Archive for March, 2009

Make Room For Space Florists: First Plants to Be Grown on the Moon

By Boonsri Dickinson | March 31, 2009 11:26 am

mars-gem.jpgIn the age of unmanned missions to the moon, flowers might become the next iconic picture that will “stir enthusiasm for spaceflight.” And Paragon Space Development wants to be the first company to plant said flowers on the moon. Paragon’s CEO, Taber MacCallum, will plant the seeds in a greenhouse that has been designed to block off space radiation and withstand the moon’s extreme temperatures —which can dip to 240 degrees below Fahrenheit (F) at night and rise to 225 degrees F during the day.

Here’s how MacCallum plans to pull off his feat. First, the greenhouse (made of metal-reinforced glass) will hitch a ride on the Odyssey Moon, one of the competitors for the Google Lunar X Prize. When the greenhouse lands on the moon’s surface, the incubated mustard seeds will complete their life cycle, and bloom into six flowers (that’s all there’s room for). While it would take two weeks for a mustard seed to blossom into a flower on earth, it’ll take just a single lunar day for the flower to bud on the moon.

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CATEGORIZED UNDER: Space & Aliens Therefrom
MORE ABOUT: plants, space, X Prize

WonderVacuum Reads Your Mind, Cleans Your House

By Rachel Cernansky | March 31, 2009 10:41 am

robot1.jpgWhen you’re feeling stressed, do you need everything clean now? Do you also find everything and everyone getting in your way? Then the emotion-sensing Roomba vacuum cleaner is for you—it can sense if you’re feeling stressed or relaxed, and act accordingly.

If your stress level reads high, the robot will start cleaning but keep its distance, while if your stress is low, Roomba will come closer to you, as a pet does its owner.

A special headband captures biolectric signals from your forehead, and control software then translates your muscle tension readings into how much stress you’re feeling. The more tense your muscles, the higher your stress level is interpreted to be.

If your reading falls in between either extreme, the robot will continue in its current mode until the stress level reaches a threshold that tells it to change behavior.

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CATEGORIZED UNDER: Technology Attacks!

NCBI ROFL: Inverse zombies, anesthesia awareness, and the hard problem of unconsciousness

By ncbi rofl | March 31, 2009 12:08 am

“While p-zombies are logically possible but naturally improbable, an approximation of i-zombies actually exists”

So, what happens when an i-zombie is trapped in a p-zombie’s body?


Bathe At Your Own Risk: The Evils of Shampoo

By Rachel Cernansky | March 30, 2009 12:10 pm

baby.jpgThink washing your hair is a harmless act of hygiene? Think again! That is, if researchers into the dark sides of shampoo have anything to say about it.

It turns out that a fragrance used in many shampoos is a common allergen that may even cause eczema. Air-oxidized linalool, which is present in up to 80 percent of shampoo products, has been ranked as the third most common eczema-causing substance, falling behind only nickel and cobalt.

And even if you escape the eczema, once you wash and send those suds down the drain, they start spreading drug-resistant bacteria, according to new reports. Sewage sludge collected by municipalities contains antibiotic-resistant microbes that grow faster in the presence of chemicals in shampoo and household detergents.

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MORE ABOUT: bacteria, hygiene

NCBI ROFL: It's a bird! It's a plane! No…it's silly research!

By ncbi rofl | March 27, 2009 10:18 pm

On the plausibility of Superman’s x-ray vision


Weird Science Roundup: Toxic Sofas, Ghost Twitterers, and Death Balls from Space!

By Rachel Cernansky | March 27, 2009 5:06 pm

Yee-haw! It’s the blog roundup.Plants can twitter, but it seems celebrities can’t—not on their own, anyway.

Toxic sofas, after being shipped from China with packets of a harmful mold-inhibitor, caused extreme skin rashes and burns on at least 1,600—and possibly tens of thousands not yet identified—people in England.

• Science education is under assault in Texas.

• In another move of, weirdly, putting animals on birth control, China is putting gerbils on the pill.

Daddy long-legs are threatened by climate change, a gorilla suffered a seizure and was given an MRI, and a campaign helps endangered species by enlisting clothing brands to save their namesakes: Lacoste to the crocodiles’ rescue!

• Also, we’re doomed.

LOLScienz: Depresed?

By Eliza Strickland | March 27, 2009 12:49 pm

depressed cat
Get the full story behind the caption in the 80beats post, Fish Are on Antidepressants, Allergy Meds, and a Host of Other Pharmaceuticals.

Readers: Think you have what it takes to make a LOLScienz cat? Send your best efforts (on any science-y topic) to

Photo: flickr / nikoretro


Three Euros, Three Minutes, and Presto: Fresh, Machine-Made Pizza

By Rachel Cernansky | March 27, 2009 12:02 pm

pizza.jpgIt’s an ironic invention in a country that takes its pizza seriously, even pushing for pizza-policing legislation. But this culinary “cultural commodity” for Italy can now be made—fresh!—by a vending machine.

“Let’s Pizza” is a bright red machine that, using technology developed at the University of Bologna, kneads flour and water into dough, forms it into the classic round shape, spreads the sauce and adds the toppings of a customer’s choosing—either cheese and tomato, ham, bacon, or fresh vegetables. The pizza then bakes in an “oven” that uses infrared rays, and when finished, slides right out into the hungry customer’s hands.

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MORE ABOUT: food, italy, machines

NCBI ROFL: Hula Hooping: Part 2

By ncbi rofl | March 26, 2009 10:18 pm

…or a danger to our grandmothers?

“A 63-year-old woman developed acute back pain and sciatica after playing hula-hoop”

Here are a few words of wisdom, for those of you with young children wanting to hoop it up:

This gem comes from a medical review published in 1959 by ZH Zaidi, “Hula-hoop syndrome“.


No Time to Pray? No Problem! Your Computer Can Do It For You

By Rachel Cernansky | March 26, 2009 6:23 pm

clouds.jpgAre you religious, but find yourself with no time to pray? Then Information Age Prayer has the solution you need. For just $4.95 a month, this online service will have your prayers said for you.

The program uses text-to-speech synthesizers to say prayers in a voice designed to emulate the volume and speed of an average praying person. Choose from Protestant, Catholic, Jewish, Muslim, and if you’re unaffiliated, no problem! They’ve got options for you as well.

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MORE ABOUT: computers, god, religion

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