Australian Popular Science News news from, 30 Mar 2017 21:40:58 +100010Electrically charged sands on Titan would make seriously sturdy sandcastlesImagine you're at a beach, standing near the dunes and looking out on a peaceful sea. The dry sand squishes through your toes, and you decide to build a sandcastle near the shore, without using any liquid to bind the grains together. A few weeks later, you wander back the same way, and your sandcastle is still there.,456390Wed, 29 Mar 2017 10:38:46 +1000How to turn a spinach leaf into a human heartSpinach could be good for your heart in more ways than one. It's packed with fiber, vitamin A, and the branching vasculature necessary for cells to absorb nutrients.,456389Wed, 29 Mar 2017 10:38:46 +1000Popular foods that grow in somewhat startling waysCherries grow on trees, strawberries on vines, but how do cashews grow? Thanks to our current food system, we can get crops from almost anywhere in the world&#8212;vanilla from Madagascar, bananas from Ecuador. Of course, the downside of receiving produce from far-off lands is that we can't exactly run into the fields to see how they're grown. For many, the manner in which fruits and veggies emerge from the earth can be something of a mystery. Here are some of the more unexpected ways plants propagate before they make their way into our meals:,456388Wed, 29 Mar 2017 10:38:44 +1000No one knows what to do with the International Space StationIn 2024 the clock will run out on the International Space Station. Maybe. That's the arbitrary deadline that Congress imposed back in 2014, at which point they'll have to decide whether or not to keep funding the ISS. And yeah, that's a whole seven years away. But then's only seven years away.,456387Wed, 29 Mar 2017 10:38:44 +1000The secret of successful marine protected areas? People. At 582,578 square miles, Papah&#257;naumoku&#257;kea Marine National Monument is not just the United States' largest marine protected area&#8212;it's currently the largest marine protected area in the world. The monument, a stepladder-shaped oceanic expanse dotted with atolls, shoals, and islands northeast of Hawaii's island of Kauai, was created by President Bush in 2006 and expanded by President Obama in 2016. The goal of Papah&#257;naumoku&#257;kea, and of marine protected areas more broadly, is to spare it from the spoilage that frequently happens in unprotected areas: overfishing, pollution, and degradation.,455786Thu, 23 Mar 2017 09:58:45 +100010 weird little aliens you can find right here on Earth Sure, we'd all love to traipse over to Europa and go hunting for alien lifeforms. But in the meantime, we can enjoy the weirdos that already live right here on Earth. Here are 10 of our favorite Earth-dwelling aliens&#8212;organisms so strange they seem otherworldly.,455785Thu, 23 Mar 2017 09:58:45 +1000The early Earth wasn't green, but it did recycle itselfThe Earth is about 4.5 billion years old, give or take a few million years. But most of what we see today on our planet's surface is much younger&#8212;only a few billion years old, if that.,455784Thu, 23 Mar 2017 09:58:44 +1000Does the new ban on large electronic devices actually make flying safer?Early on Tuesday, the Department of Homeland Security confirmed a specific &#8220;security enhancement,&#8221; which <a href=";src=syn" target="_blank">restricts &#8220;large electronic devices&#8221;</a> in the cabins of flights into the U.S. from 10 airports in the Middle East. The fear is that they might be used to smuggle explosive devices&#8212;or at least crucial pieces of improvised bombs&#8212;onto commercial aircrafts. <a href=";src=syn" target="_blank">The U.K. has adopted a similar policy</a>, and Canada is <a href=";src=syn" target="_blank">reportedly</a> considering doing the same. The big question, however, is whether or not relegating these devices to the cargo hold actually makes passengers safer.,455783Thu, 23 Mar 2017 09:58:44 +1000Fitness trackers can be addictive&#8212;and dangerous Katherine Schreiber and Leslie Sim are experts on exercise addiction who believe that tech advances encourage obsessive goal monitoring. Schreiber and Sim loathe wearable tech. &#8220;It's the worst,&#8221; Schreiber says. &#8220;The dumbest thing in the world,&#8221; says Sim. Schreiber has written extensively about exercise addiction, and Sim is a clinical child adolescent psychologist at the Mayo Clinic. Many of Sim's adolescent patients have twin exercise and eating disorders, which tend to go together.,455782Thu, 23 Mar 2017 09:58:42 +1000The Curiosity Mars rover's wheels are starting to breakSince August of 2012, NASA's Curiosity Rover has tooled around the red planet doing science for us Earthlings. Now, nearly five years and some 10 miles