Australian Popular Science News news from, 23 Sep 2014 06:15:42 +100010How NASA's Microbe Detection Technology May Speed Up Tissue TransplantsWhat do the Curiosity rover&#160;and a bone allograft have in common? They both have got to be super duper clean.,392319Sat, 20 Sep 2014 08:55:38 +1000China Shows Off Less Deadly Rocket LauncherIt&#8217;s not often that a military advertises a weapon on what it doesn&#8217;t do, but at the Africa Aerospace and Defence exposition in Pretoria, South Africa,&#160;that&#8217;s exactly what Chinese arms manufacturer Poly Technologies did. The &#8220;Shoulder-Launched Rocket with Low Collateral Damage&#8221; is a weapon designed to give troops all the utility of a wall-piercing explosion, with a lot less of the accidental casualty downside.,392318Sat, 20 Sep 2014 08:53:09 +1000Mousetronauts To Live In Space For the Longest Stretch YetAmong the 2.5 tons of cargo that's set to go up to the International Space Station this weekend, there will be five mice with a particular genetic mutation. The mice lack a gene that normal mice have, called Muscle Ring Finger 1, or MuRF-1 (rhymes with Smurf). Scientists are hoping the missing gene will keep those mice healthier in space than their five ordinary compatriots that will be riding up with them.,392317Sat, 20 Sep 2014 08:53:05 +1000Self-Driving Cars: A Marketer's Dream?Picture this: You're on a cross-country&#160;road trip with your kids, passing through some dusty corner of Nevada in your self-driving 2030 Chevrolet Lumina. Your car then sends an invisible message across the desert:&#160;<i>Three passengers. Two in child seats. Sixth hour without a break.</i> A distant server whirrs, combs through a database of your and your kids' past online behavior, and beams a command back to your car. A grinning clown dances across your windshield and a familiar jingle plays. "McDonalds!" your kids squeal. Suddenly you have lunch plans.,392316Sat, 20 Sep 2014 08:53:01 +1000 The Week In Drones: Robots Piloting Robots, Indiana Drones, And MoreHere's a roundup of the week's top drone news: the military, commercial, non-profit, and recreational applications of unmanned aircraft.,392315Sat, 20 Sep 2014 08:52:56 +1000Next Week Is Climate WeekNext week is <a href="" target="_blank">Climate Week</a> in New York City. The happenings begin on Sunday with what promises to be <a href="" target="_blank">a massive march demanding action</a> to curb human-propelled global warming. On Tuesday, the United Nations will hold <a href="" target="_blank">an all-day climate-focused summit for world leaders</a>.,392314Sat, 20 Sep 2014 08:52:52 +1000How Gorilla Poop Could Help Stop EbolaSierra Leone&#8217;s attempted lockdown is unprecedented: The whole country has been placed on house arrest and 20,000 volunteers have been recruited to help identify suspected Ebola carriers. &#8220;Some of the things we are asking you to do are difficult, but life is better than these difficulties,&#8221; President Ernest Bai Koroma said.,392313Sat, 20 Sep 2014 08:52:49 +1000This Week In Numbers: Origami Microscopes, Laser Turrets, And A Bit More Than One Texas<b>50:</b>&#160;number of cameras researchers are using to study penguin populations in the Antarctic. You can help researchers&#160;<a href="">identify</a>&#160;penguins in adorable photographs, all while helping to&#160;train&#160;their artificial penguin-spotting intelligence.,392312Sat, 20 Sep 2014 08:52:45 +1000Pop Culture Mentions Of Global Warming Have Plummeted Since 2007Since about 2007, American pop culture has stopped talking about climate change --&#160;<span>at least in TV shows and movies. That's according to a new analysis of mentions of the words "global warming" and "climate change" in the two mediums since 1980. See:</span>,392289Fri, 19 Sep 2014 12:20:13 +1000Boeing's NASA-Funded Space Taxi Saves A Seat For Tourists<span>Of course, it wasn&#8217;t long before reality sank in. I&#8217;m not really part of this proverbial &#8220;we.