Australian Popular Science News news from, 3 May 2016 22:31:29 +10001010 Candid Animal Photos Captured By Camera TrapsNot every wildlife shot can show the gentle majesty of the world's most beautiful animals. Sometimes, a camera trap shows them for what they really are - a bunch of goof balls.,418869Mon, 2 May 2016 09:18:15 +1000I Bought an Awesome (if Obscure) Piece of Space History!Beginning in the mid-1950s, engineers started looking into the problem of aerodynamic heating; the challenge was devising a way to have a warhead launch on a missile and reenter through the Earth's atmosphere unscathed so it could explode on target. The same principle carried over into spaceflight. In the early space age, a man took the place of the warhead on those same missiles. This ultimately led to the ablative heat shields that kept Apollo astronauts safe during their fiery returns through the atmosphere before splashdown, but they were a new technology in the 1960s. That meant, that like so many piece of Apollo, it was proved during the Gemini program. The very first ablative heat shield was qualified on Gemini 2 in 1965, and I recently bought a piece of that heat shield.,418868Mon, 2 May 2016 09:18:15 +1000See SpaceX's Rocket Landing On A Drone Ship in 360-Degree VideoRemember earlier this month when SpaceX succeeded in landing its Falcon 9 rocket first-stage booster on a drone ship out in the Atlantic for the first time ever (and the first time ever by any private company)? That was pretty cool. Now the company has released a new 360-degree video of the historic landing on <a href=";src=syn" target="_blank">YouTube</a>. Personally, I still prefer the flat video captured from afar. Watch it <a href=";src=syn" target="_blank">here</a>. TGIF!,418854Sat, 30 Apr 2016 16:04:44 +1000Siemens Created Spider Bots That 3D PrintShipbuilding is a community effort. For Siemens, that community in the future won't just be the engineers, designers, and workmen on a project: it will also include an army of small robot spiders, 3D printing and weaving together plastic to build that hull. Think of it like a normal shipbuilding facility, only with hundreds of tiny scurrying parts, all working together.,418853Sat, 30 Apr 2016 16:04:44 +1000A Brain Atlas, Armor For Modern Day Jousting, And Other Amazing Images Of The WeekNorman Kuring, an oceanographer for NASA who examines images taken by NASA's Landsat 8 satellite, couldn't figure out what caused the bizarre scars in the sea in the photo above, <em>The New York Times</em> <a href=";src=syn" target="_blank">reports</a>. So he went on a Twitter quest to find out. After much input from followers, he concluded that the wind had blown around huge stacks of ice that had piled up on the seafloor, creating the scars as they dragged along.,418852Sat, 30 Apr 2016 16:04:44 +1000Amazon's Kindle Oasis Puts Function Over FormWhere many companies are obsessed with making the latest, greatest smartphone, Amazon has found success with other modern devices. Along with the Amazon Echo and Echo Dot line of personal assistants, the former bookseller shines when it comes to giving you a modern way to read those books. The Kindle line started in 2007, but here in 2016, the line of e-readers serves the same function: offering a convenient way to consume your ever-growing book collection. The latest iteration of the e-reader, Amazon's Kindle Oasis, continues to pursue that mission&#8212;with longer battery life, a squatter form-factor and a very high price tag.,418851Sat, 30 Apr 2016 16:04:44 +1000US Navy Puts First Drone Command On An Aircraft CarrierRobots are going to take all the boring jobs first. This extends even to the military, where the Navy wants to keep humans flying fighter jets in attack missions, but switch over the less exciting scouting and refueling missions to drones. Looking toward that future, the U.S. Navy has outfitted the supercarrier USS <em>Carl Vinson</em> with a drone control room.,418850Sat, 30 Apr 2016 16:04:44 +1000First US Zika-Related Death Reported In Puerto RicoToday, Puerto Rico's health secretary, Ana Rius, confirmed that the U.S. territory has had its first recorded death relating to the Zika virus. <a href=";src=syn" target="_blank">According to the Associated Press</a>, Rius said a 70-year-old man who was infected with the virus died in February. His death was directly caused by a drop in blood platelets, a condition known as thrombocytopenia, that can cause internal bleeding.,418849Sat, 