Australian Popular Science News news from, 20 Dec 2014 20:08:14 +100010Test Drive: The 2016 Toyota Mirai Is Remarkably Unremarkable (And That's A Good Thing)The most remarkable thing about the first hydrogen fuel cell vehicle that you can buy outright is how unremarkable it is to drive.,399056Sat, 20 Dec 2014 10:11:50 +1000NASA Envisions A Cloud City Above Venus' Hellish SurfaceThe planet Venus, named for the Roman goddess of Love, certainly wouldn't be a very loving place to live. On the surface, Venus hosts scorching temperatures of more than 800 degrees Fahrenheit, a heat capable of melting lead, as well as an atmospheric pressure 92 times greater than Earth's. That's the same kind of pressure found at nearly 3,000 feet below the ocean's surface.,399055Sat, 20 Dec 2014 10:11:39 +1000Will Silicon Valley Transform Farming?You've heard the statistics: the world population <a href="">may hit between 9 and 12 billion within the century</a>. The middle class is <a href="">especially growing fast</a>, and will likely continue to demand more meat and dairy, which take more energy to make compared to plant-based staples. The big question is: how are we going to feed all those people?,399054Sat, 20 Dec 2014 10:11:33 +1000Found: The World's Newest Deepest-Dwelling FishAll hail the world's <a href="">deepest dwelling fish</a>.,399053Sat, 20 Dec 2014 10:11:26 +1000Department Of Defense Tests A Bullet That Can SteerSince the first gun appeared on a battlefield, bullets have dealt death in straight lines. As the shortest distance between two points, lines are great, but they mean enemies can hide behind walls or buildings and not get hit, a clearly undesirable prospect for anyone in the business of shooting enemies. Now, the Department of Defense is testing a bullet that can change direction in mid-air.,399052Sat, 20 Dec 2014 10:11:24 +1000Lawsuit About Mayonnaise DroppedIn the old days, the battle between condiments was fought by Hellmann's Mayonnaise and Miracle Whip. That was mostly a debate about taste rather than substance. Nowadays, vegan mayonnaise that uses plant ingredients instead of eggs is shaking up the world of sandwich slathers. One brand in particular, Hampton Creek's "Just Mayo" has drawn the wrath of food giant Unilever, maker of Hellmann's. (In 2013, Popular Science gave Hampton Creek a Best Of What's New award for their eco-friendly <a href="">eggless eggs</a>.),399051Sat, 20 Dec 2014 10:11:20 +1000How Microsoft's Machine Learning Is Breaking The Global Language BarrierEarlier this week, roughly 50,000 Skype users woke up to a new way of communicating over the Web-based phone- and video-calling platform, a feature that could've been pulled straight out of Star Trek. The new function, called Skype Translator, translates voice calls between different languages in realtime, turning English to Spanish and Spanish back into English on the fly. Skype plans to incrementally add support for more than 40 languages, promising nothing short of a universal translator for desktops and mobile devices.,399050Sat, 20 Dec 2014 10:11:16 +1000Eeek! A Writhing Robot SnakeThis slithering, contortionist robot is named the &#8220;Series II - X125 system.&#8221; The <a href="">robot snake-arm</a> is over 7 feet long, and can carry over 13 pounds. It has a flexible tip, and can bend over 225 degrees. In the video, it appears to also have a camera and a flashlight.,399049Sat, 20 Dec 2014 10:11:12 +1000How 3D Printing Made The Perfect Prosthetic Legs For Derby The DogYou should see this dog run. Derby was born with deformed front legs, but recently received a pair of 3D printed prosthetics, which he is quite good at maneuvering in:,398997Fri, 19 Dec 2014 10:19:54 +1000Diagnose An Ear Infection With A Smartphone AccessoryIs there anything that's worse than having a child who <em>might</em> be suffering from an ear infection? (Other, of course, than being said child.) A new device hopes to make those cases easier to diagnose by taking advantage of the powers of your smartphone.,398996Fri, 19 Dec 2014 10:19:52 +1000Welcome To The SURE House: Students Respond to Climate ChangeWe've all gotten the memo: climate change is real and it's happening. That means we have to adapt to it while working to fix it. Our contribution to the cause is the SURE HOUSE, a SUstainable and REsilient prototype representing a new