Australian Popular Science News news from, 8 Jul 2015 14:21:56 +100010This is What It Looked Like the First Time we Saw MarsFrom the moment NASA introduced its seven Mercury astronauts to the nation at a press conference on April 9, 1959, the manned program dominated more than a decade of the space agency's activities. The astronauts graced magazine covers and became national heroes as the enraptured (and sometimes cynical) public waited to see if Apollo would successfully land on the Moon by the end of the decade. But behind this highly publicized space race was a program to begin visiting our planetary neighbours, Venus and Mars, which gave rise to the Mariner Mars exploration program.,406256Wed, 8 Jul 2015 11:09:10 +1000A New Frontier For StatinsUp until recently, anyone suffering from high cholesterol had a fairly easy option to improve health. All they needed was a prescription for a group of chemicals known as statins. For decades, this was the go-to drug to <a href=";dom=pscau&amp;src=syndication">cost-effectively</a> keep low density lipoprotein (LDL) levels in check and prevent the onset of cardiovascular disease. Although this view has changed somewhat with the <a href=";dom=pscau&amp;src=syndication">FDA</a> providing advice on the potential risks associated with their use, the number of people taking these <a href=";dom=pscau&amp;src=syndication">drugs</a> continues to be high.,406255Wed, 8 Jul 2015 11:09:06 +1000Huge, Alien-Hunting Telescope Could Become Hubble's SuccessorIt's never too early to start planning ahead. Hubble is nearing <a href=";dom=pscau&amp;src=syndication">the end of its lifespan</a>, and the James Webb Space Telescope is just gearing up to take its place in 2018. But what comes after that?,406254Wed, 8 Jul 2015 11:09:03 +1000NASA Is Seriously Considering Terraforming Part of the Moon With RobotsAnnounced yesterday, <a href=";dom=pscau&amp;src=syndication">NASA is moving ahead</a> with funding to study several ambitious space research projects, including one that would transform an inhospitable lunar crater into a habitat for robots &#8212; and eventually, human explorers. Located on the moon's South Pole, Shackleton Crater isn't just prime real estate for terraforming experiments, it's <em>Optimus Prime</em> real estate. NASA wants to fill the crater with solar-powered transformers, and then use the fleet of robots to turn the crater into a miniature hospitable environment.,406241Wed, 8 Jul 2015 11:08:57 +1000Laser Breathalyzer Can Sniff Out DiseaseDogs are pretty good at sniffing out cancer, but now researchers have developed an &#8220;optical dog's nose&#8221; that uses lasers to detect a range of diseases by analyzing the molecules in ones breath.,406240Wed, 8 Jul 2015 11:08:53 +1000Why Did A Drone In San Francisco Drop Burgers On The Homeless?In 20 years time we will look back on the gimmick drone video as a strange artifact of the 2010s. Sometimes a marketing concept, sometimes just a joke, the gimmick drones all share in common a simple unmanned flying machine and the idea that that is enough for a technological revolution. The Whopper Dropper from 2014, recently rediscovered by <a href=";dom=pscau&amp;src=syndication"><em>The Independent</em></a>, is one such artifact: A multi-copter with a claw that drops burgers to the homeless.,406239Wed, 8 Jul 2015 11:08:49 +1000For The First Time, Waves Are Adding Power To The US GridThe waves of Hawaii are a big draw for tourists and surfers, but now they're also a source of electricity. For the <a href=";dom=pscau&amp;src=syndication">first time</a> in the United States, energy collected from waves is being turned into electricity that is heading onto the grid, and powering homes in Hawaii.,406238Wed, 8 Jul 2015 11:08:42 +1000Genetically Modified Mosquitos Massively Reduce Dengue Fever RiskDengue fever is so excruciating that it is often called the &#8220;bone breaker,&#8221; causing severe pain in the joints and abdomen, vomiting, and circulatory system failure. It's nearly impossible to treat, so the only way to cut down on incidences of the disease is to decrease the number of mosquitoes that carry it. One startling effective way to do that: genetically modifying mosquitos so their offspring won't survive. A year-long trial with genetically modified mosquitoes in northeast Brazil has been the most successful yet, reducing the population of the disease-carrying insects by 95 percent, according to <a href="">a study</a> published last week in <em>PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases</em>.,406183Tue, 7 Jul 2015 10:51:00 +1000Making All Cars Driverless Would Reduce Emissions By 90 PercentWith large tech companies like Google and Uber circling driverless cars, the conversation has mostly been one of &#8220;how soon can we do this?