching the Hawaiian town of&#160;Pahoa. It already destroyed a house (see below;&#160;the red-roofed structure still standing is a garage) and is continuing its march, oozing slowly towards other structures, including the town's solid waste transfer station (a <a href="">garbage facility</a>) and&#160;power lines. In the picture above, the billowing smoke isn't coming from the lava, but from the asphalt parking lot that it is burning. Here are some of the more amazing pictures from this week, taken by the United States Geological Survey (USGS).,397895Sat, 15 Nov 2014 09:37:49 +1000How littleBits Engineers Turn Their Ideas Into DIY KitsEvery electronic module in a littleBits kit is, well, little. Their small size and ability to snap together in nearly any combination make them useful prototyping tools: Engineers often use them to build rough&#160;versions of a new product. In order to pack a variety of functions into the streamlined modules, or &#8220;bits,&#8221; the company has to do some prototyping of its own.,397863Fri, 14 Nov 2014 10:44:16 +1000Samsung Introduces Virtual Reality Smartphone You Wear On Your HeadVirtual reality&#8212;almost as good as actual reality, but without those pesky smells. Okay, that may not be quite Samsung's message, but the company is making a hard push for VR&#160;with two announcements out of its 2014 developer conference.,397850Fri, 14 Nov 2014 07:10:27 +1000Can You Fix A Machine By Smacking It?That logic still holds with today&#8217;s machines. A good smack can temporarily fix an intermittent connection, but it&#8217;s risky. Whacking a platter-based hard drive, for example, could damage the head. That&#8217;s why &#8220;percussive maintenance&#8221; is best left to professionals. A few well-placed taps may identify a weak connection on a printed circuit board, says Blakely, who has been an electrical technician for almost 50 years. &#8220;The word &#8216;tap&#8217; is important,&#8221; he adds. &#8220;It&#8217;s not &#8216;hit;&#8217; it&#8217;s &#8216;tap.&#8217;&#8221;,397849Fri, 14 Nov 2014 07:10:24 +1000Genetic Analysis Of 110-Year-Olds Finds No SecretIs the secret to long life in a gene? We don't know, for now. A recent project to read the entire DNA sequence of 17 people aged 110 or older has found&#8230; there's nothing particularly different from ordinary folks.,397848Fri, 14 Nov 2014 07:10:21 +1000Computer Models Confirm: Small Islands Off Coast Can Make Tsunamis WorseBarrier islands can be <a href="">good protection</a> for&#160;the mainland&#160;in the face of strong storms and hurricanes. But in the event of a tsunami,&#160;small barrier islands may actually do more harm than good.&#160;,397847Fri, 14 Nov 2014 07:10:18 +1000Rosetta's Philae Lander Is In TroubleYesterday the European Space Agency <a href="">made history</a> by completing the first soft landing on a comet. The <a href="">Rosetta mission</a> successfully dropped the lander Philae onto Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, and it has already sent&#160;back data and photos.,397846Fri, 14 Nov 2014 07:10:14 +1000Mushroom-Body Drone Biodegrades Into Almost NothingSmall, cheap drones make appealing cameramen for a variety of tasks -- from a&#160;research apparatus to a tourist's plaything. Light, unmanned aircraft, especially those piloted by amateurs, pose a new danger to the environment, however. What happens if a gust of wind or pilot error sends the drone into, say, a <a href="" target="_blank">beautiful and delicate geothermal hot spring</a>? The bio-drone, developed by researchers at NASA's Ames Research Center in California,&#160;is a biodegradable solution to this issue.,397845Fri, 14 Nov 2014 07:10:10 +1000What It's Like To Work As A Contact Tracer For EbolaDuring Nigeria's attempts to control the spread of&#160;Ebola, officials contact traced nearly 900 people. Ultimately, 20 people fell ill in Nigeria and eight died before the World Health Organization declared the country Ebola-free October 20. Today, New York City&#8212;which has one-twentieth the population of Nigeria&#8212;is contact tracing 289 people. A <a href="">recent<em> New York Times</em> article</a>&#160;offers a peek into this time-consuming and&#160;costly -- but science-proven -- method of containing infectious diseases. The city has not yet had a single case of Ebola transmission.,397819Thu, 13 Nov 2014 09:41:35 +1000US And China Agree To Ambitious New Carbon Emissions GoalsAfter a meeting in Beijing, the U.S. and China&#8212;the world's top two polluters&#8212;have announced goals for reduced greenhouse gas emissions in the future.,397818Thu, 13 Nov 2014 09:41:32 +1000Square's New Credit Card Reader Ensures Safer TransactionsThe