Australian Popular Science News news from, 21 Oct 2014 09:44:23 +100010These Are The Sleepiest Parts Of The InternetNew York City is the city that never sleeps, and if a new study from the University of Southern California&#8217;s Viterbi School of Engineering is any indication, it&#8217;s home to plenty of active Internet connections around the clock. But there are plenty of places around the globe where the Internet actually does sleep at night.,396977Tue, 21 Oct 2014 09:43:25 +1000Break In Transmission: How Nigeria Took Control Of EbolaThe World Health Organization <a href="">has declared Nigeria to be free</a> of the Ebola virus, after six weeks with no new cases being detected.,396976Tue, 21 Oct 2014 09:43:17 +1000The US Editor-in-Chief's Letter From The November 2014 Issue Of Popular ScienceAbout a year ago, <em>Popular Science</em> introduced a robot into the office (<em>the fancy Park Ave New York office, that is - Australian Ed</em>). One of the many virtues of working at a magazine such as ours is that we&#8217;re free to test all sorts of cool stuff. So we called the guys at Suitable Technologies and asked them to send us a BeamPro, the telepresence robot made famous by Edward Snowden (no doubt, he got the idea from us).,396975Tue, 21 Oct 2014 09:43:07 +1000Who Loves LED Lights? The Nobel Committee -- And Flying InsectsHumans love their LEDs. So much so, <a href="" target="_blank">they&#8217;re winning Nobel Prizes in physics</a>. Given their <a href="" target="_blank">electrical efficiency</a> and long lifespan, these remarkable light-emitting diodes are being used more and more as primary light sources, and experts argue they could help reduce the world&#8217;s overall electricity and material consumption for lighting.,396974Tue, 21 Oct 2014 09:43:04 +1000Physics Explains Ingrown ToenailsIn <a href="">a paper in <em>Physical Biology</em></a>, scientists have published the first mathematical model of how human nails grow. The researchers have found that nail health is a delicate balance between the adhesive forces that hold the nail securely in the finger, versus the nail&#8217;s movement as it slides forever forward toward the fingertip. Other factors, like thickness, biomechanical stress, and the way you trim your nails can influence whether you develop nail problems.,396973Tue, 21 Oct 2014 09:43:00 +1000At Last: Technology To Make Injections PainlessScared of needles? You aren&#8217;t alone. According to <a href="">some estimates</a>, as many as 1 in every 10 people are frightened of needles, and experts fear that the fear of pain may deter people from getting important injections at the doctor&#8217;s office.&#160;,396913Sat, 18 Oct 2014 09:56:26 +1000The Space Station Is Getting A UPS-Style Shipping ServiceIt&#8217;s easy to forget that the International Space Station isn&#8217;t just a place for astronauts to hang out and take epic selfies. Because of its unique microgravity environment, the station is actually a valuable hub for research and development, housing hundreds of ongoing experiments that involve everything from human tissue growth to protein crystal formation. Except there&#8217;s one little snag when it comes to conducting experiments on the ISS: It&#8217;s kind of <a href="">far away</a>. Getting critical samples from the station to Earth can be a lengthy process, and researchers usually have to wait anywhere from six months to a year before samples can make the trip to laboratories on the ground. These long waits can be risky, as live biological samples have a perishable lifespan and often need to be reviewed quickly before they degrade.,396912Sat, 18 Oct 2014 09:55:24 +1000Earth's Magnetic Field Could Flip Faster Than We ThoughtThe magnetic poles of the earth have switched back and forth many, many times during the 4.54 billion years that the Earth has been around. Previous research suggested that the process of reversing the poles took place over a long time period, potentially over a few thousand years. But <a href="">new research</a>&#160;shows that the reversal could actually happen much faster than that, with the magnetic North Pole migrating to the South Pole in a time span as short as a century.