&#8221; and not &#8220;should we?&#8221; Of course, autonomous cars would be cool, but what are the advantages besides the obvious luxury of not needing an error-prone, human hand behind the wheel?,406179Tue, 7 Jul 2015 10:36:35 +1000Smart Mouthguard Tells Your Dentist If You're Grinding Your TeethIf you've ever woken up with a weird headache and pain in your jaw during a particularly stressful time, it might be because you were grinding your teeth, a condition called bruxism. Don't worry, though, you're not alone&#8212;one in five of us does it. Now a team of researchers from the University of Florida has created an easier way to diagnose bruxism using a smart mouthguard.,406178Tue, 7 Jul 2015 10:36:32 +1000Minecraft: Story Mode Is The Campaign Everyone's Been Waiting ForIf you get bored building the <a href=";dom=pscau&amp;src=syndication">entirety of Westeros</a> or the limited story options in Minecraft, your prayers have been answered. Minecraft, the game defined by its thriving 70,000,000+ community of builders, is adding a separate Story Mode game, where players will be able to navigate a traditional storyline developed by Telltale Games.,406177Tue, 7 Jul 2015 10:36:28 +1000DeepDream Twitter Bot Spews Trippy PhotosTransport yourself to a magical land of slug people, dog monsters, and other psychedelic scenes as you scroll though the <a href=";dom=pscau&amp;src=syndication">Deepdream bot</a> Twitter feed. Be forewarned, a significant portion of your day may be lost.,406176Tue, 7 Jul 2015 10:36:24 +1000Japan Says Yes To Giant Robot Duel With AmericaLast week, American giant robot makers Megabot challenged Japanese giant robot makers Suidobashi Heavy Industry to a giant robot battle. The video, subtitled in Japanese and filled with waving American flags, coincidentally happened to come out right before a striking Women's World Cup <a href=";dom=pscau&amp;src=syndication">championship match</a> where the U.S. handily beat the Japanese national team. Yesterday, Suidobashi Heavy Industries posted their response:,406175Tue, 7 Jul 2015 10:36:21 +1000You Can Now Crowdsource Your Medical Diagnoses, But Should You?In 2003, Carly Heyman fell ill with some bizarre symptoms. She was depressed, gained 50 pounds, would sleep all day but would wake up with a start from horrible nightmares and suicidal thoughts. Her parents took her to doctor after doctor, who would only treat the symptoms but couldn't identify the cause of her illness. After several years of this, a doctor finally diagnosed her with the rare genetic disorder Fragile X syndrome&#8212;all it took was a simple hormone patch to alleviate her symptoms.,406174Tue, 7 Jul 2015 10:36:18 +1000London's Red Double Decker Buses Are Going GreenIn terms of iconic city sights, London's double-decker bus is right up there with Paris' Eiffel Tower. And with the Eiffel Tower adding wind turbines earlier this year, it's no surprise that London is also going green, but not with envy. Or paint either.,406173Tue, 7 Jul 2015 10:36:15 +1000NASA Is Testing A Drone For MarsWhen it comes to exploring Mars, human-made robots have, literally and figuratively, only scratched the surface. To date, rovers on Mars have driven <a href=";dom=pscau&amp;src=syndication">less than 65 km</a> on the Red Planet. The surface of Mars is almost 145 million square km, and while satellites orbiting the planet like the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter have helped, there is still a lot of ground left to cover up close. One faster way to do that is a plane, and NASA has a concept for a Martian flyer that might work.,406172Tue, 7 Jul 2015 10:36:11 +1000This Could Be The Combustion Engine That Works On VenusIn the depths of space, when even starlight can't be relied on, spacecraft need some form of long-lasting, chemical energy to endure potential