Australian Popular Science News news from, 31 Jul 2014 01:08:05 +100010Blood Test Could Detect A Genetic Tendency Toward SuicideWhen it comes to fighting suicide, knowing who is at risk can be tricky and, moreover, a very subjective process. Scientists at <a href="">Johns Hopkins Medicine</a> are trying to bring a level of objectivity into the search for those at high risk of attempting suicide &#8211; in the form of a simple blood test.,390490Wed, 30 Jul 2014 19:53:48 +1000Crazy Ukrainians Experiment with MicrowavesTaking apart a microwave and building your own ray gun is a bad idea. A really really bad idea - especially when you use it to explode a radio. But thanks to YouTube, we can watch someone else do it with no danger to ourselves. So what is really going on in the video and why aren't they getting fried?,390449Wed, 30 Jul 2014 10:01:00 +1000Where Do Geysers On Enceladus Erupt From? Probably A Buried OceanA map of more than 100 geysers on the surface of Saturn&#8217;s moon Enceladus has helped scientists determine where those water jets are spouting from&#8212;and the results are encouraging for scientists who want to look for life there.,390447Wed, 30 Jul 2014 08:41:56 +1000How Google's Mapathon May Have Compromised India's National SecurityIndia's Central Bureau of Investigation is questioning an open-source map project sponsored by Google. Google's <a href="" target="_blank">possible crime</a>: Revealing information about&#160;sensitive military installations. Relying on locals to document the area around them, Google's contest&#160;may have documented what was known to locals but unavailable on previous maps of India.,390446Wed, 30 Jul 2014 08:40:26 +1000Amazon's New Store For 3D-Printed Products Omits The Best Parts Of 3D PrintingThis week,&#160;Amazon <a href=";p=RssLanding&amp;cat=news&amp;id=1951812">announced</a>&#160;its new <a href=";node=8323871011">3-D&#160;printing store</a>. We were immediately giddy, imagining&#160;the endless possibilities of being able to&#160;upload any design and, in Amazon fashion,&#160;have it shipped to us in solid form overnight. But the online book purveyor that has diversified to sell basically everything on the planet&#160;seems to have squandered its opportunity to transform the 3-D printing movement; the products in its new online marketplace are not customizable, fairly expensive, and slow to be delivered.&#160;,390445Wed, 30 Jul 2014 08:40:25 +1000Laser Light Could Make Flu Vaccine 7 Times More EffectiveWhen you get a vaccine, it's typically injected into the muscle below the skin with&#160;a needle. But vaccines administered through the skin can use smaller pin-prick methods that could be useful for those afraid of needles, such as children. These cutaneous vaccines have the <a href="">potential to be relatively painless</a>, and could also possibly require less vaccine material. Unfortunately, the chemical <a href="">adjuvants</a> used in intramuscular vaccines can cause scarring and ulceration, and therefore new adjuvants for cutaneous (skin-administered)&#160;vaccines are "urgently needed," <a href="">as various researchers</a> <a href="">have written</a>.&#160;Adjuvants are chemicals like aluminum salts and oils which work by mimicking components of pathogens (like bacterial cell walls) that the immune system has evolved to recognized and react to.&#160;,390444Wed, 30 Jul 2014 08:40:23 +1000Pest In Brazil Has Evolved Resistance Against GMO CornCrop-munching caterpillars in Brazil are no longer put off by genetically modified plants designed to kill them, <a href="">Reuters reports</a>. The report is just the latest in a series that have emerged over the past few years.,390443Wed, 30 Jul 2014 08:40:22 +1000U.S. Army Contemplates 3D-Printed WarheadsAdditive manufacturing, more commonly known as 3-D printing, is&#160;inherently creative. Materials are layered&#160;together and built up, constructing an object from powder and heat and code. In the future, the U.S. Army wants to turn this innovation to far more destructive ends, by <a href="" target="_blank">printing new warheads</a>.,390442Wed, 30 Jul 2014 08:40:18 +10005 Phenomena That Science Has Yet To Fully ExplainWho doesn't love a good mystery,&#160;especially one&#160;that stumps researchers?