Australian Popular Science News news from, 26 Oct 2014 19:27:17 +100010Why Liberia Needs Help NOW To Prevent 98,000 Ebola CasesThe Ebola outbreak in West Africa is growing exponentially. The <a href="">latest reports</a> suggest that at least 9,915 people have been infected, and 4,555 have died. And this is just the beginning. Previously, the CDC estimated that a startling <a href="">1.4 million</a> West Africans could be infected by January. &#160;,397153Fri, 24 Oct 2014 14:15:05 +1000Autonomous Cars May Change Our Lives In Unexpected WaysIn the future, we may not be dealing with the hassles and frustrations that come with driving cars everyday. Autonomous automobiles can make our lives better! But are cars that drive by themselves all that it's cracked up to be?,397136Fri, 24 Oct 2014 09:53:44 +1000Scientists Retract Research On Dr. Oz-Endorsed Weight Loss PillThe scientists who published sham research on a useless weight loss supplement once called a "miracle pill" on the <em>Dr. Oz Show</em> have <a href="">retracted</a> their&#160;study.,397135Fri, 24 Oct 2014 09:53:42 +1000New Microscope Makes Gorgeous 3-D Movies Of Living CellsThere's a new microscope in town and the images it produces are stunning. An international team of engineers and biologists is announcing it's&#160;made a microscope that's able to see phenomena such as single proteins diffusing through thickly-packed cells, and&#160;the movement of the fibers that pull cells apart when they divide. Everything remains alive and active under the microscope.,397134Fri, 24 Oct 2014 09:53:38 +1000Can Robots Help Fight Ebola?Engineers make disaster-response robots precisely because robots are able to work in situations that are too dangerous for humans. Now the humans have got a new idea:&#160;Perhaps robots could carry off waste from Ebola patients, or bury the bodies of people who have died from Ebola in West Africa. Roboticizing such tasks would keep people from having to touch bodies when they're most infectious.,397133Fri, 24 Oct 2014 09:47:56 +1000What Renee Zellweger's New Face Says About Your BrainActor and producer Renee Zellweger has a new face. So far, so Hollywood, right? But the usual blogs and clickbait sites have exploded with coverage, and inevitably other blogs have responded saying the actor's choice of plastic surgery is hers alone, and none of our business. But why are people so interested in yet another celebrity going under the knife? Could it be because of unique human brain biology?,397104Thu, 23 Oct 2014 11:31:00 +1000Smart Ice Skate Measures Force Of Intense Triple AxelsOf sports played on ice, hockey tends to get the most attention when it comes to injuries. But figure skaters are also pretty&#160;<a href="">injury-prone</a>, and because of the aesthetic nature of their sport, most figure skaters <a href="">eschew pads and protective gear</a>&#160;while on the ice.&#160;This means avoiding&#160;injuries can be difficult for practitioners of the sport, in which skaters can exert forces of more than six times their body weight during a jump.&#160;&#160;,397022Thu, 23 Oct 2014 09:37:47 +1000Moon Robot Will Broadcast In Virtual-Reality VideoA team of scientists at Carnegie Mellon have built a robot that will send video from the moon to the Earth. And the robot will be controlled by the Oculus Rift virtual reality headset, with the 3-D camera on the robot turning to match the head movements of the user.,397094Thu, 23 Oct 2014 09:37:44 +1000With Xbox One, You'll Never Watch TV AloneIn <a href="">Xbox One</a>&#8217;s newest software updates, which roll out in November, the gaming console's television functions will be integrated with Twitter. This means you can watch a show on the top portion of the screen and simultaneously send out tweets in the "Snap" sidebar. An optional bottom pane will show tweets that are tied to whatever TV series is being played.,397093Thu, 23 Oct 2014 09:37:42 +1000Stegosauruses Were Champion Fighters With Their Spiked TailsWith it&#8217;s teeny-tiny head and massive spiked tail, the Stegosaurus is instantly identifiable to dinosaur fans. But to predators like the Allosaurus, the Stegosaurus would have been identifiable as lunch.