Australian Popular Science News news from, 18 Apr 2014 19:05:41 +100010Big Pic: Robonaut Is Getting Legs<strong>Update, 4/14/14:</strong> The SpaceX launch that was supposed to bring Robonaut 2 its legs has been postponed. The Falcon 9 rocket has a helium leak, NASA tweeted. R2 responded to the news on Twitter:,382833Tue, 15 Apr 2014 09:56:23 +1000Japan Company To Give Maglev Tech To US For Free<span>The magnetic-levitation technology works by creating magnetic fields with onboard superconducting magnets, which interact with ground coils in the rail, allowing the whole train to "float" just above the ground. And go really fast.</span>,382831Tue, 15 Apr 2014 09:56:14 +1000Mathematicians Create App To Beat Jet LagJet lag occurs when your body's circadian rhythms fall out of sync with your surroundings, such as when you quickly move to an area that is 12 hours behind where you were previously. One thing that certain helps to adjust is exposure to sunlight--cells in your retina use this information to tell the brain that it is daylight, and that the body should be awake. But how much sunlight does the body need to adjust? And at what times?&#160;,382830Tue, 15 Apr 2014 09:56:11 +1000Trolls In Their Natural Habitats: An Analysis Of Comments On TED TalksThink of it as a study of the natural behaviours of the troll. A team of information science researchers recently analysed the comments people make on recorded TED talks. Actually, the researchers found that the majority of comments related to the content of the talks (progress!). But they also found that about six percent of YouTube comments on TED talks are insults and that female TED presenters are more likely to have commenters assess their appearance and style than male presenters (not progress).,382829Tue, 15 Apr 2014 09:56:10 +1000How Hard Is It To Shoot Down A Small Drone? [Video]Before the Predator attached the name "drone" to an anti-terror war machine, many militaries flew unmanned planes as targets, so that pilots and anti-aircraft gunners could practice shooting moving objects. Target drones are still flown today, both specific target models and ones converted from old jets specifically for this purpose. In the past, targets were generally plane-sized, and militaries used anti-aircraft weapons to shoot them down.,382828Tue, 15 Apr 2014 09:56:00 +1000Cherry Trees That Flew To Space Bloom Six Years EarlyFlowers from the&#160;Ganjoji "space tree" also look a bit different, containing five petals, as opposed to about 30 like their parent trees.&#160;,382832Tue, 15 Apr 2014 09:56:00 +1000A Homemade Crossbow Designed To Impale A Car DoorEnglish philosopher Thomas Hobbes believed that men living in anarchy would lead &#8220;solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short&#8221; lives. So as much as I&#8217;d enjoy rebuilding civilization from piles of trash after an apocalypse, I&#8217;d first worry about a way to send petrol-marauding punk rockers scrambling and make infectious zombies take a dirt nap.&#160;,382835Tue, 15 Apr 2014 09:56:00 +1000Australia Declares Homeopathy "Useless"The judgement is likely to influence a crucial government review which is deciding whether the 30 per cent tax rebate for private health insurance coverage ofcomplementary therapies&#160;should continue. Australians spend almost $4 billion a year on complementary therapies like vitamins and herbs and almost $10 million on homeopathic remedies.,382695Mon, 14 Apr 2014 09:13:24 +1000Facial Expressions Aren't As Universal As Scientists Have ThoughtFor nearly half a century, social scientists have operated under the assumption that all basic human emotions are universally recognizable. Countless cross-cultural experiments&#8212;not to mention a few television shows (eg Lie to Me)&#8212;have both directly and implicitly referenced the notion that every person on earth expresses facial emotion in the same way. Regardless of cultural context, we can&#160;all interpret happiness, sadness, anger, fear, and disgust&#160;in the expressions of the people around us... right?,382694Mon, 14 Apr 2014 09:13:23 +1000Big Pic: A Prettier Greenhouse For Growing Veggies In SpaceThis latest design for growing vegetables in space is a bit prettier than its predecessors. This is a collapsible growth chamber made by Orbital Technologies Corporation in Wisconsin. The lettuces inside live in individual "plant pillows."&#160;NASA plans to send the chamber and the plant pillows to the International Space Station on April 14, aboard a SpaceX launch.,382693Mon, 14 Apr 2014 09:13:21 +1000What You Post On Yelp Says More About You Than About The FoodWhen people review cheap restaurants in particular on Yelp, they often use drug metaphors, and speak in the language of addiction. This is but one of the interesting findings of a linguistic study of 900,000 restaurant reviews on The researchers found that these reviews offered a unique look into the human psyche... and how much people love references to drugs and sex (representatives for the sadly snubbed <em>rock 'n roll</em>&#160;couldn't be reached for comment).