direction in coastal housing.,398995Fri, 19 Dec 2014 10:19:49 +1000Watch An iPad Land An Aeroplane [Exclusive]High above rural Arkansas, I'm jammed in the back of a small four-seat airplane. Andrew Barker pilots the aircraft while Austin Meyer sits beside him. Everything is going great&#8212;until the engine suddenly quits at 5,000 feet.,398994Fri, 19 Dec 2014 10:19:42 +1000Navy's Robot Tuna Goes For A SwimLast week, a new U.S. Navy robot swam near the Joint Expeditionary Base near Norfolk, Virginia. The robot is known by two names that run the gamut from Pixar-cuddly to over-the-top action movie. Project Nemo, a.k.a. GhostSwimmer, is a tuna-inspired bot that might protect soldiers in the future by going where humans can't or shouldn't.,398993Fri, 19 Dec 2014 10:19:37 +1000Bored Gemini V Astronauts Took These Amazing Images Of Earth From SpaceWhen Gordon Cooper and Pete Conrad launched aboard Gemini V on August 21, 1965, they were the first astronauts to have mission patches sewn into their suits, a patch depicting a covered wagon. The motto of &#8220;8 days or bust,&#8221; however, had been nixed by NASA management; they worried it would make a shortened mission look like a failure. But the mission managed the full eight days, but it was probably as fun as traversing the country in a covered wagon. The view, on the other hand, was spectacular.,398992Fri, 19 Dec 2014 10:19:35 +1000Medical Inhalers To Track Where You Are When You PuffThe inhaler's sensor uses Bluetooth to connect to a smartphone or a data hub that plugs into a wall. One in 12 adults has asthma, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's 2010 report.,398991Fri, 19 Dec 2014 10:19:22 +1000World First: Man Controls Two Prosthetic Arms With His MindUntil recently, losing both arms in an accident would probably have meant the end of a patient's two-fisted grip. Not so for Leslie Baugh, the first shoulder-level double amputee to wear and control two complex, mind-controlled prosthetic limbs.,398990Fri, 19 Dec 2014 10:19:19 +1000Was The Sony Hack Actually An Act Of Cyberwar?It is hard to concisely describe how strange our cyberpunk present is. Yesterday Sony announced it wouldn't be releasing &#8220;The Interview,&#8221; a rather raunchy film that features the assassination of Kim Jong-Un. The decision to pull the film came after hackers released tons of Sony's internal emails and documents to the public, and then threatened attacks if the film was released, maybe even on <a href=";cmpid=pscau">theaters showing the movie</a>.,398989Fri, 19 Dec 2014 10:19:16 +1000Lunar Mission Kickstarter Campaign Meets Its Funding TargetLunar Mission One, the team of U.K.-based scientists and engineers hoping to send a robotic probe to drill into the moon, just reached a major milestone in funding. Today, <a href=";cmpid=pscau">the project's Kickstarter campaign</a> reached its target goal of &#163;600,000 (close to $1 million USD), with more than 30 hours to spare.,398933Thu, 18 Dec 2014 08:04:45 +1000 The Most Sophisticated Mind-Controlled Robot Arm YetIn 2012, 53-year-old Jan Scheuermann demonstrated for researchers that she could move around blocks, dowels, a ball, and even a bar of chocolate. She did it all with a robotic arm she controlled with her thoughts.,398932Thu, 18 Dec 2014 08:04:40 +1000Satellite Images Show How Much More Light Americans Use During The Winter Holidays'Tis the season to use way more electricity than you normally would. U.S. cities use so much more light at night during December that the difference can be seen by satellite. U.S. suburbs emit 30 percent to 50 percent more light during the winter holidays, while urban areas emit 20 percent to 30 percent more light, a NASA analysis found.,398931Thu, 18 Dec 2014 08:04:37 +1000Moon Rover 'Andy' Takes Home Two XPrize Milestone Awards, Totaling $750,000In the <a href="">Google Lunar XPrize competition</a>, three-dozen teams are racing to become the first private enterprises to land a rover on the moon. The winner takes home $30 million. But getting there will take time, hard work, and a lot of money.,398930Thu, 18 Dec 2014 08:04:34 +1000Sony Device Aims To Turn Any Glasses Into Smart GlassesAmong the problems with <a href="">Google Glass</a>&#8212;and there are many&#8212;is a general lack of style. Those who don't wear glasses regularly can find it cumbersome, while