&#160;,397092Thu, 23 Oct 2014 09:37:39 +1000Sorry, Cat Haters, Science Isn't On Your SideSome people just don't like cats. That's okay. Some people don't like pizza. Or dogs. Or Harry Potter. But some cat-haters aren't satisfied with not owning cats themselves. They need to drag the rest of us down with them.,397091Thu, 23 Oct 2014 09:37:36 +1000Two Families Of Exocomets Found Circling A Nearby StarAbout 63 light years from our Sun, you&#8217;ll find a relatively young star called Beta Pictoris. A mere 20 million years old, Beta Pictoris is surrounded by a very active and eclectic mix of objects &#8211; including clouds of gas and dust, as well as a plethora of orbiting comets.,397090Thu, 23 Oct 2014 09:37:33 +1000Audi Claims Self-Driving Car Set Speed Record At 149 MPHA major selling point of self-driving cars is what they remove from the road: human error, driver exhaustion, distracted driving because someone has to keep reminding the urchins in the backseat that "No, we&#8217;re not there yet, and if you keep asking I'm pulling the car over right now." Less attention has been paid to the new capabilities driverless cars will open up, such as traveling at much higher speeds than a human driver could manage. Carmaker Audi claims they just set a speed record for driverless cars, <a href="" target="_blank">zooming 149 mph</a>&#160;around a racing circuit&#160;in (of course) Germany.,397088Thu, 23 Oct 2014 09:37:24 +1000Coming Soon To A Coast Near You: Vertical Tsunami SheltersWhat do you do in a tsunami? For people living in areas prone to tsunamis, the <a href="">advice is simple</a>: get to higher ground as fast as possible. But for one town in Washington, safety will soon be as close as the local elementary school.,397087Thu, 23 Oct 2014 09:37:22 +1000Sandia Labs Reveals New Sniper Sight [Video]In the tense moments of a long-range gun battle, unnecessary movements can give away a combatant's position, cause them to lose sight of the enemy, and possibly lead to fatalities. For America&#8217;s special forces, Sandia National Laboratories has developed a new sniper scope that, with the press of a button, adjusts focus. Called <a href="" target="_blank">Rapid Adaptive Zoom for Assault Rifles</a> (RAZAR), the lens has <a href="" target="_blank">immediate uses</a> on&#160;the battlefield, but in the future, it might just be a birdwatcher's best friend.,397086Thu, 23 Oct 2014 09:37:18 +1000What To Wear When You're On The Run From The NSAIn the documentary film "<a href="" target="_blank">Citizenfour</a>" by Laura Poitras, it&#8217;s revealed that <a href="" target="_blank">Edward Snowden</a>&#8217;s longtime girlfriend Lindsay Mills also left the United States and joined Snowden in Russia. Cheekily, <em>Vogue</em> suggests a trio of outfits for Mills, to match both the climate and the need for discretion that comes with proximity to the source of a major intelligence leak.,397027Wed, 22 Oct 2014 09:17:10 +1000Jet Lagged Gut Bacteria Could Contribute to ObesityAfter crossing multiple time zones it can feel like your entire body is worn out. And it turns out, that&#8217;s true, even down to the bacteria in your gut. In a study published last week in the journal Cell, researchers found that in both humans and mice, the gut microbiome was affected by changes to the test subjects' biological clocks. The human subjects went on a trip from the U.S. to Israel --&#160;an eight- to ten-hour time zone difference.&#160;The mice in the study didn't get to go anywhere (humans have all the fun), but they had their feeding habits and the light in their habitats disrupted. In both the humans and the mice, the&#160;researchers took fecal samples before and after to see which bacteria were thriving in their guts.&#160;Not only did they find that the bacteria in the gut changed, they found that the bacteria who thrived under the changing conditions were the ones most associated with obesity and other health issues.