later, the robot is starting to experience the wear and tear of an aging machine: On Tuesday, NASA announced the first two breaks in the rover's wheel treads.,455672Wed, 22 Mar 2017 12:07:12 +1000Stop hackers in their tracks with this expert trainingIn 2016, hacked security cameras and PVRs took down the web in the US. One major international bank lost $81 million to cyber criminals. In this climate, skilled hero hackers get paid handsomely to help companies find their weaknesses and stop malicious hackers in their tracks. The Ethical Hacking A to Z Bundle helps you build a lucrative security career with 45 hours of premium instruction, <a href=";utm_medium=referral&amp;utm_campaign=it-hacking-bundle_032117&amp;utm_term=scsf-219989&amp;;utm_medium=referral&amp;utm_campaign=it-hacking-bundle_032117&amp;utm_term=scsf-219989&amp;dom=pscau&amp;src=syn" target="_blank">now just $39 at the Popular Science Shop</a>.,455671Wed, 22 Mar 2017 12:07:11 +1000This EPA unit fights terrorism with scienceIn August of 2005, as the dog days of summer lollygagged towards fall, waters agitated by the winds and currents of Hurricane Katrina rose up and over the Mississippi Gulf Coast. A flurry of criticisms followed&#8212;complaints of mediocre warnings, a lackluster disaster response on the part of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), poorly made levees, and grief at the sheer loss of human life. Amidst the enormity of the disaster, it was easy to overlook the efforts of a small department, the National Homeland Security Research Center (NHSRC), in helping to put the region back together again. Its name, a tangle of government speak, seems designed to make the NHSRC forgettable.,455670Wed, 22 Mar 2017 12:07:10 +1000Climate change may be upping your risk of diabetes Global warming, already linked to countless human health problems, may be increasing the prevalence of Type 2 diabetes, according to a new study published in the journal BMJ Open Diabetes Research & Care.,455669Wed, 22 Mar 2017 12:07:10 +1000A giant cliff collapse on a comet reveals pristine ice beneath the surface On July 10th, 2015, a chunk of cliff with the same volume as nine Olympic-sized swimming pools tumbled from its perch on Comet 67P. A month later, the comet would reach its perihelion, the closest its elliptical orbit passes to the sun. As the sun's rays reached the Aswan cliff section of Comet 67P's northern hemisphere, the rapid change in temperature warmed the cliff from -220 degrees Fahrenheit to 122 degrees Fahrenheit in the space of about 20 minutes. One percent of the cliff's mass was lost to space, a great jetting plume cast off like water after a dive, and the boulder-like formations settled into a new ridge at the foot of the cliff. We know all of this drama in the heavens thanks to a paper published today in Nature Astronomy.,455668Wed, 22 Mar 2017 12:07:10 +1000Chuck Berry is gone, but his music is still flying through the cosmosChuck Berry may be gone, but his music is still hurtling into deep space. The legendary rock-and-roller died at 90 on Saturday in St. Charles, M.O., and although us Earthlings can blast the scintillating sounds of his amplified,455667Wed, 22 Mar 2017 12:07:09 +1000The Sahara Desert used to be green and lush. Then humans showed&#160;up.Today, the Sahara Desert is defined by undulating sand dunes, unforgiving sun, and oppressive heat. But just 10,000 years ago, it was lush and verdant. So, what spurred the shift from woodland to wasteland?,455666Wed, 22 Mar 2017 12:07:09 +1000The scientifically best way to sweep a floor Congratulations! So, you've decided to become a better sweeper. Your timing couldn't be better&#8212;spring officially began this morning, which makes it a great time to get rid of those winter dust bunnies. And reading this article is your first step towards having cleaner floors. To find the scientifically best way to wield a broom, we spoke with two cleaning experts.,455665Wed, 22 Mar 2017 12:07:07 +1000You're treating jellyfish stings all wrongSo you've been stung by a jellyfish. The good news: there's no need to get your friend to pee on you. The bad news: all the other solutions you've heard of will probably only make it worse.,455664Wed, 22 Mar 2017 12:07:07 +1000Come watch a supercomputer simulation of a devastating tornadoWhen Leigh Orf, an atmospheric scientist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, strives to unravel the mysteries of tornado formation, he needs something way bigger than a laptop. Phenomena like the huge, supercell thunderstorms he studies involve such vast amounts of data, only a supercomputer will do.,455073Fri, 17 Mar 2017 08:56:30 +1000Some corpses may mysteriously heat up after deathOne morning, in a hospital in the Czech