Nanotechnology coming of age (finally)?


For more than two decades, nonscientists and engineers have made molecular-scale motor, switches, propellers, ratchets, and even the "nanocar" above that rolls when its metal "road" is heated. But what can we actually do with these things? The journal Nature looks at today's efforts to develop useful applications for molecular machines, from drug delivery systems inside the body to a new kind of high-density molecular memory for computers. Read the rest

Watch: Add butane to a bottle of Coke, get a totally unsafe high-powered bottle rocket


It's always the Russians, beating us in the never-ending arms race of Totally Unsafe Things That Are Fun to Watch. Read the rest

This is how blue the skies were when Beijing banned 2.5 million cars for two weeks


In Beijing, China banned 2.5 million cars from driving for 2 weeks to get this beautiful blue sky for a World War II commemorative parade. As soon as the parade was over, the ban was lifted, and the blue vanished within 24 hours. Read the rest

Traffic noise annoys songbirds to the point of harming them


New research suggests that traffic noise (apart from pollution and general hectic motion) degrades the natural habitat of songbirds, and perhaps other animals. Boise State University biologists created a "phantom road" using speakers to create traffic noise in a natural, roadless songbird habitat. Read the rest

BBC TV host is very excited about this Blue Whale that just showed up

“I can see it now!”

Psychological disorder causes you to hallucinate your doppelgänger


In the book The Man Who Wasn't There, Anil Ananthaswamy explores mysteries of self, including the weirdness of autoscopic phenomena, a kind of hallucination in which you are convinced that you are having an out-of-body experience or face to face with your non-existent twin. Read the rest

New species of Crayfish named after Edward Snowden


Scientists named this newly-identified species of Indonesian crayfish Cherax snowden, after Edward Snowden. Read the rest

Health's unkillable urban legend: "You must drink 8 glasses of water/day"

In 1945, the Food and Nutrition board advised that most people needed 2.5l of water/day, noting that most of this would come from your prepared foods. Read the rest

110-year-old message in a bottle gets returned to sender

A few months back, Marianne Winkler found a bottle on a German beach with a message inside requesting its return to the Marine Biological Association (MBA) that had dropped more than 1,000 bottles into the North Sea as part of a study of currents. Thing is, that experiment took place more than a century ago. From National Geographic:

"We haven't had [a bottle] returned in living memory," says Guy Baker, an MBA spokesperson.

(Former MBA president and lead researcher on the bottle study George Parker) Bidder got about half of his messages back, says Baker. And the longest it took for one of his bottles to come home—before this current one—was about four years....

Bidder's bottle has also been submitted to the Guinness World Records for consideration as the oldest message in a bottle ever recovered. The current record-holder is a 99-year-old bottle discovered in a fishing net off the Shetland Islands in 2013.

"Century-Old Message in a Bottle Returned to Sender" Read the rest

Deep-voiced politicians have an edge

Two recent University of Miami research studies suggest that politicians with deep voices are more likely to win an election than candidates with higher-pitched voices. "With one exception: when running against a female opponent, candidates with higher voices were more popular, especially if they were men," according to Scientific American. Read the rest

Psychopaths are more immune to "contagious" yawns


When you see someone yawn and then feel the urge to yawn yourself, it's a sign of social traits like empathy. According to new research from Baylor University, people who scored higher on the Psychopathic Personality Inventory test were less likely to "catch" a yawn. From Baylor University:

Based on the psychological test results, the frequency of yawns and the amount of physiological response of muscle, nerve and skin, the study showed that the less empathy a person had, the less likely he or she was to "catch" a yawn.

"The take-home lesson is not that if you yawn and someone else doesn't, the other person is a psychopath," (lead researcher Brian) Rundle cautions. "A lot of people didn't yawn, and we know that we're not very likely to yawn in response to a stranger we don't have empathetic connections with.

"But what we found tells us there is a neurological connection -- some overlap -- between psychopathy and contagious yawning. This is a good starting point to ask more questions."

And if you'd like to learn more about what makes a psychopath, I highly recommend Jon Ronson's excellent book "The Psychopath Test: A Journey Through the Madness Industry."

photo: Daisuke Tashiro - Flickr Read the rest

Science is really f*cking hard

The rash of high-profile journal retractions, revelations of systematic frauds in peer-review, and journals publishing deliberately bogus papers (e.g. "Get Me Off Your Fucking Mailing List") -- are we experiencing a crisis in science? Read the rest

Planthopper nymphs

These amazing guys look like living snowflakes! Read the rest

Scientists remote control a mouse with a wireless LED brain implant


Stanford scientists made mice walk in circles via remote control of a wireless LED implanted in the rodents' brains. Switching the LED on and off controls neurons that have been previously genetically engineered to be light-sensitive. Read the rest

How many studies get retracted?

Retractions of dodgy or poorly-designed studies have increased tenfold in the last few years. But "sham studies are rare," reports Katie Palmer, and "some recalls result from honest errors or irreproducible results."  Read the rest

Cool photo of Neil deGrasse Tyson as a college student in the eighties

Photo: Neil deGrasse Tyson in graduate school in Texas, sometime in the 1980s. Read the rest

Transgenic mouse company pays academics who cite them in papers

Cyagen also makes stem cells and other bio-research materials: they'll pay academics $100 in vouchers per citation, multiplied by the impact factor of the journal in which the paper is published. Read the rest

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