Australian Popular Science News news from, 1 Dec 2015 11:16:52 +100010Where Did Green Bean Casserole Come From?Foods like the green bean casserole feel to me like they've been around forever. They're a strange combination of ingredients that somehow seems to work, and they make it onto plenty holiday dinner tables (Campbell's <a href=";p=irol-newsArticle&amp;ID=353517&amp;highlight=&amp;c=88650&amp;p=irol-newsArticle&amp;ID=353517">estimates</a> the number at 20 million).,412352Fri, 27 Nov 2015 10:46:20 +1000How Hard Will Yahoo Be Hit Over Fantasy Sports Gambling?Yahoo recent came into the <a href=";src=syn">crosshairs of the New York attorney general</a> as part of a growing effort to control (and shut down) fantasy sports gaming on the internet, and it's unclear how much of a problem it would be for the company if they have to shut down gaming.,412351Fri, 27 Nov 2015 10:46:16 +1000What's The Deal With Jellied Cranberry Sauce?That wriggly jellied can-shape cranberry sauce is common on holiday tables in the United States. It's probably hanging out on its own, shoved to a corner, on a tiny plate. But it's usually there. So, I've got two questions: Where did this idea come from? And what makes it so... jelly?,412350Fri, 27 Nov 2015 10:46:12 +1000What Happens As Decades Pass In A Whiskey Barrel?When The Glenlivet's 50-year-old single malt scotch whisky was freshly distilled in 1964, the new spirit would have been perfectly clear in color and have tasted cereal-rich and slightly smoky from the smoked malted barley from which it's made; brightly fruity; and slightly solvent-like. Interesting, but needing some time to mellow out in a barrel.,412349Fri, 27 Nov 2015 10:46:09 +1000This Gold Nugget Is Lighter Than Latte FoamResearchers at the ETH in Zurich have made the lightest gold foam ever. 98 percent of it is made from protein fibers derived from milk (just 2 percent is gold). And even though it looks like pure gold, it's light enough to float on top of a cappuccino, according to <a href=";src=syn">a press release</a>.,412348Fri, 27 Nov 2015 10:46:05 +1000LHC Re-creates First Moments Of The Universe And Sets New Energy RecordWhat was the universe like in the first few moments of its existence? We may not have a time machine to go back and witness that exact moment, but scientists are now able to recreate that brief and momentous time in the lab.,412347Fri, 27 Nov 2015 10:46:00 +1000Scientists Have Made Worms With Heads Resembling Other SpeciesThe flatworm <em>girardia dorotocephala</em> has a pretty characteristic head shape: it's almost a perfect triangle (the sides of its face slope into a point and ear-like appendages called auricles jut out from either side). Now scientists have figured out how to drastically change this flatworm's head shape to resemble totally different species of worms. Even more astounding, this is possible without altering the animal's DNA.,412346Fri, 27 Nov 2015 10:45:54 +1000The LA Auto Show Gets NostalgicEvery auto show has its flavor. Detroit likes to showcase American manufacturing with lots of trucks and SUVs; Tokyo delivers tiny city cars with futuristic designs. Los Angeles as a city blends sunshine and a history of automotive obsessions, and manufacturers are happy to oblige by bringing drop-tops to the annual November show.,412345Fri, 27 Nov 2015 10:45:46 +1000US Marines Get Closer To New Amphibious VehiclesA US Marine is nothing if not an amphibian (it's intrinsic to the very name of the branch itself). The ship-to-shore component of America's armed forces exists to fight battles on the edge of land and the edge of the sea. Getting from ship to shore, and being able to fight the moment they arrive, are key parts of the United States Marine Corps mission and identity, if not necessarily skills they've spent a lot of time honing in the past 15 years of the "War on Terror." In order to fight future wars, includings ones with a lot more coastal water, the Marine Corps yesterday announced which companies would get to build prototypes of its new Amphibious Combat Vehicle.,412344Fri, 27 Nov 2015 10:45:41 +1000This Is How Your Sneeze Looks In Super Slow MotionA sneeze can launch mucus and saliva out of your system at <a href=";src=syn">10 miles per hour</a> (<em>not</em> 100 or more, contrary to common lore), often spreading pathogens in the process. But until very recently, researchers didn't have a good idea of how exactly your nasal fluids move through space.,412343Fri, 27 Nov 2015 10:45:38 +1000High-Tech Wavepool Simulates The Worst Ocean WavesUsually, you have to wait 100 years to see how well infrastructure will hold up in a once-in-a-century storm. But not anymore.,412342Fri, 27 Nov 2015 10:45:34 +1000See How Antartica's Hidden Water Drives The World's OceansWe tend to think of the ocean as a vast bowl, filled with salty water. But it might be more appropriate to think of that water as a particularly salty layer dip in an uneven baking dish.,412341Fri, 27 Nov 2015 10:45:30 +1000 'Alien Megastructure' Star Apparently Thronged By CometsA star in a faraway solar system has caused quite a stir among astronomers. Its light fluctuates dramatically and in strange patterns, so scientists think something large and weird-shaped might be circling around it and occasionally blocking its light. It could be a family of cold comets, or pieces of busted-up planets and asteroids. One group has even suggested that it's worth exploring the possibility of a <a href=";src=syn">huge alien structure</a>, such as a swarm of solar collectors.,412340Fri, 27 Nov 2015 10:45:26 +1000A Chocolate Fountain Can Introduce Kids To Complex PhysicsChocolate fountains are magical. They are mini-Wonka factories that sit on a table and transform already delicious marshmallows, strawberries, and pretzels into marshmallows, strawberries, and pretzels <em>with chocolate on them</em>. Magic.,412258Wed, 25 Nov 2015 11:34:14 +1000B-52 Bombers To Get Longer-Range Cruise MissilesMore than half of us living today weren't born yet when the last B-52 Stratofortress bomber was delivered to the United States Air Force in 1962. The venerable bomber, in service for 53 years and counting, has fought in every major American war from Vietnam to the War on Terror. Now, a new cruise missile from defense giant Lockheed Martin means the ancient warbird has a new tool for the next stage of its life.,412257Wed, 25 Nov 2015 11:34:11 +1000Legendary Plane Designer Burt Rutan Tests Weird SeaplaneWhere Burt Rutan's going, he doesn't need runways. Rutan is a legendary airplane designer. Besides making a variety of designs for the home-build airplane market, his creations have circled the Earth and made it to space. His Voyager airplane crossed the globe in 9 days without refueling in 1986, and his company Scaled Composites built the private spacecraft SpaceShipOne.,412256Wed, 25 Nov 2015 11:34:08 +1000Weird Wheels Move Robot In Four Directions Without TwistingWheels, as we know them, could stand a little reinvention. They take fiddling and time to move into parallel spaces, and the whole world would be a better place if wheels could simply pull us sideways without any forward momentum. Fortunately, "mecanum wheels" exist. Here, watch a robot demonstrate them:,412255Wed, 25 Nov 2015 11:34:05 +1000In The Past 20 Years, Over 600,000 People Have Died In Weather-Related DisastersLet's talk about the weather.,412254Wed, 25 Nov 2015 11:34:02 +1000Man 3D-Prints Working Revolver With His Name On ItCyberspace isn't the Wild West, but if anything gets close, it's 3D-printed guns. The weapons, made at home by people with both a desire for a firearm and access to a printing machine, are themselves untraceable, circumventing most gun regulations by being made at home. James R. Patrick's 3D printed revolver is very much part of the same, a deadlier evolution of the same concept.,412253Wed, 25 Nov 2015 11:33:58 +1000When Elon Musk And Jeff Bezos Clash Over Reusable Rockets, We All WinThis week, a private spaceflight company did something extraordinary. Blue Origin, an aerospace company founded by Amazon's Jeff Bezos, sent a rocket up to the lower reaches of space and then landed it back on Earth in the upright position. Nailed it!,412252Wed, 25 Nov 2015 11:33:48 +1000Put The Science Of Umami To Work For YouIn 1800, Dunand, chef to Napoleon Bonaparte, celebrated the French army's victory at the Ligurian village of Marengo by inventing a new dish: a stew of chicken sauteed with tomatoes and garlic and served with crayfish and eggs. The dish so pleased Napoleon, the story goes, that he commanded it be served after every battle he fought.,412251Wed, 25 Nov 2015 11:33:40 +1000The Physics Of Non-Newtonian Goo Could Save Astronauts' LivesThere's an experiment you may have done in high school: When you mix cornstarch with water&#8212;a concoction colloquially called oobleck&#8212;and give it a stir, it acts like a liquid. But scrape it quickly or hit it hard, and it stiffens up into a