Archive for the ‘Science’ Category

Don’t Panic, But You Are Currently Awash in Dark Matter

Tuesday, April 10th, 2012

dark matter.jpg

You just got pelted with dark matter. Don’t worry, it’ll happen again in a couple of seconds. Should you be worried? Probably not, it’s been happening your whole life, at least according to a new study by a few theoretical physicists.

A dark matter particle smacks into an average person’s body about once a minute, and careens off oxygen and hydrogen nuclei in your cells, according to theoretical physicists. Dark matter is streaming through you as you read this, most of it unimpeded.

If you’d like to read up on this mysterious (nefariously named) substance the is estimated to comprise 83% of all matter in the universe, check out Wikipedia. I know I had to.

[Popular Science]

Actually No, Your Pee is NOT Sterile

Monday, April 9th, 2012

just found out urine isn_t sterile better drink my own... wait... - Bear Grylls | Meme Generator.jpg

A new study debunks the long held myth that urine is sterile. The results, which appear in the April issue of the Journal of Clinical Microbiology was conducted at Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine. If found evidence of bacteria in the bladders of healthy women.

“Doctors have been trained to believe that urine is germ-free,” said Linda Brubaker, MD, MS, dean, SSOM. “However, these findings challenge this notion, so this research may have positive implications for how we treat patients with urinary tract conditions in the future.”

The myth has long been a contributing factor to the survival strategy of drinking one’s own liquid waste. The idea being that 95% of urine is water and sterile so to combat loss of water in the body it would help to recycle the excrement.

Somebody please inform Bear Grylls.

[Science Daily]

By the Time You Read This, James Cameron Could Be at the Bottom of the Ocean

Saturday, March 24th, 2012

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It’s go time.

The man who directed the most successful film in movie history twice is about to embark on his greatest adventure yet. James Cameron will begin his descent into the Pacific Ocean, weather permitting, sometime this weekend.

His mission is to make it to the bottom of Challenger Deep, the lowest known point in the ocean. His submarine, a revolutionary vertical design, will attempt to sink to the bottom as fast as possible so he can spend six hours investigating. He will be the first ever human to see the depths with his own eyes, the only previous crew (aboard the Trieste in 1960) to make it that deep hit the bottom to hard and caused a silt storm bringing visibility down to zero.

Cameron will also bring along 3D cameras to make a documentary of his voyage.

Godspeed James.

[Nat Geo]

Nokia Wants to Give You a Vibrating Tattoo So You Don’t Miss Calls

Friday, March 23rd, 2012


Nokia has applied for a patent which amounts to tattoo which would accommodate customizable buzzing for your phone.

Here is how it would work:

The patent application describes “a material attachable to skin, the material capable of detecting a magnetic field and transferring a perceivable stimulus to the skin, wherein the perceivable stimulus relates to the magnetic field.” The material would react to magnetic signals emitted by a nearby electronic device, such as a smartphone. It would offer some sort of micro vibration, and could be set to certain vibrating patterns. The idea is to provide you with a more direct way to notice when you’re receiving some sort of incoming device alert, whether it be a phone call, email, or text message.

Congratulations I Didn’t Feel The Vibration Through My Pants Excuse Practitioners and welcome to Screwsville.

In reality though, this is something that could be used for far more than smart phones. Imagine how many “alerts” we get everyday. Our phone, our car, our appliances and anything else you can think of. What if we had a way to prioritize some to directly interact with our body.

It’s a pretty cool idea at least.

[Information Week] via @Lockridge_Lisa

Great News For People Who Hate Fun! Error Found in Neutrino Results

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2012

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Much was made over the last few months about the apparent discovery of faster than light neutrinos at the CERN laboratories. The neutrinos appeared to travel at 60 seconds faster than the speed of light. Of course, this would stand in contrast to Einstein’s theory of relativity.

Now, those results seem to be attributed to an error in the process.

This will certainly be seen as a reason to celebrate for those professional frowners who did nothing but rain “we should wait and see…” negativity on the parade of interest in this particular scientific breakthrough.

Those people, are terrible.

Allow me to qualify, this is not about respecting the scientific process. Of course, we shouldn’t rush off and proclaim the preliminary research on neutrinos scientific fact, damaging a fundamental physics concept in the process. But it is it wrong to hope that it could change everything? Isn’t hope and enthusiasm for a better understanding of our natural world tempered with rigorous and constant verification the backbone of why science is awesome?

So the neutrino test turns out to be flawed. Fine. It was going to wind up here no matter which road we travelled. I am happy that a large population of folks who only kind of care about science got to take a route that included a possibility of Earth shattering realizations about time, space and our relation to it.