30 Apr 2016 16:04:43 +1000NASA Finally Has Touchscreen Simulators For SpacecraftWhen Boeing's new CST-100 Starliner spacecraft carries its first astronauts to the International Space Station in 2017 or 2018, it's going to ring in a whole new era of American spaceflight. And to prepare for these missions, NASA is training its astronauts on the next generation of controls. And much like the controls from <em>Star Trek: the Next Generation</em>, these new consoles are <a href=";src=syn" target="_blank">all touchscreen</a>.,418848Sat, 30 Apr 2016 16:04:43 +1000Big Bang Machine Shut Down By Small MammalWhat is it with small mammals and electrical lines? Not even the world's largest and most powerful particle accelerator, the Large Hadron Collider, is immune from their meddling. The multi-billion dollar scientific instrument that located the elusive Higgs Boson particle back in 2012 has suffered widespread electrical problems in recent days, thought to be caused by a (now-deceased) small mammal gnawing on a transformer line, according to <a href=";src=syn" target="_blank">NPR</a> and <a href=";src=syn" target="_blank"><em>New Scientist</em></a>.,418847Sat, 30 Apr 2016 16:04:43 +1000See Honda's Driverless Toy Cars Cross The WorldAutonomous cars are a chance to reinvent the steering wheel. Because the vehicles themselves do all the driving, cars are no longer bound by such basic conventions as &#8220;keep a human facing forward at all times&#8221; and &#8220;don't try to climb over boulders like a spider." Okay, it's more than just the relationship between the car and driver that's changing in that one.,418846Sat, 30 Apr 2016 16:04:43 +1000Jeff Bezos Explains How Blue Origin Will Prevent Its Rocket Engine From MeltingFor all that rocket science gets a reputation for being complicated, it all boils down to some simple concepts. You burn stuff, and spew the resulting gases out a nozzle. Those gases coming out at high speeds push the rocket in the opposite direction.,418845Sat, 30 Apr 2016 16:04:43 +1000China Refits Older Warships for a Bigger PunchThe Chinese Navy (PLAN) has been expanding its power with a series of new, more capable surface warships like the 052D guided missile destroyers (DDG) and 054A frigates, while preparing its Type 055 cruiser for a launch at decade's end. but equally notable is how it is also spending big bucks to update its older warships to make them relevant in A2/AD operations.,418844Sat, 30 Apr 2016 16:04:43 +1000Video: Gorgeous, Weird Jellyfish Found Near Mariana TrenchAs much as a jellyfish sting hurts, and as gross as those blobs of washed-up jellyfish carcasses are on the beach, there is something undeniably appealing about a jellyfish floating in the water, minding its own business.,418843Sat, 30 Apr 2016 16:04:43 +1000Gene Therapy For Congenital Blindness Has Long-Lasting EffectFor the one in 50,000 people born with the genetic disorder choroideremia, there's no treatment that can slow the progressive vision loss. Scientists from the University of Oxford have been developing a gene therapy treatment to reverse the effects of the disease, and, though the initial results seemed promising, they had not been sure the treatment would work in the long term.,418842Sat, 30 Apr 2016 16:04:43 +1000Humanoid Robot Can Dive Deep Underwater, Exploring Reefs And ShipwrecksMeet OceanOne, a robot avatar that lets humans explore deep under the Ocean's surface, without any of the dangers or time limits associated with diving.,418841Sat, 30 Apr 2016 16:04:43 +1000Watch A Guy Fly A Homemade Hoverbike Around His BackyardThe United Kingdom might have a mad scientist problem. Or at least, a mad engineer one. Colin Furze, a YouTuber who seems to have unlimited energy for creating working versions of science fictional devices, made a thermite-hurling fire cannon last month. Now, with sponsorship from Ford, it seems he's expanded his repertoire to hoverbikes.,418840Sat, 30 Apr 2016 16:04:42 +1000Hormones Can Change Your Skin ToneAs far back as the ancient Greeks, people have documented a funny phenomenon among pregnant women: The skin on their faces sometimes changes color. Scientists never quite knew why that happened, though they suspected that it was linked to the spike in the body's hormones during pregnancy. Now, <a href=";src=syn" target="_blank">a new study</a> published this week in <em>eLife</em> found that two sex hormones, estrogen and progesterone, play a key role in regulating the body's synthesis of