&#160;&#160;,397026Wed, 22 Oct 2014 09:17:07 +1000Man In Japan Arrested For 3D Printing RevolversWhen the first working gun was 3-D printed in the United States, the government responded not through the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms, but instead <a href="" target="_blank">through the State Department</a>. Guns, it turns out, aren&#8217;t <a href="" target="_blank">terribly hard to get</a> in the United States, so a 3-D printed gun doesn&#8217;t radically change gun access here. In countries with stricter gun control laws, though, printing a gun is a new risk. This week,&#160;<a href="" target="_blank">Japan sentenced 28-year-old Yoshitomo Imura</a>&#160;to&#160;two years in prison for printing guns&#160;and instructing others on <a href="" target="_blank">how to print them</a>. &#160;,397025Wed, 22 Oct 2014 09:17:03 +1000Injection Of Brain Nerve Cells Into Spine Help Paralyzed Man Walk AgainThe treatment, developed by researchers in the UK and Poland, involved removing one of Fidyka's <a href="">olfactory bulbs</a> (the structures in the brain that allow you to smell) growing cells from the bulb, and then injecting those cells into the damaged area of Fidyka's spinal cord. The researchers were interested in cells from the olfactory bulb in particular because the nerves in the olfactory system&#160;are the only part of the human nervous system&#160;known to regrow after being damaged, with the help of <a href="">olfactory ensheathing cells</a>.&#160;,397024Wed, 22 Oct 2014 09:17:01 +1000A Genetic Mutation Renders One Family Unable To SweatNow a group of scientists are decoding the mystery surrounding this bizarre disorder. By mapping the genome of each individual in the Pakistan family, researchers from <a href="" target="_blank">Uppsala University in Sweden</a> identified a single genetic mutation responsible for the condition. Known as ITPR2, the gene is responsible for controlling sweat production, and knocking it out can stop sweat secretion altogether.,397023Wed, 22 Oct 2014 09:16:57 +1000These Are The Sleepiest Parts Of The InternetNew York City is the city that never sleeps, and if a new study from the University of Southern California&#8217;s Viterbi School of Engineering is any indication, it&#8217;s home to plenty of active Internet connections around the clock. But there are plenty of places around the globe where the Internet actually does sleep at night.,396977Tue, 21 Oct 2014 09:43:25 +1000Break In Transmission: How Nigeria Took Control Of EbolaThe World Health Organization <a href="">has declared Nigeria to be free</a> of the Ebola virus, after six weeks with no new cases being detected.,396976Tue, 21 Oct 2014 09:43:17 +1000The US Editor-in-Chief's Letter From The November 2014 Issue Of Popular ScienceAbout a year ago, <em>Popular Science</em> introduced a robot into the office (<em>the fancy Park Ave New York office, that is - Australian Ed</em>). One of the many virtues of working at a magazine such as ours is that we&#8217;re free to test all sorts of cool stuff. So we called the guys at Suitable Technologies and asked them to send us a BeamPro, the telepresence robot made famous by Edward Snowden (no doubt, he got the idea from us).,396975Tue, 21 Oct 2014 09:43:07 +1000Who Loves LED Lights? The Nobel Committee -- And Flying InsectsHumans love their LEDs. So much so, <a href="" target="_blank">they&#8217;re winning Nobel Prizes in physics</a>. Given their <a href="" target="_blank">electrical efficiency</a> and long lifespan, these remarkable light-emitting diodes are being used more and more as primary light sources, and experts argue they could help reduce the world&#8217;s overall electricity and material consumption for lighting.,396974Tue, 21 Oct 2014 09:43:04 +1000Physics Explains Ingrown ToenailsIn <a href="">a paper in <em>Physical Biology</em></a>, scientists have published the first mathematical model of how human nails grow. The researchers have found that nail health is a delicate balance between the adhesive forces that hold the nail securely in the finger, versus the nail&#8217;s movement as it slides forever forward toward the fingertip. Other factors, like thickness, biomechanical stress, and the way you trim your nails can influence whether you develop nail problems.,396973Tue, 21 Oct 2014 09:43:00 +1000At Last: Technology To Make Injections PainlessScared of needles? You aren&#8217;t alone. According to <a href="">some estimates</a>, as many as 1 in every 10 people are frightened of needles, and experts fear that the fear of pain may deter people from getting important injections at the doctor&#8217;s office.