Floating 1,600dpi 3D projections made by pushing around flecks of cellulose and hitting them with a laser

Physicists at BYU have demonstrated a volumetric projection system that works by using a laser to unevenly heat single cellulose molecules in order to shove them around in 3D space, then painting the positioned molecules with lasers that cause them to glow; by choreographic both sets of lasers, extremely high-resolution moving images can be attained. Read the rest

If humans gave up on geoengineering after 50 years, it could be far worse than if we had done nothing at all

In Potentially dangerous consequences for biodiversity of solar geoengineering implementation and termination (published in Nature Ecology and Evolution, Sci-Hub mirror), a group of cross-institutional US climate scientists model what would happen if human embarked upon a solar geoengineering project to mitigate the greenhouse effect by aerosolizing reflective particles into the atmosphere, then gave up on the project after a mere half-century. Read the rest

These are not paintings of Jupiter

Citizen scientists Gerald Eichstädt and Seán Doran amped up the color and contrast of images of Jupiter's turbulent atmosphere as captured by NASA's Juno spacecraft. Below, for, um, comparison, Vincent van Gogh's "The Starry Night" (1889) and Edvard Munch's "The Scream" (1893).

More of Eichstädt and Doran's stunning work here.

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Science paper's abstract has one word

Do Large (Magnitude ≥8) Global Earthquakes Occur on Preferred Days of the Calender Year of Lunar Cycle?

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See 130 years of National Geographic covers in two minutes

For more than a century, National Geographic has continued to "believe in the power of science, exploration and storytelling to change the world." I still want to believe.

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Trials confirm the use of psilocybin for depression without the "dulling" effects of traditional antidepressants

The prohibition on psychedelics was memorably described as "the worst case of scientific censorship since the Catholic Church banned the works of Copernicus and Galileo" by former UK Drugs Czar David Nutt, and despite the ban, there has been a consistent, determined, very promising (sometimes surprising) drumbeat of scientific papers about the use of psilocybin ("magic mushrooms") and other psychedelics in treating a range of chronic illnesses, including mental illnesses. Read the rest

Frankenstein 200: America's science museums celebrate the bicentennial of Mary Shelley's Frankestein with a free, amazing transmedia experience

Joey Eschrich from ASU's Center for Science and Imagination writes, "To celebrate the official 200th anniversary of the publication of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (previously) on January 1, 2018, we’ve launched Frankenstein200, a free, interactive, multiplatform experience for kids. Developed in partnership with the award-winning transmedia studio No Mimes Media (cofounded by the hyper-talented Maureen McHugh), with support from the U.S. National Science Foundation, Frankenstein200 is a digital narrative paired with hands-on activities happening in January and February at museums and science centers across the United States." Read the rest

Why Is Blue So Rare In Nature?

Blue as a pigment in nature is incredibly rare. Most animals with blue coloration achieve it through microscopic structures in their skin, fur, or feathers. This helpful explainer delves into the details. Read the rest

Robert Boyle's 17th century wishlist for future scientific breakthroughs

In 2010, The Royal Society featured the "Desiderata" (previously) of Robert "Boyle's Law" Boyle, a list of dozens of scientific discoveries and breakthroughs that Boyle hoped would be discovered by scientists.

* The Prolongation of Life.

* The Recovery of Youth, or at least some of the Marks of it, as new Teeth, new Hair colour’d as in youth.

* The Art of Flying.

* The Art of Continuing long under water, and exercising functions freely there.

* The Cure of Wounds at a Distance.

* The Cure of Diseases at a distance or at least by Transplantation.

* The Attaining Gigantick Dimensions.

* The Emulating of Fish without Engines by Custome and Education only.

* The Acceleration of the Production of things out of Seed.

* The Transmutation of Metalls.

* The makeing of Glass Malleable.

* The Transmutation of Species in Mineralls, Animals, and Vegetables.

* The Liquid Alkaest and Other dissolving Menstruums.

* The making of Parabolicall and Hyperbolicall Glasses.

* The making Armor light and extremely hard.

* The practicable and certain way of finding Longitudes.

* The use of Pendulums at Sea and in Journeys, and the Application of it to watches.

* Potent Druggs to alter or Exalt Imagination, Waking, Memory, and other functions, and appease pain, procure innocent sleep, harmless dreams, etc.

* A Ship to saile with All Winds, and A Ship not to be Sunk.

* Freedom from Necessity of much Sleeping exemplify’d by the Operations of Tea and what happens in Mad-Men.