decades without recharging.,406171Tue, 7 Jul 2015 10:36:06 +1000The Month In Plagues: A Future Without Antibiotics, A Chlamydia Mystery Solved, And MoreA MERS outbreak in South Korea has <a href=";dom=pscau&amp;src=syndication">infected 181 people and killed 33</a>. For an overview on the virus, check out this <a href=";dom=pscau&amp;src=syndication">National Geographic piece</a>, and to understand why it may have spread so quickly, <a href=";utm_campaign=science&amp;utm_medium=RSS&amp;utm_campaign=science">here's an explanation</a> from NPR's Goats and Soda.,405983Wed, 1 Jul 2015 12:05:39 +1000Microbes in the Weight RoomIn addition to water bottles, disinfectant spray bottles have become commonplace in many athletic facilities. The routine is simple to adopt; after you've used a piece of equipment, simply spray down the surfaces you've touched and give it a wipe.,405982Wed, 1 Jul 2015 12:05:34 +1000This is Why the Titan Rocket's Launch with a "Bwoop!"The Saturn V launches are the probably the most iconic launches of the Apollo era, a 363-foot rocket riding on a pillar of flames. But the Gemini launches were, in many ways, far more beautiful. The sleek Titan II missile launched the streamlined spacecraft into orbit on a clear flame. It also made a &#8220;bwooping&#8221; sound at the moment just before liftoff, a uniquely strange sound.,405981Wed, 1 Jul 2015 12:05:32 +1000Air Force Sent Self-Destruct Command To Broken SpaceX RocketAfter the explosion of SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket on Sunday, the hunt is on to find out what went wrong. Although the company says it still isn't sure what the hell happened, the Air Force has just announced that its safety officers sent the command for the rocket to destroy itself--but that was long after it was already breaking apart from a malfunction, <a href=";dom=pscau&amp;src=syndication"><em>USA Today</em></a> reports.,405980Wed, 1 Jul 2015 12:05:29 +1000You Get One Whole Extra Leap Second Today--Here's WhyYes, there will be an extra second in the day, added in at midnight Coordinated Universal Time (UTC). Not that you noticed. It is just a second after all.,405979Wed, 1 Jul 2015 12:05:25 +1000Machines Sniff Out Illegal Specimens Of WoodIllegally traded specimens of endangered species present a huge problem to investigators and customs officials all over the world. But in some cases, the illegal trade isn't ivory or endangered animals: it's bits of wood.,405978Wed, 1 Jul 2015 12:05:22 +1000Fireworks Bring Exhilaration, Joy, And PollutionIn the US, this weekend is the Fourth of July, a time for family, and hot dogs and, of course, fireworks. You know, those things we banned in Australia (except for Canberra and the NT) because they're too dangerous.,405977Wed, 1 Jul 2015 12:05:19 +1000Facebook CEO Says Telepathy Is Coming After Virtual RealityDuring his <a href=";dom=pscau&amp;src=syndication">townhall Q&amp;A session</a> on his Facebook page today, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg shared his idea of what a technologically integrated future looks like: and it's a lot like an episode of Charlie Brooker's <em>Black Mirror</em>.,405976Wed, 1 Jul 2015 12:05:15 +1000This Insanely Hard, Self-Driving Robot Race Takes Place In A Parking LotThe challenge of <a href=";dom=pscau&amp;src=syndication">the Autonomous Vehicle Competition</a>, hosted by hobbyist electronics vendor SparkFun at its Boulder, Colorado, headquarters, seems simple enough: Build a robot that can navigate itself around the company's parking lot. Though the AVC course is dotted with small obstacles, it's really just one lap &#8212; a distance of less than 900 feet. But for the majority of competitors, it feels more like the path into Mordor.,405907Tue, 30 Jun 2015 09:52:30 +1000AMC's 'Humans' Is Closer To Reality Than You ThinkAMC's latest Sci-Fi show <em><a href=";dom=pscau&amp;src=syndication">Humans</a></em> takes us into another world. A world, that....actually, looks incredibly familiar. The streets, the cars, the landscape, the computers, all seem pretty close to our world today. Except for, you know, the eerily humanoid robots that are there to serve humanity's every whim.,405906Tue, 30 Jun 2015 09:52:24 +1000'Hunger Games' Actress Angel Giuffria Talks Life As A Cyborg <em>Hunger Games</em> actress and