Monday, 31 December 2018

When Too Cute Is Too Much, The Brain Can Get Aggressive

When Too Cute Is Too Much, The Brain Can Get Aggressive

Adorable babies and cute puppies can make us happy. But researchers say their cuteness can be so overwhelming that it unleashes some ugly thoughts.

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This Uxbridge farmer is ditching diesel for a solar-powered tractor

This Uxbridge farmer is ditching diesel for a solar-powered tractor

“It’s not just a dream that one day you’ll be able to farm without fossil fuels. It’s real. It’s here,” says Tony Neale.

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Two Qubits Could Be Better Than One In Quantum Computing

Two Qubits Could Be Better Than One In Quantum Computing

Scientists have combined two types of qubit on a single device, potentially overcoming some of the barriers to practical quantum computing. Quantum computing has been on the horizon for a number of years, but there’s more than one problem in making the idea scalable and practical. While the resulting machine could handle maths problems far larger than the greatest modern supercomputer, right now, researchers are struggling to produce a machine that can come up with any coherent answers at all.

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Excitement ahead of distant Nasa flyby

Excitement ahead of distant Nasa flyby

History will be made on Tuesday when Nasa's New Horizons probe sweeps past the icy world known as Ultima Thule. Occurring some 6.5 billion km (4 billion miles) from Earth, the flyby will set a new record for the most distant ever exploration of a Solar System object by a spacecraft. New Horizons will gather a swathe of images and other data over the course of just a few hours leading up to and beyond the closest approach.

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Sunday, 30 December 2018

Improved Alzheimer's Mouse Model Paves the Way to Precision Medicine

Improved Alzheimer's Mouse Model Paves the Way to Precision Medicine

Many transgenic mouse models exist that mimic a range of Alzheimer’s disease (AD)—related pathologies. They play a key role in both basic research and preclinical testing of potential therapeutics for AD. Although they have contributed greatly to the pathophysiology of ╬▓-amyloid toxicity, none fully replicates the human disease.

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Power Plant Accident Casts New Light On New York’s Dirty Fuel Addiction

Power Plant Accident Casts New Light On New York’s Dirty Fuel Addiction

The electrical accident that illuminated the New York City skyline late Thursday night came from a substation next to one of the state’s dirtiest plants, casting new light on the city’s dependence on antiquated oil-burning power stations and bolstering calls for cleaner electricity. This densely populated area of northwestern Queens provides nearly half the city’s electricity from aging plants that burn No. 6 fuel oil, a thick, viscous oil blend considered one of the most polluting energy sources in the world.

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Russian Researcher Successfully Prints Living Tissue While In Space

Russian Researcher Successfully Prints Living Tissue While In Space

3D printing has been used in the medical industry before, where we have seen the tech used to 3D print cartilage and skull implants. Now it seems that Russian researcher Oleg Kononenko has successfully managed to 3D print living tissue, but here’s the kicker: not only is Kononenko a researcher, but he is a cosmonaut as well, and this 3D printing was actually done in space.

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Chinese scientist who allegedly created the first genetically engineered babies is being detained

Chinese scientist who allegedly created the first genetically engineered babies is being detained

The Chinese scientist who shocked the world with claims of creating the first genetically engineered babies is being detained in the Chinese city of Shenzhen, according to a report in The New York Times. 

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What made solar panels so cheap? Thank government policy.

What made solar panels so cheap? Thank government policy.

From an economic perspective, the core challenge of climate change is that the standard way of doing things — the dirty, carbon-intensive way — is typically cheaper than newer, lower-carbon alternatives. Solving the problem means driving down the cost of those alternatives. Simple, right? But in practice, it’s not so simple. In fact, we still don’t have a very good grasp on exactly what drives technological innovation and improvement. Is it basic scientific research? Early-stage R&D? Learning by doing? Economies of scale?

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Bees can count with just four nerve cells in their brains

Bees can count with just four nerve cells in their brains

Bees can solve seemingly clever counting tasks with very small numbers of nerve cells in their brains, according to researchers at Queen Mary University of London.

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Saturday, 29 December 2018

Norway's EV Incentives Have Worked. Now What?

Norway's EV Incentives Have Worked. Now What?

No other country on Earth has bet as big on electric vehicles as Norway, and it’s finally paying off. Half of all new cars sold to Norwegians are either fully electric or hybrid, making the country of 5.3 million the biggest per-capita market for EVs. Norway’s EV success is owed to both the carrot and the stick.

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Russia’s New Hypersonic Missile Travels Nearly Two Miles a Second

Russia’s New Hypersonic Missile Travels Nearly Two Miles a Second

“Zircon” would likely be unstoppable by today’s cutting edge air defenses.

