Australian Popular Science News news from, 27 Nov 2014 05:18:32 +100010Data From Satellites Confirm: Glaciers Are RetreatingGlaciers are having a hard time all around the world. A <a href="">new book</a> outlines the findings of a years-long effort by researchers and research groups across the world. Titled <em>Global Land Ice Measurements from Space (GLIMS)</em>, the book isn't going to hit bestseller lists anytime soon (it's a scientific tome, geared towards professionals), but it is the first truly comprehensive look at the state of the glaciers all over the globe. And that state is... not good.,398267Wed, 26 Nov 2014 18:01:22 +1000China Shows Off Holographic Ground Control System for Drones A photo of AVIC's GCS display booth. Sadly, no working version of the control station was present at Zhuhai 2014. The GCS is designed to be compatible with a wide array of UAVs.,398205Wed, 26 Nov 2014 08:21:28 +1000Astronauts Levitate Molten Orb Of Metal In SpaceBehold the fiery sphere of pain in the heavens! No, not the sun, this one is much, much closer to Earth, and much stranger still. Aboard the International Space Station, scientists have an electromagnetic levitator that lets them suspend a sphere of liquid metal in place. Why? To observe how it cools when it's free of a container or constraints like the strong gravity on Earth.,398204Wed, 26 Nov 2014 08:21:24 +1000Is Depression An Infectious Disease?Mental health continues to be one of society's greatest concerns. Its enigmatic nature leaves both the public and the health professional in a quandary to understand not only the cause but also the means to cure. Though research has been conducted for centuries, at times it feels we are up against intractable odds.,398203Wed, 26 Nov 2014 08:21:18 +1000Pretty Big Liars: How Kids Tell Who's Telling the TruthRemember that uncle who convinced you that your nose was actually in his hand? Or your conviction that you definitely heard reindeer hooves on the rooftop? Kids are gullible &#8211; at least that's the conventional wisdom. But new research pinpoints the time that a child's sense of truth and fiction becomes acute: around age 5.,398202Wed, 26 Nov 2014 08:21:15 +1000Three Billion People Are On The Internet NowBy the end of the year, nearly 3 billion people in the world will have Internet access, according to <a href="">the latest annual Measuring the Information Society (MIS) Report</a> from the International Telecommunications Union (ITU). That's an increase of 6.6 percent over the previous year, continuing a steady trend upward that's been in place for the last decade.,398201Wed, 26 Nov 2014 08:21:12 +1000How To Make Extra-Efficient Solar Panels Using Old Blu-Ray DiscsYou probably don't think of them that way, but Blu-ray discs have a gorgeous color. In fact, the same physics that gives butterfly wings and housefly eyes their iridescent shine are also at work on Blu-ray. All are examples of what physicists call structural color, which are colors created not from pigments, but from translucent, microscopic shapes that capture light and reflect it in such a way that it appears colored to the human eye.,398200Wed, 26 Nov 2014 08:21:06 +1000Rare Anglerfish Caught On VideoEarlier this month, scientists observed the black seadevil species of anglerfish alive in its natural habitat for the first time.,398199Wed, 26 Nov 2014 08:21:02 +1000SpaceX Unveils Autonomous Drone Ship For Landing Reusable RocketsIn the ongoing effort to lower the cost of commercial spaceflight, private companies hope to conquer a facet of rocket design NASA hasn't fully explored yet: reusable rockets. Up until now, all space rockets have used disposable launch systems, meaning they're designed to launch only once, and afterward, their parts are never recovered. The Space Shuttle was mostly reusable, but it still required an expendable -- and pricey -- external tank for lift-off. If a truly reusable launch system can be achieved, such a rocket could dramatically lower the cost of getting to space, since manufacturers wouldn't need to replace their rockets after each liftoff.,398198Wed, 26 Nov 2014 08:20:57 +1000Americans Don't Know A Lot About Internet History Or PolicyThink you know your GIFs from your <a href="">Gophers</a>? Your IMAP from your bitmap? Your hashtags from your hash browns? In September, the Pew Research Center polled 1,066 American adults on their knowledge of technology and the Internet, with <a href="">some surprising results</a>.,398197Wed, 26 Nov 2014 08:20:53 +1000America's Laser Gun Goes To WarRight now, the U.S. Navy has a warship with a laser gun patrolling the Persian Gulf. The USS Ponce is an old ship that first saw service as an amphibious transport in the 1970s, designed to carry troops, vehicles, and helicopters close to beaches. Saved from a scrapyard, the U.S. Navy <a href="">strapped a laser</a> to its back and sent it forward, turning it into a cold warrior testing the waters of the