self-proclaimed &#8220;cyborg,&#8221; Angel Giuffria, just upgraded to one of the most advanced prosthetic arms on the market.,405905Tue, 30 Jun 2015 09:52:16 +1000Solar Plane Passes Point Of No Return Over The PacificThe <em>Solar Impulse 2</em> is finally on its way from Japan to Hawaii. The third time seems to be the charm for this solar plane, after its first two attempts to make this perilous flight were called off due to bad weather. Now, with the pilot nearly finished with his first day of flying over the Pacific, there's no choice but to continue to Hawaii.,405904Tue, 30 Jun 2015 09:52:13 +1000Artificial Neurons Could Replace Some Real Ones In Your BrainThe neurons in your brain are exquisitely designed to transmit signals&#8212;as many as <a href=";dom=pscau&amp;src=syndication">1 trillion bits per second</a>, according to some estimates. The cells use chemical neurotransmitters to pass the signal from one to the next. To treat neurological disorders, scientists have only been able to hack this signal with electric stimulation or imprecise chemical changes from medications. Now a team of Swedish researchers has developed a synthetic neuron that is able to communicate chemically with organic neurons, which could change the neural pathways and better treat neurological disorders, according to <a href=";dom=pscau&amp;src=syndication">a study</a> published in the journal <em>Biosensors and Bioelectronics.</em>,405903Tue, 30 Jun 2015 09:52:10 +1000Release Your Inner ClimatologistClimatology is a fiendishly difficult field of study. There are so many factors to consider, and in many cases, we don't have a lot of historical data to help us refine and improve our models. Complicating matters further is the question of climate change. If we don't have a solid grasp on how certain events used to happen, how can we have a clear understanding how of they will work in the future?,405902Tue, 30 Jun 2015 09:52:06 +1000Oslo Builds Bee Highway To Save Precious PollinatorsToday, we're talking bees. Yep. Those bees. Sure, some people might have had a bad encounter or two with the wrong end of a bee's stinger, and might be on guard around the little insects. For the most part though, bees get a bad rap. In addition to creating delicious honey, they also help pollinate crops. Without their help we wouldn't have food.,405901Tue, 30 Jun 2015 09:52:02 +1000Watch This Strange Multicopter Carry A GuyThere are some strange relatives in the helicopter family. Small quadrotor drones are the most popular recent addition, but there have been human-carrying cousins for decades. These <a href=";dom=pscau&amp;src=syndication">aborted hoverbikes</a> took the unusual step of putting an exposed pilot safely above the craft's spinning blades. Not content with those flying human blenders, some human-carrying multicopters aim to sit the pilot almost <a href=";dom=pscau&amp;src=syndication">level with the rotors</a>. Check out this project man-carrying multi-copter from Quadro UAS:,405900Tue, 30 Jun 2015 09:51:55 +1000Researchers Slow MERS In Mice <a href=";dom=pscau&amp;src=syndication">Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS)</a> is on the rise. Since it was first discovered in 2012 in Saudi Arabia, it has infected over 1,000 people, killing <a href=";dom=pscau&amp;src=syndication">more than 30</a> in the most recent outbreak in South Korea. Since the disease is so new, researchers still have a lot of questions about how it works and there are no specific vaccines or treatments for it, in part because the animal models that researchers often use to answer some of the preliminary questions don't work for this particular disease. Now researchers have found a workaround, according to <a href=";dom=pscau&amp;src=syndication">a study</a> published today in PNAS, which will hopefully help them find better treatments for <em>MERS</em> more quickly.,405899Tue, 30 Jun 2015 09:51:51 +1000Lawmakers Move to Ban Funding For Human Embryo EditingOn June 17, the House of Representatives Appropriations Committee <a href=";DocumentID=394279">released a bill</a> that outlines the funding for the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for 2016. But the bill has an unusual caveat: if it passes as it currently stands, it would bar the agency from spending any money to assess research