&#160;,396911Sat, 18 Oct 2014 09:55:22 +1000The Week In Numbers: Secret Robot Space Planes, Elephant Weathermen, And Suspended Animation<strong>10</strong>: Percent of people who are frightened of needles. They could benefit from a new technology which may make <a href=";loc=recent&amp;lnk=1&amp;con=at-last-technology-to-make-injections-painless">injections pain-free</a>.,396910Sat, 18 Oct 2014 09:55:19 +1000The Week In Drones: Pregnant Whales, Disaster Mapping, And MoreHere's a roundup of the week's top drone news: the military, commercial, non-profit, and recreational applications of unmanned aircraft.,396909Sat, 18 Oct 2014 09:55:17 +1000ESA Confirms Rosetta's Landing Site On Rubber Ducky CometAfter more than 10 years of traveling through space, the Rosetta spacecraft -- the first space vehicle&#160;to travel to a comet --&#160;is finally taking a load off. Well, part of it is, anyway.,396887Fri, 17 Oct 2014 08:24:56 +1000Scientists Want To Try Electrical Stimulation In More Paralyzed PatientsMore than 30 people who have been paralyzed by spinal-cord injuries could soon get an experimental treatment that involves sending electric currents to their spines. The Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation is raising funds to add volunteers to an ongoing study of the treatment.,396886Fri, 17 Oct 2014 08:24:53 +1000Why It's Awesome These Scientists Failed To Replicate Their ResearchScience chases progress. Researchers live under pressure from grant agencies,&#160;their peers, and the public to produce&#160;exciting results. New finds make headlines; checking&#160;old work usually does not. But when a recent study of human behavior by Sarah Brown-Schmidt and Sid Horton&#160;failed to reproduce a result from the authors'&#160;earlier research, they&#160;<a href="">published a paper</a> in the online journal <em>PLOS ONE</em>&#160;saying so. The response has been almost unanimously positive.,396885Fri, 17 Oct 2014 08:24:50 +1000Program That Mimics Fish Schooling Fools Fish ExpertsCan you tell the difference between robot fish and real ones? You can <a href="">take this online test</a>&#160;to find out. Here's the catch: For every question, both fish schools are rendered as green dots on the screen. It's just that one set of dots corresponds to the actual movements of Pacific Blue Eye fish researchers filmed. The other set of dots moves according to algorithms researchers wrote.,396884Fri, 17 Oct 2014 08:24:47 +1000Suspended Animation In Space Travel: What Scientists Still Need To LearnIt sounds practically perfect in every way, but there&#8217;s still a considerable amount of time and research that needs to happen before we send astronauts off to Mars via the shores of sleep. The technology that SpaceWorks is looking at is a form of therapeutic hypothermia&#160;that will drop the temperature of the astronauts&#8217; bodies by just 5 to 10 degrees Fahrenheit, reducing their metabolism and putting them in a kind of hibernation. &#8220;It doesn&#8217;t take much to get the body to start slowing down,&#8221; says John Bradford, President of SpaceWorks Enterprises.&#160;,396883Fri, 17 Oct 2014 08:24:45 +1000A Look At The Sun Beneath The CoronaHuman eyes can't (or at least shouldn't)&#160;look directly at the sun, but NASA's IRIS can. The Interface Region Imaging Spectrograph&#160;mission is the latest to <a href="">fly into space to observe the solar atmosphere</a>. Now, a little more than a year after it launched, the satellite has sent back a complex picture of a special region of the sun, just below its corona.,396882Fri, 17 Oct 2014 08:24:41 +1000What Happens After Someone Survives Ebola?While most of the recent&#160;coverage of the ongoing Ebola outbreak has focused on rising death tolls and a few&#160;<a href="">infected U.S.&#160;citizens</a>, other segments of the population have passed mostly unnoticed from the harsh glare of the media spotlight: Survivors, and those who are seemingly immune to Ebola.&#160;,396881Fri, 17 Oct 2014 08:24:39 +1000Researchers Make One-Atom-Thin Electrical GeneratorHow thin can an electrical generator possibly be? Thanks to a study published yesterday in Nature, the answer is about as thin as possible. Using molybdenum disulfide, researchers from the Georgia Institute of Technology and Columbia Engineering proved that a layer just an atom thick can generate an electric charge.,396880Fri, 17 Oct 2014 08:24:36 +1000A Working iPhone Built In MinecraftMinecraft has become home to any number of experiments in the can-do spirit, everything from a huge model of the U.S.S. Enterprise to working hard drives and computers. The latest venture, created by a German man, is a massive working iPhone, which you can interact with by jumping and running on a &#8220;touchscreen.