We Can Do Better Than Road Salt

road-salt

(Credit: Shutterstock)

Marshes, streams and lakes lie alongside many of the roads and highways that zigzag across North America. Plants and animals inhabit these water bodies and can be exposed to many of the substances we put on those roads, including road salt.

Rock salt helps keep roads safe when winter storms hit, reducing winter road accidents. But it can also have serious, negative effects on aquatic ecosystems. Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Environment, Top Posts
MORE ABOUT: pollution

Do Robots Deserve Human Rights?

By Lauren Sigfusson | December 5, 2017 10:45 am
human-rights-robots-future-sophia-citizenship-legal

(Credit: Shutterstock)

When the humanoid robot Sophia was granted citizenship in Saudi Arabia—the first robot to receive citizenship anywhere in the world—many people were outraged. Some were upset because she now had more rights than human women living in the same country. Others just thought it was a ridiculous PR stunt.

Sophia’s big news brought forth a lingering question, especially as scientists continue to develop advanced and human-like AI machines: Should robots be given human rights? Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Technology, Top Posts
MORE ABOUT: robots

If Your Pet Has This Tapeworm, It Could Kill You

By Emily J. Jenkins, University of Saskatchewan | December 4, 2017 12:35 pm
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A coyote cools off in the shade of a leafy suburb. Wildlife interactions with pets and humans can transfer disease, including the tapeworm Echinococcus multilocularis. (Winston Wong/flickr)

Dogs are sending us an early warning signal about the spread of a potentially deadly tapeworm in North America.

The tapeworm, Echinococcus multilocularis, is normally found in rodents and other wild animals, including coyotes and foxes, but can spill over into cats and dogs — and even humans. Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Health & Medicine, Top Posts

The Atomic Age: Far More Than Explosions and Electricity

By Carl Engelking | December 1, 2017 6:53 pm
Scientists witness the first self-sustained fission reaction.

Scientists witness the first nuclear fission chain reaction. (Credit: John Cadel/Chicago History Museum)

Seventy-five years ago, the world officially entered the Atomic Age. Henceforth, it would never be the same.

In October 1942, as part of the Manhattan Project, Enrico Fermi assembled a crack team of physicists for an urgent, top-secret government mission: Conduct the first man-made, self-sustaining nuclear chain reaction to prove it was indeed possible to build an atomic weapon—and do it before the Germans. Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Space & Physics, Top Posts

Close Calls Nearly Doomed These Space Missions

By K. N. Smith | December 1, 2017 2:21 pm
mariner-10

The Mariner 10 spacecraft experienced several problems, but nonetheless accomplished its goals, thanks to a smart mission team and some quick fixes. (Credit: NASA)

A tiny problem can have huge consequences for a space mission. Sometimes a huge endeavor hinges on the smallest detail — three seconds’ worth of fuel, an engineer’s stubbornness, a speck of paint, or a 1.3-millimeter calibration.

When surprise glitches revealed themselves after launch, it took massive efforts to save the missions that gave us a closer look at Mercury, a tour of the outer solar system, our only glimpse of Titan’s surface, and an incredible view of the early universe. But even with hundreds of people putting in months of work, a few of these missions only succeeded by a razor-thin margin. Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Space & Physics, Top Posts

How Visionaries Planned to Reach the Moon 500 Years Ago

Map of the moon engraved by the astronomer Johannes Hevelius, 1645. (Credit: Wikimedia Commons)

People have been dreaming about space travel for hundreds of years, long before the arrival of the spectacular technologies behind space exploration today – mighty engines roaring fire and thunder, shiny metal shapes gliding in the vastness of the universe.

We’ve only traveled into space in the last century, but humanity’s desire to reach the moon is far from recent. In the second century AD, Lucian’s True History, a parody of travel tales, already pictured a group of adventure seekers lifted to the moon. A whirlwind delivered them into the turbulence of lunar politics – a colonial war. Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Space & Physics, Top Posts
MORE ABOUT: space exploration

We Should Toss That $450M da Vinci into a Particle Accelerator

By Carl Engelking | November 17, 2017 3:57 pm

mundi

A portrait of the world’s most recognizable person, Jesus Christ, painted by an icon whose renown doesn’t trail too far behind, Leonardo da Vinci, on Wednesday sold at auction for $450.3 million, setting a new record for artistic largesse.

Only a handful of authentic da Vinci paintings exist today, and Salvator Mundi is the only one that could still be purchased by a deep-pocketed collector. Christie’s Auction House billed the work as “The Last da Vinci,” “the holy grail of our business.” And on Wednesday a perfect storm of salesmanship, extreme scarcity, and legendary celebrity inflated the price to unprecedented levels. Salvator Mundi is now the golden standard of value by which all other paintings will be measured. Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Technology, Top Posts

Signatures of Alzheimer’s Disease Discovered in Dolphins

By Maria Carolina Gallego-Iradi and David Borchelt | November 15, 2017 1:17 pm
dolphin

(Credit: Shutterstock)

A team of scientists in the United Kingdom and the U.S. recently reported the discovery of pathological signs of Alzheimer’s disease in dolphins, animals whose brains are similar in many ways to those of humans.

This is the first time that these signs – neurofibrillary tangles and two kinds of protein clusters called plaques – have been discovered together in marine mammals. As neuroscience researchers, we believe this discovery has added significance because of the similarities between dolphin brains and human brains. Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Health & Medicine, Top Posts

Is Cannabis an Effective Sleep Aid?

By Deirdre Conroy | November 10, 2017 10:27 am
man smoking a marijuana cigarette

(Credit: Shutterstock)

If you speak to someone who has suffered from insomnia at all as an adult, chances are good that person has either tried using marijuana, or cannabis, for sleep or has thought about it.

This is reflected in the many variations of cannabinoid or cannabis-based medicines available to improve sleep – like Nabilone, Dronabinol and Marinol. It’s also a common reason why many cannabis users seek medical marijuana cards. Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Health & Medicine, Top Posts
MORE ABOUT: personal health

Jane Goodall, Redux

By Mark Barna | November 7, 2017 1:58 pm
Jane Goodall in Gombe,

Jane Goodall in Gombe Stream National Park, circa 1965. (Credit: The Jane Goodall Institute)

Jane Goodall has been a flashpoint in science circles. Was her years-long study of chimpanzees in the Gombe Stream National Park in Tanzania real science? Or was it too subjective to have scientific value?

The questions arise anew in the wake of a new documentary, Jane, that looks back at Goodall’s career and how she became a household name in the 1960s. In 1965, her CBS special Miss Goodall and the Wild Chimpanzees was watched by 25 million people in North America. A paper published last month in Scientific Data on an aspect of her research has also added to the conversation. Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Living World, Top Posts
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