Starfish-Killing Robot May Save the Great Barrier Reef

By Carl Engelking | September 3, 2015 2:04 pm

crosshairs-starfish

Scientists have designed a robot that kills with the mechanical efficiency you’d expect from a soulless hunk of metal, but there’s no reason to be concerned.

The COTSbot will soon be set loose to wreak havoc, but for a noble cause: to save the struggling Great Barrier Reef. You see, the reef is under siege by hordes of Crown of Thorns Starfish, prickly menaces that destroy coral, which serves as the foundation for the world’s most complex underwater ecosystem. COTSbot is coral’s new defender. Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Environment, Technology, top posts
MORE ABOUT: robots, sustainability

Mysterious Wooden Statue Predates Stonehenge, the Pyramids

By Carl Engelking | September 2, 2015 2:31 pm
big-shigir

(Credit: Screengrab from YouTube/Ancient-Astronaut Arguments)

The Big Shigir Idol, a 17-foot wooden statue found in western Siberia in 1890, has puzzled researchers for decades with its unreadable hieroglyphics.

And now the mystery has deepened. A new analysis reveals that the statue is 11,000 years old, more than a millennia older than was originally thought. That makes Big Shigir the oldest wooden sculpture in the world, and more than double the age of the pyramids in Egypt or the structures of Stonehenge.  Read More

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

Confirmed: Lack of Sleep Increases Your Odds of Catching a Cold

By Carl Engelking | September 1, 2015 1:25 pm

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The road to good health is paved with plenty of sleep.

Parents and doctors have repeated this bit of wisdom for years; however, the link between your sleeping patterns and the onset of sickness was a parable based on correlation – not causation, the ultimate aim of scientific inquiry.

But scientists have proven that, as always, your mother was correct: It turns out that people who skimp on sleep are four times more likely to catch a cold than the well rested.

Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Health & Medicine, top posts

Wasp Venom Selectively Assassinates Cancer Cells

By Kiona Smith-Strickland | September 1, 2015 11:28 am
The Brazilian wasp Polybia paulista. (Credit: Prof. Mario Palma/Sao Paulo State University)

The Brazilian wasp Polybia paulista. Credit: Prof. Mario Palma/Sao Paulo State University

Many wasp species have chemicals in their venom that kill bacteria. In the last few years, researchers have found that some of these chemicals also kill cancer cells, though exactly how they work has remained a mystery.

Now a new study has described exactly how one of these chemicals works its cancer-fighting magic: by tearing holes in the cancer cells’ outer layer.

Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Health & Medicine, Living World

Shock Therapy is Saving Endangered California Condors

By Carl Engelking | August 31, 2015 2:27 pm

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North America’s largest bird is on the verge of extinction, and scientists are using shock therapy to give them a fighting chance.

The California condor’s wings stretch nearly 10 feet across to help them glide atop air currents while they search for a meal to scavenge. Power lines are a formidable foe for these birds because their large size makes it easier for them to be electrocuted.

Now, with fewer than 500 California condors remaining, researchers are administering gentle shocks to teach the birds to avoid these dangerous obstacles. Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Living World, top posts

More Kinds of Bacteria Live In Your House Than in Your Yard

By Kiona Smith-Strickland | August 26, 2015 11:42 am

home-microbes

We often think of our homes as clean and the outdoors as dirty, but it turns out that our homes actually contain a more diverse population of microbes than the dirt outside  and most of them came from you and your pets.

That’s the finding of a new study that surveyed the fungi and bacteria in 1200 houses across the U.S.

Read More

MORE ABOUT: microbes & viruses

Electronics-Sniffing Dogs Help Solve Cybercrimes

By Carl Engelking | August 24, 2015 2:09 pm

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A dog’s nose knows best, even in the digital age.

By now you’ve probably heard about the downfall of former Subway spokesman Jared Fogle, who has said he will plea guilty to having paid minors for sex and having obtained child pornography. But an interesting factoid of the case is that justice was served thanks to dogs trained to sniff out electronics. From iPads to tiny memory cards, these dogs with a rare talent are finding themselves in high demand in an era rife with cyber crime. Read More

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

Ants Self-Medicate By Eating Hydrogen Peroxide

By Carl Engelking | August 21, 2015 1:56 pm

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Humans aren’t the only beings to reach for the medicine cabinet when they get sick. It turns out animals large and small know what it takes to cure what ails them.

Ants are the latest non-humans to make it on the list of self-medicating creatures, after researchers in Finland observed them ingesting hydrogen peroxide to cure their fungal infections. Though scientists have hypothesized ants and other insects fight infections by ingesting therapeutic substances, it’s now safe to say, conclusively, that they do. Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Living World, top posts

The Ultimate European Road Trip, Optimized With Math

By Carl Engelking | August 20, 2015 1:30 pm
(Credit:  Iakov Kalinin/Shutterstock)

(Credit: Iakov Kalinin/Shutterstock)

Planning a vacation is a daunting task, so why not let big data take the reins?

That’s exactly what data scientist Randy Olson did. Using specialized algorithms and Google Maps, Olson computed an optimized road trip that minimizes backtracking while hitting 45 of Business Insider’s “50 Places in Europe You Need to Visit in Your Lifetime.” (Five locations were omitted simply because you can’t reach them by car.)

Read More

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

Eco-Friendly Start-Up Sells Ugly Fruits and Veggies

By Carl Engelking | August 19, 2015 1:58 pm

double apple

They’re ugly. They’re misshapen. They’re perfectly edible. But these fruit and veggies will never make it to the produce section in your grocery store.

Vast quantities of asymmetrical fruit and veggies are cast aside on the farm simply because we like our roughage to look beautiful before we chew it up in our mouths. Now a new start-up, called Imperfect, hopes to change that. The company plans to collect rejected produce and ship 10-14 pounds of oddball deliciousness to your doorstep, and it’ll only cost $12. Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Environment, top posts
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