&#8221;,396869Thu, 16 Oct 2014 19:25:00 +1000Volcanoes Erupted On The Moon Within The Past 100 Million YearsOur cold, lifeless Moon just turned the corner into pretty hot and tempting. It turns out Earth&#8217;s satellite was once rife with volcanic activity, and some of its eruptions occurred within the past 100 million years &#8211; perhaps even within the past 50 million years. That&#8217;s about a billion years earlier than what researchers had originally assumed.,396791Wed, 15 Oct 2014 09:52:03 +1000Secret Robot Space Plane Returns To Earth SoonIn 2012, the Air Force sent an unmanned robot plane into space. It is scheduled to return today, completing its third voyage into space, one that began way back in the simpler days of 2012. The X-37B (not to be confused with the U.S. Navy&#8217;s terrestrial experimental unmanned X-47B airplane) is a known space plane with a secret purpose.,396790Wed, 15 Oct 2014 09:51:59 +1000How Flies Are Responsible For Beer's Tasty, Fruity SmellsIt's a love story&#8212;so who cares if the lovers are a little unattractive? We can't all be Snow Whites and Prince Charmings. I'm talking about the love affair between fruit flies and brewer's yeast, which scientists so kindly described in a <a href="">paper published last week</a>&#160;in the journal <em>Cell Reports</em>.,396789Wed, 15 Oct 2014 09:51:57 +1000Security Experts Build $150 SafecrackerThanks to a pair of Melbourne security researchers, the cost of opening safes just hit a new low. Using an arduino platform and 3-D printed parts, the pair has created a contraption that&#160;can open many combination locks, like those on ATMs and gun safes. The device costs just $150 in parts, but people shouldn&#8217;t throw out their safes just yet: it takes about four days to crack the lock.,396788Wed, 15 Oct 2014 09:51:54 +1000Big Pic: The Sun Gives Off A Jack-O'-Lantern LeerThe sun got into the Halloween spirit a little early this year, producing active spots that look like a jack-o'-lantern leer on October 8. The active spots give off more light and energy than the rest of the sun's surface.,396787Wed, 15 Oct 2014 09:51:51 +1000Elephants Able To Detect Rainstorms 150 Miles AwayLions may be the kings of the animal world, but at least elephants could make for spunky&#160;meteorologists. New research is revealing that elephants have a radar-like spidey sense, capable of detecting an approaching rainstorm up to 150 miles off.,396786Wed, 15 Oct 2014 09:51:49 +1000Will I Ever Get A Color E-Reader?E-readers inspire the kind of polarization usually reserved for religion and taxes. Their detractors call them soulless, shoddy excuses for real paper. But to <a href=";loc=recent&amp;lnk=2&amp;con=handson-barnes-nobles-nook-simple-touch-with-glowlight-uh-glows-with-light">their fans</a>, their months of battery life, huge libraries, and lightweight frames are just short of magic. Of course, the core technology of the Kindles, Kobos, and Nooks that drive these passions is their textured, paper-like displays. All three major e-reader companies buy their displays from one firm: the eponymous E Ink.,396785Wed, 15 Oct 2014 09:51:46 +1000Our Cane Toads Have Evolved To Hop Even FasterWe may hate our invasive cane toads, they might be the poster-bufo of how introducing species can get out of hand, but damn if they aren't the best bloody cane toads in the world! Australian toads have evolved to hop straighter and farther than ever before. That means they're spreading faster than ever through Australia, <a href="">sparking worries</a>&#160;that they'll harm native species in places where they've never lived before. Twenty-six years after the debut of <em>Cane Toads: An Unnatural History</em>, it seems scientists are still struggling to control the large, poisonous&#160;toad.,396737Tue, 14 Oct 2014 07:30:44 +1000Investigators Narrow MH-370 Crash Site To Smaller Stretch Of OceanIn March, Malaysian Airlines Flight 370 from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing disappeared over the ocean. Despite international attention and <a href="" target="_blank">search efforts</a>, the plane was never recovered. On Wednesday, the Australian Transport Safety Board&#160;<a href="" target="_blank">published a report</a>&#160;that narrows the slice of sea where it&#8217;s likely the plane crashed. The ocean is still vast and deep enough to hide a plane, but there&#8217;s a good chance the wreckage of MH-370 is lurking in a 400-mile stretch of ocean floor.,396735Tue, 14 Oct 2014 07:30:39 +1000This App Turns Your Phone Into A Cosmic Ray DetectorWant to turn your smartphone into a cosmic ray detector? Well there's an app for that. Cosmic Rays Found in Smartphones, or CRAYFIS, uses smartphones' and tablets' standard camera equipment to detect some of the super-rare particles that shower down on the Earth when a high-energy cosmic ray hits the atmosphere. CRAYFIS collects that data, then sends them onto physicists at the University of California's Irvine and Davis campuses for analysis.,396734Tue, 14 Oct 2014 07:30:36 +1000This Woman Sees 100 Times More Colours Than The Average PersonWhen Concetta Antico looks at a leaf, she sees much more than just green. &#8220;Around the edge I&#8217;ll see orange or red or purple in the shadow; you might see dark green but I&#8217;ll see violet, turquoise, blue,&#8221; she said. &#8220;It&#8217;s like a mosaic of color.