or clinical applications for products that manipulate the human genome. It would also require the agency to set up a committee to review a forthcoming report that considers the ethics of editing human embryos.,405898Tue, 30 Jun 2015 09:51:48 +1000We Wish This Luxury Airship Was RealLuxury airships are confined to the dust-bin of history--beautiful, slow-moving machines best remembered for a fiery crash. We are now more than ever in an age of airship revival. Google bought a pair of old <a href=";dom=pscau&amp;src=syndication">Navy airship hangars</a>. An abandoned army dirigible found a second life in the United Kingdom, attracting public funders <a href=";dom=pscau&amp;src=syndication">this past May</a> in the hope that it will work as a powerful cargo hauler. Modern airship designs promise powerful carrying ability and efficiency, but they could also promise us something rare and lost: unimaginable luxury, through tours among the clouds. Here's one such vision for an airship as premium sky cruise vessel.,405897Tue, 30 Jun 2015 09:51:45 +1000Soon, Your Phone Could Warn You If You're Approaching Railroad TracksLast year in the United States, 270 people died in collisions between cars and trains. Today, the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) announced a measure that they hope will lower that number of fatalities in the future. The only catch? They need Google's help to make it happen.,405896Tue, 30 Jun 2015 09:51:42 +1000The War Over Your Future Driverless Car Service Has BegunEven though Google's driverless car <a href=";dom=pscau&amp;src=syndication">only hit public roads last week</a> (and reportedly <a href=";dom=pscau&amp;src=syndication">already had a close call</a>), another tech giant is already angling to pose as a competitor. Uber, the often-sued not-a-taxi app, just acquired 100 engineers and unknown &#8220;assets&#8221; from Microsoft Bing, Google's mapping competitor, <a href=";dom=pscau&amp;src=syndication#.sstmug:C1ma">according to <em>TechCrunch</em></a>.,405895Tue, 30 Jun 2015 09:51:38 +1000Illinois Drone Task Force Is Made Up Mostly Of CopsWhen it comes to drone law, some opinions are more equal than others. A bill sitting on the Illinois Governor's desk would create an &#8220;Unmanned Aerial System Oversight Task Force&#8221;, with 22 set-aside seats for representatives from different groups who might reasonably have opinions on drone use. So long as the public is included, it's a good idea, but there's something strange about the list: it completely omits any group concerned with civil liberties, and it also leaves out the media.,405894Tue, 30 Jun 2015 09:51:33 +1000These Mini Robots Could Form An Injection Gun In Your BloodstreamWe've seen robots designed to move inside bodies before. Carefully shaped magnetic objects, these <a href=";dom=pscau&amp;src=syndication">miniature robots</a> are moved by external magnetic forces, like those found in MRI machines. Last month, researchers from Boston Children's Hospital and the University of Houston demonstrated a system of small magnetic "millirobots" designed not only to swim through a person's bloodstream and spinal fluid, but assemble into an electromagnetic gun once inside.,405831Sat, 27 Jun 2015 13:03:47 +1000Fibre Optic Fix Will Make Connecting The World Easier And Cheaper Metal wires are so old school. Nowadays, most of our information (whether on the Internet, TV, or phone) is communicated over fiber optic cables, long strands of material that can transmit information as light over distances. And with a new discovery, fiber optic cables could become cheaper, more efficient, and could literally cover more ground.,405830Sat, 27 Jun 2015 13:03:45 +1000Superfast Lasers Create A Hologram You Can TouchThe halls of science fiction are well-decorated with dreams of holograms&#8212;Jules Verne introduced holography to literature in 1893 with <a href=";dom=pscau&amp;src=syndication"><em>The Castle of the Carpathians</em></a>, and how else would we know that <a href=";v=xIFJLMyUwrg">Obi-Wan was Leia's only hope</a>?,405829Sat, 27 Jun 2015 13:03:42 +1000Police Will Throw This Camera Ball Into Rooms&#8220;Camera in the hole!" police officers soon shout, as they toss the new Explorer camera orb into a dangerous room before entering. Made by MIT alumnus at Bounce Imaging, the