Republic, a 69-year-old man died of heart disease. An hour later, as nurses were preparing to move his body down to the lab for autopsy, they noticed his skin was unusually warm. After calling the doctor back to make sure the man was really dead (he was), they took his temperature. At 1.5 hours after death, the body was 104 degrees Fahrenheit&#8212;about five degrees hotter than it was before he died, even though the hospital room was kept at about 68 degrees.,455072Fri, 17 Mar 2017 08:56:30 +1000Climate may have shaped the evolution of the human noseIn the late 1800s, British anthropologist and anatomist Arthur Thomson posited that people with ancestral origins in cold, arid climates were likely to have longer, thinner noses, while those who came from warm, humid regions were inclined to have noses that were shorter and thicker.,455071Fri, 17 Mar 2017 08:56:29 +1000High-intensity interval training is great for you&#8212;but it won't keep you from agingExercise is hard. That should go without saying, but it's worth acknowledging. It's difficult enough to instill a new habit without all the things that make exercise uniquely unpleasant at first. You generally have to go to a crowded place full of cranky strangers, share equipment in close quarters, and sweat and shower alongside them. But on top of that, oh yeah, it's hard. A lot of the movements are weird and awkward for newcomers. Maybe you have to stick your butt up in the air, or wiggle around like a wet noodle in overpriced, stretchy clothing. It's not surprising that so few people stick to a regular workout regimen, because to some degree, if it's not hard, you're not doing it right.,455070Fri, 17 Mar 2017 08:56:29 +1000This vaccine just might stop Ebola from annihilating the great apesThe Ebola virus doesn't just bring terror and death to human communities, it also ravages Africa's great apes, whose populations are already imperiled by hunting and habitat encroachment. Now, in an effort to keep our closest-living relatives alive, researchers have successfully tested an oral Ebola vaccine in the laboratory.,455069Fri, 17 Mar 2017 08:56:28 +1000The proposed 2018 federal budget tells NASA to forget about EarthThe White House released its proposed 2018 fiscal year budget on Wednesday night, and the prognosis for Earth Science isn't great. If Congress approves the budget in full, NASA's Earth-observing satellite programs (PACE, OCO-3, DSCOVR, and CLARREO Pathfinder), which are mostly still in development, are toast. And even if Congress doesn't make all of the suggested budget cuts, the proposal indicates the administration is shrinking away from the research that most serves to benefit our own planet. Here's what we stand to lose:,455068Fri, 17 Mar 2017 08:56:28 +1000Introducing the world's oldest plant-like fossil When you think fossils, you probably think of impressively preserved bones; the last remains of dinosaurs that strolled (or flew) across the Earth eons ago. But it took evolution a long time to work up to dinosaurs. Or any kind of animal, for that matter. For about 2 billion years in Earth's early history (give or take a few hundred million years) single-celled organisms ruled the planet. Then, life started branching out.,454809Wed, 15 Mar 2017 10:00:52 +1000This star is orbiting insanely close to a black holeHarry and Sally. Tristan and Isolde. Chip and Dale. Iconic duos, each of them. But they ain't got nothing on X9.,454808Wed, 15 Mar 2017 10:00:51 +1000Researchers are using tomato peels and eggshells to make tiyresSome day you may discover tomato peels and eggshells where the rubber meets the road. And the environment&#8202;&#8212;&#8202;not to mention your tyres&#8202;&#8212;&#8202;will be better for it.,454807Wed, 15 Mar 2017 10:00:51 +1000Levi's new Bluetooth-connected jacket seems both cool and weird Off the cuff, the new smart jacket forthcoming from Levi's&#8212;which has Google technology literally woven into it&#8212;appears to be both fascinating and a little puzzling.,454806Wed, 15 Mar 2017 10:00:50 +1000The quest to engineer entire organs in a labOne of the holy grails in the field of regenerative medicine is the ability to engineer whole organs in all their complexity, not just pieces of them. Laura Niklason is one of those pushing this boundary. During a visit, I followed one of her postdocs into a refrigerated closet in her Yale University laboratories. He reached out to a shelf and took down a jar. Unlike the amorphous piece of heart muscle Gordana Vunjak-Novakovic had showed me, there was no mistaking what was floating inside this container. It was a perfectly preserved pair of rat lungs, taken from an actual animal and &#8220;decellularized.