company that turned every smartphone into a potential credit card payment terminal is taking a step into the future. Square's now taking pre-orders for <a href="">the newest version of its credit-card reader</a>, which plugs into the headphone jack on a smartphone or tablet; the $29 dongle now works with the EMV standard that's soon to become the de facto way we pay with credit cards.,397817Thu, 13 Nov 2014 09:41:29 +1000Iran Supposedly Flies A Stealth Drone [Video]Years after capturing an American drone, Iran claims to have made its own version.,397816Thu, 13 Nov 2014 09:41:26 +1000How Teachers Can Educate Their Students On The Science Of 'Interstellar'One of the best parts of the new film <em>Interstellar</em> is the crazy science permeating the movie&#8217;s plot. Wormholes, gravitational forces, relativity, and warped space-time are just a few of the scientific phenomena that play important roles in the astronauts&#8217; deep space journey. Even though the moviemakers take a few liberties with these complicated theories (as some critics have <a href="" target="_blank">deigned to point out</a>), there is still a plethora of knowledge and research backing up the film&#8217;s science and physics.,397814Thu, 13 Nov 2014 09:41:20 +1000IBM's Watson Will Give You Health Advice Based On Your DNAMaybe you have a fitness tracker. Maybe you've gotten your genome sequenced before. Probably&#160;your medical records are kept in electronic, instead of paper, form. Now some companies are seeking to combine all those things and more into a talking, personalized, health-advice app. Not sure when to give yourself your next insulin shot after having a croissant for breakfast? You can ask the app. How much exercise should someone with your genetic makeup be getting? The app will give you suggestions.,397813Thu, 13 Nov 2014 09:41:17 +1000Rosetta Mission Lands On Rubber Ducky Comet [Update] NASA planetary director James Green comments on the Rosetta mission's success: "How Audacious! To dare to land on a comet! &#8230; The solar system is mankind&#8217;s. This mission is the first step to take it. It&#8217;s our. Let&#8217;s learn about the environment we&#8217;re in. It&#8217;s these steps that will lead us beyond this planet and on to Mars, and out into the solar system. &#8230; It&#8217;s our destiny to move off this planet, and this is the kind of step that we must do. ",397815Thu, 13 Nov 2014 09:41:00 +1000DARPA Wants Airborne Aircraft CarriersApart from America&#8217;s nuclear arsenal, the 10 active&#160;aircraft carriers of the U.S. Navy are the most powerful single units of military might in the world. While the combined ranges of ships and planes mean carriers can place bombs on most of the Earth&#8217;s surface, the ships are still limited to operating in water. Air, however, covers all of the earth, and a new request from DARPA wants to bring carriers to anywhere there&#8217;s sky.,397762Wed, 12 Nov 2014 09:25:15 +1000Wi-Fi Coffee Maker Lets You Brew from BedWe've all been in that catch-22 where we're just too tired to roll out of bed to brew that hot beverage that will wake us up enough to get out of bed. Fortunately, technology's here to help: Belkin has teamed up with Mr. Coffee to create a Wi-Fi-enabled coffee maker that you can control from your smartphone&#8212;which, presumably, is never more than an arm's length away.,397761Wed, 12 Nov 2014 09:25:11 +1000Factory And Irrigation Technologies Have Significantly Cut US Water UseIn 2010, the U.S. used less water than it has in a generation, <a href=";from=rss_home#.VGI34fTF8b5">according to a new announcement</a>&#160;from the U.S. Geological Survey.,397760Wed, 12 Nov 2014 09:25:07 +1000Former ISS Commander: Private Spaceflight Must Move ForwardNASA has been launching astronauts into low Earth orbit for over fifty years, so the technology is mature and we clearly know how to do it. Letting private companies do the job is the next logical step. The question is, can the risks be adequately controlled?