&#160;Here are some of the other patterns found, as described by Stanford University:,382691Mon, 14 Apr 2014 09:13:16 +1000Software Shows What Children Will Look Like In 70 Years, With Unprecedented AccuracyLook at a kid under the age of five, and it's hard to imagine what he'll look like in 70 years. But this new piece of software does just that. Check out this series of photos, which compares actual photos of a boy as he grows up (photos on the right) with photos generated by the new aging software, using only the three-year-old picture as a reference (photos on the left).,382690Mon, 14 Apr 2014 09:13:13 +1000Company Plans To Make Paper Towels And Diapers Out Of JellyfishThis material can hold&#160;several times its weight in water, and unlike the polymers that currently make up absorbent material in diapers and other products, breaks down in about 30 days. The product owes is absorbent abilities to its cellular structure of jellyfish bodies.&#160;&#8220;Jellyfish are marine creatures composed of 90 percent&#160;water and that live in water," according to Capital Nano, a company funding Cine'al. "Their bodies are formed from material that can absorb high volume of liquids and hold them without disintegrating or dissolving.",382696Mon, 14 Apr 2014 09:13:00 +1000Four Women Doing Fine After Getting Vagina Implants Made From Their Own CellsSo. Yes. A team of doctors is reporting that they grew vaginas in a lab and implanted them in four girls who had underdeveloped vaginas and uteruses because of a rare genetic condition. This is the first time anybody has reported growing vaginas in lab for human patients.&#160;About seven years after their initial surgeries, the girls are grown up and doing well. Two of the four could theoretically have children, although neither has reported yet she is pregnant.&#160;,382688Mon, 14 Apr 2014 08:54:11 +1000Transforming Helicopter-Truck Hybrid Makes First FlightYesterday Advanced Tactics announced the successful first flight of their&#160;Black Knight Transformer, a hybrid truck helicopter designed for&#160;military missions. In December, the truck completed driving tests.&#160;,382689Mon, 14 Apr 2014 08:54:00 +1000This Badger Fits Inside An OspreyAt the Navy League's Sea Air Space Exposition this year in National Harbor, Maryland, there was an unusual craft on display next to Boeing's usual display of aircraft. It was a jeep-like thing, both narrower and longer than expected. Dubbed the "Phantom Badger," it solves a very specific problem: it fits (just barely) inside Boeing's tiltrotor V-22 Ospreys used by Marines and Special Forces. Now when those troops deploy far ahead and into tricky places, they can finally bring a working vehicle with them.,382541Fri, 11 Apr 2014 10:45:45 +1000'Indisputable' Proof Of A New Four-Quark ParticleUsing the most powerful particle collider in the world, a research group at CERN has forged a particle made of four quarks, the European organization&#160;announced yesterday.,382540Fri, 11 Apr 2014 10:45:44 +1000Stick-On Monitoring Patch Moves And Stretches With SkinBracelets or belts that track your activity and vitals may soon be a thing of the past. Engineers from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Northwestern University have produced a health-monitoring device that looks like a Band-Aid. The thin, soft patch can stick to and move with the skin, all while wirelessly sending vital updates to your designated cellphone or computer.,382538Fri, 11 Apr 2014 10:45:40 +1000Company Plans To Make Paper Towels And Nappies Out Of JellyfishThis material can hold&#160;several times its weight in water, and unlike the polymers that currently make up absorbent material in diapers and other products, breaks down in about 30 days. The product owes is absorbent abilities to its cellular structure of jellyfish bodies.