&#160;,390441Wed, 30 Jul 2014 08:40:17 +1000Spectacular Sydney Sunset ScienceLast night Sydney enjoyed an amazing winter sunset that slowly faded between endless colours. While beautiful sunsets are common, this one was particularly long lasting and photogenic. Not surprisingly, Facebook and the internet was soon awash with pictures. But what made the Sydney sunset so spectacular?,390419Tue, 29 Jul 2014 13:11:00 +1000The Moon Could Be Littered With Fossils From EarthThere&#8217;s <a href="">some</a> <a href="">evidence</a> that microbes living inside a rock could be blasted from their home planet, travel through space, and then crash-land on a new planet relatively unscathed. Throughout the ALH84001 debate, scientists assumed fossils could also withstand the grueling journey, but it looks like nobody actually set out to test it<strong>&#8212;</strong>until now.&#160;,390418Tue, 29 Jul 2014 12:59:12 +1000The Fight Against Fake Birth ControlAs a traditionally Catholic country, Peru has been slower than most to accept contraceptives. Over the past decade, most citizens&#8217; ideology has gradually stretched to accommodate the need for birth control, but emergency contraception (AKA the &#8220;morning after&#8221; pill) is still highly controversial in Peru. Although some question the pill on moral grounds, others are starting to question it based on sinister scientific findings: some of the pills are not <em>the</em> pill.,390399Tue, 29 Jul 2014 07:17:33 +1000Behind The Scenes Of &#8220;The Whole Brilliant Enterprise&#8221;For the July issue of <em>Popular Science</em>, we&#8212;the <a href="">Office for Creative Research</a>&#8212;created&#160;<a href="">a data visualization</a> celebrating NASA&#8217;s long history of aerospace innovation.&#160;Since 1959, NASA has published&#160;a document called &#8220;<a href="">Astronautics &amp; Aeronautics Chronology</a>&#8221; nearly every year,&#160;compiling&#160;news coverage of science, technology, and policy at the agency. In these compilations, NASA is reporting its own history. What kinds of stories do these documents hold? How has their language changed over the last six decades? To explore these questions, we created &#8220;The Whole Brilliant Enterprise,&#8221;&#160;a text-based visualization drawn from&#8212;by our count&#8212;4,861,706&#160;words&#160;of NASA&#160;history.,390397Tue, 29 Jul 2014 07:17:30 +1000The Whole Brilliant Enterprise: NASA&#8217;s First 50 Years In One Interactive Graphic<strong>Ever since</strong> NASA established its history program in 1959, the agency has periodically compiled the world&#8217;s aeronautics advances into a single report. Assembled mostly from press releases and news stories, the documents recount coverage of budget negotiations alongside milestones like the shuttle program and the moon landing. Data illustrators at the <a href="">Office for Creative Research</a> distilled the trove of reports from 11,000 pages and 4.9 million words into just over 4,000 discrete phrases. Their illustration charts the frequency of some of the most important terms, colored by topic and arranged by time, and presents a new view of how NASA took humanity to the stars.,390398Tue, 29 Jul 2014 07:17:00 +1000Smart Seatbelts Detect Drowsy DriversWhat if your car could sense when you were falling asleep behind the wheel, and wake you up before you caused an accident? That's the notion around a sensor device being developed by <a href="" target="_blank">Harken, a public-private European consortium.</a>,390347Sat, 26 Jul 2014 12:05:10 +1000The Week In Drones: No-Fly Maps, Protecting Future Japan, And MoreHere's a roundup of the week's top drone news: the military, commercial, non-profit, and recreational applications of unmanned aircraft.,390346Sat, 26 Jul 2014 12:05:09 +1000The Next Tuna You Eat Could Have A Mackerel MommaIf you're not worried about a future without toro sushi or rare tuna steaks, you probably should be. Five of the eight species of this tasty marine predator are endangered, <a href="" target="_blank">according to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature</a>, source of the Red List of threatened species. In January 2013 an international group of fisheries researchers <a href="" target="_blank">told the world</a> (PDF) that&#160;Pacific bluefin tuna had been fished to their lowest