Latest Blog Posts


People Are Terrible at Spotting Fake Photos

By K. N. Smith | July 20, 2017 4:36 pm

We exist in a veritable flood of digital images, with at least 350 million a day uploaded to Facebook alone, and odds are significant number of those images are fake. And, given results from a recent study, most people can’t tell the difference.

Can you identify the part of the top photo that’s been altered? Don’t worry, we’ll tell you later.

Psychologist Sophie Nightingale and her colleagues at the University of Warwick used photo-editing software to doctor real-world photos in ways t …

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Mind & Brain, top posts


If You Could Dig a Hole Through The Earth, Here's Where You'd Pop Out

By Nathaniel Scharping | July 20, 2017 2:46 pm

Almost every child, shovel in hand, is struck by a tempting thought. What if I just kept digging and popped out on the other side of the world? The imagination conjures a muddy face emerging in the middle of a Shaolin temple or some such, China being the nominal “other side of the world” to Americans.

That image is wrong, unfortunately, as a map showing the Earthly antipodes makes clear. Antipodes on a sphere are the pair of points furthest away from each other, and on Earth, most of the …

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Environment, top posts
MORE ABOUT: earth science

Science Sushi

African Wild Dogs Can't Take The Heat, Face Extinction From Climate Change

By Christie Wilcox | July 20, 2017 2:27 pm

Things aren’t looking good for Africa’s iconic wildlife. Already, many species are threatened by human activities and habitat loss. Even species once thought to be resilient, like giraffes, are suddenly struggling. Just earlier this week, scientists reported that aardvarks, one of sub-saharan Africa’s most successful and adorable insect-eaters and essential ecosystem engineers—face severe declines and even extinction as rising temperatures and declining rainfall dry out the continent. Now …

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Ecology, More Science, select, Top Posts

Vintage Space

The Soviet Rovers that Died on Mars

By Amy Shira Teitel | July 20, 2017 1:52 pm

Before Curiosity took selfies and Opportunity rolled a marathon, rovers on Mars were more modest. Sojourner, NASA’s first rover, was a microwave-sized robot designed to last just seven days, and more than two decades earlier the Soviet Prop M rovers were tiny little squat boxes that reached the Red Planet for a ski vacation.
Mars 2 and Mars 3 were twin missions launched to the Red Planet in 1971, May 19 and May 28 respectively. Both were landers designed such that petals protecting the payl …

MORE ABOUT: History, Mars, Prop M, Rovers, Soviet

Seriously, Science?

Can breast implants stop a speeding bullet?

By Seriously Science | July 20, 2017 5:21 am

Breast implants might be controversial, but they could also save your life. In this study, forensic scientists shot bullets through saline breast implants into ballistics gel, which is a material that mimics human flesh. They found that the implants significantly slowed down the bullets, reducing their penetration into the tissue below. Of course, the implants don’t survive the shooting, but they might give the person they’re inside of a better chance!

A Ballistics Examination of Firea …

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Crime & Punishment, told you so


Here's How Much Plastic Humanity Has Produced

By Nathaniel Scharping | July 19, 2017 3:37 pm

I want to say just one word to you. Just one word. Are you listening?


There was indeed a great future in plastics back in 1967 when “The Graduate” came out, and those words ring true even today as plastic production continues to soar. Try imagining toothbrushes, dashboards, pens, video game controllers, the ephemera of our daily lives, made from wood or metal — plastics are indispensable.

Our appetite for cheap, durable materials is such that humans have produced 9.1  …

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Environment, Technology, top posts
MORE ABOUT: pollution


First half of 2017 was 2nd warmest such period on record

By Tom Yulsman | July 19, 2017 2:28 pm

The month of June by itself was third warmest in records dating back 138 years, according to NOAA

The Earth has been cooling somewhat since the epic El Niño of 2015/2016. But even so, conditions are still plenty warm.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration rates January through June of 2017 as the second warmest first half of any year since record-keeping began in 1880, behind the record year of 2016.

The year-to-date temperature across global land and ocean surfaces …


Is Neuroscience Underpowered? "Power Failure" Revisited

By Neuroskeptic | July 19, 2017 2:03 pm

Back in 2013, a Nature Reviews Neuroscience paper appeared called Power failure: why small sample size undermines the reliability of neuroscience. This paper got a lot of attention at the time and has since been cited a dizzying 1760 times according to Google.

‘Power Failure’ made waves for its stark message that most neuroscience studies are too small, leaving neuroscience lacking statistical power, the chance of detecting signal in the noise. As the authors Kate Button et al. wrote
The …

Dead Things

The First Australians Arrived 65,000 Years Ago

By Gemma Tarlach | July 19, 2017 12:00 pm

New archaeological evidence supports an idea previously suggested by genetic studies: The first humans arrived in Australia at least 65,000 years ago. This earlier arrival date means humans were present Down Under before its widespread megafauna extinction, an event in which human activity has been debated.

The discovery is also at odds with the conventional date for our species leaving Africa, and adds fuel to the growing bonfire of what was the evolutionary timeline for Homo sapiens. …

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Living World, top posts

Citizen Science Salon

Finding the Common Culture: Uniting Science and the Humanities in Citizen Science

By Guest | July 18, 2017 4:43 pm

By Brad Mehlenbacher (North Carolina State University) and Ashley Rose Mehlenbacher (University of Waterloo)

Through citizen science projects, the Bodleian Library is improving access to their music collections, the Smithsonian is transcribing important documents, and researchers at the University of Oxford are transcribing Ancient Greek text from Greco-Roman Egypt. Although these projects represent promising examples of the humanities and social sciences, citizen science projects in these fi …


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