A few years from now, bird-watchers may be in for a double take: that flapping creature in the distance? Nope, not a bird. Mutant dragon fly? Nope--it's Darpa's latest unmanned aerial robo-sentinel, inspired by the flight mechanics of birds.
For a few years now, we’ve been excited about the possibility of a cable-based space elevator as an alternative to expensive rocket launchers. To date, though, the various attempts to make it happen–including annual contests and Japan’s recent initiative–have come up short. The problem? Space elevators have one major hang-up: most designs call for braided cords of extremely strong nanotubes, which unfortunately don't exist yet.
Hand-washing: it seems easy enough, but for whatever reason, we constantly shirk this simplest of duties. These days we have swine flu to remind us, but what about when that becomes old news? Microbes don't disappear just because they're not in the news every day.
A few University of Florida professors have invented a solution -- HyGreen, a sensor system that can sniff your hands to detect telltale soap fumes -- or the lack thereof.
This Thursday marks twenty years since China's military ended the 1989 Tiananmen Square pro-democratic demonstrations by killing off hundreds of students, workers, and ordinary civilians. It's fitting, then, that in celebration of the anniversary, the government is once again curbing free speech. Censors have been at it for weeks, but now they've even begun cutting citizens off from Twitter, Flickr, Hotmail, and Microsoft's live.com.
What makes us happy? There's no simple answer (sorry), though this 70-year-long longitudinal study on well-being offers some fascinating insight. Humility helps, so do our reactions to life's woes, and "the only thing that really matters in life are your relationships to other people."
Also in today's links: customer-unfriendly shopping innovations, it pays to be tall, and more.
The findings of a recent mice study suggest that smoking reduces allergic reactions by inhibiting mast cell activity. This, of course, begs the question, Was tobacco giant Altria in on this?
Also in today's links: thoughts of money, and "you Neanderthal" is no longer a putdown.
On Tuesday, a Hubble astronaut posted on the micro-blogging site from the great beyond. Stay tuned -- @Astro_Mike likes to update. Coming soon, we hope, @PopSci goes to space.
Also in today's links: robots ask for help and make art, spacing out is good for you, and more.
Behold Huia cavitympanum: the only frog species that can communicate through ultrasonic calls too high-pitched for humans to hear. Two scientists made the discovery by camping out with recording devices in the frog's native island of Borneo. Bonus points go to the guy who was "bitten by leeches and woke up several mornings soaked in blood."
Also in today's links: a reason to switch up your music, what to do with too many chicken feathers, and more.