&#8221; The rides are for NASA astronauts only, not for us mere mortals, fated to only walk on one planet for the rest of our lives. My excitement soon became mixed with a reinvigorated longing to explore the celestial frontier.</span>,392288Fri, 19 Sep 2014 12:20:09 +1000Solar Car Powers Your House When It's ParkedA team of twenty students at the Eindhoven University of Technology in the Netherlands entered the Bridgestone World Solar Challenge 2013, a six-day solar race across Australia&#8217;s Outback, in the new Michelin Cruiser Class. Practicality was paramount for these entries, though energy use, payload capacity, and speed counted as well. The question to answer, according to Jordy de Renet, one of Stella&#8217;s drivers, was, &#8220;Do you want it in your daily life? Would you want to take it to get groceries?&#8221;,392287Fri, 19 Sep 2014 12:20:03 +1000Artificial Sweeteners May Contribute to Metabolic DisordersArtificial sweeteners are a roughly $1.5 billion industry worldwide, often marketed as helpful for managing obesity and diabetes. But..,392285Fri, 19 Sep 2014 12:19:55 +1000Record Breaking LEGO Ball Moving ContraptionYou can build a lot of cool stuff with LEGO. It's also really painful to step on. But at Brickworld events, the skills and projects are taken to a whole new level. It might not be super useful to move balls endlessly around a track, but there shear variety and ingenuity of the methods are amazing.,392275Fri, 19 Sep 2014 10:13:00 +1000Amazing Video of Rare Sea CreatureLooking more like a made up animal than something from real life, the creature in question is a Siphonophore. In the order of Hydrozoa, it's actually a colony composed of many individual animals.,392222Thu, 18 Sep 2014 10:06:00 +1000Where Is This Comet's Tail?Here's a refresher from middle school science class: An asteroid is a huge rock&#160;tumbling through the solar system, and that's pretty much all it looks like--a big rock. Meanwhile, a comet is a ball of ice and dust that has a long bright tail, which is caused by the Sun blasting that ice and dust off of the comet's surface as it zooms around.,392217Thu, 18 Sep 2014 09:55:59 +1000Texas Considers Textbooks That Contain Climate Change DenialOh Texas. All that <a href="" target="_blank">juicy low-carbon windpower</a> you're generating &#8211; <a href="" target="_blank">and wiring into the grid</a> &#8211; makes us love you.,392216Thu, 18 Sep 2014 09:55:55 +100023andMe Decides It Won't Automatically Reunite Long Lost Relatives23andMe, a service offering personal DNA testing, announced over the weekend that it is canceling a planned change to its online privacy settings, <a href="" target="_blank">according to <em>Vox</em></a>.,392215Thu, 18 Sep 2014 09:55:51 +1000Light Forms Crystal-Like Structure On Computer Chip<span>Here's why it's so hard:&#160;Atoms can easily form solids, liquids, and gasses, because when they come into contact they push and pull on each other. That push and pull forms the underlying structure of all matter. Light particles, or photons, do not typically interact with one another, according to Dr. Andrew Houck, a professor of electrical engineering at Princeton and an author on the study. The trick of this research was forcing them to do just that.</span>,392214Thu, 18 Sep 2014 09:55:47 +1000Big Pic: A Texas-Sized Algae Bloom<a href="" target="_blank">A paper in <em>Nature Communications</em></a> reports that a phytoplankton named <em>Noctiluca scintillans</em>&#160;has invaded a dead-zone off the coast of India, where it's threatening to disrupt natural foodchains as well as the local fishing industry.,392213Thu, 18 Sep 2014 09:55:41 +1000Spooky Action In Threes: Physicists Entangle Three Particles Of LightAs if it weren't hard enough already to imagine it in twos, physicists have entangled three photons with each other. Entanglement is a counterintuitive quantum physics phenomenon, in which a particle influences all the others with which it's entangled -- even if the particles are far apart. If one particle is in one state, for example, the others might be in the same state. In this case, however, each photon, which is a particle of light, had the same