&#160;&#8220;Jellyfish are marine creatures composed of 90 percent&#160;water and that live in water," according to Capital Nano, a company funding Cine'al. "Their bodies are formed from material that can absorb high volume of liquids and hold them without disintegrating or dissolving.",382536Fri, 11 Apr 2014 10:45:36 +1000Parasitic Amoeba Eats People Alive, Bite By Bite&#8220;This process of nibbling of cells went unrecognized by everyone in this field, including me, for over a hundred years,&#8221; study co-author and&#160;infectious disease specialist William Petri of the University of Virginia in Charlottesville told <em>Science</em>. The finding completely changes how scientists think of the parasites, and may lead to new treatments for pathogen, which lives in the gut and infects about 50 million around the world. In certain circumstances they can trigger amoebiasis, a potentially fatal diarrhoeal disease.,382539Fri, 11 Apr 2014 10:45:00 +1000How To Make A More Environmentally Friendly CowScientists around the world have worked on making buildings, cars and light bulbs more environmentally friendly. What's next? Cows.,382347Thu, 10 Apr 2014 10:52:39 +1000A Glowing Ring Powered By Body HeatSean Hodgins enjoys ring smithing, a hobby he adopted from his grandpa, and loves building small electronic gadgets. So he combined his passions to make a ring that turns body heat into light. Hodgins milled a two-finger band out of aluminum&#8212;an excellent thermal conductor&#8212;to cradle a 6-millimeter by 3-millimeter Peltier module and custom circuit board. The Peltier module converts heat flowing from the ring into a small voltage, and the circuit board amplifies the current. For now, cold weather best illuminates an LED on the ring, but Hodgins is designing a new circuit to make it blink brightly at any temperature.&#160;,382371Thu, 10 Apr 2014 10:52:36 +1000New Document Security Layer Makes It Easier For Government To Keep SecretsMonday morning in National Harbor, Maryland, Popular Science met with BAE Systems Director of Business Development & Intelligence Security John Murphy to discuss SIBA, a new way of keeping and sharing secrets. Unspoken in the interview, which took place at the Sea Air Space expo, was Chelsea Manning, the former Army private first class responsible for leaking hundreds of thousands of secret documents to Wikileaks, but everything about BAE's new SIBA system seems like it is written with her impact in mind.,382370Thu, 10 Apr 2014 10:52:00 +1000The Myth Of The Incredible Antique ViolinEven non-musicians might be familiar with the tale of the&#160;Stradivariuses, stringed instruments built in the 17th and 18th centuries renowned for their gorgeous tones, supposedly unparalleled, even by today's finest craftsmen. But is that just a romantic, apocryphal idea?,382349Thu, 10 Apr 2014 07:00:28 +1000Prozac Alters Prawns' Behaviour, Reproduction, Even Their ColorThe idea that tiny amounts of antidepressants present in our rivers and estuaries may be affecting aquatic life is generally met with surprise, sometimes skepticism, or even a degree of humour.,382348Thu, 10 Apr 2014 07:00:00 +1000Nano-Robots That Compute With DNA Installed Into Living CockroachThese DNA machines (or origami robots, so-called since they can unfold and deliver drugs stored within) carry fluorescent markers, allowing researchers to tell where in the roach's body they are traveling and what they are doing. Incredibly,&#160;the "accuracy of delivery and control of the nanobots is equivalent to a computer system," New Scientist reported.,382350Thu, 10 Apr 2014 07:00:00 +1000Electric Stimulation To Spine Gets Paralyzed Patients Moving AgainAfter you've injured your spinal cord, getting a "motor complete" diagnosis means you're unable to move your legs&#8212;or anything on your body, below the injury&#8212;under your own volition. Stay "motor complete" for two years and the evidence says you'll never move those areas on your own again. But the prognosis is now a bit different for four hardworking, young(ish) men.,382244Wed, 9 Apr 2014 09:32:36 +1000What Drunk Prairie Voles Can Tell Us About Booze And RelationshipsAs Rachel Nuwer explains in a thoroughly entertaining post at <em>Smithsonian</em>, the scientists picked voles because they are quite faithful, as far as mammals are concerned--and they&#160;needed to&#160;sacrifice&#160;a few afterward to look at their brains. In the experiment, the scientists&#160;allowed the voles to drink as much alcohol as they wanted over a 24-hour period, during which time they paired male and female voles (who weren't already in a monogamous relationship) and recorded how much they cuddled and/or mated. Afterward, they introduced the couple to a new vole, either male or female. They also performed a control experiment under the same circumstances, except without alcohol. Here's what they found, in a study published in&#160;<em>Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences</em>:&#160;,382243Wed, 9 Apr 2014 09:32:33 +1000This Spinning Disk Can Detect Salmonella In 30 Minutes<span>The device, described in a paper published in&#160;<em>Analytical Chemistry</em>,&#160;contains six channels branching off from a central groove, where food samples are placed. As the device spins, the fluid is forced outward, traveling through&#160;small channels. Any bacteria is first concentrated on beads, which are coated with antibodies that bind to <em>Salmonella.