future.,398196Wed, 26 Nov 2014 08:12:30 +1000Mystery Of Alaska's Disappearing Sea Lions SolvedA decade ago, we set out to unravel deep ocean crime scenes we weren't even sure existed. The crime? Endangered Steller sea lions were rapidly disappearing in parts of Alaska. Their numbers <a href="">dropped</a> by 80 percent in three decades, yet only rarely did anyone see or sample dead sea lions. Live sea lions studied in the summer when they haul out to breed seemed healthy and had healthy pups.,398189Tue, 25 Nov 2014 20:27:55 +1000Our Savior, The Supervillain"Unless you have direct exposure to groups like <a href="">Deepmind</a>, you have no idea how fast -- it is growing at a pace close to exponential. The risk of something seriously dangerous happening is in the five-year timeframe. Ten years at most. This is not a case of crying wolf about something I don't understand.",398159Tue, 25 Nov 2014 09:49:59 +1000Band Will Release Album In DNAOn the one hand, you can fit OK Go's latest album in the coin pocket of your jeans. On the other hand, it takes hundreds of dollars' worth of equipment&#8212;and a science degree's worth of skill&#8212;to listen to it. Decisions, decisions.,398158Tue, 25 Nov 2014 09:49:55 +1000The History Of The Drone In 9 Minutes [Video]Drones, the monosyllabic catch-all for remote controlled unmanned aircraft, have become a striking symbol of modernity in the past decade. First as military scouts and assassins, then as <a href="">delivery gimmicks</a> and backyard toys, the simple category of craft captured the imagination of everyone clever enough to put the words &#8220;Game of Drones&#8221; together. But the history of drones goes back more than a century. This video, created by <em>Mashable</em>, captures a lot of that history in just nine minutes:,398157Tue, 25 Nov 2014 09:49:52 +1000Regin Spyware Collects Government and Industry Secrets, Then Covers Its TracksIn movies it sometimes seems like computer viruses are capable of doing anything. More often than not that's a matter of dramatic license, but <a href="">a recently discovered piece of complex malware</a> suggests that truth may actually be scarier than fiction.,398156Tue, 25 Nov 2014 09:49:48 +1000Europa Is Stunning In Close-To-True ColorNASA has given an old, high-resolution image of Jupiter's moon Europa a fresh polish. The result is the closest-yet approximation of what the watery moon would look like to the naked eye. Hi there, Europa!,398155Tue, 25 Nov 2014 09:49:44 +1000Next Spring, You Can Walk Under A Glacier In IcelandSoon, visitors to Iceland will be able to head inside a man-made ice cave and get an inside look into how glaciers work. The 1,640-foot long tunnel is <a href="">currently being carved</a> into the Langj&#246;kull glacier by engineers of the Ice Cave-Iceland project. When complete, glacier enthusiasts will be able to see the <a href="">deep blue ice</a> characteristic of glaciers and view the <a href="">inside of a crevasse</a> without <a href="">falling into one</a>.,398154Tue, 25 Nov 2014 09:49:41 +1000How Nigeria's Anti-Polio Strategy Helped It Wipe Out EbolaThere are just three countries in the world where polio is still endemic: Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Nigeria. Now, experts think it's feasible for Nigeria to wipe out wild poliovirus within its borders this year, even as the country stays on high alert against Ebola.,398153Tue, 25 Nov 2014 09:49:35 +1000Indian National Park Setting Up Radar Network To Protect Tigers -- And HumansWe all know that good fences make good neighbors, but in one national park in India, fences just aren't good enough. <a href=""><em>New Scientist</em> reports</a> that a new radar network is being developed for Panna National Park, a tiger reserve in India.,398152Tue, 25 Nov 2014 09:49:31 +1000The Real Problems Of Running A Jurassic ParkThe teaser trailer for <em>Jurassic World</em> will be <a href="">released this Thursday</a>, and while everyone is looking forward to the film's release next June, some imaginative folks on Twitter have been exploring what kind of problems Jurassic Park might have had to endure if it were a vacation destination in the real world.,398151Tue, 25 Nov 2014 09:49:27 +1000International Team Blasting Off To Space Station TodayAt the crack of dawn on Friday, the Soyuz TMA-15M spacecraft <a href="">was transported via specialized train car</a> to its launch pad at the <a href="">Baikonur Cosmodrome</a> in Kazakhstan. The Russian rocket is scheduled for liftoff this afternoon and will be carrying an eclectic mix of astronauts to the International Space Station. The team includes three crew members from across the globe: commander Anton Shkaplerov of the Russian Federal Space Agency, flight engineer Terry Virts of NASA, and Italian flight engineer Samantha Cristoforetti of the European Space Agency.,398139Mon, 24 Nov 2014 20:18:57 +1000How 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 +1000