those who do may find it doesn't play well with their existing models. Sony's aiming to solve those problems with <a href="">a new microdisplay</a> that can turn any pair of glasses into a Google Glass-like device.,398929Thu, 18 Dec 2014 08:04:28 +1000What's So Scary About A Nuclear-Armed Drone?It's a plane designed for the war no one wants to fight. The Long Range Strike Bomber is the Air Force's secretive and long-running project to develop the next generation of nuclear-armed bombers, designed to unload hell in hostile skies. And there's a chance that it'll be optionally manned, allowing it to fly some missions as a drone.,398928Thu, 18 Dec 2014 08:04:25 +1000Microscope Uses Holograms Instead Of Lenses To Diagnose DiseaseA new prototype microscope doesn't use lenses to magnify objects. Instead, it makes holograms that a computer digitally records and magnifies. The result is a microscope that's cheaper and easier to use than traditional, lens-based microscopes.,398927Thu, 18 Dec 2014 08:04:22 +1000What It Looks Like Falling To Earth In A SoyuzA short animation of bright bursts of light shooting past a window pane rocketed to the front page of Reddit today, with good reason.,398886Wed, 17 Dec 2014 08:32:02 +1000This Is What A Shipwreck Looks Like After 113 Years"Today the wreck is broken and filled with mud, and it is a sealed grave in fast, dangerous waters in the main shipping lanes," James Delgado, director of maritime heritage for NOAA's Office of National Marine Sanctuaries said in a <a href="">press release</a>.,398885Wed, 17 Dec 2014 08:31:59 +1000We Know What You've Been GooglingGood morning, Internet. You are a mysterious animal, but we know a few things about you. We see some of these things borne out in Google's "top searches of 2014" list. More than two-thirds of all online searches go through Google, <a href="">comScore reported in April 2014</a>, so Google's annually released list is a glimpse into a major portion of Internet traffic flow.,398884Wed, 17 Dec 2014 08:31:54 +1000What Happens When We Stuff Ourselves At Holiday Time?On a Sunday that's usually a week or two after &#8220;Western&#8221; Easter, my parents set up an electric spit to roast a whole lamb in their suburban Massachusetts backyard. We welcome guests to our Greek Orthodox Easter celebration with a kiss on both cheeks; we nibble on <em>tiropitakia</em>, little cheese pies made with phyllo dough, and <em>kokoretsi</em>, organ meats wrapped in intestines and cooked on the spit next to the lamb. When the lamb is ready, we begin the meal by cracking open dyed hard-boiled eggs. Over the next few hours, we eat way too much lamb, <em>moussaka</em>, <em>dolmades</em>, and <em>tzatziki</em>, finishing off with cookies, cakes, and chocolate bunnies bought at deep discount (cheap Easter sweets are one of the perks of celebrating according to the Julian calendar). Happy, sleepy, and extremely full, we adjourn well before sunset to rest and digest.,398883Wed, 17 Dec 2014 08:31:51 +1000Pubic Bacteria May Help Catch Sexual Assaulters For decades, DNA testing has been the standard test used to identify sexual assaulters. Authorities try to gather samples of DNA from hairs or bodily fluids found on objects at the crime scene like clothing or bedding. Sometimes victims have their attacker's DNA on their bodies, so forensics experts gather samples there, too. When they find a sample of DNA that doesn't match the victim, authorities can match it to DNA information already in an extensive <a href="">database</a> of sex offenders.,398882Wed, 17 Dec 2014 08:31:46 +1000Can New GMO Techniques Make Crops That Are More &#8220;Natural&#8221;?But selective breeding also can drive the loss of other potentially useful characteristics, such as resistance to insect pests or environmental stresses including drought and flood. In a new review paper, which published today in <a href=""><em>Trends in Plant Science</em></a>, researchers from the University of Copenhagen propose to identify genes responsible for these characteristics and&#8212;in a twist on "<a href="">rewilding,</a>" a conservation concept that aims to bring landscapes back to an allegedly more natural state&#8212;genetically engineer modern crops to be more like their heartier ancestors.,398881Wed, 17 Dec 2014 08:31:44 +1000The Problem Of The Parotid Paramyxovirus (aka Mumps)This