levels in history, with the population near to collapsing as a commercial stock.,390345Sat, 26 Jul 2014 12:05:08 +1000Fukushima Monkeys Have Fewer Blood Cells Than Monkeys Elsewhere, Study FindsFollowing the meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, monkeys living in nearby forests have been found to have lowered blood cell counts, according to a new study. What that means for people living&#8212;or who once lived&#8212;in the area is unclear.,390344Sat, 26 Jul 2014 12:05:07 +1000Solar Sponge Efficiently Makes SteamThe researchers don't claim the device could be used to create electricity, at least not yet. But it could relatively easily be scaled up to make fresh water out of salt water via distillation, for example, or to sterilize medical or food-processing equipment in areas of the world where electricity is hard to come by, said MIT researcher Hadi Ghasemi <a href="">in a statement</a>.,390343Sat, 26 Jul 2014 12:05:05 +1000Korean Baseball Team To Fill Seats With Robot FansThe Hanwha Eagles of Daejeon, Korea, have been on a long losing streak, the <a href="">BBC reports</a>&#8230; but they are winners in our hearts here at <em>Popular Science</em>. That's because they have decided to amp up their fans by giving them access to three rows of <a href="">telepresence robots</a>.&#160;<span>Not able to score a ticket to an Eagles game? No problem. These robots will be able to cheer, chant, show the faces of remote fans on their own screen faces, and hold up LED panels showing encouraging texts from fans.</span>,390342Sat, 26 Jul 2014 12:05:04 +1000Was Quarantine The Right Move?Yesterday, Chinese authorities finally lifted a nine-day quarantine of 151 individuals&#160;from the northwestern city of Yumen, instituted after a 38-year-old man died of a bubonic plague infection last week. Entry and exit points were also sealed off, trapping nearly 30,000 residents. In the end, no other cases of bubonic plague developed.,390341Sat, 26 Jul 2014 12:05:02 +1000Climate Change Cruise Will Bring Tourists Across The Melted ArcticPolar bears are the largest land predators in the world. Confined to arctic climes, they are huge, powerful swimmers, and deadly hunters. In addition to being the <a href="" target="_blank">second-best</a> bear, they <a href="" target="_blank">risk going extinct</a> from global warming's environmental changes. Thanks to an&#160;offering by a luxury cruise line, customers can <a href="" target="_blank">take a cruise</a> through the newly navigable arctic, and try to see polar bears struggling to stay alive on what remains of Arctic ice.&#160;,390340Sat, 26 Jul 2014 12:04:59 +1000The Week In Numbers: Our Favorite Citizen Scientist, Our Favorite Moonwalkers, And More<strong>150,000:</strong> the number of weather observations that have been recorded by a&#160;101-year-old farmer, the U.S. National Weather Service's <a href="">longest-serving volunteer</a>, who has called in temperatures, rainfall and other measurements&#160;from his home for <strong>84 years</strong>.,390339Sat, 26 Jul 2014 12:04:58 +1000Record Setting Solar Electric Car Built By Aussie StudentsOn Wednesday the 23rd of July, a team of UNSW students successfully attempted to break a 26 year old world speed record for the fastest electric vehicle over 500 kilometres. The team broke the record, but is still waiting for final approval from the world Motorsport governing body, FIA. The car averaged a speed of more than 100 km/h during the attempt, beating the previous world record of 73 km/h.,390324Fri, 25 Jul 2014 14:16:00 +1000Poo Powered Flame Thrower Would Have Us Running ScaredUS based Mad Scientist Nick Klein built the poop powered flame thrower for the National Geographic's show Doomsday Preppers. Impressively the device can shoot flames up to 10 meters but probably doesn't smell too good. While environmentally friendly as far as flame throwers go, how and why does one build a poo powered flame cannon?,390321Fri, 25 Jul 2014 13:52:00 +1000Atomic Lake Now Safe Enough To SwimNuclear bombs are seen as weapons of mass destruction, but some scientists imagined their use for good. Controlled explosions could be used to divert rivers, dig reservoirs, drill for oil and even create natural harbours. Located in Kazakhstan, Lake Chagan was one of these tests, performed by the Soviet Union in 1965. A 408m wide, 100m deep crater created with a 140 kiloton nuclear explosion. But would you really want to swim in it?,390298Fri, 25 Jul 2014 09:18:00 +1000Why DARPA Wants An Experimental SpaceplaneSo DARPA wants a reusable spaceplane. I mean, who doesn't? For decades, space experts have tried to design quick-turnover, reusable launch systems. So far, however, no one has made one that works. "There really isn't any kind of vehicle today that does exactly what they're asking people to do," Micah Walter-Range, director of research and analysis at the Space Foundation, tells&#160;<em>Popular Science</em>.