polarization -- either horizontal or vertical.,392212Thu, 18 Sep 2014 09:55:37 +1000Help Scientists By Marking Penguins In PicturesCheck out <a href="">this latest citizen-science project</a>. It's a site where you can look at photos gathered by an Antarctic network of wildlife cameras and mark if there are penguins in the photos. In other weo you get to look at cute animals online and help environmental science! Sounds like a win-win to me.,392211Thu, 18 Sep 2014 09:55:33 +1000Lockheed Laser Brings Turrets Back To AirplanesIn World War II, mighty bombers came equipped&#160;with gun barrels, manned by gunners at the ready to protect the plane from attacking fighters. The B-52 Stratofortress even came with a tail gun for self defense&#160;and last used it in <a href="" target="_blank">combat over Vietnam in 1972</a>. The change in fighter weapons from guns to missiles made tail guns obsolete, but now Lockheed and DARPA are bringing them back. As&#160;freakin&#8217; lasers.,392210Thu, 18 Sep 2014 09:55:28 +1000White-Dominated Medical Studies Put US Minorities At RiskWhen medical research focuses on white people, things get missed, and people die.,392209Thu, 18 Sep 2014 09:55:24 +1000Washington D.C. Is Littered With Phony Cell TowersContinuing a sort of cross-country tour to detect&#160;phony cell towers, also known as&#160;interceptors or IMSI catchers,&#160;researchers associated with the security firm ESD America have&#160;detected 15 of the covert devices in Washington D.C., plus three&#160;more in nearby&#160;Virginia.,392208Thu, 18 Sep 2014 09:55:20 +1000Massive 7.6MW Plug Connects Offshore Wind GeneratorFloating turbines and other offshore renewable energy generators can produce a lot of power, but face issues getting that electricity back to shore. The MacArtney 11kV Wet Mate Connector makes connecting and disconnecting cabling simple with what is literally just a really really big plug and socket.,392176Wed, 17 Sep 2014 10:51:00 +1000Video: Liquid Metal Flows Into Different Forms, T-1000-StyleA team of researchers report that they understand a property of a liquid metal that allows them to manipulate it like the T-1000 from <em>Terminator 2</em> and even build "scale models" of the violent automaton.,392170Wed, 17 Sep 2014 09:42:54 +1000Drone Brain Makers Want To Create The DOS Of Flying RobotsDrones soon may&#160;be bound together by a common code. Airware, a commercial drone software company with MIT roots, hopes to unify drones in a shared code architecture. Airware already makes an autopilot, but that&#8217;s just the first step to creating a drone operating system, allowing hardware&#160;from different manufacturers to communicate with one another.,392169Wed, 17 Sep 2014 09:42:50 +1000How It Works: A Flexible, Pneumatic Robot SnakeSo Gizmodo <a href="">found this morning</a> a seafoam-green, pneumatic, snake/tentacle robot that's able to wiggle its way through a simple, walled maze. Let's take a look:,392168Wed, 17 Sep 2014 09:42:47 +1000Genetically, Schizophrenia Is At Least Eight Separate DiseasesResearch published in the <em>American Journal of Psychiatry</em> shows that schizophrenia is not a single genetic disease, but in fact a class of diseases with variable symptoms.,392167Wed, 17 Sep 2014 09:37:35 +1000How Reshma Saujani Is Building A Generation Of Girls Who CodeWhen Reshma Saujani toured New York City schools during her 2010 primary run for Congress, the gender divide in computer-science classrooms shocked her. &#8220;I&#8217;d be in a robotics lab on the Upper East Side where there would be a hundred boys,&#8221; says the&#160;politician and lawyer. &#8220;And then I&#8217;d be in Queens and there&#8217;d be one girl in the basement of a church.