&#160;,396913Sat, 18 Oct 2014 09:56:26 +1000The Space Station Is Getting A UPS-Style Shipping ServiceIt&#8217;s easy to forget that the International Space Station isn&#8217;t just a place for astronauts to hang out and take epic selfies. Because of its unique microgravity environment, the station is actually a valuable hub for research and development, housing hundreds of ongoing experiments that involve everything from human tissue growth to protein crystal formation. Except there&#8217;s one little snag when it comes to conducting experiments on the ISS: It&#8217;s kind of <a href="">far away</a>. Getting critical samples from the station to Earth can be a lengthy process, and researchers usually have to wait anywhere from six months to a year before samples can make the trip to laboratories on the ground. These long waits can be risky, as live biological samples have a perishable lifespan and often need to be reviewed quickly before they degrade.,396912Sat, 18 Oct 2014 09:55:24 +1000Earth's Magnetic Field Could Flip Faster Than We ThoughtThe magnetic poles of the earth have switched back and forth many, many times during the 4.54 billion years that the Earth has been around. Previous research suggested that the process of reversing the poles took place over a long time period, potentially over a few thousand years. But <a href="">new research</a>&#160;shows that the reversal could actually happen much faster than that, with the magnetic North Pole migrating to the South Pole in a time span as short as a century.&#160;,396911Sat, 18 Oct 2014 09:55:22 +1000The Week In Numbers: Secret Robot Space Planes, Elephant Weathermen, And Suspended Animation<strong>10</strong>: Percent of people who are frightened of needles. They could benefit from a new technology which may make <a href=";loc=recent&amp;lnk=1&amp;con=at-last-technology-to-make-injections-painless">injections pain-free</a>.,396910Sat, 18 Oct 2014 09:55:19 +1000The Week In Drones: Pregnant Whales, Disaster Mapping, And MoreHere's a roundup of the week's top drone news: the military, commercial, non-profit, and recreational applications of unmanned aircraft.,396909Sat, 18 Oct 2014 09:55:17 +1000ESA Confirms Rosetta's Landing Site On Rubber Ducky CometAfter more than 10 years of traveling through space, the Rosetta spacecraft -- the first space vehicle&#160;to travel to a comet --&#160;is finally taking a load off. Well, part of it is, anyway.,396887Fri, 17 Oct 2014 08:24:56 +1000Scientists Want To Try Electrical Stimulation In More Paralyzed PatientsMore than 30 people who have been paralyzed by spinal-cord injuries could soon get an experimental treatment that involves sending electric currents to their spines. The Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation is raising funds to add volunteers to an ongoing study of the treatment.,396886Fri, 17 Oct 2014 08:24:53 +1000Why It's Awesome These Scientists Failed To Replicate Their ResearchScience chases progress. Researchers live under pressure from grant agencies,&#160;their peers, and the public to produce&#160;exciting results. New finds make headlines; checking&#160;old work usually does not. But when a recent study of human behavior by Sarah Brown-Schmidt and Sid Horton&#160;failed to reproduce a result from the authors'&#160;earlier research, they&#160;<a href="">published a paper</a> in the online journal <em>PLOS ONE</em>&#160;saying so. The response has been almost unanimously positive.,396885Fri, 17 Oct 2014 08:24:50 +1000Program That Mimics Fish Schooling Fools Fish ExpertsCan you tell