solid. If you set the right pace, you can even run on top of a pool of the stuff. This phenomenon is called shear force thickening, and scientists have been trying to understand how it happens for decades.,412250Wed, 25 Nov 2015 11:33:28 +1000Using Evolutionary Fitness To Understand Antibiotic ResistanceIn the wake of <a href=";src=syn">Antibiotic Awareness Week</a>, the global crisis of antibiotic resistance has been once again been put in the spotlight. This year's campaign has been especially dire as we are becoming increasingly aware of the post-antibiotic era in which we may no longer be able to use these critical drugs to save lives. As the calls to reduce both misuse and overuse in the public overtake the headlines, in labs across the world, the focus continues to be on understanding of just how bacteria become resistant.,412249Wed, 25 Nov 2015 11:33:25 +1000Blue Origin Beats SpaceX In Landing Reusable RocketIn an historic first, the private company founded by Amazon co-founder Jeff Bezos has become the first to land a reuseable rocket that's traveled to and from space.,412248Wed, 25 Nov 2015 11:33:22 +1000Water Policy Explained Through Dance Is The Best Thing You Will Watch Today Explaining your PhD thesis to people outside your field can be tricky. You want to be accurate, but also comprehensible, and sometimes words just aren't enough. Enter the Dance Your PhD contest, now in its eighth year.,412247Wed, 25 Nov 2015 11:33:20 +1000UK Is Shutting Down All Coal Plants By 2025Within a decade, coal will be a thing of the past ... at least in the United Kingdom. The planned change was announced by the government's Department of Energy and Climate Change last week.,412246Wed, 25 Nov 2015 11:33:14 +1000Hacked Medical Devices May Be The Biggest Cyber Security Threat In 2016Hackers have been using ransomware--a type of malware in which attackers can steal or delete the contents of users' computers if they don't pay a ransom--for the past 25 years. Now, it seems, the same tactic may be used on insulin pumps and pacemakers. Ransomware in medical devices is the single biggest cyber security threat for 2016, according to <a href=";src=syn">a recent report</a> from research and advisory firm Forrester and <a href=";src=syn">reported by <em>Motherboard</em></a>.,412245Wed, 25 Nov 2015 11:33:10 +1000A Brief History of Space Stations before the ISSA century before Apollo astronauts walked on the Moon, science fiction told the public of a future with outposts on the Moon and orbiting high above the Earth. In the decades that followed, these earliest space station concepts evolved into orbital platforms that could launch manned missions to the Moon and Mars. After its inception, NASA picked up where visionaries left off, dabbling in space stations of varying layouts and capabilities before building the International Space Station that orbits the Earth today.,412244Wed, 25 Nov 2015 11:33:03 +1000Watch 15 Straight Seconds Of Star Wars ActionIn an effort to generate more publicity for their soon-to-be-released, little-known independent film, the makers of <em>Star Wars</em> released a brand new clip from <em>The Force Awakens</em>. The action, which we've seen in bits and pieces in other trailers, shows 15 seconds of running and panic on a desert planet. Daisy Ridley's Rey and John Boyega's Finn, along with the mechanical BB-8, are chased by someone and looking for an escape route. They spy what Rey identifies as a &#8220;wuad-jumper,&#8221; and just after she's explained that she's a pilot and can fly it, the whole thing explodes:,412171Tue, 24 Nov 2015 09:56:14 +1000Earth May Wear An Invisible Fur Coat Made Of Dark MatterRegular matter--the stuff that makes up everything humans have ever seen or felt--makes up just 5 percent of the universe. The rest is made up of dark matter and dark energy.,412170Tue, 24 Nov 2015 09:56:11 +1000US Government Task Force Wants All Drone Pilots To Register In A Database (Even You)In the near future (possibly by the end of this year) Americans will have to register almost all of the small personal drones they buy in a great big government database that the public can't access. At least, that's one possible conclusion in the the <a href=";src=syn">final report from the FAA's task force</a>, appointed to study and provide recommendations for future drone laws.,412169Tue, 24 Nov 2015 09:56:07 +1000US Pharmacy Chains Offer Discounts In Exchange For Customers' Personal Health DataApps and gadgets have made