&#8221;,454805Wed, 15 Mar 2017 10:00:50 +1000Up to half of the Arctic's melt might be totally natural Scientists have known for a while that the Arctic is melting. The signs are everywhere&#8212;from the famed Alaskan Iditarod course being moved multiple times due to lack of snow, to the emergence of starving polar bears with nowhere to hunt.,454804Wed, 15 Mar 2017 10:00:49 +1000Washable heartbeat sensors can now be embroidered onto clothingEmbroidery is usually used to adorn fabric with festive designs, but it can now be used to measure heart rates too.,454803Wed, 15 Mar 2017 10:00:48 +1000NOAA's satellites are on the chopping block. Here's why we need them.On Friday, The Washington Post reportedly obtained a memo from within the Trump administration about proposed funding for National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The memo outlined steep cuts to several divisions, including the elimination of the $73 million Sea Grant research program, cuts to climate research divisions, and more.,453838Tue, 7 Mar 2017 13:05:20 +1000Whirlpool wants you to trash your old composting methods and buy a fancy food recyclerEvery year, billions of pounds of apples, wheat, corn, and other food is harvested for us to consume. But as much as 40 percent of this bounty is wasted, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.,453837Tue, 7 Mar 2017 13:05:20 +1000Ten of the ugliest animals threatened by climate changeEveryone cares&#160;that pandas and polar bears are endangered because, let's face it, they're adorable. In enviro speak, they're known as &#8220;charismatic megafauna&#8221;&#8212;they're large animals with popular appeal. Also included on this list are elephants, lions, tigers, sharks, and whales.&#160;In short, looks matter.,453836Tue, 7 Mar 2017 13:05:20 +1000Ancient humans farmed the Amazon tooWhen we think of the Amazon rainforest, we tend to think of one of two things; either a pristine tropical paradise bursting with biodiversity, or a threatened area that's being devoured for agricultural purposes.,453835Tue, 7 Mar 2017 13:05:19 +1000Pandas have cute markings because their food supply sucksPandas are cute&#8212;there's no two ways about it. They have to eat 30 pounds of bamboo a day and then have to poop about 40 times a day, but look at those eye patches! And their fuzzy white butts! There are plenty of adorable bears, so what is it about the panda that's so distinctive?,453834Tue, 7 Mar 2017 13:05:19 +1000Five rad and random things I found this weekMy job is to find cool stuff. Throughout the week I spend hours scouring the web for things that are useful or fun or ridiculously cheap. Often times, these choices coalesce into a guide of like items&#8212;for example, the best cases and covers for your phone, science kits for your children, or gifts for your very good dog. But I often stumble across some pretty awesome stuff that doesn't really fit into a list. So I made a list for those. The only thing they have in common is that I like them&#8212;and think you will too.,453833Tue, 7 Mar 2017 13:05:19 +1000Researchers in Japan just created a tiny, amoeba-inspired robotA robot is movement, controlled. This is as true for plane-sized flying machines as it is for micrometer-sized contraptions, like the amoeba-inspired robot recently created by researchers at Japan's Tohoku University. It isn't the smallest robot ever made, as there are a few robots at the nanometer scale, but it's one of the smallest robots whose movement can actually be <em>controlled</em>.,453421Fri, 3 Mar 2017 11:59:09 +1000The woolly mammoth die-off was even sadder than you think You probably already know that woolly mammoths went extinct on the American continent around 10,000 years ago.,453420Fri, 3 Mar 2017 11:59:09 +1000Someone paid $15,000 for this chunk of mold and honestly what a steal&#160; &#160; You probably owe your life to a particular fungus. And someone just paid almost $15,000 for it. At least, they hope they just spent almost $15,000 on that particular fungus. It might not actually be the original.,453419Fri, 3 Mar 2017 11:59:09 +1000Counterfeit drugs are putting the whole world at risk In December 2014, the Democratic Republic of the Congo's Ituri District saw an outbreak of what appeared to be meningitis. By August, more than 1,000 people had been admitted to clinics, and health workers knew there was something else afoot.,453418Fri, 3 Mar 2017 11:59:08 +1000A new opioid could provide pain relief&#8212;without causing addictionOpioids come with a lot of downsides. They are highly addictive, and come with a slew of unwanted side effects like constipation, not to mention life-threatening ones like respiratory distress. But we just can't quit them: Opioids are extremely effective at controlling pain. Unfortunately, there's no way to get the