the difference between robot fish and real ones? You can <a href="">take this online test</a>&#160;to find out. Here's the catch: For every question, both fish schools are rendered as green dots on the screen. It's just that one set of dots corresponds to the actual movements of Pacific Blue Eye fish researchers filmed. The other set of dots moves according to algorithms researchers wrote.,396884Fri, 17 Oct 2014 08:24:47 +1000Suspended Animation In Space Travel: What Scientists Still Need To LearnIt sounds practically perfect in every way, but there&#8217;s still a considerable amount of time and research that needs to happen before we send astronauts off to Mars via the shores of sleep. The technology that SpaceWorks is looking at is a form of therapeutic hypothermia&#160;that will drop the temperature of the astronauts&#8217; bodies by just 5 to 10 degrees Fahrenheit, reducing their metabolism and putting them in a kind of hibernation. &#8220;It doesn&#8217;t take much to get the body to start slowing down,&#8221; says John Bradford, President of SpaceWorks Enterprises.&#160;,396883Fri, 17 Oct 2014 08:24:45 +1000A Look At The Sun Beneath The CoronaHuman eyes can't (or at least shouldn't)&#160;look directly at the sun, but NASA's IRIS can. The Interface Region Imaging Spectrograph&#160;mission is the latest to <a href="">fly into space to observe the solar atmosphere</a>. Now, a little more than a year after it launched, the satellite has sent back a complex picture of a special region of the sun, just below its corona.,396882Fri, 17 Oct 2014 08:24:41 +1000What Happens After Someone Survives Ebola?While most of the recent&#160;coverage of the ongoing Ebola outbreak has focused on rising death tolls and a few&#160;<a href="">infected U.S.&#160;citizens</a>, other segments of the population have passed mostly unnoticed from the harsh glare of the media spotlight: Survivors, and those who are seemingly immune to Ebola.&#160;,396881Fri, 17 Oct 2014 08:24:39 +1000Researchers Make One-Atom-Thin Electrical GeneratorHow thin can an electrical generator possibly be? Thanks to a study published yesterday in Nature, the answer is about as thin as possible. Using molybdenum disulfide, researchers from the Georgia Institute of Technology and Columbia Engineering proved that a layer just an atom thick can generate an electric charge.,396880Fri, 17 Oct 2014 08:24:36 +1000A Working iPhone Built In MinecraftMinecraft has become home to any number of experiments in the can-do spirit, everything from a huge model of the U.S.S. Enterprise to working hard drives and computers. The latest venture, created by a German man, is a massive working iPhone, which you can interact with by jumping and running on a &#8220;touchscreen.&#8221;,396869Thu, 16 Oct 2014 19:25:00 +1000Volcanoes Erupted On The Moon Within The Past 100 Million YearsOur cold, lifeless Moon just turned the corner into pretty hot and tempting. It turns out Earth&#8217;s satellite was once rife with volcanic activity, and some of its eruptions occurred within the past 100 million years &#8211; perhaps even within the past 50 million years. That&#8217;s about a billion years earlier than what researchers had originally assumed.,396791Wed, 15 Oct 2014 09:52:03 +1000Secret Robot Space Plane Returns To Earth SoonIn 2012, the Air Force sent an unmanned robot plane into space. It is scheduled to return today, completing its third voyage into space, one that began way back in the simpler days of 2012. The X-37B (not to be confused with the U.S. Navy&#8217;s terrestrial experimental unmanned X-47B airplane) is a known space plane with a secret purpose.,396790Wed, 15 Oct 2014 09:51:59 +1000How Flies Are Responsible For Beer's Tasty, Fruity SmellsIt's a love story&#8212;so who cares if the lovers are a little unattractive? We can't all be Snow Whites and Prince Charmings. I'm talking about the love affair between fruit flies and brewer's yeast, which scientists so kindly described in a <a href="">paper published last week</a>&#160;in the journal <em>Cell Reports</em>.,396789Wed, 15 Oct 2014 