&#160;"You can certainly compare it to existing vehicles, but it seems to be a new class."&#160;,390291Fri, 25 Jul 2014 06:27:47 +1000An Animated Avatar Could Screen Humans For National SecurityWhen the paperwork at your doctor's office asks you how much alcohol you drink, do you write down the truth? Would you be more likely to tell the truth if an animated head interviewed you instead? One team of U.S. military psychologists is betting you would.,390290Fri, 25 Jul 2014 06:27:46 +1000Leishmania Parasite: Deadly For Humans, Good For FliesNo human would be inclined to think favorably of leishmaniasis, caused by a parasite&#160;spread by sand flies, which infects&#160;about 12 million people worldwide and <a href="">kills 20,000 to 30,000 per year</a>.&#160;,390289Fri, 25 Jul 2014 06:27:45 +1000Happy Birthday, Chandra X-Ray ObservatoryThe Space Shuttle Columbia carried the Chandra X-ray Observatory into space on July 23, 1999. To commemorate the telescope's quincea&#241;era, NASA has released <a href="">four beautiful new images</a> of supernova remnants, processed from Chandra's readings, that showcase the observatory's capabilities.,390288Fri, 25 Jul 2014 06:27:42 +1000Aussie Hoverbike Inventor Kickstarts New Pilotable Quadcopter Project Putting his original bi-copter hoverbike design on hold for now, Chris Malloy has a new innovative overlapping quadcopter design nearing completion. Of course flight testing a hoverbike costs real money, so the team is raising funds by selling 1/3 scale models directly, as well as running a Kickstarter campaign. Well on the way to meeting their goals, we are already envisioning beating the traffic to work on our own hoverbike.,390266Thu, 24 Jul 2014 13:59:00 +1000World's Largest Aquatic Insect Reportedly Found In ChinaGadzooks! The world's largest aquatic insect has reportedly been found in China. This cute/terrifying little creature, which is definitely worth writing home about, was found in the the mountains of Chengdu in Sichuan province, <a href="">Scientific American reports</a>. It boasts a wingspan of 8.3 inches. That <a href="">breaks the previous record</a> held by a species of South American helicopter damselfly, with a wingspan of 7.5 inches. (Helicopter damselflies, by the by, feed on spiders, one species of which&#160;<a href="">makes fake spiders in its web</a>, likely to scare the predators away.)&#160;,390261Thu, 24 Jul 2014 11:48:27 +1000101-Year-Old Citizen Scientist Has Called In Weather Observations Every Day For 84 YearsGenerations before anyone came up with the idea of "citizen science," an 18-year-old Richard Hendrickson called in his first weather report to what was then the U.S. Weather Bureau. That was in 1929. Hendrickson is now 101 years old and has provided the National Weather Service with twice-daily observations from his Long Island farm for 84 years.,390260Thu, 24 Jul 2014 11:48:26 +1000Could This Old Warplane Really Shoot Down MH17?Following the downing of Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 over separatist-held eastern Ukraine, Russian state-owned media started focusing a lot on a strange little plane.&#160;The Sukhoi Su-25 "Frogfoot" is a jet fighter from the late Cold War, designed to support ground troops from closer overhead, and in the MH17 tragedy, what the Su-25 can and can't do is a centerpiece of Russian denials.,390259Thu, 24 Jul 2014 11:48:24 +1000Here's Our Original Coverage of Apollo 11<em>Forty-five years ago, on July 20, 1969, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin made the first footprints on the Moon, and it was epic.