</em>&#160;Cells are then broken apart with a laser, and DNA is amplified using primer&#160;specific to the bacteria. Then, C&amp;EN explains:&#160;</span>,382241Wed, 9 Apr 2014 09:32:27 +1000For 21st-Century Kids, Home Microfluidics And Neurology KitsWe've seen a lot of nostalgia for ye olde chemistry sets&#160;lately. Nobel Laureates have reminisced about playing&#160;with them. These days, sets containing radioactive uranium dust or toxic lead are not going to cut it anymore, but that doesn't mean kids can't get exposure to real science. The Society for Science &amp; the Public&#8212;the nonprofit that runs the Intel ISEF science fair&#8212;recently held a competition to see who could make the coolest modern science set. The winners are just as hands-on as 1950s chemistry sets. Even better, they've got technology that didn't exist then.,382240Wed, 9 Apr 2014 09:32:24 +1000The Navy Wants To Fire Its Ridiculously Strong Railgun From The OceanIn 2016, the U.S. Navy is going to test a railgun&#8212;a weapon that can repeatedly launch a projectile at more than 5,000 MPH&#8212;from a boat. In 2018, they're going to do it again. And in the 2020s, the Navy is going to figure out just what to do with a gun that seemed like science fiction decades ago.,382242Wed, 9 Apr 2014 09:32:00 +1000Machine That Makes You Mingle Before Coffee Is An Introvert Torture DeviceGood morning! Have you enjoyed a cup of caffeine yet? No? Then perhaps you would prefer not interacting with people, lest your office turn into the set of a Maxine cartoon or something. But what if I told you: interact with someone, or coffee will be withheld from you. Great idea, right? Surely this would serve to facilitate human interaction and not result in two bumbling messes chit-chatting awkwardly about the weather while they wait for a paper cup of ambrosia.,382245Wed, 9 Apr 2014 09:32:00 +1000Missiles And Rockets Might Soon Smell Like Pine TreesIn an effort to launch&#160;things skyward in a more sustainable way, researchers have coaxed bacteria to produce a highly combustible compound called pinene.&#160;Conifers naturally excrete the stuff in their resin, lending&#160;the plants part of their distinctive scent. Pinene also happens to rival the properties&#160;of JP-10--a&#160;liquid rocket fuel that's widely used for commercial and military launches.,382230Wed, 9 Apr 2014 07:47:15 +1000You Could Be A Proud Owner Of Moon DustToday, Bonhams auctions more than 300 pieces of space memorabilia. We have our eyes on these items:,382229Wed, 9 Apr 2014 07:47:14 +1000First Successful Regeneration Of An Organ In A MammalOh, to be a mouse. You'd have been cured of every conceivable cancer and now, you'd have something of a fountain of youth, too, at least for your thymus.&#160;A team of researchers has gotten immune-system organs called thymuses&#160;in mice to grow,<em>The Economist</em> reports. After the researchers' treatment, the mice's thymuses grew more than twice as large. The thymuses, which normally change in structure and become less efficient as animals age, also returned to a more youthful structure.,382228Wed, 9 Apr 2014 07:47:00 +1000How Surgeons Are Learning From The Hands Rodin SculptedAuguste Rodin, the French sculptor, spent a lot of time observing the human anatomy, which helped him to convey emotions in his artwork. &#8220;Every part of the human figure is expressive,&#8221; he said. A hundred years later, Dr. James Chang, an internationally renowned hand reconstruction surgeon at Stanford, has been using the hands Rodin sculpted to teach medical students to identify particular hand conditions.,382115Tue, 8 Apr 2014 13:49:00 +1000The Week In Drones: Rescuing A Puppy, Crashing In South Korea, And MoreHere's a roundup of the week's top drone news, designed to capture the military, commercial, non-profit, and recreational applications of unmanned aircraft.,382086Tue, 8 Apr 2014 11:58:00 +1000Geneticists Create 3,500 Fly Strains To Find One That MoonwalksHow does the brain tell the body to walk backward? Scientists don't know. To find out, researchers developed 3,500 different strains of fruit flies. Each genetically-modified fly&#160;carried genetic switches in different parts of the brain that are activated by heat, a technique called thermogenetics. When these genetic switches were activated, they caused different neurons to fire. The scientists&#160;finally found a&#160;fly that began walking backward when its genetic switches were activated by heat, and from&#160;there they found which&#160;neurons were firing.