past week, the US National Hockey League was rocked with over a dozen cases of what is now a rare viral illness, the mumps. The virus, which used to infect about <a href="">186,000</a> Americans each year, has dwindled with only a few occasional outbreaks occurring annually thanks to vaccination. Yet, as the NHL has now learned, when the disease does enter a susceptible community, it can affect anyone, including superstars like Sidney Crosby.,398880Wed, 17 Dec 2014 08:31:36 Reconstructs Genomes Of 19th-Century Couples Using Customers' DNA<a href="">David Speegle</a> was a preacher in Alabama in the 1800s. Apparently he was very serious about the Bible's charge to "be fruitful and multiply." He had 26 children and more than 150 grandchildren. From there, the numbers of his descendants expanded. Today, there are so many Speegle descendants in the United States that a popular family history website, <a href=""></a>, was able to reconstruct large portions of Speegle's and his spouses' genomes using only data from its customers.,398879Wed, 17 Dec 2014 08:31:33 +1000How To Turn 4,000 Watts Of White Light Into A 45-Meter-Wide RainbowFor the next year, every night after sunset, an enormous rainbow will appear on one of the arched windows of Amsterdam's Central Station. The rainbow is a project designed by artist Daan Roosegaarde, but it requires plenty of technology to make it happen.,398878Wed, 17 Dec 2014 08:31:30 +1000The Sounds Behind The Millennium Falcon's Failing HyperdriveStar Wars is a visual experience, to be sure, filled with glowing lightsabers, strange aliens, and amazing outer space dogfights. But none of that would make quite so much of an impact if it weren't for the sound. Ben Burtt is the man responsible for creating much of the franchise's iconic audio and effects -- everything from the snap-hiss of a lightsaber to the sound of the Millennium Falcon's hyperdrive failing.,398839Tue, 16 Dec 2014 08:03:36 +1000Some Exoplanets May Get Squashed By Gravity From StarsThere are a lot of weird worlds out there. Astronomers have caught glimpses of planets that may be less dense than Styrofoam, some with <a href="">two suns</a> like Star Wars' Tatooine, and others still that are believed to be <a href="">made out of diamond</a>. According to a <a href="">new paper</a>, scientists may soon start spotting planets that have gotten stretched out by the gravity of the stars they orbit.,398838Tue, 16 Dec 2014 08:03:31 +1000Russian Armored Car Concept Looks Like It Drove Out Of A Video GameIt's hard out there for an armored car. Overshadowed by tanks, but less friendly than a minivan, armored cars have the unenviable duty of carrying troops to the front lines of a battle quickly and safely, and hopefully without getting destroyed by a roadside bomb. Designed by Russian auto giant ZIL, a new, unnamed armored car concept tackles that challenge with a body straight out of <a href="">science fiction</a>.,398837Tue, 16 Dec 2014 08:03:28 +1000Magnetically Levitating Elevators Could Go Up, Down, And SidewaysFor more than a century, elevators have gone pretty much just up and down. Ever since the first elevator was introduced in 1854, a cable-based design has pulled the elevator car along a single shaft, using steel ropes connected to a counterweight.,398836Tue, 16 Dec 2014 08:03:26 +1000The Innovative Chemistry Of TinselHave you ever wondered what tinsel is made of? Me, neither. But at one time, it was a big deal. Until 1972, many mass-produced tinsels were made using lead, <a href=""><em>Chemical &amp; Engineering News</em> reports</a>. The U.S. Food &amp; Drug Administration put a stop to that, for <a href="">obvious reasons</a>. Yet lead-based tinsel was so beloved, the FDA didn't publicize the change at first.,398835Tue, 16 Dec 2014 08:03:22 +1000Could A New Injectable Gel Save Lives On The Battlefield?Blood, as the vital and life-sustaining passageway through the body, has a strong incentive to flow as easily as possible -- in all cases except that of injury. With a cut or larger bleeding injury, platelets rush to the opening, part of the body's desperate action to cut off what had moments ago flowed so freely. That switch takes time, and as good as platelets are, in trauma situations or on the battlefield, they might not work fast enough unaided. Now, a team of scientists at Texas A&amp;M, Harvard, and