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Cosmos marathon now streaming live for free

You can now watch all 13 episodes of Carl Sagan's mind-expanding, life-changing 1980 television series Cosmos: A Personal Voyage for free on Twitch! Written by Sagan, Ann Druyan, and Steven Soter, Cosmos is a profoundly important scientific head-trip that sparks the imagination and instills that sense of wonder and hope that we all desperately need right now.

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Regular ibuprofen usage "alters human testicular physiology"

A small cohort of 31 healthy young men who took 600mg of ibuprofen twice a day for six weeks developed "compensated hypogonadism" (little balls), because the ibuprofen interfered with their testosterone production and their gonads had to work overtime to compensate. Read the rest

"It’s Never Aliens—until It Is"

In 2017, the big mainstream stories of "near-hits" (aka "near-misses") in the search for extraterrestrial intelligence included episodic dimming of a star caused by possible "alien megastructures," a large object tearing through our solar system, and video captured by a fighter jet of a weird object capable of incredible maneuvers in the sky (video below).

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Soonish: exciting technologies on the horizon, with excitement-preserving nuance

Kelly and Zach Weinersmith's Soonish: Ten Emerging Technologies That'll Improve and/or Ruin Everything is an exceptional science book: it concerns itself with ten(ish) coming technologies that hold enormous, potentially world-changing promise (and peril), and it delves into each of those subjects with admirable depth, including all the caveats and unknowns, and still keeps the excitement intact.

See the marvelous colors "inside" snowflakes

Don Komarechka captures astonishing photographs of snowflakes. His book Sky Crystals is a survey of snowflake science, a monograph of his macrophotography masterpieces, and a tutorial on the techniques. At Petapixel, Komarechka explains the surprising pop of color sometimes seen through the lens when he's shooting a snowflake:

As a snowflake grows it often creates a cavity or bubble inside of it where the inner side of the crystal grows slower than the top and bottom edge. This forces the layers of ice on either side of the bubble to be incredibly thin, so much so that light will interfere with itself.

Some light will reflect off the surface of the snowflake, but some will also enter the ice (slowing down due to the density of ice compared to air) and reflect off the inner ice/air boundary back towards the camera. If the ice is thin enough, the distance between the two rays of light is close enough to force them to interfere with each-other now that they are out of sync. Some wavelengths get amplified and others get reduced, resulting in a distinctive color emerging based on the thickness of the ice.

"How I Capture Vibrant Colors Inside Snowflakes" (PetaPixel)

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The Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, a brief history

Is there anybody out there? If we don't listen for the answer, we certainly won't hear it. Over at the Planetary Society, Jason Davis posted an excellent survey of the past, present, and future of the search for extraterrestrial intelligence. It begins in 1959 with Giuseppe Cocconi and Philip Morrison's historic paper "Searching for Interstellar Communications" and Frank Drake's Project Ozma, the first scientific SETI search:

One year later, the National Academy of Sciences hosted an invitation-only meeting at Green Bank to discuss how to go about conducting further SETI research. The eclectic, interdisciplinary group included Drake, Cocconi, Morrison, the biochemist Melvin Calvin (who won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry during the meeting), Bernard Oliver, who was the vice president of research and development at Hewlett-Packard, the young Carl Sagan, and the scientist John Lilly, who had recently published a controversial book arguing dolphins were an intelligent species.

With a nod to Lilly's book, the participants dubbed themselves "The Order of the Dolphin." One product of the meeting was the Drake equation, which attempts to predict the number of advanced civilizations in the Milky Way able to contact Earth. The equation includes variables such as average star formation rate, the number of habitable planets per star, and the number of planets where intelligent life could evolve.

For the rest of the 1960s, SETI research remained mostly dormant, aside from a few searches in the Soviet Union. Starting in 1971, two Project Ozma follow-ups named Ozpa and Ozma II used bigger dishes and listened to more stars.

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Watch this high schooler explain the theory of relativity

Filipino student Hillary Diane Andales won a $250,000 scholarship from the Breakthrough Junior Challenge for this entertaining and easy-to-understand explainer on relativity and the equivalence of reference frames. Read the rest

Watch: video of a stable plasma torus

Caltech posted video of a stable plasma torus, created by engineers using water and a dielectric plate: "lightning in a bottle, but without the bottle."
In addition, engineers working with the plasma noticed that their cell phones encountered high levels of radio frequency noise—static—while they were in the same room as the experiment. It turns out that the plasma ring emits distinct radio frequencies. "That's never been seen before. We think it's because of the piezo properties of the materials that we used in our experiments," Pereira says, referring to the materials' ability to be electrically polarized through mechanical stress—in this case, the flowing of water.

They've got no idea what it might be useful for, but have already filed a patent on the method for genereating the torus. Commercial proposal: a pretty random number generator to replace the lava lamps in Cloudflare's HQ. Read the rest

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