Explorer is a small, grenade-sized sphere full of cameras that first responders can throw into a space ahead of them, and when remotely activated, it assembles a panoramic image of what's inside said space. Now, there are plans to get 100 Explorers into police departments. See them in action below:,405828Sat, 27 Jun 2015 13:03:39 +1000Next Week, Watch Venus And Jupiter High-Five In The Night SkyThe two brightest stars in the sky aren't actually stars. They're the planets Venus and Jupiter, and next week, they'll be snuggled up next to each other in the evening sky. The configuration, called a conjunction, isn't all that rare, but it does look cool.,405827Sat, 27 Jun 2015 13:03:33 +1000The Race Is On To Surround The Earth With Satellites That See Almost EverythingJust last year, three startups <a href=";dom=pscau&amp;src=syndication">threw down the gauntlet</a> in the race to dethrone Google Earth as the king of satellite imaging. In recent weeks, another startup entered the fray, offering more satellites in its toolbox than any competitor which preceded it.,405826Sat, 27 Jun 2015 13:03:30 +1000This Bricklaying Robot Can Build A House In Two DaysAn engineer in Perth wants to mechanize one of humanity's oldest jobs. His robot is named &#8220;Hadrian,&#8221; after the Roman Emperor who built a wall in Northern Britain, and it can lay <a href=";dom=pscau&amp;src=syndication">1,000 bricks an hour</a>. With a building plan programmed in, it calculates the location of each brick, then uses its 28-foot-long arm to them in place and secures them with mortar.,405825Sat, 27 Jun 2015 13:03:25 +1000These Students Built A Working Hyperloop (A Very Tiny One)Elon Musk's Hyperloop is an idea as ambitious as it is fantastical. A train that travels at 760 mph through a pressurized tube is a hard sell, even with it <a href=";dom=pscau&amp;src=syndication">gracing the latest cover of *Popular Science</a> magazine. So it's pretty cool to see a real, working version &#8212; albeit in miniature. Engineering students at the University of Illinois recently made their very own, tiny Hyperloop model (1:24 scale) as part of a senior design project, <a href=";dom=pscau&amp;src=syndication"><em>Motherboard</em></a> reports.,405824Sat, 27 Jun 2015 13:03:22 +1000A New Cold War In The Void Of SpaceBy treaty, outer space is a weapons-free zone. In the future that might not be the case. America's defense establishment, including the Department of Defense as well as intelligence agencies, are building a center to plan for war in space.,405793Fri, 26 Jun 2015 11:24:36 +1000DNA Evidence Is Not FoolproofSince it made its courtroom debut in the mid-1980s, DNA evidence has been <a href=";dom=pscau&amp;src=syndication">integral</a> to thousands of cases (including, famously, the <a href=";dom=pscau&amp;src=syndication#page=1">OJ Simpson murder trial</a>). Juries and lawyers alike generally consider DNA evidence to be extremely reliable&#8212;a <a href=";dom=pscau&amp;src=syndication">2005 Gallup poll</a> found that 58 percent of people considered it to be &#8220;very reliable.&#8221; But in reality, DNA evidence is much less reliable and objective than most people think. A <a href=";dom=pscau&amp;src=syndication">story published yesterday</a> by <em>Frontline</em> maps out just how DNA evidence works and how it can lead juries astray.,405792Fri, 26 Jun 2015 11:24:32 +1000The Wireless Charging Future Is Getting Closer To RealityImagine a world where we don't have to plug anything in. Your phone, laptop, tablet and headphones are constantly being topped-up whenever they're placed on an inductive surface, so that when you take them out with you into the wider world, your devices are always brimming with battery. Step-by-step, it's what we might be moving toward, if the industry lobbying group The Wireless Power Consortium gets its way. The group's long-in-development wireless charging technology, Qi, is now getting a considerable power boost, which means it will be able to charge more smartphones faster, as well as tablets, which were previously too power hungry for it. While this a big step forward for Qi, and may lead to wider adoption for the fledgling charging standard, there are other barriers still standing in the way on the road to a wireless power utopia.,405791Fri, 26 Jun 2015 11:24:28 +1000