Thanks to the work of 50 students over the course of 7 years, a pint-sized satellite set sail yesterday aboard a Minotaur 1 rocket, headed for Earth orbit. They call the cube TJ3Sat (so named for Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology where the students study). It is the size of a Rubik’s cube and can be controlled with a smartphone.
The pint-sized satellite has now entered orbit, and you can see where it is at any time via the project’s real-time satellite tracking. Like most satellites, TJ3Sat will send and receive data. In this case, that data will come from public submissions to the project’s website. Give it a shot by suggesting a text. Those texts that get approved will be beamed up to the satellite, converted to audio, and then broadcast back to Earth via radio waves.
A long-running debate over the origins of Native Americans has taken a surprising twist on the shores of Russia’s Lake Baikal.
The genomes of two Paleolithic individuals — a 24,000-year-old juvenile and a 17,000-year-old adult — found at sites near the Siberian lake suggest Native Americans are more closely related to Western Eurasians than previously believed.
Previously, many researchers believed Native Americans were likely descended from earlier East Asian populations who traveled across land bridges now submerged beneath the Bering Straits.
Researchers now say schnoz size relates to a person’s physique, and the energy required to maintain it. As explained on Phys.org,
Males in general have more lean muscle mass, which requires more oxygen for muscle tissue growth and maintenance. Larger noses mean more oxygen can be breathed in and transported in the blood to supply the muscle.
Who among us hasn’t wished for a superhuman memory like the detectives on TV dramas? It exists: It’s called Highly Superior Autobiographical Memory (HSAM), and less than two dozen people are known to have it. But new research shows even those with superhuman memories have a Kryptonite.
People with HSAM can recall very particular details from almost every day of their lives — what they ate on the 8th of September, 1983, or what the weather was like during their drive to the polls on election day 13 years ago.
But researchers wondered if these sharper memories were also more resistant to tampering. Tests have shown that people with normal memories can acquire various false memories through the power of suggestion.
But what about HSAM people — do these “tricks” work on their memories too, or do they make memories in a fundamentally different way that is immune to this manipulation?
There’s loving meat… And then there’s being buried with it. Scientists have known for years that ancient Egyptian tombs contained mummified meat, but now they know how these foodstuffs were preserved—in some cases, more painstakingly preserved than even human mummies.
This comes from a new analysis of some beef ribs that were buried alongside one elite Egyptian couple, just one example of embalmed food offerings ancient Egyptians added to tombs, scientists report. A chemical analysis of the mummification balm used on the beef ribs indicates that it is the highest-status balm discovered to date.
Today NASA successfully launched its next spacecraft toward the Red Planet, and so far things are going smoothly.
Despite delays from the government shutdown, MAVEN (short for Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN) headed for the skies on schedule at 1:28 PM this afternoon. The orbiter aims to get a clearer picture of the Martian atmosphere and how it has changed over time. As described in Popular Science,
In short, the craft is taking a special orbit around Mars to sample many parts of the planet’s upper atmosphere and learn more about the processes that are occurring there now. From that data, scientists will estimate what happened in Mars’ past, billions of years ago, when scientists think the planet had large bodies of liquid water and a thick atmosphere. Both are now gone.
Before now, the record for storing quantum data at room temperature was two seconds. One. Two. Done. But researchers in Canada announced they’ve now hit 39 minutes. That’s right—they’ve raised the bar from 2 seconds to 39 minutes.
Today’s quantum computers have to be frozen to function—negative 452.2 degrees Fahrenheit—so the challenge was to store the information when the computer was cold, warm it up to room temperature (77 degrees F—a temperature more conducive to everyday computer use), and then bring the temperature back down to retrieve the data.
This week the Smithsonian launched the beta version of its new 3D modeling program. The X 3D Explorer scans artifacts in the museums’ collections to make interactive, digital versions that are accessible online. Not only can you inspect the items from any angle, and zoom in for more detail, but you can even print out scale models. That’s right—those of you with 3D printers can make your very own Alaskan Dakl’weidi clan leader’s killer whale hat.
The internet might love itself some cat videos, but every dog has its day — and today that’s because of a new study that appeared today in Science suggesting that dogs became domesticated from wolves in Europe, rather than East Asia, and tens of thousands of years earlier than previously believed.
Modern dogs descending from wolves isn’t a new idea. As Carl Zimmer explains at the New York Times:
Scientists have long agreed that the closest living relatives of dogs are wolves, their link confirmed by both anatomy and DNA. Somewhere, at some point, some wolves became domesticated. They evolved not only a different body shape, but also a different behavior. Instead of traveling in a pack to hunt down prey, dogs began lingering around humans. Eventually, those humans bred them into their many forms, from shar-peis to Newfoundlands.
The question is when. Previous findings had suggested that canine domestication was linked to humans’ discovery/invention of agriculture. But that was under 10,000 years ago, suggesting that dogs might be a relatively recent addition to the animal kingdom. The new research posits the opposite: that wolves started dogging it up tens of thousands of years earlier, while humans were still mostly hunter-gatherers.
Despite their charisma, big cats remain a mystery in evolutionary terms. But a new study fills in some of the blanks, describing how a now-extinct species pushes the evolution of big cats back millions of years and relocates their origins to an entirely different continent than once believed.
The term “big cats” usually refers to pantherine species, which includes lions, tigers, jaguars and leopards. And while any novice can tell these species apart based on outward appearances, the skeletons of these cats are extremely difficult to distinguish. Without a lion’s mane or a tiger’s stripes, even experts have trouble telling them apart.
Thus, when paleontologists found a crushed but nearly complete skull of a big cat in Tibet in 2010—a rare find for this part of the world—it took researchers years of analysis to determine that it represents a now-extinct species.