&#160;And&#160;can private human spaceflight be jumpstarted and maintained at a profit? I think that the answer to both of these questions is &#8220;yes&#8221; --&#160;using tested hardware and an honest communication of risk.,397759Wed, 12 Nov 2014 09:25:04 +1000Coming Soon: Autocomplete For ProgrammersTechnology often seems to anticipate our needs: your phone offers to complete your words before you've finished typing it, for example, or Google tries to figure out what you want to search for after just a word or two. It's great if you're writing sentences, but what if you're writing code? An <a href="">$11 million project at Rice University</a>, sponsored by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, wants to help software developers by providing "autocomplete"&#160;features for programming.,397758Wed, 12 Nov 2014 09:25:00 +1000How To Transform WWI Paper Diaries Into A Digital DatabaseUnfortunately, documents from World War I don't come with metadata that computers are able to read. But you can help fix that. The U.K.'s Imperial War Museums have <a href="">set up a website</a>&#160;where you can read scanned versions of the original pages of diaries British officers kept. As you're reading, you can tag things on the pages such as dates, places, names, casualties, and unit activities.,397757Wed, 12 Nov 2014 09:24:55 +1000Cyborg Roaches Could Help Rescue Disaster VictimsRoaches to the rescue? When the world crumbles around us (presumably due to nuclear holocaust), popular theory says that&#160;cockroaches will still keep going &#8230; and going &#8230; and going. Now scientists are trying to harness the humble bug's endurance to assist in disasters more immediate than the end of the world.&#160;,397756Wed, 12 Nov 2014 09:24:51 +1000Here's How We'll Touch Down On A Comet This Week (We Hope)About 31 million miles away from Earth, the <a href="">Rosetta spacecraft</a> is circling a rubber ducky-shaped comet and getting reading for touchdown. On November 12 at around 4 a.m. EST, the orbiter will release the Philae lander, which will become the first manmade object ever to touch down (or maybe crash) on a comet.,397720Tue, 11 Nov 2014 10:05:32 +1000Geophysicists Are Turning Peanut Butter Into Diamond GemstonesIn his lab at the Bayerisches Geoinstitut in Germany, Dan Frost is trying to simulate conditions found in the Earth&#8217;s lower mantle. More than 1,800 miles below the surface, the lower mantle experiences temperatures nearing 4,000 degrees Fahrenheit&#160;and pressures that are 1.3 million times higher than the air we breathe.,397719Tue, 11 Nov 2014 10:05:29 +1000Virgin Galactic Crash May Lead To New Regulations For Private SpaceflightWell, it looks like the <a href="" target="_blank">crash of Virgin Galactic&#8217;s SpaceShipTwo</a> on October 31 may change all that -- meaning government regulations for private spaceflight may be on their way. For now, the FAA is waiting on the results of the accident investigation before it makes any official regulatory changes. But the agency hinted at modifications to come in a recent <a href="">statement</a> to Bloomberg News:,397718Tue, 11 Nov 2014 10:05:27 +1000Kitty DNA Shows Cats Have Evolved To Learn From TreatsA cat can't tell you much about its history (mrow?) but its genetics can. Today, an international team of geneticists is publishing the most thorough&#160;read yet of the DNA of a domestic cat. This is the first time scientists have read the cat genome carefully enough to tease out details about how evolution&#8212;and humans&#8212;have changed them.,397717Tue, 11 Nov 2014 10:05:23 +1000Video Game Trains Bomb-Sniffing Dog HandlersSmall, homemade bombs are an ever-present threat in America&#8217;s wars. Commonly known as Improvised Explosive Devices, or IEDs, these bombs are easily made by insurgents, hidden along patrolled roads, and surprisingly deadly. In the early years of the Iraq war, the Department of Defense commissioned a <a href="" target="_blank">serious bomb-proof&#160;vehicle program</a>&#160;and borrowed lessons from <a href="" target="_blank">submarine warfare</a>&#160;to protect troops against these bombs. There&#8217;s another, lower-cost way for America to fight IEDs: <a href="" target="_blank">Dogs</a>.,397716Tue, 11 Nov 2014 10:05:20 +1000USDA Approves A Genetically Modified Potato With Possible Health BenefitsThere's a new Mr. Potato in town. This weekend, the U.S. Department of Agriculture approved a few new genetically modified potato varieties for farmers to grow commercially. There are genetically modified versions of the popular Russet potato and the <a href="">Atlantic potato</a>, the <a href=""><em>New York Times</em> reports</a>.,397715Tue, 11 Nov 2014 10:05:17 +1000The Week In Numbers: Sneaky Penguin Cars, Bullets For 3D Printed Guns, And The Birth Of A Planetary System<strong>450</strong>: Distance, in light years, star HL Tau is from Earth. HL Tau, also known as HL Tauri, was photographed in the <a href=";loc=recent&amp;lnk=2&amp;con=astronomers-capture-beautiful-image-of-distant-planets-forming">first high-resolution image</a> of a planetary system's birth.,397675Sun, 9 Nov 2014 09:53:00 +1000Scientists Necropsy Near-Complete Bison MummyResearchers have just finished a necropsy of this nearly complete (and somewhat gruesome)&#160;carcass&#160;of a Siberian steppe bison.,397674Sun, 9 Nov 2014 09:52:57 +1000