First Test-Tube Hamburger to be Produced in 2012

Monday, February 20th, 2012
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It’s a revolution best served with pickles and onions on a sesame seed bun.

The first test-tube grown hamburger will be produced this fall. Although still in the laboratory phase as of now, the experiment will eventually produces thousands of small tissues recreated from a cow’s stem cells. This proof of concept could be a very powerful one, reshaping agriculture as we know it.

Could meat grown in a lab and not from a slaughtered animal be considered vegan?

Only time and possibly some Bar-B-Q sauce will tell…

[Fox News]

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No Heart, No Pulse, No Problem: Surgeons Save Dying Man By Replacing Heart With Turbine

Friday, February 3rd, 2012
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In this remarkable video, we see two Texas heart surgeons who replace a dying man’s failing heart with a turbine. This does a few remarkable things.

1) Saves the dude’s life
2) Removes his pulse, since the turbine creates a continuous flow of blood
3) Changes the conventional definition of physiological death

Very emotional stuff. Things might have gotten a little dusty for me while watching it. The closer we get to liberating ourselves from the fragile limitations of our meat bag prisons the better.

[Design Taxi]

Heart Stop Beating | Jeremiah Zagar from Focus Forward Films on Vimeo.

Your Brain Shuts Off When Tripping Balls on Acid & Why it Could Cure OCD

Tuesday, January 24th, 2012
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Researchers have long thought that hallucinogenic stimulated parts of your brain, which created insane visuals like that one time Gary down the street saw the poster melt in his hands and then was all like “Did you see that?” but you were too busy holding your iPhone in your hands and wondering if apps have souls.

New brain scan research suggests there might be a more profound explanation, key parts of your brain turn off while on magic mushrooms. Specifically, blood flow is restricted to the brain.

This could possibly be beneficial in opening up patients to learning new behaviors, which could help in treating Obsessive Compulsive personality disorders.

“Chemically switching off might have very profound beneficial effects,” says Nutt, who suspects that psilocybin could also be useful for treating obsessive-compulsive disorder. “It may help people completely locked into a mindset that drives their lives.”

The study also found a positive reaction to the question, “look at my fingers, aren’t they weird?”

[Science News]

Scientists Call for Fair, Open Discussion of Global Plague They Created

Tuesday, January 24th, 2012


The laboratory that mutated a deadly bird flu into something humans can spread are now called for a 60 day suspension of research so they can open a dialogue with the scientific community. Since their announcement, much Sturm and Drang has been made about how the lab should disseminate the information they gained and if anyone should be in the business of creating a global super plague.

“We recognize that we and the rest of the scientific community need to clearly explain the benefits of this important research and the measures taken to minimize its possible risks,” write about 40 scientists.

“We propose to do so in an international forum in which the scientific community comes together to discuss and debate these issues,” they write in a letter released by the journals Science and Nature today, Jan. 20.

Translation: Everybody, be cool.

Those who worked on the project would surely like to emphacize how few steps it took them to mutate the virus into something that could affect humanity. Now that it’s been done, we can learn a lot about how to prevent the spread of the disease should it happen in the wild.

They would in equal measures like to de-emphasize the fact that they engineered an unnatural global plague.

[Live Science]

Macarena to Goose Stepping: Synchronized Movement Controls Your Brain

Wednesday, January 11th, 2012

A new study proves that organizing activities where a group of people move in unison can create more concrete leader-follower relationships and be used as a tool for helpful cooperation or evil deeds.

In the experiment, participants were instructed to either walk in sync with an experimenter, out-of-step with them or simply alongside them at their own pace. They were then asked to gather as many bugs as possible in 30 seconds and put them into a device where they were told they’d die.

Those participants who walked in step with the same experimenter who later instructed them to kill the bugs put approximately 54 percent more bugs into the device than did those in the control condition. They also put 38 percent more bugs into the funnel than did participants in the coordinated but asynchronous condition and twice as many bugs into the funnel as did participants who walked in synchrony with a different experimenter than the one who instructed them to terminate the insects.

Synchronized action is used as a tool for many institutions including but not limited to: religious rituals, military exercises and Supermaning dat ho.

[Science Daily]

Scientists Recreate Spider Silk (50 Years After Teenager in Queens)

Tuesday, January 10th, 2012


Listen kids. If you are reading this and you only know of Peter Parker and Spider-man because of the Sam Raimi films, let me break something to you.

Peter Parker didn’t start shooting webs out of his wrists as part of an overnight biological evolution after being bit by a radioactive arachnid. That’s just Hollywood fantasy. The real story is that the brainy Parker, having already woken up with super strength, agility and uncanny Spider Sense decided to augment his new natural gifts with his own scientific concoction. A sticky, strong, spider silk-esqe substance which he then shot out of home made mechanical dispensers triggered by a specific hand gesture.