melanin, the substance that gives skin pigment.,418839Sat, 30 Apr 2016 16:04:42 +1000SpaceX Wins Its First Major Military ContractIt's been a good week for SpaceX. The private spaceflight company <a href=";src=syn" target="_blank">just won a major contract</a> to launch a military payload into space--a job that has long been monopolized by United Launch Alliance (ULA), a joint venture between industry giants Boeing and Lockheed Martin.,418838Sat, 30 Apr 2016 16:04:42 +1000Apple Makes CareKit Open Source Starting TodayA month after Apple announced CareKit--its latest platform for developing personal healthcare apps--the company has made available four new iOS apps that use the platform. It has also made the platform's functionality and features available to all apps starting today.,418837Sat, 30 Apr 2016 16:04:42 +1000Twitter's AI Is Beating Facebook's At Classifying Video The future of live video could be a personalized stream of content, automatically aggregated from all around the world. If you want to watch snowboarding, turn on your custom snowboarding channel.,418836Sat, 30 Apr 2016 16:04:42 +1000Japan's Space Telescope Officially Declared Dead The worst fears of the astrophysics community came true today, as Japanese space telescope Hitomi (aka ASTRO-H) was officially declared dead.,418835Sat, 30 Apr 2016 16:04:42 +1000Now You Can Propose Marriage At A Safe Distance, With DronesPlanning to get married soon? In that case, you probably have a lot of extra money you don't know what to do with, right?,418834Sat, 30 Apr 2016 16:04:42 +1000DARPA's Future Tank Will Think Its Way Out Of FightsTanks are made for confrontation. First designed to crash through trenches and survive machine guns in World War I, the heavy, armored vehicles are machines of headlong destruction. Modern tanks, thick with armor and sporting power cannons, functionally perform the same service: go where the enemy is, and make them gone.,418833Sat, 30 Apr 2016 16:04:42 +1000Scientists Create Primitive Sperm From Skin CellsFor the <a href=";src=syn" target="_blank">10 to 15 percent</a> of couples in the U.S. who are unable to have a child, scientists are working on creative alternatives to surrogacy and adoption. They're putting little motors on sperm to help them swim better, or creating sperm from mouse stem cells. Now one group of researchers have made another leap forward&#8212;they have created germ cells, the precursor to sperm or eggs, from human skin cells. The group <a href=";src=syn" target="_blank">published its findings</a> this week in <em>Scientific Reports.</em>,418832Sat, 30 Apr 2016 16:04:42 +1000 For Sale: The Next Generation of Chinese War RobotsDSA 2016 Kuala Lumpur is one of Asia's leading arms shows, as arms manufacturers from around the world congregate in Kuala Lumpur to pitch their weapons to Malaysia and other Southeast Asian countries. In spite of territorial tensions over the South China Sea, China has given its weapons makers carte blanche to offer advanced systems to Southeast Asian countries. Chinese defense contractors, in addition to pitching the usual array of frigates, fighter jets, anti-ship missile and air defense radars, have taken the leap of offering new unmanned systems that are still undergoing testing by, or have just entered service with the Chinese military.,418831Sat, 30 Apr 2016 16:04:42 +1000VW: A Cool Concept and a New Diesel AccusationFirst the good news from <a href=";src=syn" target="_blank">Volkswagen</a> this week. The company debuted the T-Prime Concept GTE, a plug-in hybrid SUV, at Auto China 2016. The bad news: the <a href=";src=syn" target="_blank">New York Times</a> reports that a PowerPoint presentation created in 2006 at Volkswagen detailed how to cheat on US emissions tests with its TDI diesel engines.,418727Thu, 28 Apr 2016 10:21:37 +1000Fly Over The Methane Lakes of Saturn's Moon TitanHere on Earth, we tend to think of methane as a byproduct of gas production and cow farts. On Saturn's moon Titan, it's in liquid form and is the primary ingredient in some big lakes, according to the results of a new study using data gathered from when NASA's Cassini probe flew by the moon between 2007 and 2015. And to help us puny Earthlings better visualize these great methane ponds, NASA released the following video animation of what it's like to fly over Titan's northern hemisphere. Spoiler: <a href=";v=yKNxeF4KMsY" target="_blank">it was all yellow</a>.,418726Thu, 28 Apr 2016 10:21:37 +1000Climate Change