&#8221;,396736Tue, 14 Oct 2014 07:30:00 +1000Tesla CEO Wants Mostly Self-Driving Cars By Next YearElon Musk&#8217;s Tesla Motors promises the car of the future today. In September, the billionaire promised something new for his electric vehicles: autopilot, mostly. Well,&#160;&#8220;<a href="" target="_blank">90 percent of your miles can be on auto</a>.&#8221; Left unsaid is how exactly that&#8217;s going to happen.,396698Mon, 13 Oct 2014 10:09:23 +1000Venomous Slow Loris May Have Evolved To Mimic CobrasWhat&#8217;s slow, fuzzy, and deadly like a cobra? The slow loris, of course! Researchers are arguing that these endangered Asian primates evolved to mimic venomous snakes.,396697Mon, 13 Oct 2014 10:09:20 +1000Weather Of Wild Exoplanet Mapped Using Hubble TelescopeAbout 260 light years away from Earth, there is a wild exoplanet about the size of Jupiter -- but with double its mass. Known as WASP-43b, this huge planet orbits its host star, an orange dwarf, in just 19 short hours, meaning its &#8220;years&#8221; are shorter than Earth&#8217;s days.,396696Mon, 13 Oct 2014 10:09:18 +1000Take Orders From A Cat And Learn CybersecurityIt was my first day on the job as chief technology officer for "SnapCat," and the hostile attacks on our servers came at us fast. With proper coding and security measures, I blocked some, but my cat boss informed me after that attack that about a third of our users were driven away from the site because of our poor security. In PBS&#8217;s online <a href="" target="_blank">Cyber Lab game</a>,&#160;players select avatars and fictional companies, and then learn the basics of cyber security through simple exercises.,396695Mon, 13 Oct 2014 10:09:15 +1000The Week In Drones: Hawk Attacks, Drone Races, And MoreHere's a roundup of the week's top drone news: the military, commercial, non-profit, and recreational applications of unmanned aircraft.,396694Mon, 13 Oct 2014 10:09:13 +1000This Week In Numbers: A Paper Airplane Gun, Navy Drone Boats, And Trackers In NYC Phonebooths<strong>9:</strong>&#160;paper airplanes folded and launched by&#160;<a href="">this inventor's</a> wonderful gun in its YouTube debut.,396693Mon, 13 Oct 2014 10:09:10 +1000MIT Students Claim Astronauts Will Starve On 'Mars One' MissionThe students, part of a research group specializing in large-scale multi-billion dollar space programs, used publically available information about the Mars One&#160;mission plans to simulate&#160;<a href="">the&#160;trip to Mars</a>.&#160;They say&#160;the problems they uncovered surprised them.,396692Mon, 13 Oct 2014 10:09:00 +1000Sense Of Touch Recreated For Amputees In Their ProstheticsYears after they had lost parts of their arms in industrial accidents, Igor Spetic and Keith Vonderhuevel once again felt sensations -- such as the fuzz of a cotton ball, or a trickle of water -- seemingly on the backs of their prosthetic&#160;hands.&#160;The touches were lab-created, done as part of a study on how to electronically re-create touch for people who have lost their hands.,396654Fri, 10 Oct 2014 12:20:28 +1000Visionary Ideas From The South by Southwest Eco AwardsThe annual South by Southwest Eco conference held its climactic event Tuesday night, announcing the winners of its Startup Showcase competition and Place by Design awards. Now in its fourth year, SXSW Eco has entered a sweet spot in its growth, with a lot of big thinkers and promising startups in attendance but a less overwhelming crowd than the March music, film, and interactive SXSW conferences. We were there to meet the award winners.,396653Fri, 10 Oct 2014 12:20:25 +1000America's Rooftop Solar Panels Are Probably Facing The Wrong DirectionVirtually all homes point their solar panels south, where they can best&#160;capture rays from the sun when it rises in the southeast and sets in the southwest. That way, residents collect the most power possible&#160;throughout the day, which they can use in their own homes or sell to the grid (if they have any power leftover).