&#8221; With jobs increasingly dependent on computer know-how, Saujani saw girls facing an economic disadvantage&#8212;particularly since the number of women earning&#160;computer-science bachelor&#8217;s degrees has actually dropped by more than a third since the mid-eighties. The key, she decided, was connecting them with computer programming early.,392166Wed, 17 Sep 2014 09:37:31 +1000Google vs The RTA: How To Test A Self-Driving CarIn May 2012, Google's self-driving car underwent a classic American teenage ritual. It took a driving test at a DMV. <a href="">The car passed</a>, but apparently not without a little lobbying from its parent.,392165Wed, 17 Sep 2014 09:37:28 +1000NASA Flies Over Lake Erie To Scan For Dangerous Algae BloomsNASA is deploying flight missions equipped with hyperspectral imaging instruments similar to those intended to distinguish dust components on Mars. The technology is being used to identify the components of algal blooms affecting the Western Basin of Lake Erie. The highly sensitive imaging instruments use spectral signatures to assign unique markers to each element and allow scientists to distinguish harmful algae from beneficial algae.,392164Wed, 17 Sep 2014 09:37:24 +1000A New 'Radar Gun' May Spot Drivers Who Text Behind The WheelComSonics, a company specializing in cable leakage detection,&#160;is&#160;working on a device that would sense when drivers are texting, the <a href=""><em>Virginian-Pilot</em> reports</a>. The Virginia newspaper suggests the final product,&#160;designed for police to use,&#160;might look something like the "radar gun" gadgets that police currently use&#160;to log drivers' speed and give out tickets. The text-sensing device looks for the radio wavelengths that phones use to send and receive SMS messages. Busted!,392163Wed, 17 Sep 2014 09:37:21 +1000The Rise Of Open Source HardwareSo in the summer of 2012, Petrone (then an engineer at a Portland startup) launched a site where flexible matrix boards and laser motion sensors could be sold alongside build-it-yourself weather monitoring kits and robot birds. Almost immediately, Tindie began attracting favorable attention from the indie hardware community&#8212;and then expanded from there. Today, around 600 inventors sell more than 3,000 different hardware products, which have shipped out to more than 80 countries around the world. Some customers are hobbyists like Petrone, but others are large entities like the Australian government, Google and NASA. These days, Petrone says, &#8220;NASA&#8217;s purchasing department just calls my cell phone.&#8221;&#160;,392162Wed, 17 Sep 2014 09:37:17 +1000Want A Ride To The ISS? SpaceX And Boeing Will Take YouLadies and gentlemen, we have a winner &#8211; well two, actually.,392160Wed, 17 Sep 2014 09:37:08 +1000Watch The Launch Of A Russian Mobile Coastal Defence MissileDesigned to destroy enemy ships up to 300 KM off the coast, the Russian defence system is pretty formidable. But what makes the launch particularly impressive is how the missile launches vertically, then fires secondary rockets to flip it horizontal before streaking over the horizon.,392131Tue, 16 Sep 2014 08:37:00 +1000Aussie Roboticists Build A Driverless BoatAutonomous cars get all the attention, but now the driverless boat is getting a look in. Built by a team from the Queensland University of Technology, the boat is designed to compete in the Maritime RobotX Challenge later this year.,392086Mon, 15 Sep 2014 09:35:00 +1000Want Your Crops To Survive Extreme Heat and Drought? Add FungusThe global population continues to grow, and climate change is already tangibly reducing food harvests. Can agriculture adapt to be both more productive and more resilient?,392072Sun, 14 Sep 2014 10:33:21 +1000Watch This Squishy Robot Get Run Over By A CarThe archetypical robot is a man of metal, a harsh mechanical construct contrasted sharply with the soft fleshiness of the humans that built it. A team of engineers, led by Michael T. Tolley of the Harvard Microrobotics Laboratory, <a href="" target="_blank">created instead a soft robot</a>. Using a flexible body, the robot moves like a flailing starfish over all terrain.,392071Sun, 14 Sep 2014 10:33:17 +1000Using 'Doom' To Design A RoomRemember that early &#8216;90s horror-themed video game, Doom, where you roamed around a Martian landscape, killing everything in sight? Well, now the game isn&#8217;t just for shooting demons and zombie Marines