Will Noticeably Reduce Oxygen In The Oceans By 2030 There might be plenty of fish in the sea, but what about oxygen for those fish?,418725Thu, 28 Apr 2016 10:21:37 +1000New Full-Contact Sport Wraps Martial Arts In Electronic ArmorWatch out, UFC--a new kind of full-contact combat may be coming to television. We covered Chiron's Lorica last year, and the company is still working hard on its high-tech suit of armor that they think could revive interest in weapons-based martial arts.,418724Thu, 28 Apr 2016 10:21:37 +1000You Can Now Play Minecraft In Virtual RealityBe careful reading this post around any kids in your vicinity (or any constructive gamers, for that matter): as of today, it's now possible to play the official version of Minecraft in virtual reality. We've seen a few half-baked VR versions of the popular pixellated open-world building game, but those were just projects that were hacked together as demos and proofs-of-concept. Now Mojang, the gaming studio that makes Minecraft and which was <a href=";src=syn" target="_blank">purchased by Microsoft for $2.5 billion</a> in 2014, has <a href=";src=syn" target="_blank">unveiled a version</a> of its hit title specifically designed to work on Samsung's Gear VR headset.,418723Thu, 28 Apr 2016 10:21:37 +1000Vaccines Might Work Better In The Morning Every year, somewhere between 250,000 and 500,000 people die from the flu around the globe. In an effort to avoid catching the flu, more than <a href=";src=syn" target="_blank">40 percent</a> of American adults get the flu vaccine every year. But how well that vaccine works might depend on what time of day you were jabbed&#8212;patients who received a flu vaccine in the morning had a much higher concentration of flu-fighting antibodies in their blood a month later, according to <a href=";src=syn" target="_blank">a study published yesterday</a> in the journal <em>Vaccine</em>.,418722Thu, 28 Apr 2016 10:21:37 +1000Detailed Portraits Turn Dead Insects Into Stunning ArtworkA picture might be worth a thousand words, but it takes a thousand pictures to capture a bug in this level of detail. Actually, more like 8,000 to 10,000 images.,418721Thu, 28 Apr 2016 10:21:37 +1000Samsung's Second Gear VR May Be A Standalone Wireless HeadsetVirtual reality headsets like the Samsung Gear VR, the HTC Vive, and the Oculus Rift all allow you to leave the physical world and enter the virtual. And, thanks to head position tracking and even, in the Vive's case, forward-movement tracking, the effect feels real. Samsung's VR headset works without pairing to a computer; Samsung smartphone owners put their devices into the headset instead. Now, according to recent reports, the next version of the Gear VR may not even require users to insert a phone first.,418720Thu, 28 Apr 2016 10:21:36 +1000NASA Says It Will Help SpaceX With Mars 2018 MissionSpaceX just announced it's hoping to land an uncrewed Dragon capsule on Mars in 2018, which would make it the first private company to land on another planet. But it's not going alone.,418719Thu, 28 Apr 2016 10:21:36 +1000Wasted Food Is Wasted EnergyWhen we think about food waste, our minds usually turn to the people those discarded meals could feed. But that's not the only consequence. Researchers at the University of Texas <a href=";src=syn" target="_blank">uncovered</a> another problem with excessive food waste: wasted energy. The energy it takes to get food from farms, production plants, and the wild to our plates is huge: It makes up an entire 10 percent of the nation's energy use. And a good chunk of that energy&#8212;enough to power the state of Washington for almost an entire year&#8212;goes to producing the food that ends up in the garbage.,418718Thu, 28 Apr 2016 10:21:36 +1000Elon Musk's Artificial Intelligence Group Opens A 'Gym' To Train A.I.In any scientific arena, good research is able to be replicated. If others can mimic your experiment and get the same results, that bodes well for the validity of the finding. And if others can tweak your study to get better results, that's of even more benefit to the community.,418717Thu, 28 Apr 2016 10:21:36 +1000A 3D Map Of The Brain Shows How We Understand LanguageEach day, as we talk to friends, family, and coworkers, and consume podcasts, movies, and other media, we are ceaselessly bombarded by the spoken word. Yet somehow, our brains are able to piece out the meaning of these words, allowing us to seamlessly, in most cases, go about our days, understanding, remembering, and