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Aliens under the Ice – Life on Rogue Planets

Aliens under the Ice – Life on Rogue Planets

Out in the vast coldness of outer space, there are planets that travel alone through darkness without the boundaries of a system. Here’s how this can happen – and why these frozen deserts might secretly harbor alien life.

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Drones Used to Find Toy-Like "Butterfly" Land Mines

Drones Used to Find Toy-Like "Butterfly" Land Mines

Quadcopters with thermal imagery cameras can help detect vicious mini-mines that often kill or maim children

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It was a big year in space. Here are the top 11 stories of 2018

It was a big year in space. Here are the top 11 stories of 2018

Space fans had plenty to celebrate in 2018, including the launch of three new NASA missions and the debut of SpaceX’s giant Falcon Heavy rocket. In case you missed any of the action, here are 11 space stories that were particularly noteworthy.

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Friday, 28 December 2018

Rings make Saturn shadier, bluer and less hazy in winter

Rings make Saturn shadier, bluer and less hazy in winter

On Saturn, changing seasons can mean changes in the haziness—and color—of the skies. In the 13 years the Cassini spacecraft orbited Saturn, from 2004 to 2017, scientists noticed the atmosphere in the planet's northern hemisphere turned from blue-tinted to gold or even salmon. The stark color shift came from changes in the amount of sunlight-triggered haze in Saturn's atmosphere, according to new research.

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The Skylab 4 mutiny, 1973

The Skylab 4 mutiny, 1973

A brief account of the 24-hour mutiny during the Skylab 4 mission in 1973/4 triggered by the astronauts' complaints of excessive workloads.

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7 New Slang Words Added to the Dictionary in 2018

7 New Slang Words Added to the Dictionary in 2018

Each year, dictionaries like Merriam-Webster add a few new words to their lexical listings.

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If Andromeda Were Brighter, This is What You'd See

If Andromeda Were Brighter, This is What You'd See

Andromeda is the closest large galaxy to us. At 140,000 light years across, it’s 40% bigger than our 100,000 light year diameter Milky Way. Andromeda is 2.5 million light years away from us, or about 25 Milky Way diameters. Light takes 2.5 million years to pass between the two galaxies, so if a fancy Andromeda alien is viewing us with a telescope right now, it’s seeing a bunch of Australopithecus walking around being unappealing.

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Earth Has a Hidden Plastic Problem—Scientists Are Hunting It Down

Earth Has a Hidden Plastic Problem—Scientists Are Hunting It Down

During a research cruise to the Sargasso Sea in fall 1971 marine biologist Ed Carpenter first noticed peculiar, white specks floating amidst the mats of brown sargassum seaweed. After some investigating he discovered they were tiny bits of plastic. He was stunned. If thousands of the broken down particles were showing up in in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, 550 miles from any mainland, he says, “I figured it’s all over the place.”

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Thursday, 27 December 2018

Growing up poor has a lasting impact on brain development, study shows

Growing up poor has a lasting impact on brain development, study shows

Growing up in a less well-off family may negatively impact the brain, according to research showing how socioeconomic status can have a lasting impact on a person’s development. US researchers found brain regions responsible for learning, language and emotional development tended to be more complex in people whose parents were educated to a higher level or who worked in professional rather than manual jobs.

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Collecting clean water from air, inspired by desert life

Collecting clean water from air, inspired by desert life

Humans can get by in the most basic of shelters, can scratch together a meal from the most humble of ingredients. But we can’t survive without clean water. And in places where water is scarce—the world’s deserts, for example—getting water to people requires feats of engineering and irrigation that can be cumbersome and expensive.

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Australian researchers develop 10-minute cancer test

Australian researchers develop 10-minute cancer test

Researchers in Australia have developed a 10-minute test that can detect the presence of cancer cells anywhere in the human body, according to a newly published study. The test was developed after researchers from the University of Queensland found that cancer forms a unique DNA structure when placed in water. The test works by identifying the presence of that structure, a discovery that could help detect cancer in humans far earlier than current methods, according to the paper published in journal Nature Communications.

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David vs. Goliath: What a tiny electron can tell us about the structure of the universe

David vs. Goliath: What a tiny electron can tell us about the structure of the universe

What is the shape of an electron? If you recall pictures from your high school science books, the answer seems quite clear: an electron is a small ball of negative charge that is smaller than an atom. This, however, is quite far from the truth.

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Connected cars accelerate down data-collection highway

Connected cars accelerate down data-collection highway

That holiday trip over the river and through the woods to grandmother’s house could turn into nice little gift for automakers as they increasingly collect oodles and oodles of data about the driver. Automakers are collecting valuable pieces of information thanks to the internet connections, cameras and sensors built into most vehicles in recent years. The online access makes it possible for cars to be unlocked remotely if the keys are lost.