many of us obsessed with quantifying our health. And while there's good reason to keep that information away from prying corporate eyes, pharmacies are finding new ways to incentivize customers to share that valuable data. This month, Walgreens has become the latest pharmacy chain to <a href=";src=syn">launch an app</a> that gives customers small discounts in exchange for access to their digital health trackers (CVS has <a href=";src=syn">a similar program</a>). And while this might be tempting especially for low-income patients, the information these companies are asking for is far too valuable to share for just a couple of dollars off, <a href=";src=syn">as Stat reports today</a>.,412168Tue, 24 Nov 2015 09:56:04 +1000Eraser Helps Prove Medieval Parchments Were Made Of Adult Animal SkinsReading has been around for millennia, but how we read (and what we read on) has changed dramatically over time. Take this story for example. You're reading it on some kind of computerized device, with pixels forming these words on a digital screen. Just a few decades ago you would probably be reading these words printed on paper. Time goes by so quickly doesn't it? Now go back even further. Several centuries before the present reading would be rare, and most important writing would be inscribed by hand onto prepared animal skins, but what kind of animal skins?,412167Tue, 24 Nov 2015 09:55:59 +1000The Inexorable Rise Of Synthetic Flavour: A Pictorial HistoryArtificial flavors first enter the historical record in 1851, at the Crystal Palace exhibition in London, that great Victorian anthology of the world's technologies, treasures, and bric-a-brac. Visitors tarrying at the stalls of perfumers from Paris, Leipzig, or London might have sampled pear, apple, grape, or pineapple candies, flavored for the first time not with the products of agriculture, but with compounds synthesized in chemical laboratories.,412166Tue, 24 Nov 2015 09:55:56 +1000Owning Blueprints To 3D Print A Gun Is Now A Crime In New South WalesIs there a difference between owning a file and owning a firearm? Thanks to the advent 3D printed guns, the line between files and weaponry is murky. The NSW state government recently enacted a law banning the possession of files that could be used to print guns.,412165Tue, 24 Nov 2015 09:55:45 +1000Humai Wants To Resurrect Humans Within 30 Years<em>Spoilers ahead for those who aren't caught up,</em>&#8203; but last season of Game of Thrones ended with a true Caesar &#8203;outcome&#8203; for all-around-hero (and potential <a href=";src=syn">Azor Ahai</a>) Jon Snow. But unlike Caesar, today HBO teased the &#8203;apparent&#8203; resurrection of the character in the show's April Season 6 premiere. That plotline might be as far-fetched in reality as it may seem, but to find out, we spoke to one optimistic startup company called Humai, that is pursuing actual resurrection for human beings with a target of the next 30 years.,412164Tue, 24 Nov 2015 09:55:42 +1000Falling Phobos Will Eventually Put A Ring Around MarsGravity is pulling Mars' largest moon, Phobos, to its doom.,412163Tue, 24 Nov 2015 09:55:39 +1000An Electromagnetic Arms Race Has Begun: China Is Making Railguns TooA Chinese defense contractor may be on its way to key breakthroughs in railgun weaponry.,412162Tue, 24 Nov 2015 09:55:34 +1000These Really Rare Apollo Images Put the Program in a New LightJohn Bisney and J. L. Pickering's latest, &#8220;Moonshots &amp; Snapshots of Project Apollo,&#8221; is a stunning look at the Apollo program. This follow up book to &#8220;Spaceshots &amp; Snapshots of Projects Mercury &amp; Gemini&#8221; showcases not only uncommon NASA images from the Apollo program, but images from journalists and photographers that rarely, if ever, make it into photo essays about the lunar landing program. The selection of images is brilliant, offering a uniquely intimate look at Apollo. The NASA images are less common, showing the astronauts' candid moments in aircraft or quietly contemplating a pending lunar launch. These agency images are complimented by photographs from journalists and photographers, giving a different inside view on historic moments like Apollo 16's launch.,412132Mon, 23 Nov 2015 10:06:36 +1000100 Years of General Relativity: Why Einstein Still StandsOne hundred years ago this month, Albert Einstein redefined what gravity is, overthrowing his own hero Isaac Newton.,412131Mon, 23 Nov 2015 10:06:30 +1000Microsoft And Volvo Bring Augmented