responding when necessary.,418716Thu, 28 Apr 2016 10:21:36 +1000Look What Our Sun Threw UpOn the evening of April 17, the Solar Dynamics Observatory observed the solar dynamic above, and captured rather beautiful false-color 4K video of it.,418715Thu, 28 Apr 2016 10:21:36 +1000This Star Went Supernova With The Force Of 100 Million Exploding SunsThirty million years ago in a galaxy not so far, far away, a star exploded. Three years ago, light from that explosion finally made it to Earth, where scientists watched the explosion unfold from start to finish.,418714Thu, 28 Apr 2016 10:21:36 +1000Twisted Proteins May Give Plants A MemoryPrions--misfolded and infectious proteins--have long been associated with neurological conditions in humans and animals, such as mad cow and Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, which in turn has been linked to Alzheimer's.,418713Thu, 28 Apr 2016 10:21:36 +1000Nintendo Is Finally Bringing Its Games To SmartphonesNintendo's earnings are <a href=";src=syn" target="_blank">down 60 percent</a>, the new Zelda game is being pushed until 2017, and we still only have a vague announcement about the Nintendo NX.,418712Thu, 28 Apr 2016 10:21:36 +1000The 'Snowden' Movie Trailer Is Here To Sex Up Your Cyber EspionageEdward Snowden is a name that should ring a bell to you, since the former NSA contractor who leaked information on the U.S. government's massive cyber and telephonic surveillance apparatus back in the halcyon days of 2013 is pretty much the most famous whistleblower in modern history. And now the Hollywood movie about his topsy-turvy life is here.,418711Thu, 28 Apr 2016 10:21:36 +1000Three Questions About Breakthrough StarshotThe $100 million Breakthrough Starshot mission aims to use lasers to launch swarms of chip-sized probes on roughly 20-year journeys to Alpha Centauri. The ambitious initiative faces many challenges. How will the project ever launch space-chips to another star?,418710Thu, 28 Apr 2016 10:21:36 +1000Nintendo NX Release Is Slated For March 2017After the creator of <em>Mario</em> and <em>Zelda</em> <a href=";src=syn" target="_blank">deemed Nintendo's latest Wii U console a failure</a>, the company has shifted focus to its followup project. Mysteriously titled "Project NX," few details have been revealed regarding what to expect. While we may not know the features of the company's upcoming flagship console, we now know a release date: March 2017.,418709Thu, 28 Apr 2016 10:21:36 +1000China Debuts Anbot, the Police RobotOn April 21, at the 12th Chongqing Hi-Tech fair, the National Defense University, a hotbed of Chinese military innovations, has debuted the world's first armed (albeit less than lethal) police robot (the Ministry of Public Security was very excited about the Anbot). As People's Daily extols, "<a href=";src=syn" target="_blank">AnBot is able to patrol autonomously and protect against violence or unrest</a>.",418708Thu, 28 Apr 2016 10:21:36 +1000You Can Now Play Quidditch in Halo 5There's a new Quidditch mod in <em>Halo 5</em> and it looks amazing. Much like the Halo series' cult favorite Grifball, this game was created by adventurous players using the multiplayer modding system to create something a little different from the Capture The Flag, Slayer, and Zombie modes you've come to expect.,418677Wed, 27 Apr 2016 15:01:01 +1000Scientists Get First Look At Ethiopia's Uncharted, Deadly Hot SpringThe temperature during the day hovers around 107 degrees Fahrenheit, even in early spring. It's dry, and sulfur and chlorine cloud the air, burning the lungs of people unfortunate enough to be close to the boiling hot springs, roiling with salt, and heated by magma deep in the Earth. Welcome to the Danakil Depression in Ethiopia. It's 328 feet below sea level, volcanically active, a home to <a href=";src=syn" target="_blank">salt traders</a> and <a href=";src=syn" target="_blank">sought out by adventurers</a>.,418676Wed, 27 Apr 2016 15:01:01 +1000Australia Orders State-Of-The-Art Fleet Of French Stealth SubmarinesFrance is making submarines for Australia. In a $50-billion deal, Australia has ordered 12 of the 97-meter Shortfin Barracuda submarines, as part of the biggest military contract in Australia's history.,418675Wed, 27 Apr 2016 15:01:01 +1000HTC Is Launching A Virtual Reality AcceleratorHTC announced today that it's taking applications for an accelerator program focused on virtual reality innovation.,418674Wed, 27 Apr 2016 15:01:01 +1000