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Lovesick Cyborg

Human Error in Test Flight Disasters

By Jeremy Hsu | August 1, 2015 3:51 pm

Human error played the main role in the midair spaceplane disaster that killed a Virgin Galactic test pilot in October. The simple act of unlocking a braking mechanism 14 seconds too early led to the spaceplane’s destruction, according to the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board. But the NTSB’s investigation also pointed to a chain of “human factors” related to time pressure and a lack of safeguards that contributed to the copilot’s tragic mistake. Such human factors have played a big …

Body Horrors

A Tale of Two Pox

By Rebecca Kreston | July 31, 2015 9:30 pm

Smallpox has haunted man for almost as long as we have been walking this earth. The variola virus that causes the deadly pox had been known to liquidate entire communities, towns, and cities since antiquity, stalking along trade routes and capitalizing upon human behavior and patterns of movement. Egyptian mummies unearthed from their tombs bear the pocked faces of fortunate survivors; Chinese emperors, Indian peasants, Russian Tzars, and Australian Aborigines – around the world, millions succum …

Seriously, Science?

Flashback Friday: A new thing to fear: “intranasal teeth”.

By Seriously Science | July 31, 2015 12:28 pm

Maybe it’s because of the various traumatic ways I lost my baby teeth, but whatever the reason, teeth feature prominently in my nightmares. And now I have yet another vision to add to the bag of horror: “intranasal teeth” (literally, teeth inside the nose). Apparently (and horrifyingly), it’s not unheard of to have teeth buried deep inside one’s nose. There are a number of ways this can come about, but typically it happens to children. And no wonder–the image to the left shows wh …


What Happens When People Text on an Obstacle Course

By Elizabeth Preston | July 31, 2015 9:40 am

Exercise scientist Conrad Earnest was dodging some oblivious pedestrians in England when inspiration struck. He was trying to walk down the sidewalk, but all around him people were weaving back and forth as they focused on their smartphone screens. Earnest suggested to two of his students that they study the dangers of texting while walking. Specifically, they could ask whether texters are more likely to trip and fall—perhaps wishful thinking on Earnest’s part as he walked among them.


MORE ABOUT: Gadgets, Psychology

Drone 360

Facebook Reveals Its First Full-Size Internet Drone

By Carl Engelking | July 30, 2015 4:17 pm

Facebook took another step toward its goal of connecting all of the world’s citizens to the Internet.

On Thursday, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg announced that they finished constructing their first full-scale prototype of Aquila, a solar-powered, unmanned aircraft that could someday provide Internet access for people living in places lacking the infrastructure required to surf the Web.
Way High Wi-Fi
Engineers at Facebook hope to deliver on their promise by building very large, ye …

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Technology, Top Posts


Here's What the Data on Your Hard Drive Looks Like

By Andy Berger | July 30, 2015 3:33 pm

Although magnetism is invisible to our eyes, it powers much of daily life. It drives the electric motors of just about anything that spins: fans, power tools, and blenders. It powers the microphones and speakers in our various gadgets. And it’s crucial for storing information – by which we don’t just mean pinning notes to the fridge.

Magnetism enables you to click “save,” power down your computer, and walk away with the peace of mind that your documents, photos, and music will s …

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Technology, top posts
MORE ABOUT: computers


Social Priming: Time for A Definitive Test?

By Neuroskeptic | July 30, 2015 3:02 pm

The scientific controversy over social priming – the (claimed) ability of incidental exposure to stimuli to ‘prime’ or evoke complex behaviors – has been rumbling for the past few years. Will it ever end?

In this post I’ll propose one way in which I think it could be resolved.

‘Social priming’ is a fascinating concept. A paradigmatic example of a social priming effect is the claim that solving word puzzles involving words such as ‘old’ and ‘elderly’ makes people walk slower, presumably …

The Crux

Can You Teach Creativity to a Computer?

By Ahmed Elgammal, Rutgers University | July 30, 2015 2:25 pm

From Picasso’s “The Young Ladies of Avignon” to Munch’s “The Scream,” what was it about some paintings that arrested people’s attention upon viewing them, that cemented them in the canon of art history as iconic works?

In many cases, it’s because the artist incorporated a technique, form or style that had never been used before. They exhibited a creative and innovative flair that would go on to be mimicked by artists for years to come.

Throughout human history, experts have oft …

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Technology, Top Posts


Planes Are Crashing at NASA, and That's a Good Thing

By Carl Engelking | July 30, 2015 1:41 pm

When an airplane smashes into the dirt at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia, researchers get very excited.

That’s because the Langley team’s ongoing destruction of Cessna 172 aircraft is generating troves of data that could ultimately save lives. It’s the second in a series of the three tests — the first was on July 1 — that are part of an an ongoing effort to improve on-board emergency transmitters that many times fail to do their only job: alert rescue workers  …

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Technology, top posts

Drone 360

Drones Are Smooth, Safe Taxis for Sensitive Blood Samples

By Carl Engelking | July 29, 2015 3:24 pm

Drones, it appears, can safely deliver precious cargo.

Biological specimens, like blood samples, require a smooth ride to the laboratory; excessive turbulence can skew test results. This poses a unique problem for doctors practicing in rural, rugged landscapes around the world. But scientists at Johns Hopkins University, for the first time, proved that hobby-sized drones could handle this important task.
Blood Run
Blood samples are one of the most important tools doctors can use to deci …


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