Reality To Car ShoppingSwedish automaker Volvo has a long-held reputation as a car company that puts safety first. Some safety features, like replacing spear-like traditional steering wheel shafts with bulkier, non-impaley versions are easy to see. Other features, like laser sensors that detect the movements of nearby cars, are a little trickier to demonstrate on the showroom floor. So, to advertise their safety in the modern era, Volvo teamed with Microsoft to create models of the cars in virtual reality:,412130Mon, 23 Nov 2015 10:06:25 +1000SpaceX Will Fly Astronauts To The Space Station In 2017SpaceX rockets have shuttled cargo to and from the International Space Station, and now NASA wants the company to get ready to carry humans onboard too. On Friday, the space agency <a href=";src=syn">announced</a> a work order for a manned mission in late 2017.,412129Mon, 23 Nov 2015 10:06:21 +1000Crab Fisherman Nabs Sea Drone InsteadSailors have for millennia known that the sea hides far more than it reveals. Nowadays, finding robots under the water is almost an inevitability, though that didn't mean Maryland crabber David Haas was expecting to find one. On November 5th, near the Chesapeake Bay Bridge, Hass was crabbing with his crew when they caught an underwater military drone.,412128Mon, 23 Nov 2015 10:06:18 +1000Over Half Of All Amazonian Tree Species Are In DangerEver since we were children, we've learned in grade school and from Ranger Rick about the cutting down of the rainforest. We learned that it's bad&#8212;that lots of animals and trees are killed and people's livelihoods are turned upside down. We've been told random facts and figures about how many acres are destroyed every second. We eventually start to become numb to it.,412127Mon, 23 Nov 2015 10:06:14 +1000Watch A Guy Fly Around In A Martin JetpackWe are living in a golden age of jetpacks, or at least of personal flying aircraft called jetpacks. Martin Aircraft is well on its way to commercial production, if not necessarily success, and they've already lined up buyers like <a href=";src=syn">Dubai's police</a> for their one-person flying machines. Yesterday, Martin Aircraft released video and a statement about successful manned tests of the production model of the drone. A working prototype is good, but a working production model is even better.,412126Mon, 23 Nov 2015 10:06:09 +1000This Book Is A Complete Guide To The Science Of Snowflakes<em>The Snowflake: Winter's Frozen Artistry</em> by Kenneth Libbrecht and Rachel Wing gives us all a close look at snowflakes, no matter where you spend your winters. And yes, there's that clich&#233; that snowflakes are unique and special and blah blah blah, but seriously, you probably had no idea snowflakes came in this many shapes and sizes. Thankfully the authors are well-placed to be your guides to the tiny world of snowflakes. Libbrecht is a physics professor at Caltech, where he studies ice crystal growth. Wing is a park ranger in Monrovia, California, and works with Libbrecht as a snowflake chaser.,412125Mon, 23 Nov 2015 10:06:06 +1000New Balance Plans To Sell A 3D Printed Sneaker In Early 2016 New Balance <a href=";src=syn">announced yesterday</a> that it plans to launch a new running shoe for 2016 that would include a 3D printed midsole. The shoemaker known for its running gear hopes that this method will cut down on the overall cost of the shoe, and will allow users to customize their shoes to fit their athletic needs. The sneaker, which is still unnamed, is set to be available in select stores starting in April of next year.,412124Mon, 23 Nov 2015 10:06:01 +1000Sea Mollusk Sees With Hundreds Of Armored EyesTough armor is great at protecting creatures from predators. But one little marine mollusk has armor that's even more useful. In fact, its armor doubles as eyes.,412123Mon, 23 Nov 2015 10:05:57 +1000Scientists Create Electronic Circuits In Living RosesFusing machines and animals is a fairly common theme in both science and science fiction. You've heard of cyborg cockroaches, DIY cyborgs, and the Borg. But what about melding PLANTS and machines?,412122Mon, 23 Nov 2015 10:05:53 +1000Mars 2020 Rover May Have A Little Flying Helper DroneIn April 2009, the Spirit rover got stuck in a sand trap on Mars. Try as it might, its wheels couldn't gain enough traction in the loose sand to free itself, leading to a sad, slow death for the rover. NASA doesn't want that to happen again.,412121Mon, 23 Nov 2015 10:05:48 +1000