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Wednesday, 26 December 2018

Air Pollution May Be Making Us Less Intelligent

Air Pollution May Be Making Us Less Intelligent

Air pollution is bad for our heart and lung health – and a new study says it may be bad for brain health, too.

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NASA to return to moon with Gateway space station by 2024

NASA to return to moon with Gateway space station by 2024

NASA is buzzing with excitement these days about its ambitious new mission to return to the moon — this time to stay. The agency set an aggressive timetable to have the Gateway space station orbiting the moon by 2024, then begin ferrying astronauts from the station to the lunar surface sometime after 2026.

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Incoming! A June meteor swarm could be loaded with surprises.

Incoming! A June meteor swarm could be loaded with surprises.

Scientists studying the Tunguska impact of 1908 call for a special observing campaign next summer.

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The New Horizons spacecraft is about to explore the farthest object ever: Ultima Thule

The New Horizons spacecraft is about to explore the farthest object ever: Ultima Thule

New Horizons will fly by a rock a billion miles past Pluto on New Year’s Day.

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Why Exaggeration Jokes Work

Why Exaggeration Jokes Work

Everything is formed by habit. The crow’s feet that come from squinting or laughter, the crease in a treasured and oft-opened letter, the ruts worn in a path frequently traveled—all are created by repeatedly performing the same action. Even neurons are formed by habit. When continuously exposed to a fixed stimulus, neurons become steadily less sensitive to that stimulus—until they eventually stop responding to it altogether.

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A Nobel Prize-winning psychologist says most people don’t really want to be happy

A Nobel Prize-winning psychologist says most people don’t really want to be happy

We think we want to be happy. Yet many of us are actually working toward some other end, according to cognitive psychologist Daniel Kahneman, winner of the 2002 Nobel Prize in economics. Kahneman contends that happiness and satisfaction are distinct. Happiness is a momentary experience that arises spontaneously and is fleeting. Meanwhile, satisfaction is a long-term feeling, built over time and based on achieving goals and building the kind of life you admire.

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Tuesday, 25 December 2018

Elon Musk Teases New Details About SpaceX's Redesigned Next-Generation Launch System

Elon Musk Teases New Details About SpaceX's Redesigned Next-Generation Launch System

SpaceX Chief Executive Elon Musk says a redesigned test vehicle for the company's next-generation reusable launch system could be ready for initial flights early next year. In a tweet early Dec. 24, Musk posted a photo of two parts of that initial test article, a conical section next to a cylindrical unit with landing legs. "Stainless Steel Starship," he wrote.

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Guitarist Has Brain Surgery, and Strums All the Way Through

Guitarist Has Brain Surgery, and Strums All the Way Through

Musa Manzini, a jazz bassist, was awake and playing slowly as surgeons performed an “awake craniotomy,” which allowed them to remove a brain tumor without causing damage.

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Life and Death of a Planetary System

Life and Death of a Planetary System

How did we get here? How do stars and planets come into being? What happens during a star's life, and what fate will its planets meet when it dies? Come along on this interstellar journey through time and scientific detective work.

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NASA Data Breach Highlights Agency Cybersecurity Problems

NASA Data Breach Highlights Agency Cybersecurity Problems

A cyberattack that may have compromised information about current and former NASA employees is only the latest sign of ongoing information security problems that have plagued the agency for years. In a Dec. 18 memo to NASA employees, Bob Gibbs, assistant administrator for the office of human capital management, said that the agency was investigating a "possible compromise" of NASA servers first detected in October.

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If we want to solve the world's problems, we first need to abolish all borders

If we want to solve the world's problems, we first need to abolish all borders

“Nations will revert to their natural tendency of hiding behind their borders, of moving towards protectionism, of listening to vested interests, and they’ll forget about transcending those national priorities,” said Christine Lagarde, the managing director of the International Monetary Fund back in 2013.

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Earthrise: how the iconic image changed the world

Earthrise: how the iconic image changed the world

No one told them to look for the Earth. It was Christmas Eve 1968 and the first manned mission to the moon had reached its destination. As Apollo 8 slipped into lunar orbit the crew prepared to read passages of Genesis for a TV broadcast to the world. But as the command module came around on its fourth lap, there it was visible through the window – a bright blue and white bauble suspended in the black above the relentless grey of the moon.

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Astronaut: Human mission to Mars 'stupid'

Astronaut: Human mission to Mars 'stupid'

One of the first men to orbit the Moon has told BBC Radio 5 Live that it's "stupid" to plan human missions to Mars. Bill Anders, lunar module pilot of Apollo 8, the first human spaceflight to leave Earth's orbit, said sending crews to Mars was "almost ridiculous". Nasa is currently planning new human missions to the Moon.

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Monday, 24 December 2018

Earthrise, a photo that changed the world

Earthrise, a photo that changed the world

Fifty years ago people saw our planet from the outside for the first time.