&#160;Popular Science covered this enormous achievement with an article by Wernher von Braun&#8211; a German-born engineer, now known as "The Father of Rocket Science," &#160;who&#160;built the Saturn V launch vehicle that brought Apollo to the Moon. In our July 1969 issue, he described the plans for Armstrong and Aldrin's two-hour rendevous with the Moon.,390262Thu, 24 Jul 2014 11:48:00 +1000Uncontacted Amazonian Tribe Voluntarily Contacts Scientists, Catches FluLate last month, something extraordinary happened at the edge of the rainforest in Acre, Brazil. Members of an uncontacted Amazonian tribe voluntarily approached scientists from the Brazilian government, <a href=""><em>Science</em> magazine reports</a>. This is the first time in decades that an uncontacted community chose to meet with outsiders.,390232Wed, 23 Jul 2014 15:14:50 +1000Eating Poo Helps Packrats Digest Toxic PlantsDesert woodrats are picky, but not in the way you might expect: several woodrat populations in the U.S. Southwest specifically eat a type of highly toxic creosote bush. Another group eats juniper, which is also toxic to many animals. This gives the woodrats (<a href=""><em>Neotoma lepida</em></a>)&#160;a nice niche, allowing them to dine on a plant that others&#160;avoid. But how do they do it? A <a href="">new study</a> suggests that the microbes in their gut break down the toxic chemicals in the plants, which had been hypothesized but not clearly shown until now.&#160;,390201Wed, 23 Jul 2014 07:32:48 +1000U.K. Supermarket To Run On Electricity Made From Its Own Rotting FoodOne U.K. grocery store plans to power itself using biogas harvested from its own unsold, rotting produce. Yum.,390200Wed, 23 Jul 2014 07:32:48 +1000Could Lasers Be The Future Of Anti-Missile Weapons?On Thursday, July 18th, Malaysian Airlines flight MH-17 was struck by a missile. The United States&#160;<a href="" target="_blank">believes&#160;the missile was a&#160;Soviet-designed Buk</a>, and American <a href="" target="_blank">infrared satellites pinpoint</a>&#160;the location of that missile's launch to territory in Eastern Ukraine held by Russian-backed separatists. Is it possible that, while C<span>old War technology launched the missile, and&#160;modern technology identified where it was launched, future laser technology could shoot missiles out of the sky?</span>,390199Wed, 23 Jul 2014 07:32:45 +1000How To Watch An Animal Develop Cell By CellWhat is this fuzzy creature? Sadly, it's not pettable. This is a microscope image of a fruit fly embryo, showing the individual cells within it. That's 2,458 cells, to be exact. The bottom image shows each cell in a different color, with lines to show how those cells moved around.,390198Wed, 23 Jul 2014 07:32:44 +1000MERS Virus May Be Able To Spread Through The AirResearch strongly suggests that camels carry Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), a viral illness that has sickened nearly 700 and killed at least 209 people as of early June, according to the <a href="">latest update&#160;from the World Health Organization</a>. For this reason, the government of Saudi Arabia recently warned people to stay away from close contact with camels, at least those that appear to be sick, which prompted some to defiantly <a href="">post photos of themselves kissing camels</a> on various social media sites.,390197Wed, 23 Jul 2014 07:32:41 +1000How Climate Science Gets Done In The Icy Fjords of GreenlandDo you wonder what doing climate science in remote locations might be like? Read the <a href="" target="_blank">Greenland Thaw blog,</a> which is being updated regularly from the fjords of northwest Greenland, where the giant island's glaciers meet the ocean. With Greenland's ice sheets melting faster than ever, the study's scientists want to document and understand why the Alison Glacier, on Greenland&#8217;s northwestern coast, is flowing to the sea faster than other glaciers in the area.,390196Wed, 23 Jul 2014 07:32:38 +1000Ask Anything: Could Scientists Put Sunscreen In A Pill?Turns out, a few oral sunscreens already exist, based on the theory that antioxidants offer sun protection. Laboratory studies provide some evidence in support of this idea. When scientists feed vitamin E to hairless mice, the animals show less skin damage upon&#160;exposure to ultraviolet light. Dermatologist Salvador Gonz&#225;lez Rodr&#237;guez has studied an extract made from a fern called Polypodium leucotomos. The substance, which is high in antioxidants, may decrease sun-related DNA damage in humans, he says. But as a consultant for a Spanish company that makes an oral sunscreen, Rodr&#237;guez has skin in the game, so to speak. And he admits that oral sunscreens don&#8217;t work that well when measured in the standard ways: &#8220;If we evaluate protection in terms of how conventional&#160;sunscreens are evaluated, then antioxidant-based oral sunscreens provide very low SPF.