beneficial, pain-relieving effect of opioids without those unwanted side effects, so we take the good with the bad.,453422Fri, 3 Mar 2017 11:59:00 +1000Amazon Echo and the internet of things that spy on youAmazon's Echo is a robot that sits in your house and listens. The virtual personal assistant can be summoned into action by saying its name, Alexa, and will then act on commands, like ordering a dollhouse and cookies when asked to do so by a too-clever kindergartener. And because it works by listening, Alexa is an always-on surveillance device, quietly storing snippets of information. Which has placed a particular Echo unit in an uncomfortable role: possible witness to a murder.,453423Fri, 3 Mar 2017 11:59:00 +1000This bot-maker wants to make a thousand interconnected AIs out of your documentsThe future of bots is sitting in thousands of documents folders, waiting to be born. At least, that's the premise of Albert, a bot and bot-creation tool from NoHold, which released a pro version on Monday. The premise behind Albert is straightforward: upload a document, and then ask the Albert-generated bot to answer questions with information based on that document. Albert is a product of the modern era of chatbots, but Albert's origins are, by tech standards, positively ancient: the key work dates back to a patent filed in 1999.,453199Thu, 2 Mar 2017 10:18:52 +1000The worst thing about electric cars might not be an issue for much longerDoug Hines, CEO of a software company in Decatur, GA, has logged hundreds of miles in his Tesla. In addition to the obvious perks of owning an all-electric car&#8212;little maintenance, no exhaust, and just downright fun to drive&#8202;&#8212;&#8202;there was one he hadn't expected: the unfailing generosity of people willing to offer up their home chargers to a stranger, often for free.,453198Thu, 2 Mar 2017 10:18:51 +1000Let's use humanoid robots to grow transplant organs Scientists are already growing <a href=";src=syn" target="_blank">muscles</a>, <a href=";src=syn" target="_blank">bones</a>, and mini-organs in the lab. But these tissues are generally small, simple, and kinda wimpy. That's partly because a Petri dish is no match for the human body.,453197Thu, 2 Mar 2017 10:18:51 +1000The 2017 earthquake forecast predicts that man-made quakes will continue to shake the countryThe United States Geological Survey (USGS) announced a new earthquake forecast on Wednesday, highlighting areas in the country that can expect to shake in the next year. &#8220;Overall the rates of Earthquakes have declined in the central and eastern U.S. That's the good news, that we've had these declines,&#8221; says Mark Petersen, chief of the USGS National Seismic Hazard Mapping Project. &#8220;But it's a more complicated story because we've had more magnitude 5 earthquakes in Oklahoma than ever before.&#8221;,453196Thu, 2 Mar 2017 10:18:51 +1000Your brain activity might predict which articles you read will go viralEach day we as a species send around 4 billion Facebook messages, 500 million tweets and 200 billion emails out into the world&#8212;and each day, some of the stories and images we share catch like wildfire, seemingly spreading all over the internet in a heartbeat. These "viral" links can end up shaping our understanding of the world. Now researchers think they might understand what drives us to share: our brain activity is pretty good at predicting what articles are going to go viral.,453195Thu, 2 Mar 2017 10:18:49 +1000Colon and rectal cancer seem to be on the rise&#8212;in millennialsColorectal cancer is on the rise in young people. Don't freak out. Let's start with the facts. Colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer in men and women in the U.S. It's called "colorectal" because it covers cancers that arise in the colon (which you know better as your intestines) or your rectum (come on, you know this one). This year about 130,000 - 140,000 people will be diagnosed and about 50,000 people will die from it (though most of them won't be people who were diagnosed this year). Those rates have been dropping steadily since 1975. Back then, for every 100,000 people in the population, about 60 were diagnosed with colorectal cancer (this is called the incidence rate). In 2013 that number was down to 37. And that general trend is still true, regardless of the reported rise in young people.,453036Wed, 1 Mar 2017 10:22:26 +10004 ways to quick-charge your phone during a busy dayAs our phones have become more and more powerful, with bigger and bigger displays, the battery packs inside them have only just managed to keep pace. It's still not uncommon to be looking for a charger at the end of the day, no matter what make or model of phone you've got.,453035Wed, 1 Mar 2017 10:22:26 +1000