Scientists Crack the Mystery of an Exploding Egg

By Charles Choi | December 6, 2017 12:40 pm
exploding-eggs

(Credit: Shutterstock)

Scientists had an explosive mystery on their hands. A man suing a restaurant claimed an egg he bit into detonated loudly enough to damage his hearing. Was this a legit complaint, or an attempt to capitalize in a litigation-happy culture?

Well, after a scientific investigation, the man’s story is legit. Although microwave ovens have become a staple appliance in many kitchens, they come with oft-unheeded warnings that certain foods pose risks to people when reheated. Potatoes and eggs are among the most common culprits of potentially dangerous microwaving mishaps. Read More

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

Love at First Sight? Nah

By Lacy Schley | December 6, 2017 11:44 am
love-at-first-site

(Credit: Shutterstock)

Cynics rejoice — the oft-reported phenomenon of love at first sight is more akin to lust at first sight.

Psychologist Florian Zsok and colleagues from the University of Groningen in the Netherlands recently published a study that found even though people generally do believe they’re experiencing love at first sight (LAFS), the event has more to do with physical attraction than actual feelings of love. Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Mind & Brain, top posts
MORE ABOUT: emotions

All Things Iron from the Bronze Age Had Cosmic Origins

By Nathaniel Scharping | December 5, 2017 1:42 pm
King Tut's dagger, the blade is made of meteoric iron. (Credit: Daniella Comelli)

King Tut’s dagger, the blade is made of meteoric iron. (Credit: Daniella Comelli)

Looks like King Tut’s space dagger wasn’t so special after all. The legendary Egyptian pharaoh was found last year to have been buried with a dagger forged from a meteorite, a truly cosmic artifact fit for a king.

Well, as it turns out, pretty much everything made of iron from that period came from fallen space rocks, taking the “wow” factor down a few notches. That’s not to say that artifacts of meteoric origin are commonplace — they’re not — but in the Bronze Age, if you were working with iron, it’s a safe bet that it fell out of the sky. Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Living World, Space & Physics
MORE ABOUT: archaeology

Good News! Worms Make Babies in ‘Martian’ Soil

By Lauren Sigfusson | December 4, 2017 3:42 pm
worms-mars-babies-reproduce-martian-soil-simulant-nasa-weiger-wamelink

After putting only adult worms into mock Martian soil, two babies were discovered. It’s safe to say the worms got down and dirty. (Credit: Wieger Wamelink)

Worms can not only survive in faux Martian soil — they can start a new generation. That’s the conclusion from biologist Wieger Wamelink who recently discovered two baby worms in his simulated Mars soil experiment.

Since 2013, scientists from Wageningen University & Research have been growing crops in Mars and moon soil simulants designed by NASA. They’ve been successful in growing edible crops (including green beans, peas, tomatoes, potatoes, carrots, and more), according to a news release. That’s great, but it needs to become a sustainable agricultural ecosystem. Read More

MORE ABOUT: animals, mars, plants

If You Stuck Your Head in a Particle Accelerator…

By Nathaniel Scharping | December 4, 2017 3:38 pm
A technician works on the Large Hadron Collider at CERN. (Credit: CERN)

A technician works on the Large Hadron Collider at CERN. (Credit: Anna Pantelia/CERN)

What happens when you stick your head inside a particle accelerator and get hit with a beam of trillions of protons? Well, if you’re Anatoli Bugorski, you go on to finish your PhD.

Bugorski is the only person known to have been exposed to a particle accelerator beam, the result of an accident that occurred while he was working at the Institute for High Energy Physics in Russia. On July 13, 1978, he leaned into the path of the U-70 synchrotron while it was still on and a burst of high-energy protons traveled through the back of his head and exited near his nose. He felt no pain, but experienced a flash of light “brighter than a thousand suns.”  Read More

MORE ABOUT: physics

Voyager 1 Fires Dormant Thrusters for the First Time in 37 Years

By Nathaniel Scharping | December 1, 2017 4:44 pm
Going bravely where no spacecraft has gone before. (Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

Going bravely where no spacecraft has gone before. (Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

Man, they just don’t build ’em like they used to. The Voyager 1 spacecraft, launched in 1977, has fired up a pair of thrusters that haven’t been used for 37 years. Meanwhile, I’m on my third car in two years.

The set of four small thrusters came online Wednesday after NASA engineers noticed the spacecraft’s attitude control thrusters had been degrading for several years. Those served to make minute adjustments to the craft’s orientation to keep its antenna pointed back at Earth and maintain communications with us as it flies through space. Thankfully, Voyager also has another similar set, called trajectory control maneuver thrusters, that were used in the years after its launch to guide the craft around the various planets it passed on the way out of the solar system. Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Space & Physics, top posts

‘Uptown’ and ‘Downtown’ NYC Rats Are Genetically Distinct

By Nathaniel Scharping | December 1, 2017 1:48 pm
(Credit: Gallinago_media/Shutterstock)

(Credit: Gallinago_media/Shutterstock)

If you’re an uptown rat, you don’t associate with the downtown kind.

Segregation is real if you’re a rat in New York City, though likely for more prosaic reasons than in their human counterparts. A recent genetic study of NYC rats found unique populations living in uptown and downtown Manhattan, indicating that they probably don’t interact with each other all that much.  Read More

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

Artificial DNA Base Pair Expands Life’s Vocabulary

By Nathaniel Scharping | November 30, 2017 3:57 pm
A DNA sequence. The first cell with a working artificial addition to its DNA has been created. (Credit: Gio.tto/Shutterstock)

A DNA sequence. The first cell with a working artificial addition to its DNA has been created. (Credit: Gio.tto/Shutterstock)

Scientists have taken another step towards putting two additional letters in the dictionary of life to work.

Researchers at the Scripps Institute have engineered cells to successfully transcribe a brand new artificial DNA base pair and make a never-before-seen protein with it. The breakthrough is part of an effort to expand the library of amino acids that animal cells can work with, potentially leading to the creation of compounds entirely different from those life can produce now. Read More

Smile, Your Car Is on Google Street View

By Mark Barna | November 30, 2017 2:48 pm
google-street-view

(Credit: Shutterstock)

When sedans outnumber pickup trucks, chances are the community votes Democrat. When pickup trucks rule, the community leans Republican.

What you drive matters, at least when it comes to revealing the nuts and bolts of American demographics. That’s the assertion by researchers in a paper published in November in the journal the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Technology, top posts
MORE ABOUT: computers

Heart-Stopping Sex? Forget About It

By Mark Barna | November 30, 2017 12:53 pm
sex-heart

(Credit: Shutterstock)

During sex, the heart races, blood pressure rises and the breath quickens, sometimes to a pant. Muscles tense and euphoric feelings flood the brain.

This is not a time to be thinking, “I hope my heart doesn’t stop.” Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Health & Medicine, top posts
MORE ABOUT: personal health
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