anymore. A construction company called DIRTT (which stands for Doing It Right This Time) is using software based on the old Doom engine to blueprint hospital walls and office spaces. They&#8217;re hoping the technology will eradicate the two most expensive words in the construction industry.,392070Sun, 14 Sep 2014 10:33:13 +1000Is A Simulated Brain Conscious?Imagine standing in an open field with a bucket of water balloons and a couple of friends. You've decided to play a game called "Mind." Each of you has your own set of rules. Maybe Molly will throw a water balloon at Bob whenever you throw a water balloon at Molly. Maybe Bob will splash both of you whenever he goes five minutes without getting hit -- or if it gets too warm out or if it's seven o'clock or if he's in a bad mood that day. The details don't matter.,392069Sun, 14 Sep 2014 10:33:05 +1000Top Dogs: Movies May Determine Which Pups Are Most PopularThe impact of 29 films released in the United States was examined, each featuring a different dog breed. Classics such as&#160;<a href="">The Wizard of Oz</a>&#160;(1939),&#160;<a href="">Lady and the Tramp</a>&#160;(1955),&#160;<a href="">The Fox and the Hound</a>&#160;(1981) and&#160;<a href="">Beethoven</a>&#160;(1992) were all judged to have influenced people&#8217;s choice of dogs. The study traces the popularity of the featured breeds for up to ten years after the film&#8217;s release.,392068Sun, 14 Sep 2014 10:32:59 +1000The Week In Drones: Whale Snot, Tower Inspectors, And MoreHere's a roundup of the week's top drone news: the military, commercial, non-profit, and recreational applications of unmanned aircraft.,392067Sun, 14 Sep 2014 10:32:44 +1000Like Sassy Teenagers, Atoms Talk BackIf you talk to an artificial atom, it turns out the atom will say something back to you. Unfortunately, you won&#8217;t be able to hear it.,392066Sun, 14 Sep 2014 10:32:41 +1000The Week In Numbers: Lightweight Lunar Rovers, Forgotten Ricin Bottles, And A Talking Atom We Cannot Hear<strong>480:</strong> weight in pounds of the Lunar rover on Earth. On the Moon, it <a href="" target="_blank">only weighs a light&#160;80 pounds.</a>,392065Sun, 14 Sep 2014 10:32:37 +1000What The First All-Electric Racing Championship Will Be LikePopular Science <em>has partnered with British electric racecar driver <a href="" target="_blank">Katherine Legge</a>, who will compete in the very first <a href="" target="_blank">Formula E</a> championship. Legge is a science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) supporter and is blogging for us from the racetrack in Beijing -- the&#160;host city for the first round, which&#160;kicks off&#160;Saturday, Sept. 13.</em>,392064Sun, 14 Sep 2014 10:32:31 +1000Map Maritime Treasures At The Bottom Of The SeaMore than 150 confirmed wrecks lie deep beneath the waters surrounding the&#160;Hawaiian Islands. And since 1996, under-graduate students under the&#160;guidance of Hans Van Tilburg, a maritime archaeologist with the Office of National Marine Sanctuaries, have donned&#160;scuba gear to document these technological relics. &#8220;This is a way to survey cultural resources and tell part of the historical story,&#8221; Van Tilburg says.,392034Fri, 12 Sep 2014 09:42:01 +1000Lasers Reveal Underground 'Super Henge' Near the prehistoric Stonehenge monument, archeologists have found the&#160;buried traces of a "super henge" more than 4,900 feet in circumference. That's about as big around as the Astrodome and Cowboys Stadium combined -- and 14 times larger than the iconic stone circle.,392035Fri, 12 Sep 2014 09:42:00 +1000Rosetta Takes A SelfieThe Rosetta robotic space probe has sent back this amazing photo of itself, illuminated in the&#160;sun's light.,392033Fri, 12 Sep 2014 09:41:57 +1000The Ozone Layer Is On The MendAn international agreement to phase out use of chemicals that damage the ozone layer appears to be working. A new report finds that ozone-depleting substances in the atmosphere are down by 10 to 15 percent, and that the ozone layer is by and large getting thicker.,392032Fri, 12 Sep 2014 09:41:53 +1000