MIT just developed an injectable gel that uses synthetic nanoplatelets to staunch the bleeding.,398787Sat, 13 Dec 2014 10:09:44 +1000Hunting for HiggsSmashing particles together, contemplating the nature of space and time: in the popular imagination, few occupations evoke the concept of "pure science" more strongly than that of the particle physicist. But how does a particle physicist actually do her job? You're about to find out.,398786Sat, 13 Dec 2014 10:09:40 +1000The Volcanic Eruption In Cabo Verde, In Pictures<a href="">Cabo Verde</a> doesn't make headlines all that often. An archipelago of 10 islands off the coast of Africa, it gained independence from Portugal in 1975, and has been an independent democracy ever since. But while the government of Cabo Verde (sometimes referred to as Cape Verde) is stable, the islands themselves aren't. On November 23, a vent on the side of a volcano on the island of Fogo <a href="">began erupting</a> for the first time in 20 years, a spectacular and destructive display of geology in action.,398785Sat, 13 Dec 2014 10:09:37 +1000US Army Builds Airport Just For DronesIn the far Western corner of Texas, where the state almost spills over into New Mexico, the U.S. Army is building an airport for drones. Located within Fort Bliss, the new <a href="">150 acre complex</a> will have a 50,000 square-foot hangar, a 5,000-foot runway for Gray Eagle drones, and a 1,000-foot runway for Shadow drones.,398784Sat, 13 Dec 2014 10:09:34 +1000Dude, Where's My Space Ferry?In January 1963, <em>Popular Science</em> anxiously awaited the day when humans would set foot on the moon. The president had just promised it would be a reality before the end of the decade. Naturally, we had lots of questions, and who better to answer them than the man who was in charge of designing the rockets to get us there?,398783Sat, 13 Dec 2014 10:09:31 +1000What's that, again? How short, repeated phrases may further your tots' speech<em>Ball! Look at the ball! The ball is blue!</em>,398782Sat, 13 Dec 2014 10:09:24 +1000Why We Should All Eat Ugly Fruits And VeggiesThe world wastes a lot of food every year. Like, <a href="">1.4 billion tons </a>of food.,398760Fri, 12 Dec 2014 10:47:54 +1000Real Swordsmen Weigh In On Star Wars's Weird Triple LightsaberThe new trailer for "Star Wars: Episode VII: The Force Awakens" excited fans worldwide, but also unexpectedly raised controversy with its depiction of a menacing new red lightsaber, which possesses a hilt made of two mini-lightsaber blades.,398759Fri, 12 Dec 2014 10:47:50 +1000Watch Jetman Fly In Formation Over Dubai In 4K VideoDubai is an unreal city, where the buildings are <a href="">gigantic</a>, the police drive <a href="">lamborghinis</a>, and <a href="">drones rescue window washers</a>. And, very rarely, home to aerial acrobatics from brave people in jetpacks.,398757Fri, 12 Dec 2014 10:47:46 +1000Could Drugs Heal A Broken Heart?Love and heartache have always been inexorably tied. Recall the paranoid, lust-dizzy characters in <em>A Midsummer Night's Dream</em> or the tortured, memory-deprived lovers in <em>Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind</em>. Wouldn't it be nice if a pill could take away the pain of a breakup? Researchers are looking into it.,398756Fri, 12 Dec 2014 10:47:43 +1000Injured NFL Players Inject Unproven Stem Cell TreatmentsAn injured knee can cost a pro football player millions of dollars, or even an entire career. <a href=""><em>MIT Technology Review</em></a> reports that, in an effort to regrow cartilage and heal injured tissue quickly, hundreds of players are injecting bone marrow cells into their knees and hips. Evidence is weak that the procedure actually works and, as with all unproven stem cell therapies, there could be risks involved. Just ask the lady who <a href="">grew a bone in her eyelid</a> after getting (illegal) cosmetic stem cell injections.,398755Fri, 12 Dec 2014 10:47:39 +1000Proof Of Japan's Kamikaze Typhoons Found In Ancient RocksA massive storm is currently battering <a href="">northern California</a> just after another storm <a href="">bombed</a> the United Kingdom. These weather events are huge news for the people living through them, but they are nothing compared to two storms that changed the course of history more than 700 years ago.,398754Fri, 12 Dec 2014 10:47:35 +1000