&#160;,382087Tue, 8 Apr 2014 11:58:00 +1000How Global Warming Will Affect Your BeerThere are many things that will change as Earth's climate warms. Doctoral student Peter Gous is worried about the price and quality of beer.,382088Tue, 8 Apr 2014 11:58:00 +1000Video: Watch A Privately-Funded Moon Lander's Fiery TestIt's not easy to&#160;land a robot&#160;on the moon. Only&#160;the US, the former Soviet Union, and China&#160;have succeeded; other nations have only managed to make debris-strewn craters with their&#160;landing&#160;vehicles.,382089Tue, 8 Apr 2014 11:58:00 +1000Blind Cavefish Navigates With Mouth SuctionMexican tetras, or blind cavefish, have a unique way of navigating through their environment, not seen in other animals: They use their mouths to create waves of suction, which are then reflected onto their skin, helping the fish&#160;avoid obstacles. They create the suction by opening and shutting their mouths, appearing to go "oop, oop."&#160;,382090Tue, 8 Apr 2014 11:58:00 +1000How One Little Yellow-Shouldered Bat Became Seven Different SpeciesDeep within the labyrinthine interior of the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago, at the end of a cluster of corridors and stairwells, Bruce Patterson stands amid a collection of more than 58,000 bat specimens. The collection at the Field is a microcosm of natural history, told in bats.,382091Tue, 8 Apr 2014 11:58:00 +1000FDA Approves Handheld Device That Reverses Painkiller OverdoseThe U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved an auto-injecting device that can treat overdose from a variety of painkillers. The agency says&#160;that it could save lives;&#160;drug overdoses have become the leading cause&#160;of death from injury in the United States, surpassing vehicle crashes.&#160;,382092Tue, 8 Apr 2014 11:58:00 +1000Saturn's Moon Enceladus Is Now A Top Candidate For LifeBuried under miles of ice, astronomers have detected a liquid water sea on one of Saturn's moons, Enceladus. The sea is about the size of Lake Superior and it touches Enceladus' silicate core&#8230; which means it could have minerals dissolved in it that are necessary for life. "It makes, in fact, the interior of Enceladus a very attractive potential place to look for life," Jonathan Lunine, a Cornell University astronomer who worked on the study determining Enceladus has an ocean, said during a teleconference for reporters.,382093Tue, 8 Apr 2014 11:58:00 +1000Geography Of Beer: How A Bubbly Brew Took Over The WorldBeer, that magical fermented brew,&#160;is the third-most consumed&#160;beverage on the planet. Only water and tea are more popular.,382094Tue, 8 Apr 2014 11:58:00 +1000USAID Chief Defends 'Cuba Twitter' Program, Says It Had Congressional ApprovalUsing a Twitter-like social media service, U.S. operatives planned to grow a user base, then have the program&#160;spread messages that would inspire Cubans to undermine the communist government. The plan, according to documents obtained by the AP, went&#160;so far as to suggest creating&#160;"smart mobs" to "renegotiate the balance of power between the state and society.",382095Tue, 8 Apr 2014 11:58:00 +1000Watch This Charger Fully Juice A Smartphone In 30 SecondsI still remember flipping through paper magazines while waiting for webpages to load on my family's PC, in the 1990s. Maybe one day waiting for your phone to charge will seem as antiquated. An Israeli startup recently demonstrated a prototype charger that fully charges a smartphone in 30 seconds. You can watch it below, oooh.,382083Tue, 8 Apr 2014 11:57:00 +1000Designed Like We Give A Dam: New Proposals To Protect New York Coastal CommunitiesTen proposals are vying for funding to prepare the New York metro region for disasters like Superstorm Sandy and make recovery from such events easier, cheaper, and faster. Organized by a project called Rebuild By Design, some of the plans have evocative names, like &#8220;Blue Dunes,&#8221; while others hit the conceptual nail on the head: &#8220;Commercial Corridor Resiliency Project,&#8221; anyone? But they share a bottom-up approach for creating urban and regional design solutions that invest in the concerns and needs of local communities.,382084Tue, 8 Apr 2014 11:57:00 +1000Deep In The Amazon With A Troupe Of Medical ClownsIn The Humor Code, humor scientist Peter McGraw and journalist Joel Warner travel around the world looking for the universal meaning of humor. In the following excerpt, they visit Peru with a group that deploys clowns for therapeutic purposes.,382085Tue, 8 Apr 2014 11:57:00 +1000Watch Rare Footage Of Living, Swimming OarfishBehold the oarfish, the world's longest bony fish. The beasts typically live hundreds of feet below the ocean surface are thus are rarely seen. Since 2002, however, a few videos (like the one above) have surfaced and given scientists important clues about the animals.,382073Tue, 8 Apr 2014 10:16:00 +1000