The mechanical web shooters reinforces a key element of the Spider-man mythos. Peter Parker is a socially awkward kid because he’s a genius level science nerd. This matters! This is important! Yes! I am still furious about this 9 years after the first Spider-man movie came out!

Also, 50 years after the character was created scientists have finally caught up with Peter Parker and recreated spider silk by transferring key spider genes into silkworms which are far easier to farm the substance out of.

So they worked out a way to transfer the key spider genes responsible for the strong thread making into the silkworm.

The scientific breakthrough could open the door for large-scale production.

The silk could be used in many medical applications including artificial ligaments and tendons, as well as tough wound dressings.

It is also said to be strong enough that it could be used as a new material in manufacturing bulletproof vests.

Or shooting Mysterio in the face so you can make fun of his helmet.


The Future of Wheelchairs? Awesome Exoskeletons

Friday, January 6th, 2012

The future is now. Amazing exoskeletons will be sold to consumers with spinal cord injuries for training, under doctor supervision for now, how to walk upright with the help of the device.

Your job is to balance your upper body, shifting your weight as you plant a walking stick on the right; your physical therapist will then use a remote control to signal the left leg to step forward. In a later model, the walking sticks will have motion sensors that communicate with the legs, allowing the user to take complete control.

Take a look at this bad boy in motion below.

[Kurzweil AI]

Are Pigeons as Smart as Primates?

Friday, December 23rd, 2011

Oft-maligned as disease stuffed flying rats, pigeons tend to get a bad rap. But it looks like the city birds could be much smarter than we initially thought, or at the very least able to keep track of all the people calling them disease stuffed flying rats.

Pigeons may not be so bird-brained after all, as scientists have found the birds’ ability to understand numbers is on par with that of primates.

Previous studies have shown that various animals, from honeybees to chimpanzees, can learn to count when trained with food rewards. In 1998, researchers discovered that rhesus monkeys can not only learn to count to four, but can also pick up on numerical rules and apply them to numbers they haven’t seen before, allowing them to count up to nine without further training.

Add this alongside “friends with Mike Tyson” on the Cool Things About Pigeons list.

[Live Science]

Ice Shelf Gets Wired for Transcontinental Phone Calls

Tuesday, December 20th, 2011
Antarctic Ice Gets Wired for Long-Distance Calls ? Ice Shelves & Antarctica ? Climate Change & Global Warming | LiveScience.jpg

The Ross Ice Shelf is about as desolate as desolate can get. All you can hope to do is complete your research of the warming arctic water, survive and hope that one of your colleagues doesn’t turn into The Thing.

Now, the first of those tasks just got a bit easier. Scientists recently completed installation of a fiber optic cable which will periodically ring a modem in a New York University professors office delivering up to the second data without having to rely on a bunch of researchers who may or may not have already turned into The Thing.

[Live Science]

Study: Sexually Transmitted Disease Makes Your Armpits Stink Worse

Friday, December 9th, 2011


Follow your nose! To a sexual partner not beset by disease!

A Russian study found that men dealing with gonorrhea has less attractive smelling armpit sweat than those without, therefore deterring potential mates.

In the study, armpit sweat was collected from 34 Russian men, ages 17 to 25. Thirteen of the men had gonorrhea, 16 were healthy, and five had had gonorrhea in the past, but recovered. The men wore T-shirts with cotton pads in the armpits for one hour, then the pads were placed in glass vials…

The women rated the infected men’s sweat as less than half as pleasant as the healthy men’s sweat. And the women said about 50 percent of men who had gonorrhea had sweat that smelled “putrid,” whereas only 32 percent of the healthy men were described as putrid. And while 26 percent of the healthy men smelled “floral,” just 10 percent of those with gonorrhea were described that way.

Researchers suggest that changes in the immune system could cause the alteration in sweat stink. I like to think of it as Mother Nature’s way of telling women, “Get away from him girl, he nasty.”

[Live Science]

New Illusion Demonstrates How Our Brains Construct A 3D Illusion From 2D Image

Thursday, December 8th, 2011
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New research has shown the there are specific, consistent patterns that create the illusion of 3D images in our brains. It is created by stimulating specific nerve cells. Researchers created a 2D image designed to excite those nerves specifically and found surprising results.

“We created the images by taking random noise and smearing it out across the image in specific patterns. It’s a bit like finger painting, except it’s done by computer”, explains Roland Fleming, Professor of Psychology at the University of Giessen. “The way the texture gets smeared out is not the way texture behaves in the real 3D world. But it allows us to selectively stimulate so-called ‘complex cells’ in visual cortex, which measure the local 2D orientation of patterns in the retinal image”.

The cells in question read boundaries in images.

[Medical Express]