09:51:57 +1000Security Experts Build $150 SafecrackerThanks to a pair of Melbourne security researchers, the cost of opening safes just hit a new low. Using an arduino platform and 3-D printed parts, the pair has created a contraption that&#160;can open many combination locks, like those on ATMs and gun safes. The device costs just $150 in parts, but people shouldn&#8217;t throw out their safes just yet: it takes about four days to crack the lock.,396788Wed, 15 Oct 2014 09:51:54 +1000Big Pic: The Sun Gives Off A Jack-O'-Lantern LeerThe sun got into the Halloween spirit a little early this year, producing active spots that look like a jack-o'-lantern leer on October 8. The active spots give off more light and energy than the rest of the sun's surface.,396787Wed, 15 Oct 2014 09:51:51 +1000Elephants Able To Detect Rainstorms 150 Miles AwayLions may be the kings of the animal world, but at least elephants could make for spunky&#160;meteorologists. New research is revealing that elephants have a radar-like spidey sense, capable of detecting an approaching rainstorm up to 150 miles off.,396786Wed, 15 Oct 2014 09:51:49 +1000Will I Ever Get A Color E-Reader?E-readers inspire the kind of polarization usually reserved for religion and taxes. Their detractors call them soulless, shoddy excuses for real paper. But to <a href=";loc=recent&amp;lnk=2&amp;con=handson-barnes-nobles-nook-simple-touch-with-glowlight-uh-glows-with-light">their fans</a>, their months of battery life, huge libraries, and lightweight frames are just short of magic. Of course, the core technology of the Kindles, Kobos, and Nooks that drive these passions is their textured, paper-like displays. All three major e-reader companies buy their displays from one firm: the eponymous E Ink.,396785Wed, 15 Oct 2014 09:51:46 +1000Our Cane Toads Have Evolved To Hop Even FasterWe may hate our invasive cane toads, they might be the poster-bufo of how introducing species can get out of hand, but damn if they aren't the best bloody cane toads in the world! Australian toads have evolved to hop straighter and farther than ever before. That means they're spreading faster than ever through Australia, <a href="">sparking worries</a>&#160;that they'll harm native species in places where they've never lived before. Twenty-six years after the debut of <em>Cane Toads: An Unnatural History</em>, it seems scientists are still struggling to control the large, poisonous&#160;toad.,396737Tue, 14 Oct 2014 07:30:44 +1000Investigators Narrow MH-370 Crash Site To Smaller Stretch Of OceanIn March, Malaysian Airlines Flight 370 from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing disappeared over the ocean. Despite international attention and <a href="" target="_blank">search efforts</a>, the plane was never recovered. On Wednesday, the Australian Transport Safety Board&#160;<a href="" target="_blank">published a report</a>&#160;that narrows the slice of sea where it&#8217;s likely the plane crashed. The ocean is still vast and deep enough to hide a plane, but there&#8217;s a good chance the wreckage of MH-370 is lurking in a 400-mile stretch of ocean floor.,396735Tue, 14 Oct 2014 07:30:39 +1000This App Turns Your Phone Into A Cosmic Ray DetectorWant to turn your smartphone into a cosmic ray detector? Well there's an app for that. Cosmic Rays Found in Smartphones, or CRAYFIS, uses smartphones' and tablets' standard camera equipment to detect some of the super-rare particles that shower down on the Earth when a high-energy cosmic ray hits the atmosphere. CRAYFIS collects that data, then sends them onto physicists at the University of California's Irvine and Davis campuses for analysis.,396734Tue, 14 Oct 2014 07:30:36 +1000This Woman Sees 100 Times More Colours Than The Average PersonWhen Concetta Antico looks at a leaf, she sees much more than just green. &#8220;Around the edge I&#8217;ll see orange or red or purple in the shadow; you might see dark green but I&#8217;ll see violet, turquoise, blue,&#8221; she said. &#8220;It&#8217;s like a mosaic of color.&#8221;,396736Tue, 14 Oct 2014 07:30:00 +1000