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'Climate grief': The growing emotional toll of climate change

'Climate grief': The growing emotional toll of climate change

When the U.N. released its latest climate report in October, it warned that without “unprecedented” action, catastrophic conditions could arrive by 2040. For Amy Jordan, 40, of Salt Lake City, a mother of three teenage children, the report caused a “crisis.” “The emotional reaction of my kids was severe,” she told NBC News. “There was a lot of crying. They told me, 'We know what’s coming, and it’s going to be really rough.’ “

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Why is Pollution from U.S. Manufacturing Declining?

Why is Pollution from U.S. Manufacturing Declining?

In the 1960s, there were worries that U.S. economic growth would lead to increasingly dangerous levels of pollution, and that by the year 2000, air pollution would make cities like Los Angeles and New York uninhabitable. Instead, U.S. air quality has improved dramatically since then. Between 1990 and 2008, emissions of the most common air pollutants from U.S. manufacturing fell by about two-thirds, even as real output from U.S. manufacturing grew substantially (see Figure 1).

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Sunday, 23 December 2018

Mapping the brain, cell by cell

Mapping the brain, cell by cell

MIT chemical engineers and neuroscientists have devised a new way to preserve biological tissue, allowing them to visualize proteins, DNA, and other molecules within cells, and to map the connections between neurons. The researchers showed that they could use this method, known as SHIELD, to trace the connections between neurons in a part of the brain that helps control movement and other neurons throughout the brain.

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Scientists Find Red Wolf DNA in a Unique Group of Wild Dogs in Texas

Scientists Find Red Wolf DNA in a Unique Group of Wild Dogs in Texas

One of America’s native wild canines, the red wolf, has teetered on the brink of extinction for decades. And despite the efforts of a captive breeding program started in the 1970s, only about 40 such wolves are known to be still living in the wild today, all in North Carolina. But researchers at Princeton University have made a strange discovery that might spell good news for the future of the species: A population of wild dogs, isolated off the coast of Texas, that seem to carry red wolf genes, including remnants of DNA thought to be lost forever.

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The Brain's Autopilot Mechanism Steers Consciousness

The Brain's Autopilot Mechanism Steers Consciousness

Freud’s notion of a dark, libidinous unconscious is obsolete. A new theory holds that the brain produces a continuous stream of unconscious predictions

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Gut Microbes Could Soon Diagnose and Explain The Cause of IBS and IBD

Gut Microbes Could Soon Diagnose and Explain The Cause of IBS and IBD

Researchers studied poop samples from 1,800 people and might finally have some answers as how to diagnose IBS and IBD and explain what causes them.

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President Trump has signed a $1.2 billon law to boost US quantum tech

President Trump has signed a $1.2 billon law to boost US quantum tech

The new National Quantum Initiative Act will give America a national masterplan for advancing quantum technologies. The news: The US president just signed into law a bill that commits the government to providing $1.2 billion to fund activities promoting quantum information science over an initial five-year period. The new law, which was signed just as a partial US government shutdown began, will provide a significant boost to research, and to efforts to develop a future quantum workforce in the country.

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NASA: Holiday asteroid looks like a hippopotamus

NASA: Holiday asteroid looks like a hippopotamus

Asteroids aren't always the most elegant-looking objects in the cosmos. New NASA radar images of asteroid 2003 SD220 show a rock that resembles a space slug, or that creepy Ceti eel ear-bug thing from Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. Or even a hippo. The asteroid is considered a near-Earth object, but it'll zoom past us at a safe distance of 1.8 million miles (2.9 million kilometers) on Saturday. This is 2003 SD220's closest approach to our planet in 400 years, though it will slide by slightly closer in 2070.

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Can an “AI Physicist” Outperform Einstein?

Can an “AI Physicist” Outperform Einstein?

Physics is an important scientific field—it is a fundamental science with principles that impacts other branches of natural sciences. It explains the nature and properties of matter, energy, motion and force. The laws of physics have real-world relevance, and are deployed into products and services used in everyday modern living. Ranging from cars, airplanes, smartphones, headphones, to see-saws in a playground, the laws of physics impact the way we live.

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Saturday, 22 December 2018

A big space crash likely made Uranus lopsided

A big space crash likely made Uranus lopsided

Uranus is a lopsided oddity, the only planet to spin on its side. Scientists now think they know how it got that way: It was pushed over by a rock at least twice as big as Earth. Detailed computer simulations show that an enormous rock crashed into the seventh planet from the sun, said Durham University astronomy researcher Jacob Kegerreis, who presented his analysis at a large earth and space science conference this month.

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The battle over new nerve cells in adult brains intensifies

The battle over new nerve cells in adult brains intensifies

It’s not yet time to abandon the idea that adult human brains make new nerve cells.

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