&#8221;,390164Tue, 22 Jul 2014 08:02:17 +1000The Science of LightningWhen it comes to thunderheads, lightning is the great equalizer. Essentially a giant spark, lightning relieves the charge differentials that build up in storm systems. But it&#8217;s also one of the greatest mysteries in atmospheric science. Recently, scientists have started to explore lightning&#8217;s lesser-known siblings, which appear in ash plumes, labs, and even on other planets.,390163Tue, 22 Jul 2014 08:02:15 +1000Squid Protein Could Help Brains 'Talk' to ComputersIn the most advanced prosthetics--such as this crazy&#160;<a href="">mind-controlled robotic arm</a>--electronic hardware&#160;interfaces directly with&#160;nerves and muscles in the human body. But g<span>etting living tissue&#160;to play nice with a circuit board is anything but easy, for a number of reasons. One&#160;fundamental obstacle you may not have considered: electronics send signals via negatively charged electrons, whereas many of the communications carried out in living tissues take place through the movement of positively-charged particles, such as calcium and potassium ions.&#160;</span>,390162Tue, 22 Jul 2014 08:02:14 +1000Tiny Traps Capture Individual Blood CellsGotcha! These little pyramids are actually microscopic traps designed to gently enclose single cells without killing them. The idea is that in the future, such traps could be a part of a system for capturing and analyzing individual cells, perhaps as a part of cancer monitoring.,390161Tue, 22 Jul 2014 08:02:13 +1000Ask Anything: Can Humans Smell Fear?If humans can indeed smell fear they wouldn&#8217;t be unusual in the animal kingdom. Sea anemones, earthworms, minnows, fruit flies, rats, mice, and deer, among others, have all been shown to signal unease through odor. Some responses are even more overt. For&#160;example, the offspring of one bird species vomits up a pungent, orange liquid when frightened by a predator; if a parent catches a whiff, it becomes warier in the nest.&#160;,390160Tue, 22 Jul 2014 08:02:12 +1000Welcome To The Lab Of An Apollo Computer AnatomistFran Blanche&#8217;s workshop is more than a place to unwind. It&#8217;s home. &#8220;I put a bed in my office,&#8221; she says. Her fashion business is downstairs; upstairs is a music studio and a laboratory with 30 years&#8217; worth of tools. A private collector recently asked Blanche&#160;to study part of his Apollo-era <a href="">Launch Vehicle Digital Computer</a> (LVDC), which NASA designed to fly a Saturn V rocket. &#8220;All modern boards would come to emulate it,&#8221; Blanche says. &#8220;Trouble is, there&#8217;s no information about how it was constructed.&#8221;&#160;,390159Tue, 22 Jul 2014 08:02:10 +1000Woman Grows A Nose On Her Spine After Stem Cell ExperimentEight years ago, doctors took nasal tissue samples and grafted them onto the spines of 20 quadriplegics. The idea was that stem cells within the nasal tissue might turn into neurons that could help repair the damaged spinal cord, and <a href="">the experiment</a> actually worked a few of the patients, who regained a little bit of sensation. But it didn&#8217;t go well for one woman in particular, who not only didn&#8217;t experience any abatement in her paralysis, but recently started feeling pain at the site of the implant. When doctors took a closer look, they realized she was growing the beginnings of a nose on her spine, <em><a href="">New Scientist</a></em> reports.,390103Sat, 19 Jul 2014 21:31:31 +1000The Week In Drones: Wedding Photographers, Prison Guards, And MoreHere's a roundup of the week's top drone news, designed to capture the military, commercial, non-profit, and recreational applications of unmanned aircraft.,390102Sat, 19 Jul 2014 21:31:29 +1000