Physicists Tackle the Wobbly Suitcase Problem

By Nathaniel Scharping | June 21, 2017 12:11 pm
(Credit: NChamunee/Shutterstock)

(Credit: NChamunee/Shutterstock)

Rolling luggage is both a blessing and a curse for hurried travelers. While we no longer need gym-toned biceps to heft our sundries through the airport, the slightest misstep can send a two-wheeled suitcase rocking and spinning into an uncontrollable disaster. Now, scientists think they know why rolling suitcases are so annoyingly unsteady at exactly the wrong times. Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Space & Physics, top posts
MORE ABOUT: physics

Persistent, Deadly Heat at the Equator Could Be the Norm by 2100

By Nathaniel Scharping | June 20, 2017 3:09 pm
(Credit: Shutterstock)

(Credit: Shutterstock)

Tuesday in Phoenix, Arizona, the temperature kept some planes grounded.

Phoenix was projected to reach of 120 degrees Fahrenheit, a near-record for the desert city, and hot enough that small planes cannot generate enough lift to fly. Phoenix and other cities have experienced similar conditions before, but only rarely—for now. The grounded passengers got to sit inside an air-conditioned terminal, at least. But in other parts of the world where temperatures are set to soar regularly above 100 degrees this summer, prolonged heat waves are likely to result in more deadly consequences. Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Environment, top posts

Kepler’s Final Crop of Promising Exoplanet Discoveries

By John Wenz | June 20, 2017 12:13 pm
(Credit: NASA)

(Credit: NASA)

The newest Kepler catalog draws out 219 new planetary candidates and infers that 10 of them may be habitable — doubling the number of planetary candidates in the habitable zone of their star. The Kepler catalog now stands at 2,335 confirmed planets and 4,034 strong candidates. Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Space & Physics, top posts
MORE ABOUT: exoplanets

The Human Project Aims to Track Every Aspect of Life

By Nathaniel Scharping | June 19, 2017 2:38 pm
(Credit: By Arthimedes/Shutterstock)

(Credit: Arthimedes/Shutterstock)

If you smoke cigarettes, you’re putting yourself at a heightened risk for heart disease. That correlation is well-known and unchallenged today, but that wasn’t always so. It took an ambitious, years-long project, the Framingham Heart Study to uncover the link, and it only happened because of the study’s commitment to comprehensive data collection.

The Framingham study is a near-canonical example of the power of longitudinal studies, those that follow participants for decades, and which can pick up on subtle trends and surprising connections by virtue of the sheer amount of data they generate. Now, a group of researchers at New York University hopes to apply similar methods to an even more formidable sample: They plan to recruit and study 10,000 New Yorkers for 20 years, using modern technology to track nearly every single aspect of their lives. Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Health & Medicine, top posts

Australian Scientists Dredged the Deep Seafloor — Here’s What they Found

By Nathaniel Scharping | June 16, 2017 3:11 pm
(Credit: Jérôme Mallefet)

A bioluminescent viper fish. (Credit: Jérôme Mallefet)

In a dark world of crushing pressures and barren landscapes, creatures we’ve never seen before, and, likely, couldn’t even imagine, are swimming.

The ocean’s abyssal zone begins over two miles beneath surface; it’s so deep that light never touches it. What little we know about it comes from sediment dredged up from the seafloor and brief snapshots captured by remotely operated submarines. This makes it a gold mine for marine biologists, for whom each rare glimpse beneath the waves offers up a bounty of new species and rare observations. Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Environment, Living World, top posts

Bendable, Stretchable Batteries Provide a Jump Start for Wearable Tech

By Sylvia Morrow | June 16, 2017 2:01 pm
bendable-battery

Researchers’ solar-charged battery system merges function and comfort. (Credit: Zamarayeva et al., Sci. Adv. 2017;3: e1602051)

Incorporating electronic components into everything we wear is the fashion trend of the future. But those LEDs, health sensors, heaters and whatever else we’ll come up with all need energy. A battery is a logical solution, but it’s been difficult to design one that’s rugged and efficient, but also comfortable.

However, in a study published today in Science Advances, a team from the University of California, Berkeley described a battery that perhaps satisfies all of those parameters. Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Technology, top posts
MORE ABOUT: energy

Large-Scale, Quantum Communication Networks Are Within Reach

By Sylvia Morrow | June 15, 2017 10:57 am
quantum-communication

From the ground, researchers measured laser signals that originated from a satellite and traveled through Earth’s gravitational potential and the turbulent atmosphere. (Credit: Earth, Google; satellite, ESO)

Veering from the path of their counterparts at other institutions, researchers from the Max Planck Institute in Germany say they’ve found an easier path toward large-scale, secure communication networks.

They demonstrated that it’s possible to distribute quantum information to locations on earth via satellite with only minor modifications to existing technology. Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Technology, top posts

Microsoft AI Notches the Highest ‘Ms. Pac-Man’ Score Possible

By Nathaniel Scharping | June 14, 2017 1:39 pm
(Credit: Maluuba)

(Credit: Maluuba)

A Microsoft artificial intelligence has achieved the ultimate high score in Ms. Pac-Man, maxing out the counter at just under a million points.

With its randomly-generated ghost movements, Ms. Pac-Man has proven a tough nut for AI to crack, as it cannot simply learn the patterns that govern the ghosts’ movements. Maluuba, an artificial intelligence company recently acquired by the tech giant, succeeded in outwitting the hungry ghosts by breaking their gaming algorithm into around 160 different parts. They say it took less than 3,000 rounds of practice to achieve the feat, something never done by a human. The researchers didn’t even know what would happen when they hit seven figures, Wired reports. They were somewhat disappointed to find the score simply resets to zero. Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Technology, top posts

Surviving the Hunt: Female Elk Get Sneakier With Age

By Erica Tennenhouse | June 14, 2017 1:00 pm
cow-elk

(Credit: Tony Campbell/Shutterstock)

Cougars, wolves, and bears (oh my!) all scour the landscape of Western Canada, ready to take out an elk if the opportunity arises. Although each of these predators poses a deadly threat to unsuspecting ungulates, elk have an even bigger problem to deal with: hordes of humans that invade the region every autumn armed with rifles, bows and arrows.

But as female elk grow older and wiser, researchers have found, they learn to outwit fervent hunters by changing up their routines and laying low. Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Living World, top posts
MORE ABOUT: animals

Flatworm Travels to Space With One Head, Comes Back With Two

By Nathaniel Scharping | June 13, 2017 2:57 pm
The "double-headed worm from space." (Credit: Junji Morokuma/Tufts University)

The “double-headed worm from space.” Look for the googly eyes. (Credit: Junji Morokuma/Tufts University)

Researchers have been sending animals to space for decades, and the growing roster includes everything from dogs and monkeys to scorpions and jellyfish. But a more recent animal space traveler returned to Earth with something never before seen: an extra head.

The newly bi-cranial creature is a flatworm of the species Dugesia japonica, one of 15 flown above the International Space Station for five weeks by Tufts University researchers. The flatworms were cut in half before being launched to study their unique regenerative abilities. Severing a flatworm usually just results in two identical flatworms, but something appears to have gone awry in one individual, who returned with another head where his tail should have been. Read More

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