&#160;But critics say the panels would actually do more good facing west,&#160;where they could capture sunlight during the midday and afternoon&#160;when energy is&#160;most needed.,396652Fri, 10 Oct 2014 12:20:23 +1000Using Lasers To Save Earth's Cultural MonumentsHistory is unwritten by&#160;the destruction of great artifacts. Six of the seven wonders of the ancient world are gone, fallen into ruin and sold for scrap, and it is only through historical memory that we know of them. Preserving modern wonders for posterity is the main inititiative of&#160;<a href="" target="_blank">CyArk</a>, a nonprofit that uses 3-D laser scanning to create a digital archive of the world&#8217;s cultural heritage sites.,396607Thu, 9 Oct 2014 10:42:42 +1000This Gun Makes And Fires Paper AirplanesSometimes, a person accomplishes something so great, so revolutionary, that all they can do is smile as wide as humanly possible and show off the thing. This paper airplane gun, crafted by a 3-D printing and paper airplane enthusiast, is such a device. Wordlessly, the operator fires a series of paper airplanes. Then, with the top of the device removed, he reveals the assembly line inside the weapon. The gun&#160;folds the paper and then shoots it out the end -- at a rate of almost one a second.,396606Thu, 9 Oct 2014 10:41:57 +1000The Greatest Space Hack EverWhen an oxygen tank exploded as Apollo 13 neared the moon, the three-man crew had to abort their mission, power down the command&#160;module, and move into the lunar module for the journey home. Designed to house only two people, the craft quickly filled with dangerous levels of carbon dioxide.&#160;,396600Thu, 9 Oct 2014 06:48:29 +1000Watch This Eclipse Happen In One MinuteLast night (Australia time),&#160;the moon underwent a total eclipse. The Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles trained its telescope on the moon for the event, then made this wonderful one-minute video out of five and a half hours of footage:,396599Thu, 9 Oct 2014 06:48:24 +1000Inventors Of Ultra-High-Res Microscopes Snag Nobel Prize In ChemistryIn 1973, a German physicist named Ernst Abbe set a boundary on the field of microscopy. He came up with the resolution limit for optical microscopes, which is roughly half the wavelength of light. With a wavelength of 550 nanometers typically used, that means most microscopes can only see about 0.2 micrometers (or about the width of a bacterium), according to Abbe.,396598Thu, 9 Oct 2014 06:48:21 +1000 Giant Clams Are Greenhouses For AlgaeGiant clams loom large on coral reefs, their gaping maws filled with bright lights. On other mollusks, this iridescence is a camouflage, guiding the eye away from the creature&#8217;s body. Recent research published in the Royal Society of Science&#8217;s journal <em>Interface</em> reveals that these patches of iridescence filter and distribute light for algae that grows inside the clams.,396582Wed, 8 Oct 2014 13:14:47 +1000Rethinking The Turing Test<a href="">Eugene&#8217;s victory</a> was short-lived. Within days, AI researchers had dismissed the chatbot&#8217;s achievement as a collection of canned responses. Then they took the Turing Test itself to task. Conceived of as a kind of existential parlor game, the test asks a human and a machine to respond to questions from remote interrogators. A computer mistaken for a person would prove that it had developed the capacity to mimic our own thought processes.&#160;,396562Wed, 8 Oct 2014 09:00:45 +1000Why A Blue LED Is Worth A Nobel PrizeThree scientists have jointly earned the&#160;Nobel Prize in physics&#160;for their work on blue LEDs, or light-emitting diodes. Why blue in particular? Well, blue was the last -- and most difficult -- advance required to create white LED light. And with white LED light, companies are able to create smartphone and computer screens, as well as light bulbs that last longer and use less electricity than any bulb invented before.,396561Wed, 8 Oct 2014 09:00:42 +1000Sierra Nevada Protest Halts Production Of SpaceX And Boeing Space TaxisThe Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) isn&#8217;t going down without a fight &#8211; and it looks like they&#8217;re taking their competitors down with them. Both SpaceX and Boeing have been told to halt production of their NASA-funded space taxis until the space agency resolves a legal protest issued by SNC.,396560Wed, 8 Oct 2014 09:00:39 +1000Why Orange Juice Tastes Disgusting After You Brush Your TeethIn a handy video, the <a href="">American Chemical Society</a> has explained why orange juice (and food in general)&#160;tastes like soap&#160;after you brush your teeth. The basic gist is that a detergent called sodium lauryl sulfate, found within your toothpaste,&#160;blocks the sweet receptors on your tongue&#160;and ramps up your bitterness receptors. The ACS&#160;has a more detailed explanation below:,396559Wed, 8 Oct 2014 09:00:36 +1000